Thursday, October 30, 2014

Shiritaki Noodle and Veggie Stir Fry






Shiritaki Noodles with Veggies and Tofu. Photo by Vivianne
Three months ago I decided to give up all meats and eat solely vegetarian meals. I have been wanting to kick the meat habit for some time now but was always concerned I wouldn't be able to give up the protein from chicken because I have not eaten red meat or pork in almost two decades. My diet consisted primarily of fish, chicken and veggies.

I thought the transition would have been more difficult, but it was quite easy. I think I was more enamored with the idea of experimenting with new recipes and foods, which I absolutely love to do! Prior to making this choice, I've never had tofu, soy products or even shiritaki noodles in my life. I'm totally converted now!
 
This recipe is currently my favorite- Shiritaki Noodles with a Veggie Stir-fry. I have no idea why this non-noodle was not in my life before? Low calories, low carbs and has protein? Duh!!! Perfect for someone on a weight loss journey as I have been this past year.

Not only is it super simple to make, it cooks up in less than 10 minutes. All I did was add a package of shiritaki noodles into a pan of sautéed tofu, grated carrots, onions, peppers, and baby kale leaves with a touch of Thai curry sauce. OMG. This dish nearly converted my husband. Go ahead, lick that screen... I know you want to.

 
Ingredients:

1 package Nasoya Pasta Zero  Shirataki Fettuccine noodles 
1/2 red and yellow peppers, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 tsp. chopped garlic
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper, or more to taste 
1/2 block of Firm Tofu, cut into bite-sized pieces
Dash each salt and black pepper
2 handful bunches of Baby Kale Leaves 
1/2 cup of grated carrots
3/4 cup 1-inch scallion pieces
A drizzle of Thai curry sauce
Optional: 1/2 cup bean sprouts

Directions:
 
  1. Strain and rinse shirataki noodles. Pat dry. Cut noodles in half with shears. Set aside.
  2. Drizzle a large skillet with coconut or EVOO and bring to medium-high heat on the stove.
  3. Sauté Tofu until browned. Add peppers, onions, and garlic until translucent. Add seasonings. Add carrots and noodles and sauté for another minute until they absorb the flavors. Drizzle in Thai Curry Sauce to taste. If sauce is too thick use a little vegetable broth the thin.
  4. Add baby kale leaves and heat until they wilt.  Serve and enjoy! MAKES 2 SERVINGS

Nasoya Pasta Zero Fettuccine noodles are a traditional Japanese shirataki noodles. They only have 15 calories and 4g of carbs per serving.) You can play with this recipe any which way you can.
The noodles are highly adaptable to a variety of flavors.









My Thoughts on Allegiant by Veronica Roth




My anticipation for the release of this book was immense after thoroughly loving the first two of the Divergent series. I was afraid my hopes and expectations were too high, which would result in ultimate disappointment. In my heart, I allowed room for some disappointment, but had no idea that it would end up being monumental.

I did not enjoy this book as much as I hoped I would. It took some adjustment switching back and forth between Tris and Tobias points of view. I'm not opposed to the idea of different POV's but like other readers, I had to refer to the chapter headings several times to remind myself whose point of view I was reading.

Major Spoilerery Ahead!!! Be warned!


I couldn't get a sense of the characters I had grown to love in the prior books. Christina was a shadow of herself. Peter was a shadow of himself. What was the point of Uriah? It was all so bland. I would have loved to see more narrative for these characters. For example, there could have been more development of the Christina/Tris forgiveness struggle. There could have been some more development with Uriah. A sibling re-union for Tori would have been great and the author could have killed her off after that. The alleged death of Tori's brother defined her so much, one would think development in that area would have been a great platform for some emotional scenes rather than the glossing we were given.

Why did Four have to get so freaking annoying and weak in this book? I LOVED HIM in all of the others. I get he was abused and had a great deal of emotional processing to get through, but he seemed too far away from the strong character we had grown to love. Here, he was so easily manipulated. I found his fear of the size of the US idiotic. His resentment of Tris was annoying. I'm not sure how to feel about this considering it's not unexpected to experience a great deal of self-doubt as a result of another's abuse. I'll have to mull it some more.

The storyline, to me, was aimless. The characters walked around in a fog for most of the book. There was much walking around the compound, some walking around the fringe. It seemed lame when there were important battles to be had. The rebellion scenes appeared lame and rushed. The government genetics issue was so darn convoluted it became confusing. The faction vs. factionless could have had real teeth but that barely made an impression because we were ensconced in the government genetic debacle. So much more could have been done with the fringe storyline in my opinion but that also fell flat.

The ending felt completely like a shocking manipulation of my emotions. You sort of expect most dystopians to end on a hopeful note, it may not be happy, but at least hopeful. You don't expect to lose a major character for whom you have such a total investment in. I found it to be disheartening. I can accept an unhappy ending when lead characters experience horrific loss and/or horrific physical pain through their journeys, but to have a character such as Tris die so abruptly? It left me empty, disillusioned and completely unsatisfied. (Her last words to David were extraordinary though, and sums up the point the author was trying to make. BUT I WISH YOU HADN'T KILLED HER!)

Tris' death tainted the series for me, and made the body count unjustifiably too high. I disliked that ending intensely. We've already suffered the loss of Tris' parents, Will, Edward, Marlene etc. Those deaths were already awful and heartbreaking, but Tris' death made the body count waaaaayyyy too high and just cruel. Yes, their society changed and people changed as a result. But her killer lived and went about his life as if nothing happened. Where is the justice? Peter, Caleb, and Marcus, even the government sanctioning these experiments, were the true villains in this story, but they continued to go on with little to no redemption of their characters. How could we then accept the death of someone who became a martyr under those circumstances? What does that say about me though? Should I expect an eye for an eye to make it ok? Is it the lack of justice that makes me hate her death as much as I do? These questions require more mulling over as well.

I wanted to throw my kindle at a wall when Tris died! I grieved her death and felt it to my core. I also grieved for Tobias, so I guess in that sense the author was successful in eliciting sympathy. But for two characters, who the author described as practically being ying and yang, whetstone to blade, to be torn apart in this way was awful. I hated the unexpected twist and kept hoping something magical would occur to bring Tris back to life. How is Tobias to go on without her? Seems too cruel for him to have lost her in light of all he suffered, and you know he will continue to be broken in some way. I for one will always love an emotional ending, yet this felt out of place. My emotions felt toyed with and I can't get down with that. (hide spoiler)]


I swayed back and forth between liking and not liking this book, hence the 3 stars. I continue to believe Veronica Roth is a very talented writer and I have great respect for the fact that she wrote these books at such a young age. I look forward to whatever she will produce next. My complaints are not with her writing, considering how much I loved the first 2 books in this series. My issues are with the plot lines and some technical aspects with the POV in Allegiant. AND that damn ending!l





Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I Crawled, Jumped, Dashed and Conquered


How much do YOU want it?

I did something totally unexpected this past weekend which took me completely out of my comfort zone. I faced my fears, jumped over the cliff headfirst- eyes closed-, whispered a few words of prayer and hoped for the best.

What could I have possibly done, you ask. Are you asking? Because I'm going to tell you anyway...

I RAN THE WARRIOR DASH 5K MUD RUN!


Warrior Roast

Yes, I did!

The Warrior Dash is the world's largest obstacle race held in various cities all across the world. The races are coordinated by Red Frog Events and they have helped raise millions of dollars for St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Participants run a 3-4 mile rugged battleground course riddled with 12 extreme obstacles. The obstacles increased in level of difficulty as you progressed, ranging from a simple climbing of a 7 ft. wooden barrier, to crawling under barbed wire, muddy trenches, jumping into mud pits, crossing lakes, running up and down hills, maneuvering wet balance beams to jumping over fire pits. Obstacles vary from location to location but what you can expect to find in all however, is MUD. Lots and lots of sticky, wet gunky mud. Don't you love it already?

Mud, mud, and more mud!

After conquering the Battleground, the Dash Warriors celebrate with huge turkey legs, beer, and live music at a post-race party. Expect to see much fist bumping, chest pounding and muscle flexing as those who actually completed the race celebrated with cavemen enthusiasm. I did not hesitate to engage in some flexing myself!


Flexing is mandatory
I was a very apprehensive about doing the Dash. I kept doubting my ability to handle those obstacles and the run. Although, I've been training with my Zombie app to run a 5k, this was on a whole n'other level! I kept thinking I needed to be fully ripped, sporting a six pack to manage the obstacles. Do you want to know the last time I climbed anything? Probably monkey bars in grade school. Let's not even discuss my fear of heights- I can barely handle a ladder. I was terrified and nearly backed out of the event when I arrived at the site and saw the Goliath!

The Goliath

I don't know what I drank that morning, but I squared my shoulders and tackled each and every obstacle there with as much gusto and enthusiasm as I could scrape up. I nearly lost my sneakers more than once in nasty mud, nearly drowned in the lake, and got a nasty scrape on my knee from rocks, but I HAD THE TIME OF MY LIFE.

What this experience taught me was that if we live our lives in fear, you will miss out on far too much unexpected beauty that it has to offer. It was beautiful and inspiring to watch as strangers cheered each other on and lent each other a hand. All shapes and sizes tackled these obstacles. People were there to have fun and to challenge themselves with what can only be described as a unique experience.

I had an incredible time bonding with my brother and my daughter, both of whom also participated. I'm really proud of them and I'm happy I didn't let my debilitating fear of heights get in the way. Next year I hope we do this again- but this time I'm tackling the ultimate obstacle course- The Spartan Race! Why? Because I CAN and I WILL.










Tuesday, July 29, 2014

VEGGETTI EVERYTHING


A few weeks ago, I found this strange contraption at a local discount store which piqued my interest. I can’t tell you how many times I walked past it over the course of the following weeks with longing, but hesitant to commit to yet another kitchen gadget filled with promises.
 
See, I come from a family that LOVES kitchen gadgets. If it promises to make my time in the kitchen easier, faster or cooks the doggone food for me, I gotta have it. Meanwhile, my cabinets are filled to bursting, and Hubster has placed a ban on my purchases for unnecessary kitchen items.
 
Buuuttt… Yes, there is the big “but”- I am trying to eat clean and following a low-carb diet. Which means any gadget related to health improvements should not fall under “unnecessary kitchen item.”  And that is how it ended up on my shopping bag!

I. have. no. regrets.

This so-called contraption- the 'Veggetti'- claims to turn vegetables such as zucchini, yellow squash and carrots into healthy spaghetti in seconds. You can choose whether you want thin spaghetti sized noodles or thick fettuccini size noodles.

Since I now rarely eat spaghetti due to the carbs, such a contraption would allow me to enjoy the warm comforting experience of eating spaghetti without the guilt. All the while adding additional veggies onto my plate. How fabulous is that? Pretty darn fabulous in my opinion.

I purchased the Veggetti along with zucchini and yellow squash, and set to work in my kitchen. Spiraling the veggies took a mere minute.


I then sautéed it in coconut oil, and added salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. I sautéed it long enough to heat and soften the “zoodles” without drawing  too much water. After I was satisfied, I plated it, added homemade ground turkey meat sauce on top and sprinkled it with parmesan cheese.

I declare magic was wrought within my kitchen!

The zoodles were so delicious and the entire experience truly was as if I was enjoying a hearty plate of spaghetti. I LOVED IT.

The Hubster loved it too. The kids… not so much. They shun anything that looks weird or out of the ordinary.  I’m working on them though.

In the meantime, I am going to Veggetti EVERYTHING! Watch me!
 

Friday, July 25, 2014

#Operation Six Pack


Photo Credit: Unknown
    
      Of  late, my interests have been directed wholly towards physical fitness and nutrition. I’ve recovered from my natural hair obsession (remember the epic breakdown I suffered when I cut my hair?) went to curly hair rehab, and am now fully obsessed with transforming into the most fit version of myself as I enter my late 40’s.

Over the past few years, I’ve gained an excessive amount of weight for my body type, and I am now at a point in my life where the yo-yo dieting just needs to end. Over the years, I would workout furiously to be bathing suit ready for summer. Then once I hit my goal, I would eat  my way through fall to store up a good chunk of fat to enter hibernation in the winter. I’m totally convinced I’m a resurrected squirrel. Year in and year out I performed this cycle to my detriment.  

Let’s keep it real- I was LAZY and didn’t summon up the will power to maintain my weight. I didn’t want to get up early in the morning to exercise because my bed was far more appealing. It was my siren call to sleep heaven. I also didn’t feel like denying myself all of the sweet and salty treats I love to indulge in because, hey, who likes deprivation? I sure don’t. You will never see this gal participating in anything extreme like a master cleanse, or “no solids for a month” type diet. THIS HERE BODY WAS MADE TO EAT, AND EAT I SHALL.

Unfortunately once you reach a certain age (ahem, over 35) your metabolism starts to slow down, body parts start to ache, you feel twinges you never felt before, and that slight squishy belly your lovely children bequeathed you at birth, suddenly rivals Homer Simpson’s paunch. That is not a good look. For me anyway.

 I declare I am now on a “permanent” fitness quest and my ultimate goal is to gain a six pack for the first time in my life. I want ABS for DAYS. I want my belly to be rock hard. I want to be able to kick a man’s ass if I want to! I want to survive a ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE.

Most importantly, I want to be fit and strong, not only for my heath but for my children. They need their momma. Diabetes and hypertension runs in my family and  I’ve been toying with my health. No more! I’ve lost 30 pounds since March and have a few more to lose. But the abbbbbbsssss have yet to come.

I’ll keep you posted. What journey are you on? Comment below!
 
(Check out my profile on Instagram for daily posts)




Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sailing Away... and back again



http://blogmagazin.rs/o-drugima/tebi/
Photo Credit
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."  Mark Twain


Hey! Surprised? It has been ages, hasn't it? I seriously missed blogging and connecting with my bloggy friends. Many times I thought about coming back, yet my fingers refused to cooperate. Next thing I knew I would be caught up in this or that, with him or them. You know to whom I refer.

What can I say about my absence other than I needed to focus on my family? Work became hectic, home became hectic, my children were growing, and my forever complaint regarding juggling motherhood and a career came to a head. Something had to give, and constantly viewing life through bloggy eyes became overwhelming.

I wanted to live my life in the present.

Why am I back then? The longing to write and blog became too strong a pull for me to deny any further. So here I am and there's much to share from these past years. But all in due time, and I shall return shortly. Promise!


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