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stress busters

I changed things up today with my Wheatberry bowl for breakfast!  Instead of the bowl being made up of mostly wheatberries, I wanted a lighter mix.  So, I cut up a pear, drizzled it with a little agave and cinnamon, and popped it in the mocrowave for 45 seconds.

Then, I added about 1/3 cup of pre-cooked wheatberries to the bowl and put it back in the microwave for 30 seconds, just until warmed. 

Next came some Stonyfield Maple Vanilla yogurt, which I picked up this weekend.  It smells so mapley and delicious – and tasted that way too!

I ended up dumping this entire yogurt onto my pears and wheatberries to make it more of a yogurt bowl.  Then, topped it with some dried fruit and toasted pecans.

Mmmm…I liked this better than the previous 2 mornings!  I love the heated up pear.

I still have mixed feelings about eating dairy…

I also had some tea with breakfast.  You all know that I love my loose leaf tea, and much prefer it over teabags due to the flavor!  In case you were wondering how I brew my loose leaf tea, I thought I would take some photos of my strainer.

I have a tea strainer that I use to brew the tea before placing it into my mug.  I purchased mine at Teavana awhile ago, but numerous tea shops sell them now!

You scoop the tea leaves into the strainer, i use 2 teaspoons since this is a 16 ounce container, and pour the hot water over the leaves, then close the lid and let steep for the necessary amount of time.  Once time is up, you just place the whole strainer on top of a mug and let it drain in!

It is such an easy way to brew loose leaf tea!  When the bottom is pushed on, the tea flows out, but it closes when it is just sitting on a table.

The day flew by so quickly, that I didn’t even have time to stop for my mid-morning snack or lunch until 3pm!!  So unlike me!  I was starving once 2:30 rolled around, so I scarfed down an orange and then heated up by lunch to eat around 3.

Lunch was more leftover stuffing from the baked acorn squash on a bed of spinach for some greens!  I was feeling like I needed some greens in my life, as not too many were consumed yesterday.

I’m planning to hit up the gym for a run and some weights after work, so hopefully this super late lunch will be digested by then!  Lots of carbs in the rice, so it should be a good pre-workout meal.

Work has been extremely busy lately (which is great in this economy!), however I find myself becoming more and more anxious about my life before and after work!  I try to get up early to work out, but my bedtime has become later and later which does not allow for an early wake up routine!  So, I have been trying to workout after work, which I hate!  While at the gym, I just constantly think about everything I need to do when I get home, which defeats the purpose of my anxiety reducing workout. 🙂  I know that I am stressed about trivial things, but I still needed to find a way to make myself less anxious.

I searched around the internet a bit and came across a post on Lil Veggie Patch about Gretchen Rubin’s Book, The Happiness Project.  It just so happens that she has a blog where she gives tips and yesterday’s tip was 20 Easy Tips For Lowering Your Daily Stress!  What perfect timing.  I made my own list from Gretchen’s list and added a few of my own.

Daily Stress Busting Tips

1. Wake up 20 minutes earlier, so that you are not rushing.

2. Always make your bed, it just makes you feel better and more organized when you walk into your bedroom.

3. Start off your day with exercise.

4. Eat a healthy breakfast to start your day off right!

5. Spend 15 minutes a day picking up, so that you wake up to a clean house.

6. Laugh once a day.

7. Pack your lunch the night before.

8. Read before bed in order to clear your head of the daily grind.

9. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier.

10. If you still find yourself getting stressed, then stop for a minute, walk away and take a long deep breath!

These might be small things to do, but they really help me!  Something as simple as making my bed can make me feel 100% better when I get home from work.  I always spend a few minutes before bed tiding up because it makes me feel better in the morning to wake up to a clean house.

What do you do to rid yourself of stress?

sunday night prep

Well, in this case it was actually Monday Night Prep, due to the holiday, but you get the idea!

While I was waiting for our acorn squash dinner to cook last night, I got a jump start on preparing meals for the week.  I usually try to prepare my lunches the night before to make my mornings less rushed.  I find that when I pack them in the morning, I am running around and therefore, don’t always pack the most nutritious lunch.  Usually, I am pressed for time, and just pull random items from the cabinet and fridge to bring with me.  These are also the days that I end up snacking all day long because my lunch is not filling enough!

This week, I planned out my lunches before we went grocery shopping.  I plan to eat leftovers of our dinners a few days.  I also wanted something a little different for breakfast this week!  I am growing tired of my same old oatmeal or smoothies each morning, so I thought I would prepare something more fun and exciting for breakfast this week!  I have been wanting to make wheatberry bowls from 101cookbooks.com for awhile now, but I never seem to have enough time!  This is just the week to make them!

I cooked 1 cup of wheatberries according to the package instructions.  Wheatberries take at least an hour to cook, so this is definitely something that you need to do in advance!  After my wheatberries were cooked, I just popped them into a container and put them in the fridge to use each morning.

I also cut up some dried fruit – 3 whole dried bananas, 1/4 cup dried ginger and 1/4 cup dried apricots (all of these contain no sugar!).  I mixed all of the fruit together and placed it into an airtight bowl for safe keepings. 🙂

I also toasted some pecans.

The last thing that I did was carmelize some pears!  I sliced 2 pears and cooked them with 1 tsp butter over medium heat until they were soft and a little browned.  They came out so good and sweet!

I woke up this morning knowing that breakfast was waiting for me – no waiting for my oats to cook this morning!

I scooped 1/2 cup cooked wheat berries into a bowl and topped it with 1/2 carmelized pear, handful of mixed dried fruit, a dollop of plain greek yogurt and a drizzle of pure maple syrup!

YUM!  This was the best breakfast ever!  A wonderful change of pace from my normal oats and smoothies.  I was in need of a break for a week.  I love the sweetness of the maple syrup and pears, and the spiciness of the dried ginger!  The yogurt makes everything mix together just perfectly.  This is a delicious breakfast that would be perfect served to a large group for brunch!  I will be eating it all week.

Lunch was also packed last night, since I had some extra time.  I made some tuna fish mixed with stoneground mustard, celery seed and chopped celery.  I hate mayo, so I never use it, not even in tuna!  I much prefer the tangy taste of mustard.

I filled 1/2 white (I know, bad bad!!) pita pocket with some arugula and the tuna.  It was a great tuna sandwich, and just filling enough.

On the side, I snacked on some Roasted Plantain Chips that I picked up from Trader Joes.  I have had my eye on these for a while, but just got around to actually buying them this week!

They are great!  The ingredients say that they are roasted in a little sunflower oil and salt.  That’s right, just 3 ingredients: plantains, sunflower oil, salt!  The flavor is just perfect.  Not too oily and not too salty, just right.  I have previously only had sweet plantains, so this was a nice change.

One serving (about 20 chips) contains 140 calories and 6 grams of fat.  Not so bad!

That was a great lunch!  Very satisfying.

I broke open another You TrailMix for a snack this afternoon.  This mix was Chocolate Trails, which contained organic peanuts, pecans, cherries, pretzels, chocolate chips and chocolate covered raisins.

This was a good mix, better than the first one I tried.  I still prefer to make my own trail mix, but this mix is probably similar to one that I’d make on my own!  It was perfect to hold me over until dinner.

dried fruit

I got a few fun new toys for Christmas that you will get a glimpse at in the next few weeks!  My first new toy is a dehydrator!  How fun is that?!  I love heathly eating and loved dried fruit, but hate that so much of the dried fruit out there is full of added sugar!!  And, when you find the types that are not full of sugar, they are so much more expensive.

So, on our way home from NY, we stopped at Stew Leonards in Connecticut to pick up some fresh fruit to dehydrate!  We got a pineapple, 2 pears, 5 kiwis, a mango and some bananas.  I could not wait to try my new toy!

It was much easier that I had expected.  Basically, you cut up the fruit (trying to make them the same thickness so that they dehydrate at the same speed), place them in the machine and plug it in!  The manual says that some fruit should be pre-treated (dipped in lemon, or something else acidic, to keep them from turning brown), but I did not pre-treat anything.  I wanted to see how everything worked naturally!

My fruit all cut up and ready to go: pineapple, kiwi, mango, pear and banana.

Then, I placed the fruit on the 4 trays:

There are different settings for fruits, veggies, jerky, etc.  I stacked the trays together and turned this to 135°F for fruit.

The fruit I chose, dried at similar times according to the owner’s manual, but the kiwi’s and mango’s dried a little faster and ended up a little harder.  I set the machine up before bedtime to let it work it’s magic overnight!  10 hours later, I had homemade dried fruit!!

It is delicious!  (And, I had some taste testers make sure I wasn’t being biased!)  This fruit, especially the pineapple, is still sweet and delicious and much better tasting than any store bought dried fruit.