Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Quick & easy hummus at home

When I was little, I insisted that I didn't like hummus. I'm not sure why - maybe I had a bad batch or something? I rediscovered it a few years ago (when it exploded in the culinary world again!) and have loved it ever since. It's healthy, delicious, and good on just about anything. What's not to like?

Hummus is one of those things that always makes me cringe when I reach for it in the store - the little voice in my head is always screaming "you could make that, so much faster and cheaper!" Le sigh. It is true, though. Look: quick and easy hummus at home, faster than you can jump in the car and head to the store to buy it. Trust!

Homemade Hummus
Lightly adapted from Alton Brown

  • 115-ounce can chickpeas, drained 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced, or 1 tablespoon pre-minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 3 tablespoons tahini, stirred well 
  • 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice 
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Add all ingredients to food processor (or blender, in a pinch) and pulse to combine until desired consistency is reached. Start with 1/8 cup of olive oil, and add a little more as necessary to bring together and smooth out.

Hummus is a wonderful vehicle for all sorts of flavors: you could add more garlic to the recipe above to make garlicky hummus, or add cumin for a different flavor. For the hummus pictured above, I added a frozen chipotle pepper in adobo (I always freeze whatever is left after I open a can) and made a spicy chipotle hummus. Other ideas: fresh basil, chili powder, roasted garlic, kalamata olives, 1/2 a fresh jalapeno - whatever you see in the store can be reproduced at home!

Monday, January 26, 2015

new shoes-day

I received a gift certificate to VA Runner from my parents for my birthday, because I was in desperate need of some new running shoes. My old ones, gray and pink Brooks Glycerin 10s, were very much at the end of their life expectancy and needed to be retired.

I waltzed into VA Runner yesterday afternoon and proclaimed to the young man at the counter that I needed new shoes, and they couldn't possibly be the Glycerins because I'd had 3 pairs of those already and I didn't like the redesign on the 10s. (The 9s were the best. Why do things change?!) I was ready for a change because the Brooks shoes just weren't doing the job for me anymore.

The nice young man nodded knowingly, sat me down, looked at my shoes, looked at my feet, and asked me a few questions. Then he started bringing me boxes of shoes.

I tried on Sauconys. I tried on Mizunos. I tried on New Balances. I ran laps around the outside of the store and jumped around like a crazy person. I ran with two different shoes on my feet. I ran with tight laces and loose laces. I made observations like "the soles feel lumpy" and "the toe box is too tight" and "these feel too shallow."

I finally walked out of the store with these:

[source: Brooks]
Why, yes - those are the Glycerin 12s, the exact shoes I had insisted could not be my shoes. Wouldn't ya know it. They are super flashy. I'm in love.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

If it's not on Instagram...

...did it even really happen?? Like just about everyone these days, I Instagram a lot of things (or, to clarify, a lot of pictures of food and my cats - whatev!). I thought it would be fun today to share five pictures from my phone that I DIDN'T put on Instagram... filter-free and not squared off, these are just random, every-day-life shots!

My friend, Aileen, made me this adorable birthday cake - isn't it the cutest? Her pink rosettes were just gorgeous, and the cake was delicious, too!

A few weekends ago, C & I went to a Capitals game with the rest of my family - we had such a blast, and the Caps won! Can't ask for much more than that. We enjoyed some food and drinks in the Player's Club beforehand, and had a great evening.

My sweet Mother-in-Law surprised me with some birthday goodies! We happen to work in the same building (small world, huh?), so she snuck up to my desk before I got to work and left me muffins and fruit to share with my team. The sign says, "from the birthday fairy!" Lucky for me, I know her name.

After the Capitals game, we stayed the night at my parents' house since it's a little closer to DC. The next morning, my mama made a special birthday breakfast: huevos rancheros from scratch, with fruit salad! Yes, that is approximately one inch of guacamole on top of my eggs... it was delicious!!

Last weekend, C and I ventured out to one of our favorite wineries: Old House, in Culpeper. My sister and brother-in-law got us a wine club membership for Christmas (best gift ever!), and we needed to pick up our first shipment. We enjoyed a free tasting and then sat and admired the view with some wine and snacks. It was such a lovely afternoon - perfect day-date for us!

Do you follow me on Instagram?? If not, you should! @lndsywst - lots of food, fitness, and cats, just like this blog... ha!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Books, movies, and working out - my favorites!

Happy Friday! It's the eve of a three-day weekend for me, and I am STOKED. (Do people still say that?) We have several super fun plans for Saturday and Sunday, and then we're going to take it easy on Monday. Sounds lovely to me!

Five for Friday is back again - here are five things I'm loving this week.

1 // Big Little Lies: yep, I finally got on the train and am reading Liane Moriarty's latest novel. I adore her other books, and I'd really been wanting to read this one, but the waiting list at the library has been about a million people long ever since it came out. I finally bit the bullet and just bought it for my nook, and I'm in deep and loving it.

2 // Restaurant Week: today kicks off Fredericksburg's bi-annual Restaurant Week, and I'm so excited! The restaurants that participate offer a lunch deal for $10.15 or a dinner deal for $20.15, and it's usually a multi-course meal for either. Yum! C & I are having a date tonight at one of our local favorites, Poppy Hill Tuscan Kitchen, and I can't wait!

3 // American Sniper: C & I have been eagerly awaiting the release of this movie, and it's finally out. I have heard amazing things about it, and can't wait to see it. I bought tickets in advance for Sunday, and I'm fully preparing myself to ugly-cry all the way through it.

4 // More reading, less social media: Kristen @ Iowa Girl Eats shared an idea today that she has been using lately - move all your social media apps into a folder away from the main page of your phone, and move your e-reading app to front and center. Then, when you have a minute that you would normally spend mindlessly scrolling social media (in line at the post office, waiting at the doctor's office, etc.), read a few pages of a book instead. I immediately made the change on my phone, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it works.

5 // BodyCombat: I got back to one of my favorite classes at the gym last night, and it totally destroyed me - in a good way! It's been several weeks since I made it to a Combat class, and I was so happy to have time to go last night. It is such a killer workout, and fun, too. Perfect!

So tell me...
  • Have you read Big Little Lies? What are you reading?
  • What's your favorite group fitness class?
  • Planning to see American Sniper, or any other movie this weekend?
Happy weekend!

linking up with the five on friday girls:  Darci, Christina, April,and Natasha

linking up with karli and amy

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Cats, snacks, and willpower - a light bulb moment!

Yesterday I had a semi-light-bulb moment. I was driving home from the gym, thinking about dinner, when it happened – bing! Light bulb.

You’ve read about my kitties– we have two now. Mac is older (my original baby) and rescue cat. He had a hard life before we got him and was quarantined for six months. Toby, also a rescue, was found in a barn before we adopted him from PetSmart.

Their little personalities are so funny and so different. Mac is our scaredy-cat. He’s extremely alert and usually wary, but very loving to anyone he gets to know. He jumps at loud noises, he hides under the bed when strangers are over, and regularly spends his days down in the basement away from any other interaction.

Toby, on the other hand, has been nicknamed “Toby the Terrible” in the 6 months we’ve had him. He is constantly in, on, under, or around everything. He steals food off your plate and rips the curtains to shreds. He’s constantly on the kitchen counter, but also just stares at your angelically like he can’t figure out why you’re unhappy with him.

Bear with me, non-cat people. I’m getting to the light bulb!

So – to recap. Mac: cautious, shy, curious. Toby: in your face (usually literally), loud (he purrs like a diesel engine), constant.

Here’s the thing: my cats pretty much perfectly represent my willpower and relationship with food – mainly sweets and snacks.

(BING. Light bulb.)

Mac is my willpower around these foods – standing in the shadows, carefully watching but not interacting, has to be lured out into the open. Toby is the food I don’t want or need – always around, always making itself known, always standing on my head and begging for attention. While the sweets and snacks are always around, calling my name, my willpower to avoid them is much more hesitant. When I’m not in control of it or carefully tending to it, it doesn’t come out, and then I give in to the snacks. I don’t want to, but the snacks are just so much more obvious and constant, and my willpower kind of shrinks back into the distance.

I am working on getting my diet back on track following the Thanksgiving / Christmas / birthday extravaganza. I’ve really been paying attention to what we’re making at home and what I’m consuming, but I have realized that it’s all the little things that don’t seem like much, but really add up, that tend to be my downfall. Yesterday, I was tempted in the office by the following things: a box of See’s chocolates, an open package of Oreos, a loaf of homemade banana bread, and Chicago-style popcorn someone brought straight from Chicago. None of those things really sounds so terrible individually, but, added together, a little bit of each turns into hundreds of extra calories that I don’t need or want. I needed my willpower in a big way, and I stuck to my guns and said “no, thank you” to each and every thing. At the end of the day, I wasn’t disappointed or missing any of those things – none were so special that I really needed to have it – but, in the past few months, normally I would have just gone ahead and snacked. No wonder I’ve got a few extra LBs that didn’t used to be there!

I love treats. I really do. Anyone who knows me, knows that the way to my heart is carbs and sugar. It is so hard for me to pass up candy / dessert / snacks – even when it not’s something that I will even really enjoy! I eat good food for my meals, but the mindless snacking in between is what inevitably does me in.

Willpower is a hard thing to have, for me, anyway. It’s hard to call upon, hard to maintain, and hard to remember to call out of the shadows. I don’t like to deprive myself or feel like I missed out on something, so it’s far easier for me to say yes to whatever is being passed my way – even if it’s something I normally wouldn’t eat. I’m working on making that part of me stronger and louder, and making more of an effort to coax it out and at least KIND OF silence the call of the snacks. Definitely easier said than done!

Back to the cats. I’m hoping that the sense of visualization that I’ve created for myself with this analogy will help me do better with willpower and saying no to foods that I don’t even really want to eat. When I think of my kitties, I tend to always think of Toby first, because he is the one who just always commands attention. It takes me a second, but then my sweet Mac comes to mind, standing a little ways back, not quite willing to walk into the situation. He’s always there, just not as fervently as Toby is. There’s my willpower – always there, just waiting to be called and noticed. I can say no! (even as there are blueberry scones and banana bread being passed around the office as we speak… dang it!)

How do you avoid snacking? Do you exercise strong willpower?Are you a "I forget to eat" person? I'm not. How do you do it?!