-20 and surviving a carb fest

I figured I would hop on the scale Friday before I headed home to visit my parents for the weekend. If I was down a bit, I’d keep that top of mind when I got to the place where food was always the sixth member of our family (after the parents, the brother, me and our beloved late Lab, Zakk).

I was pleasantly surprised to find I was down a full 20 pounds — it felt like it was a long time coming, but I’m glad I finally hit this major milestone. So excited by that number — and the fact that I was running extremely late to catch the 11 a.m. out of Port Authority — I didn’t have time to eat or grab a snack to take on the bus with me before I left the house.

Needless to say, by the time I got of the bus more than three hours later and after a grocery-store trip where we got about three bags full of carbs (think three different kinds of chips, two different kinds of pretzels, a loaf of bread, hamburger buns and this super-yummy baked oatmeal from the bakery department), I was famished. And bordering on hangry. So I opened one of the bag of pretzels and ate a few handfuls as I drove.

We picked up some Wendy’s salads, and I’m proud to say that my hunger didn’t force me to weaken and get the crispy chicken sandwich and fries I really wanted. I got a salad, and after I ate it when we got home, it just wasn’t hitting the spot. I went back to the pretzels I opened in the car. Then I dipped into the baked oatmeal. I went back to the pretzels and then I just felt sick. And ashamed of myself.

But that didn’t stop us from going out to a nice dinner later on that night. I had soup and ahi tuna, so my dinner wasn’t that bad, but I still felt awful, both because I knew I had eaten way, way too much and because I was severely disappointed in myself.

I woke up Saturday determined to be better. I decided to go for a walk, but since my folks live on a dirt road, and it had rained so it was all mud, I headed to the track at my old high school. I love walking on those rubbery tracks, but my God, they are so boring compared to walking the city streets or the woods surrounding my parents’ where I really wanted to walk, so after I hit the two-mile mark, I told myself I’d do another half mile and head home.

Just as I started the final two laps, a woman who had continually outpaced me — and I was walking “very brisk,” according to Map My Walk — passed me again, but this time she said hello and commented on how nice the day was so far. We started walking together and talking about walking, health and we even shared weight-loss tips with each other.

Before we knew it, we both exceeded our walking goals — by two and a half miles! It was great to have someone to pass the time with, and Denise and I exchanged numbers to continue sharing tips and walk the next time I’m back in Dallas. It was such a pleasant surprise, one that doesn’t really happen here in the city, where you just start chatting with a stranger.

I was so glad our walking paths crossed, and her pushing me to go those extra miles was instrumental in keeping me on the straight and narrow the rest of my time at home. Of course I ate Mom’s famous whimpies, but I only had one with a bun and just a small follow-up scoop of the meat, and when I still felt hungry, I had grilled chicken with spinach and balsamic. While I treated myself to some chips, I didn’t house most of the bag like I used to do.

I stayed pretty good on Sunday, and when I weighed myself Monday morning — just as a check up, not because I have an obsession with the scale — I had maintained Friday’s weight, which had always been unheard of after a weekend at home.

I knew going home to my parents, who used to own a restaurant and always had the best food around the house, would be a huge test to the willpower I’ve been building the past few months, but I daresay I passed with flying colors.

Now onto the next challenge, whatever that may be!

Nikki

 

Vixen in the Kitchen: Quinoa-stuffed tomatoes

Even though I’ve been doing most of our cooking, it’s been a while since I’ve felt like a vixen in our kitchen.

I’ve been bored and uninspired, falling into the rut of making the same things from my roster over and over. The fella is such an imaginative and inspired cook, so there’s some pretty big shoes to fill, but no matter how many dinners I make, I still get so nervous that I’m going to screw something up.

But I’ve started making a big batch of quinoa during the week to have for my lunches and am kind of quinoa-obsessed right now, so I thought I’d incorporate it into dinner one night. Since I was also craving my tried-and-true parmesan tomatoes, I thought I’d change them up by stuffing with quinoa.

Here’s what you’ll need:

– Figuring two per person, I got six big beefsteak tomatoes. (There’s one hidden under the biggest one on top)
– Quinoa, olive oil, breadcrumbs and shredded mozzarella cheese.

I pre-made the quinoa (according to the box instructions) earlier in the day so it was cool for handling.

I heated the oven to 400 degrees, dug out the tomato stems and used a melon baller to remove most of the the “guts.”

As the oven heated, I mixed a few tablespoons of olive oil into the quinoa, tasting along the way until it was the right amount of saturated, and then added a few tablespoons of breadcrumbs. I mixed the cheese in last, and used about half of the package. I spooned the mixture into the tomatoes and topped it with a small pinch of cheese.

I popped the tomatoes in the oven for 10 minutes as I steamed fresh broccoli in the microwave, which I doused with some balsamic vinegar and dusted with breadcrumbs. The broccoli then went in the oven for 10 minutes, making the total cooking time just 20 minutes!

2014-04-16 19.53.12

Super easy, super fast and super delicious!

What’s your favorite quinoa recipe? I’m dying to try some new ones!

Nikki

Get up and go

Just as I was getting balls deep into a week-plus cycle of sleeping through the night, I was wide awake this morning at 2 a.m. and stayed that way until almost 6 a.m.

Since I was up, I did what any good girl would do while the rest of the house and building slumbered and took to Netflix, where I  continued my recent tear of watching fabulous documentaries about fabulous New Yorky people, like the Kennedys and Diana Vreeland (can I just pause to mention how frigging fantastic she was?? Such style! Such great vision! Watching it made me realize that even though I work from home, there’s no reason I shouldn’t dress up or not wear lipstick around the house on a daily basis because why the hell not? I just might be wearing my best red lips right now if you must know. It goes fantastically with my black yoga pants!).

Last night started with a program about Candy Darling, one of Andy Warhol’s Superstars. She was so beautiful and tragic, and it’s kind of BS that she, who was born as a man, had better cheekbones than I do. I also tried to watch a doc about Halston, but the interviewer was so unprofessional and stupid I had to turn it off after 10 minutes. But I watched enough of it to see some of Liza Minnelli’s fantabulous apartment and have decided that I would like to have that be my “downtown” pad, so don’t be surprised if you hear a ding-dong one of these days, “Lucille 2.”

MMWAnyway, now that that’s all out of my system, even though I super-cleaned the apartment and did some work, all day I felt sluggish and on the verge of a binge. I know  it was definitely because I was so tired mixed with the fact that I know for a fact I haven’t been drinking as much water as I should lately (for shame!). It wasn’t until I took the garbage outside that I realized how nice it was here in New York today — like, almost 40 degrees nice! — so I came back upstairs, put on some workout clothes, downloaded a new pedometer app that works with My Fitness Pal called Map My Walk and out the door I went.

The fella had gone to a nutritionist last night, and she gave him a meal plan that the two of us are going to put into practice ASAP. Some of the stuff, like cutting out white foods and most of the processed junk in our lives and adding some more fish and protein-rich foods into our diets we’ve actually done in recent weeks, so hopefully this will be an easy transition and lifestyle change.

We’re both pretty excited and hopeful that this will be the thing that sticks, finally. If you’ve been reading RNR for any amount of time, you know I’ve fallen off and gotten back on the exercise/healthy-eating wagon more times than Chris Christie has been in the news in recent weeks. Sad but true, but I know that us doing this together is a key to success. And a little — OK, a lot of — competition between the two of us is sure to kick things up a notch, especially because the bastard males of the species lose weight so much faster than women. Hmmph.

Now that I logged a brisk almost two-mile walk this evening, I feel better, less on-the-verge-of-binging and more quiet inside my head. I tell ya, they were onto something with this thing called exercise …

So are any of you on Map My Walk? What do you think about it?

Nikki

Red Bamboo, Part Deux

When my friend asked if I wanted to go to lunch last week, there was no doubt in our minds that we were going back to Red Bamboo, the fabulous vegan restaurant in the Village that I wrote about back in November.

Above is the feast we shared, and it was just as amazing as the first time. We started with popcorn shrimp, which came with a spicy and tasty cocktail sauce. I’d always wondered how the vegan version of fish would taste, and I was delighted to find out that the taste and texture of this shrimp were really dead on.

My friend had roast beef, which was really good and I had the soul chicken sandwich, which, like the shrimp, had the taste and texture of actual chicken. There were four really big chunks of it, and I ended up just eating it without the bun because it was so good on its own.

Like good girls, we just had to split a dessert and we unanimously chose the s’mores cheesecake. When we went last time, we had pumpkin cheesecake, which tasted so much like real cheesecake I couldn’t believe it was vegan. The s’mores version, however, tasted more like fudge than that slightly sour cheesecakeness, and it was decadent and divine.

I was so in heaven after this meal that I ended up walking 80 blocks afterward and made the fella and Girl Child go back with me the very next day. And I cannot tell a lie: The GC and I just got back from having yet another fabulous meal at Red Bamboo.

Nikki

A family on NutriBlast

In this house, we have fallen in love with Sage.

No, not the herb or the color (though I do love that hue now that I think about it), but the NutriBullet, which I just named this very second after trolling a baby names website. Sage means wise and healthy, so it’s pretty much a perfect name, non? (1.) because we’re being wise (finally!) about trying to eat (2.) healthy.
See what I did there?

I’ve made NutriBlasts every single day (sometimes twice!) since I wrote last week, and the Girl Child and fella have kind of become a bit obsessed with having a smoothie. I even got him to eat bananas, something he despises. It’s a win-win, really.

Would you just LOOK at the color of this? So green, so yummy!

Would you just LOOK at the color of this? So green, so yummy!

“P22,” which I wrote about recreating last week from the food truck I used to frequent down in FiDi, is by far my favorite. The mix of spinach, pineapple, mango and banana is just amazing. It’s so clean tasting and green, and I have it pretty much every morning because it’s that good.

Another favorite, for the Girl and I, at least, is carrot, apple, orange and grated ginger. I bought a nice hunk, if that’s the right word, of ginger root and stuck it in the freezer since that what the wise people on the Interweb suggested I do to keep it fresh the longest. I love the zing the root gives to the blend, especially when I use a heavy zesting hand. This smoothie is a bit pulpy, just so you know. I guess I could strain it, if I wasn’t so lazy.

Orange you glad … I don't have a punchline?

Orange you glad … I don’t have a punchline?

One blend I just tried today is sure to become my go-to dessert, which is something I just can’t cut out of my life/diet at all. I always need something sweet post-dinner, and this chocolate-covered cherry smoothie will let me have it with another side of spinach.  I found the recipe (and a bunch of others on the docket to try) on SimpleGreenSmoothies.com. I love this site and can’t wait to work my way through all the recipes. If you’re new to making green smoothies at home as I am, the site might be a great starting point for you.

Some days I have just a smoothie for lunch and a “sensible-ish dinner,” but if I still feel peckish, I’ll snack on hummus with carrots, cucumbers or celery, have an apple with peanut butter or a bowl of Special K. Mixed with getting in a few days of walking and I’m happy to report that I’m down two pounds.

There’s still a long ways to go, and I have a feeling we’re going to be making some more healthy changes in the coming weeks, so hopefully the next two and 10 and 20 pounds won’t be hard. I already know they’ll be delicious!

Nikki

Taking the NutriBullet for a spin

After spending the past week battling a stomach bug (such a great way to ring in a new year!), I finally hauled myself to Whole Foods to stock up on fixings for the NutriBullet. $70 and a four-block rainy walk with three bags heavy with produce and frozen fruits later, I gave the Bullet its first spin with spinach, pineapple and strawberries.


It was very spinachy and most definitely needed a banana to tone down that hearty flavor, but it was still very good, very clean-tasting. I’m going to try to recreate “P22,” my go-to smoothie truck order of spinach, pineapple, banana and mango as soon as the bananas sitting the counter ripen.

I always get a bit nervous using any sort of kitchen gadget, thanks to standing dripping in strawberry daiquiri because my mom didn’t put the lid on the food processor down right not once but three times in the span of five minutes and the countless messes I made and calamities I’ve had when trying something in the kitchen for the first time, but the NutriBullet was so easy even I could do it. It takes up absolutely no room on the counter, and it pulverized all my ingredients in about 20 seconds with not an explosion or leak in sight.

Welcome to the family, NutriBullet. I feel like I should give you a name because I think we’re going to be besties from here on out.

Nikki

That New Year smell

What is it about a new year that just inspires such hope and so many plans to do and be better?
I don’t know, but I’ll have what it’s having and fall suite to all that resolution making like I always do.

But instead of all those, let’s face it, empty promises I make to myself year in and year out, I’m going to make it pretty easy on myself this year, kind of like I did over on Ink for Blood, where I was very, very proud to report I kept a resolution for the first time ever and wrote something for myself every single day of 2013.

Here on Run, Nikki, Run, losing weight is always the numero uno, the modus operandi, the Grand Poohbah of Things to Do. You get it, I get it (oh, do I ever!), so I’m pretty sick of saying I need to shed pounds … and then crickets. I lose my willpower, I get sick, life hands me a lemon, etc. and so forth — life just happens, just as it does for everyone, even those annoying people who I always seem to see running as I’m out huffing and puffing wherever I walk. They make time for exercise, no matter what, so who the hell am I to not do the same?

So to myself in 2014, I vow to do (at least) 20 minutes of movement every day. That could be 20 minutes of walking, which obviously is pretty doable here in New York since we walk everywhere. It could be 20 minutes of ab exercises or one of the old standby circuits (crunches, pushups, squats + lunges) I used to do. Hell, it could even be 20 minutes of dancing around the house to my iPod (clearly only when the Girl Child and fella are at school and work to save myself some embarrassment). The point is to just move. I am not going to make any changes to myself or my health while I sit here feeling sorry for how bad I sometimes feel about myself.

These cute new Reeboks should make this resolution a snap!

These cute new Reeboks should make this resolution a snap!

And I’m not going to make any changes to myself without eating better, so for Christmas, I asked my mom to get us a NutriBullet. I had my first green smoothie off a truck a while back and have become kind of obsessed with them since, so I’m excited to start making them at home. A bunch of my friends on Facebook use similar gadgets to make them, so I look forward to drinking these super-healthy concoctions for breakfast and lunch several times a week and swapping some recipes and talking smoothies with them.

Can't wait to fill this up with green goodness!

Can’t wait to fill this up with green goodness!

That’s it. Just these two simple things. If I can’t do them, then I should just go pound sand or something, right?
Maybe don’t answer that.

But I think these two simple things can lead to big, big change. Lost pounds, a healthier and happier me — and us, to be honest, because you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be dragging the fella into this and know he’ll thank me later — a more comfortable airplane ride to Ireland for our family vacay in August and obviously more energy to lift all those pints of Guinness that are on the menu for that trip.

Let’s do this, 2014. I’m not getting any younger, but I sure as hell can start taking care of this body as a way to thank it for bringing me this far.

Happy New Year!

Nikki

54 days + the best vegan meal ever

It’s been almost two months since I’ve been a full-on vegetarian.
It’s been 54 days or 1,296 hours since I last ate meat, to be exact.

It has become easier to seek out the vegetable or fish dishes at restaurants, and I’ve stopped drooling over meat pictures from the foodies I follow on Instagram (for the most part), though I still suffer from occasional bouts of “boredetarian” when it comes to cooking for the fella, Girl Child and myself.

So when my former coworker (and forever “work wife”) suggested that we hit a vegan restaurant she loved in the West Village on our date night, I was more than game. And after stalking the menu beforehand, I couldn’t wait to get to Red Bamboo.
In my excitement, I even read the entire menu, separately, to the fella and GC, and now they can’t wait to go there, either.

Red Bamboo is a quaint little restaurant below street level, and there’s not a lot of tables, so it has a very cozy vibe. The music selection was fantastic, MGMT, my beloved Flaming Lips and similar added to the chill atmosphere. The service was attentive and friendly, and the prices are really fantastic compared to some of the other vegan restaurants in town.

So, what about the food, Nikki?
Oh, yeah, then there’s that. He he.


How many ways can one say amazing??

It was hard to pick an appetizer because they all sounded amazing, but we did agree immediately on the wings, which were marinated in spiced citrus barbecue sauce and came with a side of sesame garlic dressing. The wing sauce was so flavorful, and while they weren’t crispy like those wings I’d loved in The Time Before, they hit the spot.

We also got the almond coconut chicken as a starter, and those were the balls and gave me that crispy, crunchy deliciousness I had so been craving. Because they were so yummy on their own, I hardly needed the sweet chili sauce they came with, even though it, too, was tasty.

For dinner, she went with the BLT, which tasted exactly like a real BLT and might be what I get next time (which may be a lot soon than later, like next week!), and the fries were top-notch. I ordered Dante’s cuisine, which was black pepper soy beef medallions sautéed in Red Bamboo’s fresh mushroom gravy. It came with a simple side of steamed asparagus spears, yellow squash and zucchini and sweet corn mashed potatoes. Thanks to its smattering of biting peppercorns, the sauce reminded me of au poivre, which had always been my go-to steak accompaniment in The Time Before. Though the medallions tasted like the wings in a different shape and sauce, the sauce did provide a beefy flavor.

For dessert, since I dubbed our date “Friendsgiving,” we split a slice of pumpkin cheesecake, and I don’t know how Red Bamboo did it, but it tasted exactly like the real creamy, dreamy pumpkiny deal. Even the two big dollops of whipped cream were heavenly.

I can’t wait to have my leftovers for lunch in a little bit — in fact, I cannot tell a lie: Having them was the first thing I thought of when I woke up this morning.

Red Bamboo, I have a feeling we’re going to be very, very good friends.

Nikki

Sunday meatless funday

One of the things the fella misses most from Before We Were Vegetarians are wings.


I miss them, too, especially considering that it was just a few months ago that we found the perfect sports bar to get wings. While we can still go to Dalton’s and tip back some Angry Orchard and have some of the bar’s vegetarian fare, none of that food will replace the crispy, sloppy wings we loved so much.

Because of that, I’ve been trying to think of ways to try to replicate wings.
When I made some homemade seitan last week, I didn’t have any idea what I wanted to do with it, especially since it’s something both the fella and the Girl Child have never tried.

I thought that since the fella watches football on Sundays — and yells at the TV and makes sure I watch all the replays so I can see how awesome/shitty each one was — it would be as good a time as any to try out a possible wing substitute. Since he’s much better about frying than I am, the fella took over the kitchen. He breaded the seitan with spicy hot chipotle breadcrumbs (it’s not just a clever name, they were wicked hot!) we happened upon today at Pathmark and fried them in a little bit of oil.

I drizzled our favorite wing sauce and bleu cheese dressing on top, slapped some celery sticks on the side and dinner was amazingly spicy and familiar. The only thing missing was Angry Orchard, but I will surely remedy that the next time around.

Hope your Sunday funday is delicious, too! If you have a good way to make fake wings, I’m all ears!

Nikki

Winner winner chik’n dinner

The fella and I have been doing swimmingly with our vegetarian eating the past few days.

Well, I cannot tell a lie: I had a tiny slip up at Dunkin Donuts yesterday morning following our ginormous walk. I, on complete autopilot, ordered my usual egg white flatbread with turkey sausage. In my defense, it’s healthier than the other breaky sandwiches I really wanted and not a sugar-laden donut, which is too much sweet for breakfast for me. But still. I own up to my flub and vow to not let it happen again.

As for dinner, the fella made chicken parm using MorningStar’s Italian Herb Chik Patties and, as you can see in the pic below, IT. WAS. SO. GOOD.

2013-09-09 17.40.28

Today, I’m off for a walk with a friend then popping into Whole Foods to hunt down some vital wheat gluten to make the seitan the fella and Girl Child are kind of sick of hearing me talk about. It’s damn hard to find VWG at a regular store, which is super annoying.

Have a tremendous day!

Nikki