Tackling Tofu

So I am getting married in June and I’ve been really trying to choose healthier options at every meal. I’ve found that trying new things has really helped keep me going and I’ve tried to branch out and try more vegetarian options. One food in particular that I have been curious about but have never tried to make at home has been tofu. I also have wanted to try it since I work at WIC and we give out tofu as a substitute option for milk so I should know some ways to cook it.

The jury is still out whether I feel confident about with cooking with tofu. I personally feel like I might benefit from taking a cooking class with it. That being said for just googling recipes they haven’t been all that bad but not something I would keep in rotation yet. One thing I did learn is that tofu is very bland and takes more seasoning than normal to make taste good in comparison to cooking meats. You will definitely want to pick out spices and flavors with a punch of flavor.

What I made:

Baked TofuScreen Shot 2018-04-27 at 12.33.43 PMI love tofu in salad I get at a local restaurant. I wanted to recreate this so I found a recipe through another dietitian Sharon Palmer that I follow on Instagram. Her website is sharonpalmer.com. She has tons of good stuff on there. The tofu came out baked and edible but it didn’t have the pop up flavor or the crunch I loved from the local restaurant.


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Tofu Scramble. This is how I typically recommend to try to use tofu at work for as a substitute for eggs. I just googled tofu scramble and I found a blog called the Minimalist Baker. It’s a very cute blog with recipes and beautiful pictures. I used the Southwest Tofu Scramble recipe. It was good and hearty but I still prefer the taste of eggs.

 

What would I still like to try to make? A Chipotle sofrita copycat recipe. I found one on a blog called a Pinch of Yum that I may be trying soon.

Please share any easy ideas to use tofu and recipes you love below!

 

 

 

 

Lazy Girl Meal Planning 101

Meal planning recently has become a new healthy habit that I can check off of my list. I never really thought I needed it because I had budgeting tools and tricks I learned from school and work. However, all of the sudden it felt like Kevin and I started to get sick of our normal routine of meals and this sprouted up organically.

The reason I am sharing some of the tools we use weekly is because I always thought meal planning was mundane and too time consuming and I really wanted to show a meal planning process that is realistic and easy to use.

Here are a couple of things to know before you fill in the Meal Planning Sheet:

  1. Count how many times you normally cook a week, not how many times you’d like to. This is essential! We cook 3-4 nights out of the week due to our busy schedules and eating out once per week for dinner. So we plan for four dinners.
  2. Just meal plan for dinner. Most people have their breakfast and lunch routines down or can mix it up relatively simply without any planning at all.
  3. Write down your leftovers. They are so important. They help you reduce your waste by using up what you have first and save you from avoiding buying duplicate foods at the store.
  4. Aim for each meal to include a protein, fruit or vegetable, and whole grain.
  5. Have the recipes ready. We have a recipe section under our bookmarks tab on our laptop and save it so both of us have access to the recipe.

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How do we actually meal plan?

First, we have a notepad on the fridge and when we run out of a staples like butter, frozen fruit, coffee or any food that we don’t typically need to buy weekly we write it down.

Second, we go over what meats, fruits, or vegetables we have as leftovers. Write these down in the leftover section.

Third, we Pinterest, Google, or think of recipes we know that could use up the leftovers. Put those meals down first.

Fourth, figure out new meals you will need to make from scratch. Cue in more Pinteresting or frantically searching through recipe books for inspiration for something else to cook this week.

Fifth, after you have the recipes write down only the ingredients you need to buy on the Ingredients section.

Sixth, add the foods from the first step to the Ingredients list.

Now take that paper to grocery store to shop. Then take it home and stick it on the fridge for the week.

What do I leave out of meal planning?

  • Having rigidity of what days to have what meals. This is the time consuming part of meal planning that I just skip because you don’t need it. Everyones appetite ebbs and flows. I like having the freedom to decide on that day, what meal I’d like to make.
  • I do not include staples we buy weekly on the ingredients list like eggs, milk, juice, etc.. Writing these down are a waste of time and unnecessary as most of us go on autopilot and just grab and go in those sections of the grocery store.

How long does this take us?

Literally, ten minutes or less. This is so easy that Kevin does this even when I am not home…..

Is this cost efficient?

At first I honestly did not think I was going to save any money. In my head I already knew all the tips and tricks about grocery shopping…. I was dead wrong. Kevin and I typically spend $70-100 a week for groceries for the two of us to eat a very healthy diet. When we meal plan we notice that we have less food waste at the end of the week and we spend closer to the lower end usually $70-80 a week! That saves us $80-120 dollars a month with minimal effort. Not to shabby.

I hope you love this easy guide to meal planning. Let me know any tips or tricks you use at home that saves you money at the grocery store!

 

 

Our Vacation to Charleston South Carolina

This February we were lucky enough to get to visit my future brother in law while he was snow birding down in Charleston, South Carolina. We had the most beautiful weather for the time of year and were able to explore all of Charleston’s southern charm and food.

We stayed at a friends home on Johns Island which was a beautiful spot on the river off of the ocean. We were able to explore the channel via kayak and paddle board. The homes were breath taking and the docks were full of character.

 

The first day we went to breakfast at Sunrise Bistro. It was a cute little breakfast joint with exquisite food. I ordered the smoked salmon bagel and Kevin ordered a grits scramble. I did not get to take a photo but the dishes delicious and presented beautifully. I had never had grits before so this was a first! The kind waitress even took the time to explain how they made their grits. I learned that grits are ground corn that make a porridge. The corn creates a starchy base and heavy flavor that can be easily swapped out for potatoes at breakfast. I loved the texture and hearty taste overall. The texture and heaviness reminded me of “Cream of Wheat” which is one of my breakfast staples already.

IMG_7702After breakfast we went to James Island County Park to bike and rock climb. The park had paved pathways and dock you could walk out on about 100 feet. There we saw many little crabs in the sand and laughed every time they saw our shadows and hid into their little holes. After a little biking we adventured into the outdoor wall rock climbing area. It was so much fun but of course I did get slightly hurt. Word to the wise don’t push off too hard at the top because you’ll come back at the wall just as hard. Either way its quite the workout.

That night we went on a Valentines Date to Frothy Beard and enjoyed some home IMG_7722brewed beers and pizza. They had some funky beers to try that we loved and a unique atmosphere. There was also a trivia night that we thoroughly enjoyed coming in last at. We blamed it on the brews…

The next day we got an early start and hit up a new drive through breakfast joint called Southern Brews Coffee. I got the Chai Tea Latte with almond milk and it was amazing! Then we headed off to do some dog training on an old plantation that had been converted into a hunting field.

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It was a gorgeous day out and we were able to soak in some sunlight and ride the four wheeler around the plantation. It was so much fun! We also got to check out a plantation just up the road from this one and it looked like it was taken straight from a scene in a movie. Just driving down the streets on Johns Island was quite breath taking as the trees arch over the street form a canopy above you.

The rest of the day we went to SEWE the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition  on the IMG_8092Charleston harbor. We got to drive around downtown and we were able to see the historic section of Charleston and learn about The Battery. If we had had an extra day in Charleston we would have liked to rent a boat and travel around the harbor or visit Fort Sumter where the American Civil War began.  Nevertheless SEWE was a blast and we had the opportunity to chat with so many other gun dog owners and meet other gun dogs like Birdie.

That night we celebrated Kevin’s brother’s birthday at a local brewery that is unique because it allows dogs and has a nightly rotating food truck. We relaxed for the rest of the evening at Low Tide Brewery and enjoyed some IPA’s in combination with homemade wood fired pizzas.

On our last day in Charleston we wanted to explore the beach. We had heard that Folly Beach was amazing but that day happened to be “Folly Gra” so the beach unfortunately was packed with people so we impromptu changed our plans. Besides Folly Beach we found there were plenty of other beach options around Charleston to explore and it was hard to chose between all of them. We ended up choosing to go to Kiawah Island for the morning.

The beach was amazing! While we couldn’t swim (little kids were but not us – too chilly) we could bike the beach. The beach is so flat at low tide and sand is hard enough that even my road bike did not have an issue biking! The beach went on for miles too so we

didn’t even come close to exploring it all. There was so much room on the beach that even though there were people you never really ran into anyone. It also would be a great place to run in the morning if you are a runner!

IMG_7767After we hit up a little seafood joint called Lokals Seabar and I got fresh shrimp tacos by their local marina. The only downside we found to Kiawah Island was that you couldn’t explore the whole island as it’s a gated community so our adventure ended here.

On the last night there we were treated to a Low-County Southern Boil. The Low Country Boil IMG_7847is a one pot wonder where they seamlessly combine water, shrimp, sausage, potatoes, corn, onions, and wide variety of added spices and flavors to your personal liking. It cooked down for a couple of hours and we finally enjoyed it while sharing stories in lawn chairs surrounding a small bonfire. It could not have been a more fitting end to our trip. With new flavors and friends it was a trip to remember.

 

Feel free to share below any of your favorite southern dishes or recipes!

 

 

DIY Starbucks Shaken Iced Tea

In college I was first introduced to Starbucks and fell in love with many of their non-coffee drinks. I remember budgeting $20/wk for this just to survive those long nights of studying. When I moved back home there was no Starbucks and I was bummed out that I couldn’t find the drinks that I loved so much. A couple of months after college I found that Starbucks sold their teas in tea bags at Wegmans for only $3. Needless to say now a couple years later I regularly make my favorite drink the “Shaken Iced Tea Lemonade” for a quarter of the price I paid before.

What do you need to buy upfront?

2 Quart Glass Pitcher (Target) $6.00

1 Liter Electric Tea Kettle (we got ours at Marshalls) $10.00

1 12-16 ounce Clear Glass Tumbler with Straw (got mine at Five Below) $3.00

1 Box of Tazo Tea, Iced Passion or Green (includes 6 steeping bags that make 64 ounces) $3.00

32 ounces of Water or Lemonade $0-4

Torani cane sugar syrup $5.00

Total upfront cost: $27.00 made with water or $39.00 made with lemonade

(lemonade is usually sold in 64 ounce containers so you would need 3 bottles of lemonade total to prepare all tea bags following the recipe below)

How to make:

At night fill electric kettle to 1 liter with water and heat water. Pour hot water into 2 quart glass jar and throw in 1 tea bag and let steep for 5 minutes. Pull out tea bag and fill remaining jar with 32 ounces of water or lemonade.  Cool off in fridge for at least 5 hours. In the morning pour into glass tumbler with 4-5 ice cubes and add 1 tsp of simple syrup. Mix together and put on top.

One tea bag makes 64 ounces of tea so you could have four 16 ounce drinks per week for the first 6 weeks for $39.00 this comes out to $1.65/drink and then in the future without the other costs it would cost $15 for 6 weeks of drinks and that comes out to .63 cents a drink.

A size grande(16 ounces) Shaken Iced Tea Lemonade is $3.00. If you bought the same amount of drinks per week for 6 weeks at Starbucks it would come to $72.00.

I could not believe the cost savings when I did the math! I can’t believe I ever paid as much for these drinks before. While I wish I had done this during college I am happy now that I can enjoy a cool refreshing drink and have more money in my wallet.

Feel free to share your copycat drink recipes that you love below!

 

 

 

Composting 101

With Spring upon us I’ve been getting more excited to finally put our compost pile to good use. Since we have been composting for almost six months I wanted to share my experience and hopefully debunk the theory that composting is difficult! Like most people composting always scared me because I just assumed it was hard but come to find out its actually super easy. Cost wise it is very inexpensive and saves money down the road because you don’t need to buy fertilizer for your garden. Composting also lowers your carbon footprint which is good for mother natures sake.

How we got started –

$20 Compost Bin (Aldi) with lid

$0 old plastic cereal container

Surprised? So was I. Now mind you I have been tempted to buy the cool looking composting bins for your kitchen a million times but alas this is really all you need.  What we found to be the most essential is to have a top for our compost bin to keep away pests. Unfortunately, we live in a suburb and there are a million rabbits so we needed something to keep them out. We also wanted a covered container in the kitchen to stop any foul smells from leaking out.

What do we do-

Basically what we do is collect scraps of fruits, vegetables, egg shells, and coffee in our cereal bin throughout the week and then dump it in the compost bin at the end of the week. As simple as that! If you fill it up sooner then you just dump it sooner. [Hint: Don’t put any meats or dairy into your compost pile or animal poop for that matter]. Egg shells are important because they provide calcium for the soil and coffee grounds are important because they provide nitrogen to the soil. Both of these nutrients fertilize your garden! Once a week we also have a pitch fork and toss whats in the bin. In the fall we even added our yard leaves into the mix. Be patient it does take a while to start to fill your bin. It has taken us about six months to fill our bin halfway.

Using the compost-

We start our garden after Memorial Day weekend so at the end of February we will stop adding any new scraps from our kitchen and turn the compost more frequently. One month before we will add earth worms to help speed up the process if needed. In the meantime we will continue composting by buying another bin and using that one to throw out our leftover scraps from the kitchen.

So thats it. If you have any cool scraps you gather from your kitchen that add life to your compost pile feel free to share below. Happy spring gardening!

 

Pretty in Pink on Valentines Day

My favorite things for this February happen to be pink and are perfect to wear for your Valentines Day date! I’m obsessed with the color of all these products because they are the perfect colored blush pink and so affordable.

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1.Cold Shoulder Sparkle Top from Old Navy $8.50

I could not find online the color blush that I found this top in but it is so cute and such a steal. Usually cold shoulder tops look terrible on me since I have a bigger bust but this one lays flat!

2. Essie Nail Polish in color “Not Just a Pretty Face” from Marshalls $4

I can not paint my nails for the life of me and Essie is the only nail polish that actually works for me but they are so expensive. I have been racking up colors by shopping at Marshalls or TJMaxx because they are always 3-4 dollars. I absolutely adore this color.

3.Rose Gold Choker from Franchescas $20

I actually bought this for a holiday party and loved it! Its dainty yet still a statement piece.

4.Strapless Bra from Third Love $66

I have needed a new strapless bra for forever but just have been putting it off. Now I found myself in a predicament because I bought the cold shoulder top but had no strapless bra for Valentines Day. I’d heard of Third Love and honestly thought oh com’n whats all the hype about. While it is more pricey than bras I’ve bought before the reviews were amazing and you can return the bra in 30 days so I thought ehhh just do it!  I’m so glad I took the plunge and tried it because it fits perfect and doesn’t budge even when I jump up and down. Now I’ve never had a bra do that, especially not a strapless. The best part is not only does it fit well but it lays perfectly with the cold shoulder top!

5. BareMinerals Pressed Ready Blush in color “The Indecent Proposal” $20

Getting that perfect mauve color on my cheeks is difficult. Every time I’m at makeup stores and the color looks perfect on the shelf but when I try it on my skin it looks way to pink. I had the girl at BareMinerals put basically every color blush on my face until we found this one. She was so surprised because she had never used this color before on anyone. Moral of the story try them all.

6. BareMinerals loose powder All Over Face Color in color “clear radiance” $21

I actually got this color for free with a kit I bought from BareMinerals and its the perfect everyday eyeshadow. It’s subtle and matches perfectly with the blush.

7. BareMinerals Matte Liquid Lip Color in color of “Swag” $19

I have Matte in Boss which is a great work color and fall color but I love swag. It’s that perfect mauve pink that completes the look. Now normally I do prefer a lip pencil but this matte lipstick does not come off and it is fiance approved. I’ve worn this lip color everyday since I bought it.

8. Piccadilly D30 slim protective phone case in the color “Rose” $21

Well long story short my phone was lost this week and I had to buy a new one. While that was a bummer, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. While shopping for phone I found this phone case. It’s super cute, durable, and affordable and of course has that pop of pink on the side. I’m obsessed!

Hope you love these finds and have a glamorous Valentines Day! Feel free to share your any pretty in pink finds you’ll be wearing the 14th!

 

My Favorite Green Smoothie Recipe

I am not a morning person so breakfast can be really tough for me. Over the past year I’ve been making a smoothie almost every morning just because of the convenience factor. At first I stayed with the most familiar smoothie I could make, strawberry banana. As I started to get sick of the same smoothie I started to think about what I could do to add more fiber and include vegetables without sacrificing taste. This is by far my best creation and just happens to come out green which scares a lot of people off but it’s actually delicious!

I have learned a couple of tips since I’ve started making smoothies that I think are really useful when getting creative with your smoothies.

  1. Plain yogurt tastes exactly the same as vanilla yogurt when added to a smoothie so skip out on the sugar and stick with the plain.
  2. While greek yogurt is enticing it only have a little bit of water content so unless you have a straw your smoothie is not going to move – stick with the regular yogurt.
  3. Kale > Spinach. Spinach does not chop up as smooth and has a more earthy taste that most people don’t prefer while Kale tends to be sweet and almost undetectable if the color wasn’t so obvious.
  4. Unless you have too don’t buy the fruit fresh. Number one it is very expensive to do that and actually during certain parts of the year when your fruit is out of season the frozen fruit has a higher nutritional content. That is because frozen fruit are typically flash frozen at peak season. Using frozen fruits will also keep your smoothie cold so you don’t have to add ice.
  5. Coconut milk > Cows Milk when it comes to taste. They are not equivalent in Calcium and Vitamin D however so if you’re looking to add those nutrients to your diet this is a not an equivalent switch. However, coconut milk seems to blend better with the fruit flavor and adds a nice sweetness that is not overpowering.
  6. A regular blender works to make smoothies so you don’t need anything fancy. If you go to cheap though they typically don’t last. I learned that the hard way….

So now onto  how to make the “Green Smoothie”

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup of plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 frozen banana (un peel and put in freezer the night before)
  • 1/4 cup frozen kale
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp ground flaxseed

 

Hope you enjoy! Share below your favorite smoothies you like to make at home!