Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cooking with Quinoa

My sister was hanging out at my house on Saturday and I got the chance to cook for her.  It's rare that I cook a meal for her as usually she does the cooking at her house for family get togethers.  It was just the two of us this time and my first suggestion for dinner was shot down.  I had to come up with something from the pantry that was gluten free.

I knew that I had Quinoa in my pantry so that was my first thought when she told me she wanted gluten free.  My sister threw out the suggestion of black beans with the quinoa and so I started to work on something.  It is so easy to cook quinoa in my electric pressure cooker.  I just follow the instructions but I need to remember to adjust the amount though since the recipe makes a ton.  The base recipe calls for 1 1/2C dry quinoa with 2 1/4C water or liquid.

While that was cooking, I started on a sauce.  I had grape tomatoes in both red and yellow so I quartered those and added to a sauce pan with a little garlic.  Next I added in some broccoli...just the tips though so the pieces were nice and small.  I added about 2/3 can of seasoned black beans and let the sauce simmer.  To serve, I simply put some of the warm quinoa on the plate with a scoop of the black bean sauce.  Over top, I added some slices of fresh avocado and a few crumbles of goat cheese.  It turned out pretty good for cooking without a plan.

I was left with a ton of cooked quinoa even after serving both of us our dinner meals.  I packed it into a couple containers and sent one home with my sister.  Tonight I set out to make another quinoa dish for dinner.  I started with a similar base...sauteed garlic with grape tomatoes.  This time I added a big handful of broccoli slaw to saute.  Once that had cooked, I added my quinoa to the pan to warm.  I also added a little pesto sauce and topped with goat cheese crumbles.  I served this with turkey meatballs and it was a delicious meal.

As I don't normally food blog, I didn't think to take a photo of my plate until after I had eaten a few bites.  Luckily I just turned the plate so that section was at the back!

Pesto Quinoa Saute
1 TBSP olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
10 grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 C broccoli slaw salad mix
1/3 C quinoa, cooked
1 TBSP pesto

Saute the garlic in olive oil.  Add tomatoes and broccoli slaw mix.  Cover and allow to cook down.  Remove lid, add quinoa and pesto until warmed.  Serve with crumbled goat cheese.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Swimmer's Facial Needs

One of the less than pleasant aspects of being a triathlete is that sometimes it can wreak havoc on your skin.  Swimming is especially tough on my skin and dries out my face.  There are many days when I return from the pool at lunch with a face of scaly skin.  

One of my Black Friday shopping finds this year was a trial package of the Garnier Skin Renew Tissue Mask.  This was a special at one of the drugstore chains and it was a last minute addition to my basket as I waited for the person ahead of me in line to finish checking out.  

Garnier Skin Renew Dark Spot Treatment Mask is a thin, flexible fabric mask that you place onto your face.  The mask is soaked in a hydrating Vitamin C serum formula that hydrates your face.  

I really enjoyed my sample purchase and decided to purchase the full size box which comes with six treatment masks.  The directions call for usage three times per week or for a single one time use for 24 hour hydration.  I have elected to do the mask once per week to help re-hydrate my skin after the effects of swimming each week.  

The mask comes out of the package folded up onto itself.  It can be a little tricky to get it unfolded but once it is unfolded it is very easy to apply to your face.  The mask goes on and is very cool and refreshing feeling while on your face.  The mask sits on your face for about 10 minutes and then when you remove it you gently massage any remaining product into your skin.  

I can definitely feel a difference on my face after using the mask.  My skin feels dewy and fresh! I'm not into a lot of skin care routines but this is something that makes me feel like I'm giving back to my skin for the harsh conditions it survives in the pool! 

You can find this product in the beauty section near the other Garnier products of most major retailers with a beauty section.  

Disclosure: I purchased and tried these products with my own funds.  All opinions are based on my personal experience with the product.  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spring Time Fashion Fun

Spring has arrived! Over the past few weeks, I have been keeping an eye out for some new fashion finds.  With the changing seasons, I always feel the pull to update my wardrobe with a few pieces.

One thing that I love for spring is to break out dresses again.  I spend so much of the winter covered up in long pants for work.  I will wear skirts and dresses with tights in the winter but my go to is blank pants for work.

Here are a few of the finds that I managed to add to my spring collection.  The most expensive piece that I bought was around $35 but I think I still managed to find some cute and trend right items with sales and shopping discount stores.

Navy/Royal stripe dress from Kohls.  Soft comfy knit dress that will look great with either ballet flats or some cute sandals.  I love the zipper accents on the dress and think I'll pair it with a gold dangle necklace.

Black tank dress on clearance from Kohls.  This is a heavier knit dress from the Simply Vera Vera Wang collection.  This is a dress that I'll pair with a cardigan sweater and skinny belt.  The dress is drop-waisted with a fun flirty hemline detail.  The cardigan is just an example that is one of my old favorites because you can't go wrong with a little animal print.  Below is more detail of the belt options that I bought for this spring.
I found these fun belts at Walmart and all three were only $10.  The skinny belt is something that I consider more trendy than my normal style so I didn't want to make a large investment in order to try out the trend.  I loved the metallic gold and silver colors and the different design of each of the belts.

Black/White polka dot dress from Ross.  This is a simple sheath dress with a ruffle hemline.   The different widths of polka dots give the dress a lot of flair.  I'm planning to pair a colored multi-strand necklace with this dress to add a pop of color.  This dress also led to me updating another staple of my wardrobe...slips.  For years I have had the same ill-fitting slips.  I bought the wrong size years ago and in order to wear the slip I had to wear it up very high on my waist or it would just fall down. I found some great soft new slips and bought two lengths.  There are just some dresses that I feel more put together in with a slip on underneath.  It smooths everything out!

Up next is a skirt and shirt combo that I found at Walmart.  The total for this outfit was under $30! The skirt is a knit pencil skirt with a soft black/cream color stripe combo.  The top is a tunic style collared shirt with a slightly longer back made from soft rayon style fabric.

Lastly I have been picking up some woven tops for spring including a green gingham checkered shirt and this super cute neon pink bicycle print top.  I've worn the green check already and paired it underneath a navy blue cardigan to help transition to the season since the mornings are still pretty cool.

What are you picking up this spring to update your wardrobe?  I made sure to go through my clothes and pull out anything that I haven't worn in a while to move to a donation pile.  It's really hard to give up some clothes but if I haven't worn in more than a year I don't know why I should hold onto it.  I really need to declutter out my workout clothes but that is way harder...I love having options!

Disclosure: All purchases were made with my own funds and I was not compensated for the promotion of the retailers and or brands mentioned in this post.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Incorporating Veggies - Extra Veggie Turkey Chili

Sunday the weather was rather dreary.  I woke up to the sound of rain and knew that the group trail run planned for that morning would be scrapped.  I enjoyed a lazy morning and around 8:30 decided to head to the store for provisions.  I'm horrible about planning ahead so I didn't have a set menu in my head.  I knew that I wanted to make container salads to take to work for lunches but also wanted to prepare something for dinners.

I started in the produce section and picked up all my salad ingredients.  I checked around for what looked good and decided to make roasted vegetables.  I ended up with a good mixture of root vegetables like carrots and parsnips and also zucchini and yellow squash.  Next as I navigated through the store I walked the meat counter.  I decided on some lean ground turkey and then my plan for chili was hatched.

I love to make chili and almost always change it up slightly.  This time I managed to completely forget to buy an onion or a green pepper.  Usually those are two of my seasoning items that I prepare with the meat.  I tend to gravitate towards ground turkey in chili over beef but you can really use either.  Here's my recipe which is mostly dumping canned items! Super easy and turns out delicious and you get the bonus of sneaking in some extra veggies!  I usually sneak in zucchini into my chili recipe but you can add your favorite veggies.

Extra Veggie Turkey Chili
1 lb lean, ground turkey
1/2 C chopped carrots
1/2 C chopped zucchini
1 can dark red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can diced chili-ready tomatoes
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1/2 can corn kernels
1 packet chili seasoning
1 can tomato sauce (if needed)

Brown the meat over medium heat until cooked through.  Add carrots and zucchini to the pan and allow to cook a few minutes until softened.  Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix.  Heat through.  Serve over Fritos corn chips with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Kiss Me I'm Irish 10K Race Recap

Bentonville hosted a fun themed 5K/10K race event a few weeks ago to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.  The race was part of the Bentonville Racing Series and was new this year.

One of the race sponsors was Junk Brands which is a local company that makes fun sports headbands.  For this race, Junk had a special offer for race participants which was a custom Junk brands kilt and headband.  The kilt was a performance fabric kilt and the design was different than a lot of other skirts on the market.  It was a wrap around skirt with slits for movement.  I paired my kilt with a bright green shirt and a fun giant green bow headband.  I love a good theme race!
Me with co-workers Jenni and Chris

The race course was a little confusing when looking at the map.  It doubled back on itself a couple of times in order to stay within the vicinity of Memorial / Orchard Park and in order to offer both a 5K and 10K distance.  I elected to do the 10K and almost didn't make it to the starting line.  I was leaving the bathroom by the soccer fields and nearly wiped out on a patch of ice.  The roads were clear there was just this big patch of ice between the parking lot and bathroom entrance.

The race started with the 10K first and then the 5K group followed us a little later.  It was fun to cheer on the super fast 5K runners as they moved through the 10K field around the 1 mile mark.  I ran with a co-worker friend who is training in the half marathon group.  We had fun chatting with each other and those around us.

My favorite part of the race was one of the water stops.  It was located at a spot on the course that we visited three times and my niece's school was staffing it so I got to see my family three times during the race!  It was awesome to have a personal cheer squad during the race.

As soon as I finished the race I got super cold.  The temps were chilly and it had sprinkled a little during the race.  The wind was what killed me once we stopped moving.  I couldn't wait to get to the car and put on a fleece jacket.  We followed the race with a trip to Table Mesa for breakfast and it felt so good to get some hot food in me.