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hack it

8 Apr

I have been kind of obsessed with this recipe for Trader Joe’s Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger, Soba, and Fried Pork Crumbles from the Apartment Therapy Kitchn. They call it a “hack” because it’s not really a home-cooked recipe but I didn’t really care. (I made some squash soup a few months ago and while it was very tasty, there was SO MUCH OF IT! Cooking for one is hard!) The first time I saw it, I had to have it. Of course, I had no idea what miso was and whether or not I needed to buy some ginger or any of that. I just knew I wanted it!

After some poking around at TJs and WFs (and a little miso assistance from my friend Jenns: “Is it in the spice aisle, Jenns?” “Noooo. Try next to the tofu, crazy!”) (I paraphrase), I finally gathered enough ingredients to give it a go this evening for dinner.

All I have to say is YUM! Seriously. YUM! Now, I must admit I skipped the ginger and the garlic and I used dried cilantro because I live alone and I am not going to buy a big thing of ginger and cilantro. I am not really fans of either in large quantities and the idea of putting pork in a pan with oil in it was kind of boggling my mind (and the sausage was already Thai spiced) but it still turned out fantastic.

I halved the recipe, naturally, and used one of these tasty sausages. It’s not something I ever thought I would want to eat but I am really glad I put half of it away for lunch tomorrow before I ate my dinner because I would have scarfed down every last bite otherwise.  Next time, I will try to up the spice quotient a little bit but I was certainly very satisfied with how it turned out this time. I ran it through SparkRecipies and got pretty decent numbers for one filling (thanks, soba noodles!) serving:

  • Calories: 396.5
  • Total Fat: 12.4 g
  • Total Carbs: 64.0 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 3.0 g
  • Protein: 16.7 g

In the future, I might try to have some sort of salad on the side (perhaps this, another recipe that has been on my mind since I first saw it) (I wish I understood how flavors go together better!) or at least an extra veggie of some sort.

That makes two nights in a row of cooking triumph, as last night, I took a soup from Sunday night that was “meh” and turned it into a dinner I really liked. More gold stars for me! And yummy soup to look forward to for lunch, too!



7 Apr

Happy Hockey Boys are Inspirational

You may be asking yourself what a bunch of happy hockey players have to do with my health but, trust me, I am going to get to it! This isn’t just an excuse to post that awesome picture. Although I do adore looking at it. *stares for a moment*

Okay, here’s how the story goes. A few weeks ago, The BFF e-mailed me a proposition. “Let’s set some health and fitness goals,” she said. “And then when we reach them, we’ll buy season tickets for the Capitals!” Sometimes, she has awesome ideas. So we started to plan. However, the Caps threw a little (yet extremely AWESOME) wrench into our plans: THEY MADE THE PLAYOFFS! C-A-P-S! CAPS! CAPS! CAPS!

Uh. Anyway, after some research, we realized that a)season tickets were selling out fast, and b)if we bought them now, we were guaranteed playoff tickets at a discounted rate. After much conferring, we decided to go ahead and get them. Now, if you know me, you know that delayed gratification is an Achilles’ heel for me. To make this as legit as possible, we are all (The BFF’s roommate is also in) going to sign a contract stating that if we do not make our goals, we have to SELL our beloved tickets.

We decided to make Friday the deadline for coming up with our goals but I think I have them down for now. I tried to be as realistic as possible. And while I will be watching my weight, I have decided not to make any set weight goals, as I feel that eating better and exercise will naturally lead to it (hopefully!) and obsessing about the numbers is not really in my best interest at this time. I am trying to incorporate things that have worked in the past and leave behind the things that haven’t. We’ll see how that goes.

Here is what I have so far:

  1. Exercise at least 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Bring lunch to work at least 3 times a week.
  3. Update this here blog at least once a week.
  4. Eat more fruits and veggies!
  5. Track food on Spark
  6. Avoid white flour as much as possible.
  7. Avoid eating out as much as possible.

I’ve set up a little widget from Joe’s Goals to help me track my progress, which I will add to my sidebar as soon as WP stops being a bitch.

Amber's Personal Score Badge

The first five goals give me positive points and if I slip on the last two, points are taken away. I am trying to be realistic without being too vague and/or easy on myself. How am I doing? Should I be more strict? Not strict enough?

Hopefully, if all goes well, I’ll lose weight (so I can fit into the teeny arena seats better!) and have more energy (for cheering) when this is all said and done, as well as AWESOME season tickets to the Caps. However, I promise to never ever wear this. Probably. Maybe. Okay, no. Seriously. But I reserve the right to wear ridiculous things like that in the future if the spirit moves me.

Just Like Grandma Used to Make

2 May

Sometimes, I think my subject lines are too literal.

For dinner this evening, I made a broccoli casserole that my grandmother used to make for me when I was a kid. It wasn’t some Southern delicacy she learned growing up in Mississippi but one she got out of a popular woman’s magazine like Good Housekeeping or something.

It was part of her effort to get me to eat more veggies, as I was not a fan when I was a kid. Most of the time, I’d eat the tasty casserole goodness, picking around the icky broccoli. But she kept making it, probably in the hopes that some of the broccoli would accidentally make it into my mouth.

This was the first time I’ve ever made it for myself (I substituted some things to lower the fat and calories) and it certainly brought back a lot of memories. My grandmother is a bit of a conundrum for me because my relationship with her was always positive and loving. I don’t ever remember her raising her voice to me or anything.

But I learned later in life about the things she put my mother through as a child and it sort of boggles my mind a bit. It also explains a lot about how my mother ended up how she is. I won’t get into specifics because I am sure my mother would kill me if she learned I wrote about it on the Internet for all 7 of my readers to see.

I will say that appearance was a big, big deal. Not necessarily physical perfection, but the idea that we must never show the world who we really are inside. You should always appear happier, more together, etc. than you feel inside, no matter what the cost. My mother learned to push those feelings down and hide them with food, then passed that skill on to me.

As I sat here eating my casserole, I wasn’t really paying attention to the whole “stop when you are feeling a little full” thing. I wanted to eat as much of it as I could. Partly because I like the taste. Yes, now even the broccoli bits! But also because I wanted to get to feeling full as soon as possible. And when I got there, I wanted to eat a little bit more. Sometimes, I try to lie to myself and say that I just love the taste so much. But nothing tastes that good. I am not sure if it was brought on by memories of my grandmother and mother or just my general dysfunction.

I’ll share the recipe right now but you have to promise to a)call your grandmother if she is still alive, and b)eat it mindfully. 🙂


  • 1 10 oz pkg frozen chopped broccoli thawed & drained (I added a bit more as my bag was bigger and, to me, the point was the veggies)
  • 1 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 1 cup fat-free cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup Bisquick baking mix (I used the Heart Smart that really isn’t that much smarter but that’s all the store had so I went with it)
  • 1/4 cup margarine or butter (I used Land O’ Lakes whipped butter)
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute (replacement for 2 eggs)
  • 1 tomato, peeled & thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Grease lightly a square baking dish (8 x 8 x 2″)
  • Spread broccoli in dish
  • Beat sour cream, cottage cheese, Bisquick, butter & eggs substitute with hand beater for one minute
  • Pour over broccoli
  • Arrange tomato slices on top, sprinkle with parmesan
  • Bake until golden brown & knife inserted in center comes out clean (about 30-40 minutes)

According to SparkRecipies, if we consider it to make 8 small servings, the nutritional information is as follows:

Amount Per Serving
Calories 128.9
Total Fat 5.8 g
Saturated Fat 3.2 g
Cholesterol 14.1 mg
Sodium 217.5 mg
Potassium 192.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 12.8 g
Dietary Fiber 1.3 g
Sugars 3.8 g
Protein 8.9 g

Oh, also! Thanks for the lovely comments on my post yesterday. It is nice to know some people are reading!