Shrimp, spinach, and Soba noodles with garlic and white wine

One of the items in my first ever #Foodiepenpals box was Soba noodles from Lauren at Lauren Living Locally. Since I didn’t have Kale or Walnuts on hand to try the recipe she gave me, I decided to pair some great ingredients that I did have on hand. The result was Soba noodles with shrimp and spinach, and a garlic and white wine sauce. This recipe was for 1 person, so you would just need to multiply all ingredient amounts by the amount of people you want to serve. Both mom and brother sampled the recipe, and believe me- you’ll want to serve this one. It is ridiculously quick, simple, and one of the most incredible meals I have ever cooked solo at home!

Soba noodles with Shrimp, Spinach, and Garlic and White Wine Sauce

Ingredients

7-10 medium shrimp (I used frozen)

2-3 cloves of garlic, pressed (adjust depending on your tastes)

1 bundle Planet Organic Soba noodles

2 cups fresh spinach

1/4 cup white wine

2 tbsp Grape Seed or Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/8 cup butter or margarine (I used I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and had no issues)

Preparation

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat with the garlic, salt, and pepper to taste. Once the oil is heated, add the shrimp and cook 3-4 minutes per side, until each side turns pink and becomes opaque.

In a sauce pan heat water to boiling, and add Soba noodles once boiling. Reduce heat and let simmer for 4-6 minutes until tender.

While noodles are cooking, remove shrimp from skillet and add butter and white wine to the same pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes over medium heat, until mixture begins to thicken, and then cover with a lid and simmer for 2-3 more minutes. Add the shrimp back to the sauce pan and let sit in the sauce for 1-2 minutes while you drain the noodles.You can add the spinach to the shrimp mixture to wilt slightly if you prefer, but I like mine with a bit of crunch, so I simply put it in the serving dish, mixed it with the still-hot Soba noodles, and let the spinach only wilt slightly.

I mixed the sauce with the noodles and tossed lightly with tongs. After adding a shake of some grated Parmesan, I dug right in to this exquisite dish!

Calories according to the MFP Recipe Tool: 476 calories, 62g of carbs, 10g of fat, 33g of protein, and 4g of fiber!

Amanda’s #FoodiePenPals post

So my first #FoodiePenPals recipient is a blog reader, but does not have a blog of her own. She graciously agreed to write a guest post outlining the items that I sent along to her! Her post is below, and you can find out more about #FoodiePenPals on my post, or at our sensational host, Lindsay’s blog!

I was so excited to get my first foodie pen pal!  I had been out of town and came back to a wonderful box of goodies from Ashlee.

The first thing I did was make a piece of toast and put the Billy Bee spreadable honey all over it.  It was so yummy and it did spread very easy.  I think this will be great over top many breakfast items.

Over the next 2 days I snacked on the Fruitzo freeze dried fruit snacks  Ashlee sent me apricot and kiwi.  Now here is the beautiful thing about foodie pen pals…I would have NEVER picked these out and if I have it would not have been these fruits but I LOVED the apricot.  I know for sure when I travel to CA for a week this summer these bad boys are getting packed.  They will travel well and the whole package is 100 calories which is a perfect portion size.  I liked the kiwi but it did get very sour (think green sour patch kid) so I might try another fruit next.

Now the next thing I used is the Vidalia vinaigrette, this was my boyfriends favorite foodie pen pal item.  I marinated chicken in this and grilled it.  Amazing and so healthy.  I eat a lot of chicken so I am always looking for new ways to spice it up a bit.  This was perfect.  I also think it will be great to make a stir fry.

Lastly, Ashlee sent me Garlic Clove Foods vegetable quinoa mix.  I have not had a chance to make this yet but it looks delish and I love quinoa.  I want to thank Ashlee again for such a great box!  It was so fun to try new food items!

Foodie Pen Pals!

So last month I read about the Foodie Pen Pals program from Dena at 40 Fit In The Mitt, and I just knew that I had to sign up! It’s a really fun program started by Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean  that matches bloggers and readers across the country get matched and send each other foodie-inspired packages. Now, first let me say this: KUDOS to Lindsay. This is not only the best idea ever, but she does an absolutely fantastic job organizing everything. There will be more about Foodie Pen Pals after my post for anyone interested in participating, but for now…here is my first box reveal!

This month my foodie pen pal was Lauren, from Lauren Living Locally. I visited her blog before receiving my package, and I was extremely excited to be paired with her! I just knew she would send me different, delicious treats, and for my first #Foodiepenpals box, she definitely did not disappoint!

In my box Lauren included lots of yummy goodies, including Almond butter from The Orchards inPomona,NY(something I have been dying to try, but never purchased because Alex refuses to try it!), Bread and Butter Pickles (again, much to Alex’s dismay! *More on that later!), Roasted Natural Sea Weed, Soba noodles, and a recipe for Soba noodles with kale and walnuts!

The absolute first thing I did was stir up the almond butter and gently spread it across a piece of honey wheat bread. Emphasis on gentle. The almond butter was much crunchier than traditional peanut butter, and had a prominent saltiness mixed in among the sweet. It wasted of delicious toasted almonds- I really cannot explain how delicious it was! It is definitely something I will continue to treat myself with, whether Alex partakes in it or not!

*When I opened my package I took out the most gigantic jar of delicious, home-made looking pickles that I have ever laid eyes on. Anyone who knows me and Alex knows that I love pickles more than most any food in the world, and the simple smell of pickles will send Alex into fits of retching that can last for hours. Seriously, I once ate a cheeseburger with pickles on it for lunch, and he could still detect pickles when I kissed him hello six hours later. The look on his face was quite possibly the funniest I have ever witnessed, and I could not have been happier to receive this glorious jar of pickles!

When I opened the jar and took the first bite, it was out of this world. A lovely crunch, with a soft, tart center- the perfect punch of sour, followed by that distinct, buttery sweetness. I am in pickle heaven.

The roasted sea week is the item I was both most scared, and most interested to try. Lauren warned me in her letter that they were an acquired taste, but I was determined to try them! They’re really not bad. I finally understand what contributes that flavor to sushi, as I never really attributed it to the sea weed before for some reason. Definitely not a snack I can eat a ton of at once, but it definitely is a nice alternative for a salty snack.

The final item was a package of Planet Organic Soba Noodles. I’ve never tried soba noodles, but have heard only good things about them. Not only did Lauren send me some, but she was sweet enough to include a recipe for soba noodles with kale and walnuts. I haven’t had the chance to try it yet (I haven’t been out to get the kale and walnuts) but I did try the noodles tonight with some ingredients I had on hand, and made a killer meal for dinner!

Remember to check out more information about #Foodiepenpals on Lindsay’s blog, and sign up to participate soon! Stay tuned for a guest post from my #foodiepenpals recipient, Amanda, in the next post!

The strange things that change

Completely changing the way you do pretty much everything does not come without its challenges. I have had to understand how my body works, change things that have been lifelong habits, and work hard to maintain those changes. Sometime along the way my body started changing, and suddenly some of those challenges have shifted, some disappeared altogether. Some new challenges have come up that are altogether unexpected.

One of the biggest surprises and subsequent challenges from the beginning my journey was the amount of calories I drank every day. Sodas, tea, hundreds of calories at a time, and on top of that more sugars and sodium than I care to think about now. I didn’t even consider diet sodas as an option- I have developed ridiculous dependence on them before, and I know they are just not at all good for you. Water was a struggle, even with Crystal Light (pretty much the only way I can drink water…) I was not at all consistent.

Even though it was difficult, I pushed through. I got a water bottle large enough to make it easy to get in my daily allotment without losing count or stressing out about getting the right amount. I stayed diligent, only ordering water anytime we go out to eat, starting my day with a glass, ending my day with a glass, pushing through even when it is difficult. Over the last four months, my body’s aversion to water has changed. What used to be a struggle, is not something I rely on. When I’m thirsty, I crave water. I know when I haven’t had enough.

Another thing that has changed significantly is my food cravings. Sweets and chocolate were never something I liked. I have never disliked them, but I would opt for a savory snack over pretty much any sweet selections. Sodium is one of the things that I monitor pretty closely, and overtime those tastes have completely changed. Rather than unhealthy snacks like Cheez-Its or Chex Mix, or even healthier options like carrots or celery I cannot make it through the day without a taste of something sweet. This week my reward when I have the extra calories to spare has been a couple Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Nuggets with Almonds. They are just sweet enough, have a little crunch, and a half serving (2 pieces) is only about 90 calories. It’s just enough to satisfy the craving, and not so much that I go over all of my limits for the day.

Where I used to love indulging in a big, juicy steak, my body screams for vegetables, salmon, chicken. Chips and dip are carrots and hummus. These things aren’t hard anymore. They are what my body wants. These changes are the real NSVs, the little victories that reaffirm that this is a lifestyle change, a new way of eating, living, being that makes me feel good emotionally, and physically.

These are strange changes; things I hoped for, but never quite expected. These are the things that make me smile at the end of another day where I made healthier decisions, and thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them.

Veggie slump

Okay, people. I’m in a veggie slump. One of the staples of my healthier eating has been tons of fresh veggies, prepared by me at home where I can control the amount of salt, butter, etc. that goes on or in the food I prepare.

There are some staples that I love, and just can’t get enough of (like spinach, for instance) and plenty of others that I keep in the house regularly. The problem is, I feel like I’m running out of ways to prepare them to make it feel like I’m not eating the exact same thing day in and day out!

Veggies I keep in plenty:

Cabbage
Spinach
Mushrooms
Sweet Potatoes
Yellow Squash
Zucchini Squash
Asparagus
Brussel Sprouts
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Pole Beans

Pretty much the most creative cooking these get is going on the grill versus the microwave or stovetop. I need something new, fresh, exciting. New veggies to try, or new applications and flavor combinations for these veggies I already know and love!

I’m not opposed to trying new veggies, but the reason these have become my staples is because this is primarily what I can find easily at the local grocers and farmer’s markets.

I do have relatively easy access to an H-Mart (Asian superstore for those unfamiliar…) and their produce section feels as big as the entire grocery secttion at a Wal-Mart, but I don’t know what half of it is and it intimidates me!

What veggies do you eat, and what is your favorite way to prepare them? I would love some feedback from everyone!

NSV…FTW!

For those of you who do not speak in internet acronym, today’s post will share a couple of NSVs (non-scale victories) that I have had this week (for the win!)

First, I want to mention my scale. I have not lost it forever, I have not thrown it out the window, and the number is not going back up in the wrong direction. That being said, you won’t see any scale posts here for a couple more weeks. When I started losing more and more noticeable amounts of weight, I fell into the trap I always do: slave to the scale. I refuse, absolutely REFUSE, to let that happen to me on this journey. This is about so much more than the number on the scale, that I know when I start hopping on it every single day, sometimes more than once…it’s time to lock it up for a few weeks.

So this week, I celebrate some NSVs!

1. Towels. I have pretty much used nothing but beach towels since high school, because it was the only kind big enough to wrap completely around me without paying $20-30 for a big fancy department store “bath sheet.” 1st of all, let me say: no towel should cost that much. I am not paying that amount of money to dry my butt off, unless it’s going to do all of the work for me. And 2nd, I refuse to use a towel referred to as a “sheet.” Doesn’t really help the fat complex.

Today, for the 1st time since probably 8th grade, I was able to use a regular old towel and with the exception of the very very widest part of my hips, it wrapped all the way around!

2. Sizes. So I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I’m almost down 3 full sizes- almost, but not quite there yet. Well, I can officially say: when I started my journey, I was starting to outgrown my 26Ws. You did not read wrong, that was a twenty-six. 2 – 6. I have never felt more horrible about myself than getting to that point. I had previously felt that way before when I realized my already gargantuan-feeling 24Ws were starting to get snug, but that thought of moving into a 28W was something I just couldn’t handle. That was the maximum size at a lot of stores that I shop at! No way was I going to have to purchase the biggest options.

I’ll admit, it was honestly more than just the number on the tag. I am an apple shape (which in case you’re not aware is pretty much the worst thing ever, AND the most difficult thing to shop for, ugh.) So having to buy clothes to fit my lovely “apple” (aka my size 26W+ waist/stomach) they are HUGE on my everywhere else. I’ve never had particularly large hips/thighs, and I have NO ass to speak of. So I pretty much look like I’m wearing a potato sack most of the time in jeans, capris, anything really that is designed to fit a size 26W.

Saturday Alex and I went to Discover Mill’s to check out their Sears outlet and Ross store to see if they had any good deals. I was able to squeeze myself (uncomfortably) into 2 pairs of capris, both size 20W. I almost talked myself out of buying them because they were tighter than I wanted, but since I could button and zip them all the way, and they were just uncomfortable, I still got them since the price was right and I knew they’d fit in a couple of weeks. Imagine my surprise when I threw them on Sunday and realized they fit perfectly. All I can think is that I must have been bloated while we were shopping because not only do both pairs still fit perfectly today, but they’re actually even the slightest bit roomy!

Just a little more hard work and a little more time, and I’ll be out of the 20’s forever! Have you had any NSVs this week? If you haven’t heard this term before, definitely work it into your vocabulary- when I finally stop staring at the scale and take a look at the things going on in my life, I start to see more and more of these little victories. I’m not going to lie- sometimes they feel even better than seeing the numbers on the scale!

Cheers!

Who says healthy can’t be tasty?

This will be a short post, as I’ve discussed all possible relative topics to death, and nothing is really a new “recipe” (excepting maybe the quinoa.)

This, is why I am in love with my grill. And salmon.

The zucchini, squash, and asparagus was done in a basket on the grill. In cheated and microwaved the quinoa in a little water, and when it was finished I added roughly 1/4 cup of chopped grape tomatoes, and a tablespoon of tomato basil feta. The salmon got nothing but a pinch of salt and pepper, and a salt-water soaked cedar plank. De-lic-ious.

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