Friday, December 23, 2011

Hello Beaches and Sunshine!

I'm leaving with my family tomorrow to go on a cruise around the Bahamas and I'm totally psyched! We're flying out to Miami tomorrow morning and then boarding the cruise ship.
Sadly, wi-fi aboard the ship is $2 per MINUTE, which means I'm not going to be able to post the next week unless by some miracle I find a cafe while we're onshore that has free wifi. Let's keep our fingers crossed!
If that miracle doesn't happen, I'll be positive to post a super long post about it once I'm back from my trip. Be sure to stay tuned and check back!
Gotta go pack my bikinis now!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Last-minute holiday recipes for the procrastinator

I've said it time and time again- I am a procrastinator. Not to say I'm proud of it, of course, although sometimes it does feel like quite an accomplishment to sucessfully pull together a last-minute project. So obviously, I put off all my holiday wrapping and baking until the night before I need to have it done. Oops.
Not to fear however- here're two go-to treats that each take about 15 minutes to make, and will be thoroughly appreciated by children. Plus they're relatively mess-free, so if you're really running late you can whip them up in your party outfit right before you leave. (Not that I'd ever recommend piping chocolate in Lanvin.)


*3 cups of chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate
*Any topping or filling of your choice- I mixed in some failed toffee that had stuck to the pan and topped it with almonds. Crushed candy canes, walnuts, and jam are all great. You can pretty do whatever for this one.

1.) Melt chocolate in microwave for about 1 minute, then mix in filling (optional)
2.) Microwave for another 30 second and stir well
3.) Pipe onto greased cookie sheets, or do as I did and just drop by heaping spoonfuls.

4.) Let chocolate set for 30 seconds and then press topping onto each. Chill for 30 minutes; if you're really pressed for time, pop then in the freezer and you'll be good to go in 10.


Simply use this 3-ingredient peanut butter cookie recipe and roll dough into small 1-inch balls, then press an M&M into the center of each.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Banana Orange "Sunshine Smoothie"

I don't know about you, but I start longing for beaches and sunshine approximately 3.5 days after the first snowfall. Honestly, I am a tropical weather girl. In my perfect world, 1 week of fluffy light snowfall a year (ideal for skiing!) is enough. Fall is romantic and summer is bright, but winter and spring are just cold, slogging affairs that drag on and on and on. Plus the weather outside today is gloomy and dark, a strangely wet day for the beginning of winter.
So as another pick-me-up (I seem to require a lot of those lately) I made myself a banana-orange smoothie, also largely due to the fact that bananas and oranges are the only fresh tropical fruits I have on hand right now.

*1 ripe banana, roughly sliced
*1/2 cup milk
*Juice of 1/2 a fresh orange
*3-4 ice cubes

1.) Put everything in blender and blend on high for about 10-15 seconds.

2.) Garnish with wedge of orange if desired and serve.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Easy Holiday Sugar Cookies drizzled with chocolate and almonds

My little brother was apparently craving some basic sugar cookies last night, so we embarked on a late-night baking session. It was really nice to spend some (though slightly rushed) time with him, and I kept everything super basic as per his instructions.
You see, my little brother is a super exact person who at age ten has the meticulousness which makes him obviously destined for some anal profession such as dentistry or accounting, not to say that's a bad thing or to bash on those highly respectable professions since I'm sure I'll be grateful for his dental services in my old age.

These are just your basic sugar cookies which you can either keep simple or go all out and use the recipe as a base for add-ins such as chocolate kisses and pretzel bits, or frost them. I drizzled the top with chocolate and sprinkled on some chopped almonds.
Either way, this recipe is a super easy one that takes only about 15 minutes total to concoct and is also perfect for tackling wayward cravings.

RECIPE: (from
*2 3/4 cups flour
*1 teaspoon baking soda
*1/2 teaspoon baking powder
*1 cup butter
*1 cup sugar
*1 egg
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*3 cups of chocolate chips, melted
*About 1/2 cup of almonds (might be less; that's just a guesstimate), chopped

1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
2.) Sift together dry ingredients
3.) Soften butter and cream together with sugar, egg, and vanilla. Mix in well with the dry ingredients
4.) Roll dough into balls and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden. Set out to cool on wire rack.

5.) When completely cool, drizzle with chocolate and top with almonds.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thursday Pick-Me-Up

Thursdays are such a downer for me. It's getting towards the end of the week with Friday in sight bring promise of the relative freedom of the weekend, but it's NOT Friday yet and the week just gets so tedious.
So from now on, every regular Thursday I'll be posting a list of three of my accomplishments this week so far, as well as one little thing in life that makes me happy.

Of course, a post is just not as good without some pictures, so here's some photos of Lulu to start us off:

(BTW I spent quite a bit of time chasing her around trying to get these photos, since she obviously didn't learn "stay" very well in doggie school.)

Another blurry picture of her playing ninja!

Anyways, here are some things I accomplished this week:

1.) Ran 5k last night
2.) Brushed Lulu
3.) Got 100% on a pop quiz while forgetting to study the night before

Something that's making me happy right now:

*It's orange season! Don't you just love the smell of fresh, tangy citrus?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Granola bars: turned into an awesome pre-workout snack/breakfast!

This is hands-down the simplest, tastiest, and best granola recipe I have ever tried. The saying "the best things are simple" clearly applies to this case. Yum. I've been looking for a granola recipe that's simple and has more of an earthy/oaty taste, and this is it.
It's a great recipe if you (like me) don't have any rice crispie cereal on hand and need a super nutritious and non-processed yet satisfying snack.

They're a great no-bake option as well- just press dough into pan and refridgerate for 60 minutes.

You can add dried fruit, chocolate chips, wheat germ, flaxseed, nuts, other seeds, and such to your granola bars to your taste. I added some wheat germ and chocolate chips, since in my world everything's better with chocolate!

RECIPE: (from
*4 cups rolled oats
*1/2 cup unsalted peanuts, chopped
*3/4 cup natural peanut butter or sunbutter, melted
*1/2 cup brown rice syrup (I used honey and it works gorgeously)

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2.) Mix all ingredients together and knead until fully incorporated. You may need to add a bit more honey or peanut butter depending on what you added into the granola bar
3.) Press dough firmly into greased pan and bake for about 25 minutes
4.) Take out and let cool


I crumbled a bar onto half a cup of low fat plain yogurt and added some raspberries and blackberries. Drizzled it with some honey and voila! The perfect pre-workout snack!

Just looking at this makes me happy ;p

Monday, December 5, 2011

Avocado Almond Crostini

This is a delicious and easy party appetizer, and one of my favorite post-run meals. The nuttiness of the almonds and olive oil really pulls together the whole thing, and the almonds give it a little crunch.
It's a bit like guacamole on top of a slice of toasted baguette, but I am quite proud of myself for coming up with the addition of nuts- again, it really pulls the whole thing together.

RECIPE: serves about 10 slices
*1 ripe avocado
*1 teaspoon lemon juice
*1 teaspoon garlic powder or grated garlic
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*Pinch of pepper, to taste
*About 3/4 a baguette
*1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
*About 20 raw almonds, roughly chopped (roughly in half)

1.) Slice baguette into 10 slices
2.) Lightly drizzle with olive oil and toast for a few minutes on both sides until just golden
3.) Dice avocado but don't mash until guacamole consistency

*Mix in the pepper, salt, garlic, and lemon juice, being careful not to over-mash the soft avocado
*Dollop about a teaspoon of avocado onto each slice of baguette
*Garnish with chopped almonds and serve!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Day 3: Final day

It's the last day of my prehistoric-inspired living, and I'm proud to say I have not let a bite of anything containing sugar down my throat. I did lick a cookie once out of sheer desperation but immediately dropped it and it was devoured by the ever-alert Lulu.

BREAKFAST: Snacked on a pear, an orange, and a bit of whole wheat baguette with canola oil while waiting for my family to wake up

LUNCH: Then brunched on some salt-boiled duck and lettuce boiled in the duck stock. Have I mentioned my immense love for lettuce or cabbage in soups and stews? There's just something about the crunchiness and the way the leaves hold in liquid and flavor...
Anyways, I had a few bites of that as well as another couple pears which I downed like candy

DINNER: Hand-pulled noodle soup with potatoes and tofu in it. A few chunks of leftover duck, two pears, and a handful of almonds.

OBSERVATIONS: Amazingly, I've been eating wayyy more than usual since I've cut out sugar- I guess my body needs the calories it usually gets from chocolate and cookies. But that's questionable, since I've been working out a lot harder this week as well so the increase in my intake may be due to that as well.

Overall this was an interesting experience, though I'm feeling a bit bloated from all the fruit I've been eating. Hope all of you who did this detox with me made it through three whole days of cave people food.

I'm already planning what I'm going to make tomorrow to break my sugar fast... y'all should look forward to some decadently amazing confections!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Day 2: Drooling over food network

Okay, so I've made it through almost two full days without bread (I haven't had time to bake any and I don't trust all the preservatives in the store-bought sliced kind; but you can have whole wheat bread if you want or french baguettes since french bread usually has less preservatives than pre-sliced white bread) , sugar, or CHOCOLATE. Good lord. On the sugar front, I've got to say this is a landmark for me. Most of the time when I "swear off sugar forever," usually after consuming too much brownie batter, I cave in like six hours.
I almost couldn't resist temptation today when my sweet neighbor brought over some italian cookies in the afternoon which the rest of my family was relishing... I was literally sniffing the pastries and my tougue was half a millimeter away from dooming my integrity. However, summoning the willpower of Superwoman, (hey I bet she has to work out a LOT to keep in ass-kicking shape wearing that tiny bikini and defend wimpy chocolaholics like me) I managed to clutch at what was left of my dignity, grab a handful of almonds, and head to the treadmill to burn off all that energy while envisioning a giant creme crepe dangling in front of me.

Here's the (proudly sugar-free) intake of the day:

BREAKFAST: Oatmeal with an egg boiled into it. Some turkey and an apple. Snacked on another apple halfway through class.

LUNCH: A turkey salad (lettuce, carrots, celery, shredded leftover turkey) dressed with soy sauce and apple vinegar. Pear for dessert.

DINNER: Mom made turkey and carrot dumplings! (Like potstickers but boiled rather than fried) Such a pick-me-up after falling asleep twice in class. Had a few of those and three pears plus handfuls of almonds to pull me through my workout.

WORKOUT: 30 minutes strength-building yoga, 30 minutes intense cardio intervals on the treadmill- 6 sets of 4 minutes super intense running (about 7-8 on the intensity scale, 10 being you're running from me on a bad hair day) followed by 1 minute of brisk walking. 5 minute cooldown.

I'm watching a rerun of Top Chef: Just Desserts right now and I think mom is yelling at me for getting the couch wet with drool...
Only one more day left- hope y'all are doing well!
Here're some recipes I'm dying to try out after the sugar deprevation is over:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day 1: Mildly craving a cookie

This hasn't been a huge lifestyle change for me, but I definitely do miss chocolate. I'm a firm believer in that every meal should have dessert, and so my fruit consumption has gone way up. You'll also find I eat a lot of home-cooked chinese food, as in my house pretty much all the meals are Chinese food  (unless I'm in a mood for more adventurous cooking.) since we're a Chinese family!
Here's what I ate today:

BREAKFAST: Millet and wild rice porridge; a staple food of Northern Chinese, this porridge is a bit more like a thick gruel. Had a bite or two of dried meat (my mom makes it herself and hangs it in the garage) as well as some stir-fried corn in my porridge. Several handfuls of yummy ripe blackberries to slake my sweet tooth.

LUNCH: I packed some steamed turkey salad with carrots, celery, and romaine lettuce, dressed in a bit of soy sauce, olive oil, and apple wine vinegar, garnished with black pepper. A pear (one of my fave fruits!) for dessert

DINNER: This one's a bit tougher, since I volunteered at the community center and dinner was provided there. Of course, since they were serving pizza and catering leftovers, I ate beforehand. Had a whole box of blackberries (yes I know that is a helluva lot of blackberries) to staunch my sudden urge to empty a box of brownie batter, and a large portion of baked salmon and broccoliwith another pear for dessert. Ate at around 3:30 to 4:00, so after the volunteering event was over I had an apple and some almonds to power me through one and a half hour of dance.