My Love for Cooking

I was lucky to grow up with a mom who could cook! We even ate a lot of things as kids that most adults dislike (i.e. brussels sprouts). It was important to my parents that we have family dinner during the week nights. It was a time for us to come together as a family and for my parents to learn about how our days’ went. It was their little way of checking in on us kids. Occasionally we did take out, but usually mom cooked.

As I got older, I could be found in the kitchen helping my mom. I have truly learned from the best, and continue to learn from her daily. When I go home to Pittsburgh, and mom’s cooking, I’m either in the kitchen helping or keeping my mom company. For me, cooking is another way to escape from all the worries of the day (my workouts do the same thing). I would much rather cook than bake. Baking to me is too precise and rigid, where as cooking you can throw a meal together and measurements are not everything. Lately though, I’ve gotten more curious about baking (mainly because I want to make gluten free goodies). I’ve even considering experimenting with my company’s all-purpose flour; we’ll see what happens πŸ™‚

There are many reasons why cooking from scratch is good, but I won’t get into the reasons. I like that I can use fresh ingredients when I cook and control my portions. It is all part of my equation to live a healthier lifestyle. I’ve always felt that it is easier to cook for a group of people than it is to cook for just one. Although, I’ve become pretty good at making meals for one. In college we would have Thursday or Sunday night dinner where I would cook for a group of 10-15 people. I loved it!

Since I’ve been dating the boy, I’ve been making several meals for two. Last night I made sea bass with green beans and quinoa salad. The boy said it was by far his favorite meal I’ve made yet! πŸ™‚ I found a recipe on Food Network for Sea Bass alla Fiorentina, but had to change it up when I forgot the gluten free flour at home. Again, it was the boys favorite meal I’ve made so clearly it all turn out well. Here are the recipes:

Sea Bass with Tomato Basil Sauce_Green Beans_Quinoa Salad

Bon AppΓ©tit!

Let’s talk about…

meal planning! I have learned the importance of meal planning and the positive impact it has on my life both from a healthy eating standpoint and a time management standpoint.

planning

We are all busy! We live in a world where doing just one thing is a time of the past. We want information and things right away, and don’t have much patience. We all have responsibilities that we tend to on a daily basis-taking care of the family; finishing up a project at work; taking the kids to school/play dates; doing housework; etc. and there never seems to be enough hours in the day. Some of us make to-do lists to keep track of what needs to get done, others just wing it. I myself am a list person. If it’s not on the list then I forget about it and it doesn’t get done. (We can talk about making lists at a later date.) πŸ™‚

Last year when I started my healthy lifestyle journey I planned things that I was going to eat, but never really took the time to sit down and plan and prep my meals for the week. When I did the Ultimate Reset this past January, the meals were planned out for each of the three weeks and a grocery list for each week was put together. Man was life easy! I knew what I was eating every day and knew exactly what I needed to get at the grocery store (I’m usually good at making a grocery list, but it helps that it translates into meals).

Over the last five months I have gone back and forth between planning meals and winging it. The last few weeks life has been so busy (no excuse) that I haven’t done much planning. I think about what I have at home, think about what I could grab at the store and then just make a random meal from what I end up having in the house. Not the best way to go; definitely not easy either. I realized this week that I need to get back to my old ways

motivation and habit

So what does that mean? Meal planning on Friday or Saturday, including writing out what I need from the grocery store. Sunday is for grocery shopping and meal prepping. Cleaning and cutting fruits and veggies, cooking quinoa, lentils or meat, and prepping any meals that are just as good reheated or after they’ve marinated for a couple of days. There’s something awesome about being able to open your fridge, grabbing what you need, and go. There’s also something great about not having to figure out each day what you’ll have for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Next week it’s on! Back to my old ways. I’ll share with you my meal plan for the week, as well as my grocery list and pictures of my prep.

Question: Who’s with me?

For the love of grocery stores

My favorite part of the weekend was my trip to the grocery. No, really. I. love. the grocery store! I couldn’t wait to go so that I could start cooking and clean eating. I’ve gotten off track these last couple of weeks because of the move, but I was determined to change things.

HEB

I couldn’t contain my excitement to get inside the store. I was also the creeper taking pictures hoping that no one would notice. Look at all the fresh produce.

Fresh produce

Got a lot of good stuff. Can’t wait to get cooking.

fresh food

On Friday, I went to a work function. Aquasana, a Texas based company, recently moved closer to downtown Austin, and they had an open house to show off their new office space. I went to the event and brought our blondies and brownies. They were a hit!

I got this cool new water bottle, and got to try their sparkling water.

Aquasana Event

Saturday I got up and had breakfast of champions – 2 kind bars. They were tasty!

Saturday breakfast

I spent all of Saturday running errands. And as much as I hate shopping, the weather helped to brighten the day. Who can complain about sunshine?

Beautiful weather

I stopped by Whole Foods for a good healthy lunch to keep me going. I had a side of kettle chips; they’re healthy too, right? πŸ˜‰

Healthy Eating

I was determined to find items that would help me to better organize the kitchen, bathroom and closet. I had an idea of what I was looking for, but wasn’t really sure how much I would need or if the pieces would work for the spaces I had identified. So, I grabbed what I could find and kept in mind that I could return whatever I didn’t need or didn’t work.

I started at the Container Store. I really like the Container Store, but in general they are expensive. However, there is something about their products that just make sense. I mean they’re called the Container Store for a reason! Since they are having their Spring sale, I figured it was worth taking a look. I ended up grabbing several pieces to help me organize my bathroom. Here is the bathroom when I first started organizing.

Bathroom craziness

And a few of the drawers after I was done

make up

Nail polish anyone? πŸ˜‰

nail polish

I meant to take a picture of the 2 drawer shelves that I got for under my sink. Since the containers that I had didn’t fit under the sink, and the only other storage in my bathroom is open shelving, I needed a different organizing solution. I got two of these for under my sink

Silver 2-drawer mesh organizer

They work really well and hold a lot of product. I highly recommend these to anyone who has a bunch of stuff under their sink, but can’t easily access it. Being able to slide the shelves was a big selling point for me.

After a long day of shopping and organizing I got a good night sleep in preparation for more shopping the next day. I had things that needed to be returned and a few other things to pick up.

Sunday was another beautiful day

Sunday Weather

I made my way to Ikea because the shelving unit I got from Target didn’t work (poor quality). It’s okay, because I love any excuse to go to Ikea.

Ikea

I had one of their tv consoles for 7 years, but finally threw it out because it became too much when moving. It’s definitely a piece that I could see myself buying again, just not right now. I did however, end up with a piece from that same line. I was looking for shelving that I could put in my closet to hold t-shirts, long sleeve t’s, sweatpants and jeans, and sweatshirts. I wanted something that was easily accessible and didn’t take up too much room. I immediately put this together when I got home and put my clothes away. Happy, happy, joy, joy!

closet shelves

All-in-all I had a great weekend filled with shopping, organizing, cleaning and cooking. Hands down my favorite part was going to the grocery store. It’s the only kind of shopping that I like. There are so many good, healthy (and gluten free) choices that get my wheels spinning on new dishes to make or recipes to try.

I normally go to the store with a list of what I need to get, but it’s always fun to go and pick out what’s super fresh and then determine later what you will make. Good rule of thumb, shop the perimeter of the store. This is where the better for you, less proceeded foods are located. Again, that’s not to say you can’t wander into the aisle. There are some good things you can eat, and some treats. Hey, everything in moderation.

One last thing, I’m happy to report I’m down to just two boxes.

photo 3

Like my “couch” and “coffee table”? πŸ™‚ Haha. One week down and only 7-9 more until my couch arrives!

Question: What was your favorite part of your weekend?