Sunday, January 29, 2012


Tonight's dinner featured my favorite cooking method - oven roasted.
Tikka Masala Chicken  Nuggets + Cinnamon Dusted Sweet Potatoes + Citrus Herb Seasoned  Zucchini
I had an odd craving for chicken nuggets the other day, so I deemed it the perfect reason to pull a lonely chicken breast out of the freezer (gotta love Earth Fare's great coupons!).  After cutting it into nugget shapes, I gave them a quick spray of olive oil and then rolled them in panko bread crumbs and tikka masala seasoning.  Baked at 425 for 16 minutes (flipped at the halfway point).  Delicious!

I started the day out with a hearty breakfast to fuel a day of studying.
Scrambled Eggs + Cranberry-topped Oatmeal Scone + Cara Cara Orange
Then I proceeded to spend a couple hours at Starbucks attempting to study.  I was struggling to focus at home and thought the getaway would do me some good.  Unfortantely, some new parents had the same idea and brought their beautiful, yet VERY upset baby to hang out while they enjoyed a latte.  Mission study with a latte - FAIL.

Back at home I continued to study, yet never could get in a groove.  I am so completely burnt out studying, it is ridiculous.  I went for a run to try to clear my head and find a better mood, but it turned out to be a miserable 8 miles.  The legs felt like lead and I just couldn't get into a good rhythm.  So, after a lackluster day, I've declared it a study free night.  Hopefully tomorrow will bring some better mojo.

Before I forget, I can't help but mention my awesome dessert last night.
Gingerbread Cookie + Cinnamon Banana "Ice Cream"
The Vitamix comes through again!  The banana ice cream is so simple and healthy, yet it tastes like a creamy confection from the local ice cream shoppe.  Just one large frozen banana and ~1/4 cup of almond milk thrown in the blender and turned on high for approximately 30 seconds.  It would be really great topped with hot fudge too!

Time to watch some soccer.  Go USA!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sun-Soaked Saturday

Is it really January?  I could have sworn it was the dead of winter, yet the weather outside feels more like early spring.  I was definitely that girl laying out on my back deck this afternoon in shorts and a tank-top soaking up every last warm beam of sunshine.  Seriously, the day was absolutely PERFECT!  65 degrees and bright sunshine at the end of January - I'll take it!

This is really where I would like to have been laying out, but a girl can't be too picky.
By the way, t-minus 15 weeks until I really will be staring at scenes like this!
While it may sound nice to be a lazy bum in the sunshine all day, I actually had much bigger things on the agenda.    I'm taking USMLE Step 3 this week, which means it's non-stop studying going on around here.  Fortunately, the studying is quite amenable to happening in the sunshine.  This is the last USMLE test I have to take, thank goodness.  All medical students are required to take Step 1 after second year and Step 2 during fourth year.  Finally, you take Step 3 as an intern.  The test covers everything related to patient care, ranging from internal medicine to pediatrics to ob/gyn to surgery.  As a surgery resident, it's been a long time since I've studied lots of those topics, so it's been a whirlwind month of review.

I'll be really happy to toss this book in a corner and never look at it again.

I broke my studying up with a strength session at the gym around noon time and then a 90 minute bike workout before dinner.  Exercise is always a good way to break up the monotony of studying.

Speaking of dinner, here's a really quick and simple vegetarian-friendly meal idea.
Mixed Up Kale Salad

  • Brown rice (cooked earlier in the week and leftovers chilled)
  • Trader Joe's Marinated Bean Salad
  • Scallions
  • Kale
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Bell Pepper
  • Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette (you could easily substitute a dressing/balsamic vinegar of your choice) 

I quickly blanched the kale, bean sprouts, and bell pepper in boiling water for approximately 90 seconds.  I then quickly rinsed them in cold water.  Combine all your ingredients and mix well.

Dinner is served!  The crisp cool salad perfectly matched the sunny day.

Enough procrastinating.  Back to studying.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Vitamin C

Sorry for the disappearing act, but there wasn't much to share.  Friday afternoon my throat started to get sore, and by that night I had a full-blown head cold.  Thanks to my infectious disease rotation that I'm currently on, I've contemplated whether it could be meningitis, encephalitis, malaria, or the plague.  Fortunately, I've survived the past 48 hours, so I think it may just possibly be a cold.

To sum up my weekend, workouts were lackluster, I spent most of the day in either sweatpants or pajamas, and meals were the epitome of laziness.  Meals have consisted of soup, microwavable meals, peanut butter and jelly, eggs, smoothies, and lots of glasses of emergen-c.  In fact, the only meal I captured on camera was breakfast this morning.  

Tonight, however, I summoned up the energy to cook a decent meal.  I came across this recipe for Orange Peel Shrimp last week and knew immediately that I needed to try it. The combination that tomorrow is Chinese New Year and the fact that I need as much vitamin C as possible, it was only fitting to be served for dinner tonight.

I followed the directions pretty closely with the exception of using minimal oil, adding bean sprouts, leaving out the peppers, substituting hoisen sauce (instead of soy sauce - I was out), and substituting mango preserves (instead of orange, which I didn't have).

The verdict - definitely a keeper!  The citrus flavor is perfect, and probably would be even better if I had the orange preserves. It has all of the richness of traditional Chinese carry-out, yet without all of the unhealthiness that usual accompanies the oriental foods.

I served a plate of roasted kale on the side, topped with a little ketchup for good measure.  Don't knock it until you try it!  Sounds strange, but they are perfect together.

Oh, and I almost forgot.  My big accomplishment for the weekend . . . .

I painted my bathroom.  Now that Mom helped me to make my family room and kitchen look so amazing with a fresh coat of pain, I've been eagerly planning to paint my bedroom and bathroom.  I just tackled the bathroom this weekend, but the bedroom is certainly on the horizon.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

WIAW - Take 1

Those of you who are frequent food blog readers are likely very family with the term "WIAW."  However, for those who are completely confused by my abbreviation, let me explain.  "What I Ate Wednesday" (WIAW) is a popular theme across many food blogs that features people showcasing all of their eats for a single day.  It's a neat concept, and for whatever reason, I think it's really interesting to see everything that a single person eats in a day.  

I've been intending to publish a WIAW post for months now, but I always either forget the need to start taking pictures at breakfast or I eat rushed meals in the middle of the day that go unphotographed.  Today, however, I was determined to finally catch all of the eating on film.  So, here's a day's worth of eat for me!
Pre-swim fuel: Banana with Chia Charger Peanut Butter + Dried Cherries
5:30AM: SWIM:  2500 meter pyramid workout

7:00AM:  Arrive at work and sift through patient vitals and labs from overnight
Kashi Go-Lean Crunch + Kashi Go Lean + Granola
9:00AM:  Time to reward myself for getting up early and going to the pool.  Plus, I need some caffeine to fuel me through the PAIN that is rounding on the medicine service
Tall Extra-Hot Soy Latte
 12:30PM:  Break from rounding to eat lunch and study
My favorite lunch = A Salad Mess
Greens, cuke, tomato, sprouts, carrots, bell pepper, lentils, wheatberries, cabbage, green beans, and balsamic dressing

Nothing signifies the end of a meal better than a piece of dark chocolate.  
I also enjoyed a fig newton that went unphotographed.
 3:45PM:  Still rounding . . . I was craving an apple, but had to make do with the granola bar in my pocket

4:45PM:  Quick 4 mile run

6:00PM:  Dinner time!  Tonight's theme was "create a meal out of odds and ends in the refrigerator".
2 Over-medium eggs, Earth Fare salad bar leftovers (broccoli, tofu, sweet potato, "chik'n salad", cabbage roll), brussel sprouts, tomatoes, and carrots with hummus
8:00PM:  Trying to study, but can't keep my eyes open.  Must get more reading done, so I head to the kitchen for some energy.
Red naval orange, trail mix, jelly beans
And that's a day's eats.  Stay tuned for WIAW - Take 2.  Hopefully next week . . . . or maybe in 2 months.  We'll see if I remember to catch each morsel on camera.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Where Did Sunday Go?

Does anyone else find that Sunday seem to fly by faster than any other day of the week?  I accomplished a lot today, yet before I knew it I was making dinner and getting ready for work tomorrow (yes, despite the fact that the entire federal government shuts down for MLK day, the hospital is up and running).  With a full refrigerator and time to prepare meals, today's meals were pretty well rounded.

Scrambled eggs + grapefruit (SO good right now!) +
Great Harvest 9 Grain toast (peanut butter + cherry preserves on one half, pb+ cinnamon + honey on the other)

Coffee to fuel me through a couple hours of studying infectious diseases.
 Today's workout featured 90 minutes of a strength endurance workout on the bike.  1200 calories and lots of sweat loss later, I was more than ready for lunch.  Evidently my eyes were larger than my stomach, and I saved half of my hummus + dippers plate for afternoon snack.
Collards + Smoothie Bowl topped with Chia Charger bites + Hummus and Dippers 

What a beauty!  The smoothie featured vanilla yogurt, pumpkin, cranberries, 1/2 frozen banana, and flax.  
My eyes hate my contacts!  Rocking my new glasses today.

Roasted brussel sprouts tossed with a citrus balsamic reduction.  MMMM, good!

Brussels alongside tofu and butternut squash
And with that, Sunday is officially coming to a close.  Time to curl up in bed, watch some of the Golden Globes, and pass out.  Planning to hit the pool for a lovely 5:30am swim tomorrow and dreading the freezing cold temperatures already!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dinner and a Movie

All week I've been planning a date - me, a delicious dinner, my couch, and a movie.  But before the perfect lazy evening, there was business to get done.  I spent the morning at the hospital working and then came home to spend the early part of the afternoon studying for Step 3 (the last of a series of painfully difficult boards we take as medical students and residents in order to receive our medical licenses).  About 3pm I headed out for a run.  I was really dreading the run in the wind and cold, but but the thought of running on the treadmill was much worse.  So, I bundled up and headed out on a route I strategically planned to allow for running past Harris Teeter to pick up my movie for the evening.  Between the new route through yet another beautiful Charlotte neighborhood (if only I had the money to buy a house) and the ease at which the miles ticked away, it really was one of the best runs I've had in a long while. 7.5 miles and 56 minutes later I was back at home.  Filled with the endorphins of a good run, I found the energy to clean the house from top to bottom.  It felt so good to knock out a "Sunday" task a little early.

The movie selection for the evening was "The Help."  I had read the book about a year ago and just had never gotten the chance to see the movie in the theater or on rental before now.

Dinner was a good one!  Pan seared herbed tofu, roasted cinnamon butternut squash, and sauteed collard greens.  I think roasting is my favorite cooking method.  Whether it's veggies, potatoes, or butternut squash, I love the flavors that roasting really brings out.

Me, my dinner, cozy pajamas + slippers, and "The Help".  A perfect evening to end a busy and productive day.

Tomorrow is Sunday and I DON'T work.  And, I've already tackled cleaning and the mountain of laundry that was on my weekend to-do list.  Sounds like it's shaping up to be a wonderfully relaxing day!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Spinning Away

As the temperatures get colder and days get shorter, outdoor training can become difficult.  You really have to get creative in the winter to make treadmill and bike trainer workouts both enjoyable (if you can call the pain they inflict enjoyment) and productive.  The Sport Factory has GRIND classes (awesome indoor rides) several times a week that are targeted for short or long course and specific to the phase of training.  Unfortunately, the commute from Charlotte to Alpharetta is a little too long to take advantage of those each week.  So, instead, it's just me, my bike on the trainer, my Garmin, and the TV for some entertainment.  Here's what today's "ride" consisted of:

Race cadence warm up Z1 10min
10min Z2 race cadence, 5min top Z2 80rpm, 5min Z3 75rpm
10min top Z1 95rpm
10min top Z2 race cadence, 5min Z3 75rpm
Recover 5min
10min top Z2 race cadence, 5min Z3 70rpm
Recover 5min
10min mid Z3
Recover 1min
4 x (30sec sprint/30sec recover)
Cool Down

That's just over 90 minutes of sweaty fun (or two hour-long shows on TiVO).

After all that, I was starving.  Dinner needed a little prep though, so I chugged a glass of OJ for a little replenishment while I got to work. I had a big bunch of fresh collards from the Farmer's Market, that I was anxious to cook.  I always seen greens in the cafeteria at work and they sound good, but if you look closely they are floating with bits of meat (bacon, I assume) and surely are well over-salted.  Tonight, I simply sauteed garlic and onion with a tablespoon of olive oil for about 10 minutes.  Then I added the chopped collards to the pot.  A quick addition about about 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup white wine made the simmering liquid.  They cooked for about 40 minutes.  Towards the end I added freshly cracked pepper, a dash of salt, and some chili powder.  The end result was vegan collards that were equally as satisfying, yet much healthier than the southern-style, fat filled "vegetable" that pops up all over restaurant menus.

The rest of the meal was an assortment of random ingredients.  Topping the greens was a mix I made of farro, lentil soup, and red beans.  I know, I know, very strange combination, but I promise it tasted fantastic.  I'm the queen when it comes to whipping up a meal out of odds and ends.  On the side was leftover cucumber salad.  Quick and simple dinner that left my stomach full and wallet happy.  Plus, there's extras left for tomorrow night when I drag in late from a "long call" day.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hot Dog

Have you ever had a craving for one of those char-grilled ballpark franks covered with a generous squirt of ketchup, mustard, and relish?  Anyone, or is it just me??  I remember one of my favorite meals as a kid was beans and franks (hot dogs chopped up and mixed in with baked beans) with a side of brown bread.  If you're wondering what brown bread is, you need to drive to the grocery store right now, buy a can, break it open, and indulge.  Seriously, tonight.

I agree, it doesn't look appetizing, and I shudder to imagine the ingredient list.  Although I did notice the can says 99% fat free.  However, I'll never forget how much my brother and I LOVED a thick slice of the bread with a smear of butter.  I wonder if this recipe would begin to recreate my childhood favorite?

Anyways, back the hot dog I've been craving.  I've never been very excited about the bits and pieces of mystery meat that are crammed into a casing to create a "hot dog".  They may taste good, but the whole concept is too disgusting for me to handle.  When I was wondering through Earth Fare last week, I came across these "Smart Dogs".

Is it too good to be true?  At 80 calories and 15 gram of protein per "protein link" it certainly seemed to be.  However, I was desperate for a hot dog, so I picked them up.  Could veggie dogs really begin to satisfy my craving for a grilled hot dog?  

Last night I finally decided cook them up.  I "grilled" one on my George Foreman for a few minutes on each side, wrapped the hot dog in a bun (too lazy to by an 8 pack of hot dog buns so I used bread), and doused it with ketchup, mustard, and dill pickles.

Served alongside was roasted red and sweet potatoes and a cucumber tomato salad.  The verdict - it was pretty doggone good.  If you were truly set on having a traditional ball park frank, you'd probably be disappointed.  However, it was much closer to the real thing than I anticipated.  In fact, if it were grilled on a "real" charcoal grill, I think you could pass it off as the real thing.  

Craving satisfied, mission accomplished.  Now back to that brown bread . . . 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Finding Light

Good afternoon!

I was leaving the hospital this afternoon (a rare treat on surgery, but apparently normal on the medicine service) and found myself enjoying a little extra pep in my step.  It's a cold, wet, and gloomy day in  Charlotte, but there's certainly bright light in the future.  In residency, and life in general too, it's easy to get catch yourself focusing only on the future - the next Friday, vacation, holidays, etc.  Working 80 hours a week during the winter without seeing the light of day for sometimes weeks on end is just plain frustrating.  And while I've griped about people who don't live in the moment and wish away the day, knowing that there is light at the end of the tunnel certainly makes the tough times more tolerable.

So, without rambling any longer on the importance of living in the moment, here's a few bright lights in my future!

March:  NYC!  Shopping, sights, runs in the park, and great food.  After spending a month in the city for an ortho rotation last year, I've been in need of a return visit.

April:  Chicago.  I'll be traveling with the 4 other ortho interns in my class for an Orthopaedic Trauma Association fracture course.  Lots of learning during the day, but lots of fun to be had at night.

And drumroll please . . . . . the most exciting news . . . . .


Sunday afternoon I'm sitting at work and receive a text from Mom.  It reads "Leaving on a W Caribbean cruise on Carnival Dream in May. Hope you'll join us".  My first thought - "seriously??  am I dreaming??  is this some kind of cruel joke?? of course I'm coming". After some frantic texting back and forth, I confirmed that it is, in fact, a reality. My brother and his long-time girlfriend are graduating from college in May (him with a degree in business, her in art) and they've been trying to come up with a plan for a graduation trip.  After lots of pondering, my parents have planned this incredible 7-day cruise.  We'll be making stops in Cozumel, Belize, Isla Roatan, and Costa Maya.  I haven't been on a cruise since I was 4 years old, so this will be quite the treat.  Not to mention the fact that it will be a week long break during an otherwise brutal general surgery month.  I can feel the sunlight and see the tan lines already!!

So for the next several months when the going gets tough and I find myself frustrated that there aren't enough hours in the day (particularly for workouts and sleep), I will instead focus on the excitement that lies ahead.  Pretty fun travels, don't you think?!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Bread is Great

As an athlete, you might guess that my diet is on the carb-heavy side.  In reality, I feel like I have a really well balanced diet focused on whole foods, simple ingredients, and a ton of locally grown fruits and vegetables. When it comes to carbs, I enjoy a mix of fresh breads, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and whole grain pastas.  Really great breads with whole grains and no preservatives are tough to come by though, and those boring grocery store loaves that were made hundreds of miles away a week prior to arrival in the grocery store, just do not cut it.  About a year ago, however, I discovered Great Harvest Bread Company, and I have since developed a love affair with their breads.  It's the only sandwich bread I ever buy!

I recently received an invite for a unique opportunity to tour the Great Harvest in North Charlotte and learn all about the extensive process that results in their delicious breads.  Come on in and check them out!

Melissa and Hank Conway own the Great Harvest Bread Co  off Mallard Creek Road in North Charlotte.
The bakery was opened just over 1 year ago, and joined 2 other Great Harvest bakeries in the Charlotte area.

Customers are greeted with a decadent aroma of freshly baked breads and sweets as they walk in the door.  Every customer is offered a "free slice" from the bread board featuring the day's bread selections.

Lots of great choices - all freshly baked just hours earlier.  They sell between 60-80 loaves daily.

The wheat they use arrives come directly from specific crops in Montana.  It arrives in giant bags and is actually milled within each individual store location.

The milling equipment.  The bread made and sold today is from flour milled just the night before.
Wheat flour is unique in that the nutrients and oils begin to degrade soon after milling.  

9 Grain mix that is incorporated into several of the breads as well as in their hot cereal mix.

Fresh honey!  They buy the honey in 650 pound barrels that cost $1200 each!  That's lots of honey.
Did you know honey is a natural preservative?  Hence the reason they don't add artificial preservatives to their loaves.

Taking the counter-top Kitchen Aid to a whole new level.

The kneading table - the action happens here!  From about 7:30am - 11am each day there's a intricately organized
(and often chaotic) process of mixing, kneading, and baking each and every loaf of bread.

A massive oven with 6 racks that rotate.  The breads cook at approximately 325 degrees for 40 minutes .

Pepperoni Swirl bread.  This one would definitely be a favorite among guys!

9 Grain loaves.  Perfect for a hearty sandwich.

Cinnamon Chip.  This is there #1 selling bread.

Cinnamon rolls.  Mmm, I'll take one of these and a cup of coffee!

Every month they publish a bread schedule, with  6-8 different breads baked each day.  Honey whole wheat and farmhouse white are daily staples.  A different mix of breads rotate and seasonal favorites make appearances too.
Each day you'll find a different selection of sweet treats as well.

The breads range in price from $5 - $7.  While they are more than your typical grocery store loaf, I assure you they are worth every penny!  Once you try them, I guarantee you'll never go back!

The store also features some of their baking mixes: brownies, oatmeal, pancakes, trail mix, and even dog biscuits.  They also showcase products from small companies, including peanut butter, honeys, oils, and soup mixes. 

After learning all about the bread making process, I was more than ready to try some of the delicious bread!  I was treated to lunch - House made tuna salad on rye bread with pepper strips.  It was great!  

Be sure to stop by and visit the Conway's at the North Charlotte Great Harvest!  I promise that you'll quickly become a frequent shopper.  Visit their website to learn about all the details, including the January bread schedule.
The Conway's were very generous and packaged up several loaves of bread for me to bring home to enjoy and share with others.  My kitchen is filled with the delicious scents of Pepperoni Swirl, Cinnamon Babka, 9 Grain, and Cinnamon Chip.  While I love bread, I might just turn into a loaf if I attempted to enjoy it all myself.  Fortunately, I have a few co-residents that are going to be really excited when I make their Sunday at the hospital much better when I deliver freshly baked bread.  Thanks Great Harvest!