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It’s School Time!

I’ve grown to love Tuesdays. My Social Work Practice and Diversity & Oppression courses have officially earned my interest. I certainly didn’t think that I would be looking forward to my 12:05-8:45pm class day (commute time not included). So happy I’ve changed my tune :).

Though, one challenge I’m still attempting to master is the healthy snack balance. Boy can I appreciate all those healthy school lunches prepared for me while growing up (thanks Mom!). I have little time in my schedule now to plan meals and snacks, let alone cook/bake ahead, which is something I used to do on an almost daily basis. I’m looking forward to finding a healthy balance between school, work, my [brand new] internship, finding/applying/interviewing for new jobs, studying/homework, workouts (what are those?) and family and friends. Phew. Thank goodness I never wanted to have children young, or I’d have broken down and been institutionalized by my professors due to anxiety by now :).

Here’s a review of the snacks that have kept my belly full and my brain fueled to focus on learning about generalist practice, the quadrant model and white privilege. (There’s a test at the end…)

After a hearty breakfast, I get on the road around 11:00am to head to class. On my way to class last week, I snacked on roasted chickpeas and a locally made granola bar. By the time I got to school, it was 12:00ish, and I wasn’t done until close to 3:00pm.

Live in your car much, Nat?

After class I snacked on a fresh peach from a local farm on my way to the local mall where I do work while eating lunch. I hangout there until I leave to return to school to fight for a parking spot and hopefully make it to my evening class on time.

Hmmm. A little foreshadowing, perhaps?

Chipotle makes me happy. I typically order either the vegetarian bowl or vegetarian salad. Lately, I’ve been switching between the two. Below you will see the vegetarian bowl. Feast your eyes…

Made up of all kinds of goodness: romaine lettuce, black beans, mild salsa, grilled peppers and onions and guacamole. Y-U-M. After satisfying the hunger beast, I head to (you guessed it!) Starbucks to grab a coffee for class. One venti soy latte w/ one pump of pumpkin spice coming right up!

I needed that! This coffee is so filling; it lasts me through my 6:00-8:45pm class until I get home around 9:40pm. I then scrounge up a small snack (or finish my Chipotle if I’m famished) and head to bed to dream about what tomorrow will bring. Lately, I never know. Let’s hope it’s more blogging and less stressful changes that I’m attempting to take in stride.

Take in stride? You better believe my boyfriend and family just busted out laughing.

What are your healthy go-to snacks? I’d love to mix things up :).


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Preparation.Preparation.Preparation. (Laura)

“I’m a big believer in the fact that life is about preparation, preparation, preparation.”

Johnnie Cochran

I hope everyone had a great Labor Day!   I was fortunate enough to have a long weekend, and was able to enjoy a nice Monday off!  My long weekend afforded me the opportunity to get my act together and really start focusing on training for my upcoming 5K!  Just a little background for you all – back in July a flyer had been circulating around my workplace for a race benefiting a local child who has an incurable disease.  I have never participated in a 5k before, and figured this would be a great opportunity to start.  Not only would it serve as a motivator to start working out again, it also was for a good cause – what a win-win situation!  So of course, I signed myself (and my husband) up for the race.

Well, somehow my summer schedule became much more hectic than I ever imagined.  My daily runs dwindled, and before I knew it, several weeks had passed and my training had completely stopped.  It’s now September and the event is only 2 weeks away!  Last week, I finally started training again.  I began by running 2 miles each day, and now I’ve bumped it up to 2.5 miles.  On Saturday, I’ll increase my distance to 3.1 miles, giving myself a week to practice for the actual race.

The most difficult aspect of training for me is simply getting started.  Today, I came home from work exhausted.  There was nothing I wanted more than to climb into my comfy clothes, relax on the couch and just have a night off.  I started my M.B.A. classes again last night, and the late night hit me like a ton of bricks today.  However, with the race just a week again, I knew I would have to push myself.  I got out the new pair of sneakers I just bought (my reward for training so hard ;-), grabbed my IPod and headed out the door.  As soon as my feet hit the pavement, I got into my training zone and suddenly my run wasn’t so bad.

My new kicks and IPod - all set for my run!

Some days, it’s realllllly hard to stay motivated.  Life has a funny way of catching up with you, with increasing demands from work, family, and the house (especially with my ongoing kitchen renovations!).  It would be much easier to just give in to temptation and have an easy night off.  However, I set a personal goal to run and complete this 5K.  I keep that goal close to my heart, and try to stay focused on it.  I know achieving this goal will be a great feeling, and I use that as a motivator to keep pushing myself forward.   I’m excited to update you as my week progresses, and can’t wait to cross that finish line on the 18th!

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Friday Night Ritual (Laura)

My favorite day of the week has rolled around again…that’s right, it’s finally Friday and I couldn’t be happier!  I was fortunate enough to only have to work a half day, so I was free to do with this beautiful afternoon what I desired.  I had to run a few errands and was able to squeeze in some exercise strolling through the main street of a nearby town.  On my way home I stopped at a local farmer’s stand and picked-up some delicious-looking fresh peaches to use in the blackberry peach cobbler I was planning on making for desert tonight :­-).

Before I had adopted a healthier life-style, our Friday night routine was always to eat out at some restaurant, whether it was at a fast food establishment or chain fare.  It was something we did habitually every week – it served as a release and I used it as a way to unwind after a long work week.  As you can imagine, not only was it an unhealthy habit, it was a costly one too.

Since I’ve begun clean eating, I try to avoid going out to each as much.  I now like to reserve eating out for special occasions, so that it is truly a treat.  With my changed lifestyle, a new Friday night ritual emerged.  Friday night turned into the night that I experimented with new, interesting and fun recipes.  I can remember my first “clean” Friday – in sticking with my old family tradition of pizza Friday I made a delicious radicchio pizza on a home-made whole wheat crust.  It was quite an accomplishment for me, and I found cooking was something that I was really starting to enjoy.  Since then, I’ve tried to make Friday the day that I experiment with new recipes and different food that I’ve never tried before.

Well, tonight was no different as I engaged in my ritual once more.  In the September/October 2010 issue of Clean Eating Magazine, there was a recipe for Crab Nachos with toasted Cumin and Sour Cream.   They were super easy to make and great tasting!  It was a fun meal to eat with the hands and enjoy while watching my fav Friday night TV.

While I’ve made the Peach & Blackberry cobbler (September/October 2009) before, it was still a fun dish to enjoy tonight, especially with the local grown, fresh peaches that I just picked-up today.  Cobbler is one of those dishes that remind me of summer, so I was glad to savor the taste before summer completely fades to fall.

I’m looking forward to a little rest and relaxation the rest of evening with my satisfied tummy!  Well good night to all – remember – keep it clean!

Next up…training for my upcoming 5K!

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Homemade Tomato Sauce

I’ve never created my own tomato sauce… until now.
Lately I’ve been craving fall.

I swear I can smell the leaves...


I want to breathe in the crisp air, pick apples from trees in a family-filled orchard,
and sip pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks.
By the way, how cool is this:
 I’m also just too excited to wear sweatshirts – this is likely because I have two new hoodies  from two fabulous people! One representing my new school beginning this fall…


And the other, representing my spectating activity as a supportive girlfriend for the fall…    



Autumn… please come soon.    

So, along with my fall cravings came a desire for spaghetti squash complete w/ tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella. I dragged my boyfriend to Basil Bandwagon, a great health food store, where I found spaghetti squash. Later in the day we went to Miguel’s (my boyfriend) parents’ house, and they stocked us him up w/ fresh veggies from the garden. While Miguel was at work, I proceeded to steal lovingly take the goodies to give them a new home — MINE!    

I’ve always wanted to make my own tomato sauce and had done some research on this topic in the past. While prepping my ingredients for the sauce, my internet wasn’t working well, so I decided to work without any sort of recipe guidance — my favorite way to do things :). Afterwards, I did ask my mother (a gourmet cooking instructor) if my technique passed her test. She gave me the thumbs up (via cellphone).    


Toby, my sister's boyfriend's dog who I am petsitting


King, chomping on his new bone


Bru, our neighbor and King's best friend


Now… for the vegetables! I started with a bag of tomatoes. A few were large, but most were medium and baby size. I remembered that I needed to score the bottoms of the tomatoes with an “X”, so I could easily peel off the skin. So, I proceeded to score…    

Scored tomatoes


I apologize for the poor photo quality. As a new blogger, I’ve not quite mastered the camera for blogging purposes. I’m considering stealing my sister’s fancy schmancy camera since she doesn’t use it. She’ll never know!    

Back to important matters… I then blanched the tomatoes for a few seconds (about 30) in boiled water. This step will make for peeling the thin skins off the tomatoes an easy process.    

Blanched tomatoes


Post blanching, the tomatoes were placed in ice cold water just long enough for them to cool for handling. I then went peel happy and threw the tomatoes in a pot in which I was already sauteeing onions and fresh peppers.    

Icey cold tomatoes


Naked tomato


Onions & peppers


Onions, peppers and tomatoes


 While allowing the onions, peppers and tomatoes to simmer and break down, I chopped up some fresh zucchini from the garden and added it to the mix. I also threw in some shredded carrots and the remainder of the last head of garlic that I had hanging around. I’m going away for a few nights, and I wanted to assure that veggies wouldn’t be wasting away in my fridge – absolute crime.    

Once all the ingredients (including seasonings: basil and oregano) had a chance to meld together, I started to blend w/ a hand blender given to me by my dear mother:    



The finished product:    

The finished product


After tasting my first bite, the flavor was a little bitter, although good all around. To balance this out, I added about a tsp or two of agave syrup and a little bit of organic tomato paste. Perfecto! My first attempt at tomato sauce (which turned into a veggie sauce)… a success!    

Now, for the mess…    

Clean up time


Any insight you may have regarding your favorite way to cook tomato sauce or special ingredients you use would be greatly appreciated. The most inspirational thing about the blog world is learning from others!    

As Laura and I like to close our e-mails to each other…    

Clean kisses  – xoxo – Natalie    

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