Wednesday, July 23, 2014

drown it in sauce - spaghetti squash spaghetti

The husband and I were escaping the apartment between study sessions Friday night at the Thai restaurant down the street. It was a beautiful night to walk around Downtown, and Daniel needed a break from microbiology.

We were chowing down on cashew chicken and red chicken curry, when Daniel turned to me and said:

"I think I'd eat more vegetables if they were covered in yummy sauce."

In my head I heard Barney Stinson say, "Challenge accepted."

The next morning the weather was still as gorgeous as ever, so we took another study break to the Farmer's Market. I filled my arms with as many vegetables as I could carry - zucchini, summer squash, asparagus and the most delicious grape tomatoes. {Also got these gorgeous flowers, but that has nothing to do with this post.}

Needless to say, I didn't waste any time on the challenge before me, and Saturday night I whipped up a quick, easy and veggie-filled meal for the two of us. I call it:

Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti

SIDE NOTE: If you've never had spaghetti squash, you have to at least try it. I'm not going to tell you it tastes just like spaghetti, because it doesn't. But it's pretty delicious with a little evoo and pepper and a great low-carb {or gluten-free} alternative. And as a bonus, it costs as much or even less than a package of spaghetti.

-1 lb of lean ground turkey
-1 medium spaghetti squash
-1 zucchini
-1 summer squash
-1/2 onion
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1 clove of garlic
-2 cans of tomato sauce
-1 tbsp italian seasoning
-1 tsp crushed red pepper {optional}

1. Poke a bunch of holes in your spaghetti squash using a sharp knife, and then cook in the microwave on high for 12 minutes {did I mention you can cook this in the microwave - another reason it should be on your favorite vegetable list}. When it's done, let it cool in the microwave for at least 5 minutes.
2. While the squash is cooking, chop up your onion, zucchini, summer squash and garlic clove. 
3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet on medium high, and put in your onion. After about 3 minutes, add the rest of the veggies on your cutting board and cook through.
4. If you're pretty good at multi-tasking, you can start to brown the ground turkey at the same time. I like to try to time it to where the veggies and meat are done at the same time. 
5. Once your turkey is cooked, drain any grease, and then add the tomato sauce, spices and your cooked veggies.
6. By this point, your spaghetti squash should be cool enough to handle. Cut it at the equator (not through the stem) and then throw away all the seeds {or roast them like pumpkin seeds}. Use a fork to pull out the rest of the squash. It should look kind of like spaghetti.
7. Divide up the squash and then top it with your yummy sauce. It should be enough to make at least 4 servings, depending on - you know - how much you can pile on your plate. 

I don't know about you, but these plates say success to me. Now, please excuse me why I brainstorm other ways to cover veggies in sauce so my husband will consume them in mass quantities. 

Have you ever tried spaghetti squash? Do you have any sauce-y recipes for me to try?

Monday, July 21, 2014

the only time I don't want food

Running. I don’t want food before running. I don’t want food during running. And I rarely want food after running. It’s pretty much the only time in my life when I’ll say no to chocolate. 

So when it comes to writing about nutrition and running, I’m stuck. I’ve read many, many articles on the best foods for runners, but the truth is - my body doesn’t want food before it’s forced to endure 6+ miles, and I think listening to your body is the most important thing you can do. 


The most I’ve ever ran is 13.1 miles, so limiting my food intake has never been much of a problem. Before my half marathons, I ate a banana about an hour before the race, and that’s it. During the race, people thrusted all kinds of goo and bars at me, but I graciously turned them down. I grabbed water at every stop along the way, though. 

My first half marathon was around Easter and there were hundreds of Cadbury Egg signs dotting the route. I couldn’t think of anything that I would want less than a creme-filled chocolate egg, and that almost ruined my favorite Easter candy for me {I said almost}. 

At the finish line there were buckets full of apples, oranges and bananas and boxes full of pizza. I ran past both and went straight for the water bottles. There was also free Chick-fil-a for racers, so I went through the line and gave my winnings to the husband {hey, he woke up at 5 a.m. to watch me run}. As for me, I didn’t eat until a couple hours later. I just have to cool down and shower before my appetite returns.


During training, I don’t eat before I run. If my stomach is full, it’s a guarantee I’ll feel sluggish the entire time. I’ve never thrown up a pre-race snack, but I don’t like feeling like I might the whole time. My best friend from high school couldn’t do any type of exercise until after she’d eaten - she just didn’t have the energy. So, to each her own!

Occasionally, I’ll crave fruit while I’m running, but that’s usually a sign that I’m dehydrated. I have a rule that if I run six or more miles, I have to carry a water bottle with me. I hate carrying a water bottle, but I hate being dehydrated even more. 

After my run, I try to shower real quick and get some protein in me as soon as possible. If it’s in the morning, a smoothie or eggs works nicely. If it’s in the evening, I usually have some kind of dinner planned before I head out. 


I realize there’s no way I will be able to run 26.2 miles on an empty stomach and achieve all my goals. The Run Less, Run Faster authors {learn more here} recommend a simple formula for determining how much you should eat before a race, and I recommend you read their section on “Running Nutrition” {and their entire book while you’re at it}. 

(hours before race) x (body weight in pounds) = (number of calories to eat)

So, if I eat about an hour before the race, a large banana would be just about right. 

During the race, the authors suggest you refuel your glycogen stores by drinking 6 - 8 oz of sports drinks every 30 minutes. They even suggest contacting the race to see what they will be serving to make sure it will be okay on your stomach. 

After the race, the authors suggest eating solid, carbohydrate-dense foods like bagels, bananas, pudding {and I assume pizza would work, too} during the first two hours. Eat anything more than 225 grams, though, and the excess will be stored as fat. 

In Conclusion

I’m not a huge fan of sports drinks, but it sounds like I need to start getting used to them for my race on Dec. 10.

Also, I’m not an expert on nutrition, so don’t take my advice as fact. There are tons of resources available online, but I do know it can be confusing discerning what’s true and what’s not. Most importantly, I recommend listening to your body - because you’re body {I said your body not your mind} usually knows best. 

I look forward to seeing what other advice you runners come up with for the Runners Tell All link-up with Beka & Amanda!

Friday, July 18, 2014

spreading the self-love: 10 things i love about me

I'm laughing at Daniel in this picture - but next to that title, I look pretty cocky. I assure you - I'm not. This is hard.
Two weeks and counting until my high school best friend says “I do.” Three weeks until my great friend and college housemate does the same. And I have the honor of standing beside them both as a bridesmaid, but all I can think about is how...

I’m supposed to be skinny by now. Or at least skinnier. My hair was supposed to grow more. My acne was supposed to be gone. My tan was supposed to stay around for a bit longer. Nothing like the promise of endless photographs to churn up insecurities. Never mind everyone’s attention will be on the pretty girl in the white dress.

Why do I do this to myself? Why do we all do this to ourselves?

So I decided to stop berating myself in the mirror long enough to focus on all those qualities I love about myself - a bigger challenge than it ever should be. 

In Ephesians 2:10, Paul says we are God’s workmanship - the New Living Translation says we are His masterpiece. Think about that. When you google “masterpiece,” a picture of the Mona Lisa comes up. Masterpiece = one of a kind, irreplaceable and priceless. 

And every time I focus on all the things I wish were different about my body, it’s kind of like saying to the Master Artist, “I think you messed up right here.”

So, here's to thanking the best Father in the world for making me, well, me.

10 things I love about me:

#1 My hair. Shocker, huh? After years of highlights, it’s finally back to it’s natural color, and I love it. My hair is healthier than it’s ever been and it rarely lets me down. 

#2 My face shape. Thanks to Cara over at Maskcara, I’ve learned how to HAC specifically for my face. Turns out ovals have all the fun because almost any hairstyle works on us.

#3 My facial hair. Or really, my lack of it. I used to complain about having to fill in my eyebrows, but now I rejoice because it means I can go weeks without tweezing. And I’ve never had to wax.

#4 My teeth. During my last dental appointment, the hygienist, dental assistant and dentist all raved about my great teeth, and I agree. My braces and I worked hard for these beauties. 

#5 My girls. No really, I’m serious. Not too big that I have problems finding a comfortable bra. But not too small that I question whether I really need a bra. Just right.

#6 My hands. I have little hands with long fingers. They’re pretty great for typing, cooking, drawing, crafting and maybe, with a little practice, they could still play the piano.

#7 My fingernails. I used to bite my nails. When I finally quit, my nails were so weak they broke all the time. Thanks to a more nutritious diet, they now grow fast and strong, and I love them!

#8 My butt. No, it doesn’t fit into my favorite skinny jeans anymore (Thanks, Shaun T), but it’s pretty strong and can get me through several rounds of squats. Plus, I hear it’s pretty squeezable.

#9 My calves. These babies have gotten me through many, many miles of running, and I’m forever grateful for that. In December, they’ll get me through my first marathon!

#10 My feet. I’m pretty adverse to any feet that aren’t my own. Mine are a perfect size 7, and no matter how much weight I gain or lose, they always fit my favorite shoes perfectly!

Okay, now it’s your turn! Tell me what you love about you. What makes you a masterpiece?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

3 in 5 - quick & clean breakfast

Mornings are my “me time.” Daniel needs a good 10 hours of sleep every night, so I like to use the early hours to have a quiet time, work out, finish chores and prep dinner. That way, when I get home for work, all I have to do is relax and spend whatever time I can with my busy dental student. 

Undoubtedly the best part about moving Downtown was going from a 30-minute commute to 5 minutes. When it’s not 95 degrees with 100% humidity, I’ll only be a short walk away. Plus, that’s 25 extra minutes to sleep in, read a book or just make my mornings less rushed.

My first working morning in the new apartment was just that: bliss. So you can only imagine my disappointment when I learned later that day my office hours would be increasing AND starting 30 minutes earlier. All of the sudden I had to leave for work even earlier than when I lived across town.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been struggling to fit everything I “want” to do in the morning. When I’m hurting for time, the first thing to go is a healthy breakfast - the most important meal of the day. It’s just so much easier to grab a bowl of Lucky Charms or just skip it altogether. But both of those options leave me starving by 10 a.m.

So I’ve discovered three meals that I can make in less than 5 minutes, and they’re equally delicious as they are clean. Hopefully they’ll make your mornings much less rushed and much more enjoyable, too.

1. Easy Breakfast Egg Sandwich

I love eggs for breakfast, but I hate getting out pans and then having to wash them. This way I can just throw the cereal bowl in the dishwasher and be done!

-2 eggs
-handful of spinach
-sprinkle of shredded cheese
-salt, pepper & paprika to taste
-whole wheat bread, bagel or english muffin

1. Put your bread/bagel/english muffin in the toaster.
2. Coat a cereal bowl with olive oil cooking spray - for dish-washing’s sake, you don’t want to skip this step.
3. Crack two eggs in the bowl and whisk with a fork.
4. Shred up a handful of spinach and mix it with your eggs and your cheese. (If I have any onions or pepper prepped for an omelet, I’ll add some of that, too.)
5. Season the mixture according to your tastes.
6. Put in the microwave for 1 minute. Check on it and keep cooking it until the eggs are cooked through. It takes me 1 minute and 15 seconds.
7. Plop the egg mixture on your toasted bread and eat with some fresh fruit.

2. Sneaky Spinach Smoothie

This is my favorite smoothie. Ever. It tastes like a chocolate milkshake, but it’s packed with lots of good stuff.

-1 banana (preferably frozen)
-½ cup almond milk
-handful of spinach
-1 tablespoon of PB2, natural peanut butter or almond butter
-1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
-1 scoop of vanilla whey protein powder (optional)
-ice cubes (to preference)

1. Put all the ingredients into a blender.
2. Blend until desired consistency.

3. Protein-Packed Parfait

Plain Greek Yogurt is usually not my thing. But it has all the protein without all the added sugar. With this recipe you add natural sugar with the maple syrup and you get to control the amount.

-1 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
-1 tablespoon of almond butter (or natural peanut butter)
-1 tablespoon of maple syrup
-favorite fruit
-favorite nuts (optional)
-shredded unsweetened coconut (optional)
-dark chocolate chips (optional)

1. Mix the yogurt, almond butter and maple syrup until well combined. 
2. Chop up your fruit and toppings and add on top. 

I’m always looking for new, quick and healthy breakfast options. What’s your go-to?

Monday, July 14, 2014

simply timeless with a hint of romance

I’ve been thinking a lot about my style lately. Whether it’s decorating our apartment or shopping with the best friend, how do I decide what colors, patterns and silhouettes work best for me? Am I a slave to trends or do I tend to navigate toward similar designs? Which items tend to be my favorites and which get quickly tossed?

So I did some real soul-searching - a.k.a. I went through my Pinterest style boards, closet and favorite fashion blogs, looking for trends in my favorite pieces. I actually did a thorough cleaning of my “wannabe closet” board, stopping to ask myself at each pin, “Would I actually wear this right here, right now?”

What trends did I notice?

1. Simple. My style certainly isn’t too “out of the box.” I love clean lines and simple silhouettes. Needless to say, Carrie Bradshaw’s not only out of my league, but playing a completely different sport. 

2. Classic. My favorite pieces are almost every other person’s favorite pieces. The striped shirt. The white tee. The little black dress. These are timeless for a reason, and they’re my favorite things to wear.

3. Romantic. Though I love the basics, I’m a sucker for unique details - especially if those unique details include lace. Florals, flowy fabrics and lace trim. Add some dangly earrings and color me smitten.

I still have a long way to go in determining my style {it’s on the bucket list}, but this is a good place to start. With these ideas in mind, I had been searching for the perfect floral dress. That’s when contacted me {and Robyn and Amanda and Jayda} to see if I would write about my shopping experience with them in exchange for a dress {well, of course}. 

I spent a lot of time on their website, deciding which dress best fit my style and would be the most versatile. When I saw this floral dress, it was love at first sight. And - if you didn’t know - is completely customizable. I was able to tell them that I wanted pockets, a high neckline and a different length for my short legs. 

The beautiful watercolor print will be able to be paired with a variety of cardigans and jewelry, and I know just a simple shoe-switch will take it from work to wedding to weekend. 

And - because I promise to be completely honest with you - I only had a couple of complaints. The top of the dress wasn’t as flattering as it could have been, but that happens when you order clothes without trying them on. And the bottom of the dress wasn’t as short as I wanted - it’s easy to drown in clothes when you’re 5’2”! 

All in all, my experience with eShakti was a positive one. Their website was user-friendly and included plenty of options for a simply timeless style with a hint of romance. And if you don’t like what you buy, you can return it for a gift card with the cost of your order + 20% to try again.

And right now eShakti is offering Pretty Is As Pretty Does readers a 10% off discount from now until August 12th by using the code: PRETTYFASH. Be sure to check out their Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages for their newest arrivals and fashion ideas from bloggers like you and me!

What three words would you use to define your style?