Category Archives: fun stuff

Eggnog French Toast

It’s worth mentioning that the alternate title to this post was “Buy Yourself Stretchy Pants on Black Friday Because We’ve Got a Lot of Holidays to Go.”

California Weather is FINALLY starting to figure out that it’s not time for us to be in swimming pools or cranking the A/C and I am relishing the wet, rainy weather that is creeping in. Using my defogger in the car, seeing frost on the grass outside my apartment, and feeling the sharpness of the air when I’m running . . . Gah! It’s sooooooo wonderful. I love fall and winter the most. But truth be told, winter edges out fall just a bit . . . and that bit has to do with my birthday. (Sorry, Fall, I just wanted to arrive on time.)

The best part, though, might be all of the seasonal goodies. While I don’t partake in the mint-chocolate (gross!), there is one thing I truly, deeply LOVE about the swiftly-coming-upon-us holidays . . .

Eggnog.

Up until I was about 16, I’d never tried eggnog. My parents both hate it, so we never had it in the house. I definitely think it’s one of those love-it-or-hate-it kinds of foods and I simply love it. For someone without much of a sweet tooth, I’m amazed at just how thrilled I get seeing little red and green cartons of deliciousness. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

But I am not always a fan of a one-trick pony and a visit this weekend from my boyfriend prompted some creativity . . . What else could I do with eggnog aside from drinking it?

I stocked up (two cartons — I don’t mess around with eggnog) and thought about the substance itself — eggs, cream/milk, vanilla, cinnamon . . . The ingredients list goes on, but I’ll be darned if the first thought in my head wasn’t, “French toast!” as I whipped around to stare at the woman behind me at Whole Foods, dramatically of course. (She, of course, gave me quite the perplexed look as I stammered about bread and eggnog and tried to explain what I had been thinking but thought I’d actually articulated to her. Smooth, Robyn.)

So while Alex snoozed on Saturday morning, I took to the kitchen, giddy and eager to whip up some culinary magic. (Side note: I seriously wish I could do breakfast like in the movies where the girl has just woken up yet is effortlessly adorable with barely-taussled hair and no makeup. However, in my grubby sweats, my curly, unruly hair and sometimes-failed-makeup-removal, I usually look like Robert Smith upon waking.)

I got my supplies: eggnog, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and maple syrup (not shown, but check out the bar of dark chocolate for cooking-in-progress nibbling).

Necessary supplies: eggs, eggnog, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate. (Okay, the chocolate was for nibbling during the process. Shh!)

I dipped two pieces of crusty, whole wheat bread (possibly the only redeeming ‘healthy’ component) in a mixture of the ‘nog, eggs and spices and then laid them in a pan to fry with butter (because you might as well go all-out at this point).

Using anything other than butter for this would be the breakfast equivalent of the Diet-Coke-with-your-Big-Mac phenomenon.

After they were done, I put on another pat of butter (Paula Deen much?) and some maple syrup and I was done. Seriously, stick a fork in me D-O-N-E.

It was soooooooooooooooooooo good. Alex’s thoughts? “Simple creative deliciousness.” (I bribe him into saying stuff like that with food. Sorry.)

I’ll have to make it again soon because I have some baggy pants to fill and I scarfed it down before I had the chance to take a picture of it.

But seriously . . . Wellness is more than being skinny, it’s more than hours-long workouts, and it has every bit to do with a well-purposed state of mind — the one that thinks, “Hmm, something tasty would be a fun breakfast treat for my hunny” and understands that food is not the enemy and that little indulgences are part of longer-term happiness.

I hear the road to Hell is paved with good intentions . . . 😉

Robyn’s Get-Out-Your-Stretchy-Pants Eggnog French Toast (serves 2)

Ingredients:
– 2 eggs
– 1 cup eggnog (full fat, folks – go big or go home)
– 1 Tbsp nutmeg
– 1 Tbsp cinnamon
– 1 Tbsp vanilla (I’m really not sure why I added this other than it was a Pavlovian response to the French toast process — so, consider this ‘optional’)
– 4 slices of bread
– butter (use about 2 Tbsp to fry the French toast, use however much you want to put on the toast when it’s done)
– maple syrup

1. Break eggs into a bowl and add eggnog, vanilla (if you’re using it), and spices. Whisk until it’s smooth and pour into a baking dish (or some other dish with an edge high enough to keep the fluid in).
2. Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a frying pan over medium heat.
3. Dip bread in mixture and set in frying pan. Cook for about 3-4 minutes and flip.
4. Serve with butter and maple syrup (the real stuff . . . no fake crap, please).
5. Try to make sure you’re using up the last few slices of a loaf of bread — that way you can’t make it again immediately following the finishing of the meal.

Bon appetit! Time to go waddle to the gym . . .

What are some of your favorite holiday/seasonal treats? Do you repurpose fun things into ingredients for other recipes? What’s your most creative dish?

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Because every girl needs standards.

 

candy corn

Pretty sure you could power a car with this stuff. Nasty!

 

I have always considered myself an equal-opportunity food taster, which has led to some rather interesting habits and ‘isms’ over the years. My mommy taught me early on that you shouldn’t turn your nose up at something you’ve never tried — an adage I have taken quite seriously throughout my life.

But some things I just cannot palate and there are some things I just cannot do when it comes to eating. I try not to think of myself as a hater, but some things are just not meant to be enjoyed by everyone and a girl’s gotta have her standards.

Recently, Katie asked about her readers’ “food quirks,” citing her aversion to blue M&M’s and her hubby’s affinity for brown bananas as examples. It got my wheels turning and got the coffee pot percolating and as a result, I’m sorry I’m not sorry, but it’s time to do some cathartic confessing.

I truly, deeply, passionately HATE candy corn. And I mean really, really HATE it. I won’t touch it. I can’t explain the aversion — I used to enjoy it quite a bit as a kid. As an adult? Nope, sorry. Just can’t do it. If it were between candy corn and a pile of dirt, I’d choose the dirt. (Now, as Halloween is almost upon us, I should confess that my strategy at work is to keep a large bowl full of candy corn — that way everyone else eats it and I’m not even tempted. Wicked or brilliant? Your call.)

I love the flavor of pears — but I still won’t eat them. It’s a texture thing. Eating pears is like eating syrupy-sweet sand, to me. Gross. One day, I do hope I get over this.

I eat green bananas. Green. Not yellow with freckles, not yellow with green tinges . . . Green. I think I get this from my mom. She only eats green bananas because she says that yellow ones are “just too sweet.” There isn’t a whole lot that I 100% agree with my mom on, but this is one of those things. (Sidenote: My boyfriend told me shortly after we started dating that the fact that I eat green bananas was his favorite thing about me — he loves ’em too. Clearly, a match made in heaven.)

On a similar topic of sugary things I won’t touch: mint chocolate anything. No Andes mints, no mint chip ice cream, no Ghirardelli chocolate squares with a “hint o’ mint.” No . . . freaking . . . way. My boyfriend (who loves candy corn) doesn’t understand. “It’s so good!” he pleas. Don’t get me wrong, I like chocolate. I even like mint. But eating them together is just so wrong — you wouldn’t scarf a bar of chocolate and then go brush your teeth, would you? (Okay, maybe if you were going to the dentist and wanted to pull a fast one, but still . . .) You wouldn’t. Because chocolate is delicious and you should savor the flavor. End of story.

Other foods that induce gagging: Swiss cheese, licorice (both varieties — the black stuff tastes nasty and the red stuff? well, that’s not technically licorice and it tastes like plastic regardless), ham (not that it matters anymore – I’m a vegetarian now), and coleslaw.

But on to the ‘isms’ . . .

I only eat one food on my plate at a time. If I’m eating soup and bread, soup first and then bread. If my plate has three things on it, I eat them one at a time. Don’t ask me why, I just can’t mix-n-match, so to speak. My dad thinks it’s incredibly bizarre — “It all goes in the same place!” he cries. No, no, no. I mean, yes, it does, mixing the foods in my mouth is just beyond weird to me. The textures and tastes melding together . . . I’ll pass. (I was that kid that really enjoyed sectioned lunch trays in school.)

“Hello, my name is Robyn and I’m an ice-a-holic.” Seriously. Love to crunch ice. Believe me, I know it’s bad for my teeth — so don’t even go there. But I just can’t help it. I love the cold and crunchy. I even have a mental list of fast food places with “good ice.” (Seriously. Sonic is best. Trust me on this.)

Any time is a good time for something spicy. If I can put Tapatio or Cholula on it, I probably will. Sometimes I regret this, but those few minutes of, “Oh, God, what was I thinking?!” are quickly quelled by “Oh, God, this tastes SO GOOD!”

I will put black pepper on EVERYTHING. Unless it is meant to be sweet, it gets pepper on it. I almost never salt my food, but I regularly crust different foods with a healthy dose of pepper.

Okay. Shameless lifecasting done with. Something meaty tomorrow.

What about you? What foods top your list of things you just cannot possibly eat? Any strange and fabulously quirky habits about food? Spill it!

Kabocha squash and spinach soup

Pulled this recipe from my Whole Foods iPhone app. (If you have an iPhone, I seriously recommend getting this app.) I love squash and when I was at the farmer’s market on Sunday, I saw a beautiful kabocha squash. To my knowledge, I’d never tried it before, so I picked one up — there was bound to be some way to eat it, right? (Plus, Teri recently professed her love for kabocha and made it sound really easy and good. Gotta love some good word of mouth, right?) The fall weather that is slowly, but surely making its presence known in the Bay area added to my enthusiasm for culinary adventure this evening.

Here goes . . .

1 medium kabocha squash, cut into 1″ chunks
2 cups spinach, packed
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic (I used 2 tsp of pre-minced garlic, so I really don’t know how close I got to this estimate)
4 cups vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
shredded mozzarella or crumbled feta to garnish
sour cream

Put broth, squash, onion and garlic into a pot and bring to a rolling boil. Boil until kabocha squash is soft (about 15 minutes). Use a potato masher to mash squash. Add spinach and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve, salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with sour cream and/or feta.

My modifications: I used feta and sour cream, but when I went back for a (smaller) second bowl (hey, it’s 130 cal per serving – ain’t no shame in going back for seconds), I used goat cheese instead of feta. DELISH!

 

Kabocha spinach soup.

 

A casualty of cooking — my poor, broken wine glass. It slipped out of my hand as I was pulling it out of the cabinet and smashed on the granite counter. There was glass EVERYWHERE. That was fun. On the bright side: I couldn’t remember the last time I’d swept my floor and now I can — today. It was also from IKEA — it was cheap.

 

Broken wine glass. (Sad. So very sad.)

 

The recipe made four servings — and I mean HEARTY servings. I put some in a container for tomorrow’s lunch and I STILL had enough to freeze two servings. Wow!

Also on tonight’s agenda:
– a glass of cabernet sauvignon (okay, two)
– pieces of chocolate (72% cacao, baby!)
– curling up with a book, my chocolate and wine in bed
– early bedtime

Do you like squash? What are you cooking lately? Any seasonal foods working their way onto your menu these days?

The Rock-out Workout

Alex and me - pre-rock-out workout. Note how intact my hair is now. Not so much afterwards.

I am by no means a doctor, dietician, nutritionist or physical trainer. I am not an expert in anything, except perhaps in how to ruin your sleep cycle or which flip flops will suit your day-to-day activities best, but I would be remiss to not pass on this bit of wisdom . . .

Last night, I learned that you can work out while you rock out.

Now, I’m not talking about a new playlist for your iPod (though we all know how helpful those are) — I’m talking about using an actual concert in place of your trip to the gym. Are you confused? Don’t be — I’ll embellish.

I’m calling it the Rock-Out Workout and I’ve devised a few strategy points to remember if you’d like to try it out yourself.

1. Pick music you can really MOVE to.
No disrespect to Sarah McLachlan, Norah Jones or Jack Johnson (all of whom I love and have seen in concert), but they’re not exactly the type of music I go for when I want to shake my booty — and I do like to shake my booty no matter how ridiculous I look. This weekend’s concert choice was Green Day . . . and they . . . were . . . FANTASTIC.

Love them, love them, love them.

2. Stand up and dance.
The best part of the concert last night was the energy. We had lawn seats at the Shoreline Amphitheatre so it was cool and became progressively more crowded — for a rock concert, being able to feed off of the intense energy of the performers and the crowd is a feeling like no other. I was pretty tired from a long run earlier that day, but as soon as my man took the stage, I was rockin’ pretty hard. Bouncing up and down (great for the calves on that incline, by the way), waving my arms and dancing for three hours.

3. Fuel yourself appropriately (or not).
Nutritional fact: a jumbo-sized bag of cotton candy has less than 200 calories in it. I picked up one of the $6 wonders and split it with Alex — fast, easy, sugary fuel. I may have contributed to the slow rotting of my intestines, but sugar rush + rock concert = pretty darn awesome. Beer helps too — but don’t mix beer and cotton candy. That’s not bonafide nutritional advice, that’s really more to spare your tastebuds. (The flavors don’t exactly mesh well.) Plus, you’ll only eat a third of the bag anyway — one bite for me, two for him . . . one bite for me, two for him . . .

Our seats were on the lawn - not amazing, but it was still a great show.

4. Go with someone who’ll enjoy it just as much as you will.
I LOVE Green Day. Alex LOVES Green Day. And of course, Alex and I love each other. Basically, it was one big love fest (okay, maybe that’s my would-be contact high talking). I am a big believer that concerts are experiences and you should experience them well. Go with someone who will have as much fun as you will — you’ll keep rockin’ hard, keep dancing all night and bounce up and down like schoolgirls (okay, that was me). My point is: you’ll have more longterm energy for your rock-out workout if you’re with someone who’ll be equally energized that can help motivate you.

5. Have FUN!
Concerts are great fun — I love going to as many as I can reasonably afford. Really, there’s something very special about seeing someone whose music you really love performing live. Even though I’m surrounded by thousands of people, some part of me feels like they’re playing just for me. Dorky, I know, but that’s exactly how I experience it.

~~~~~~~~~

The Rock-Out Workout definitely works your calves and gives you some fun, quality cardio. I really wore myself out working against gravity on the incline of the amphitheatre lawn, so much so that I really thought hard about giving Alex my keys so he could drive us home (it was midnight and I was exhausted — I would have found a way to snooze on the 15-minute drive).

Like I said, I’m not an expert, a trainer, or a dietician, but this seemed like a repeat-worthy practice for future concerts.

Concert tickets? $40
Beer and cotton candy? $30
Rockin’ out with your boyfriend/best-friend-of-almost-a-decade to a band you’ve both loved for almost 15 years? PRICELESS.


What is your favorite Green Day song? Do you have any fun concert stories?

Owning it.

Rachel Wilkerson is one of my favorite bloggers and probably one of the biggest inspirations I had to write a wellness-themed blog. (Bear with me – I’m new here and don’t quite know what I’m doing just yet. Sorry I’m not sorry.)

Recently Rachel wrote about seriously owning your life and not apologizing for the things that make you you or what you want to do in life. I’ve been reading (and loving!) follow up posts like this one, and this one, and this one that have lit a bit of a flame under my butt to actually own up to some of my own ‘isms’ that I make no apologies for.

So, here goes . . . Sorry I’m not sorry.

 

Seriously. I got this.

 

I love the news. I really do. But I don’t follow it as often as I sometimes feel like I should. I have a lot on my plate – I work full-time, I’m trying to get established as a health and wellness blogger, I’m training for a marathon, trying to lose weight and have a social life and maintain relationships at the same time. Maybe I didn’t hear about Dr. Laura securing herself as a total idiot when it happened, or maybe I’ve gone a few days without watching any coverage of the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, but I’m still trying to keep up as best I can so cut me some slack. I know I won’t be perfect at it. I could say that in my defense, I’m getting better at it, but that feels like an apology — and I’m not apologizing that my priorities right now don’t include gluing myself to CNN or MSNBC. Sorry I’m not sorry.

I’m a blogger! But I don’t know what I’m doing sometimes. I own this – and I’m working on getting better at it, but for now . . . Sorry I’m not sorry.

I’m a vegetarian who often gets asked, “But . . . but where do you get your protein?!” As if being a vegetarian has branded me as some sort of nutritionally-braindead Martian? Whatever. I get plenty of protein – I actually get more than enough – and I refuse to answer this question any more for obnoxious people who can’t see beyond bacon, burgers and chicken salads. While many most people are perfectly nice about it (for those people, I’m happy to answer politely), every now and then I get a pretty rude line of questioning that is almost always punctuated with, “Wow. Well, I could just never give up meat . . . I just don’t know how I’d get protein,” — as if thinking outside the box of chicken nuggets means I’m somehow crazy, ill-informed, malnourished, flouting the laws of conventional nutrition or just plain weird. I even get comments of, “Well, I only ask because I worry that you’re not getting enough . . .” Bullshit. Keep your judgments to yourself. I’m smart, resourceful, creative and I make it a point to educate myself on nutrition – especially given that whole marathon part and my status as a No Meat Athlete. I don’t eat meat and I doubt I will won’t ever again. Sorry I’m not sorry.

Most people who know me would describe me as being pretty positive. Upbeat, sunny, cheerful — all words that I hear people use in reference to my personality. But as good as I am at being an upbeat, positive person, inside I’m pretty snarky and downright critical — chalk it up to my wry wit and other Capricorn tendencies. I may not tell people to go fly a kite, suck it up, or fix it/figure it out yourself, but I’m probably thinking it. Still waters run deep, yo. I have no patience for people who nag, rush, or otherwise vex me and I’m twice as likely to not be my helpful little self if you’re just plain pissing me off. I have a serious weakness for not doing something because I don’t understand it. I’m logical, rational and if something makes no sense to me, it’s not worth my time to do it. Most of the time I’m good with going with the flow and just doing it, but every now and then, I just can’t resist the urge to toss out a snippy comment or sarcastic remark about just how utterly ridiculous the situation is. Sorry I’m not sorry.

My apartment is messy – it will never pass a military inspection unless the military ONLY inspects on Sundays. With the aforementioned full-time job and marathon training, I don’t have a lot of time. My tendencies to enjoy exercising, cooking and generally finding ways to keep myself alive prevent a lot of free time to be spent, oh, cleaning. Deal. There’s probably definitely (clean) unfolded laundry on my couch, there’s a bunch of clutter on my counter, a pile of shoes near my bookcase where I kick them off every day after I get home, and God only knows when I last made my bed . . . but I own this. I’m not living in squalor, I just don’t have time to keep everything completely in order. I clean on the weekends, and by the next weekend, things need cleaning again. I’m busy and I’m not going to sacrifice sleep or my priorities to make sure there aren’t sweaters and jeans draped over the arm of my couch. Sorry I’m not sorry.

I’m a runner, but I am sloooooooooooooow. I own this. It’s probably why one of my life goals is to qualify for the Boston Marathon — because it will be SUCH a challenge.  For now though, sometimes, I don’t finish in under an hour. Sometimes, I walk faster than I run. Hell, sometimes I just plain skip runs, but I’m a runner and I deserve to be taken seriously as a runner even if I’m not smashing records when I cross those finish lines. Sorry I’m not sorry.

I spent years studying the likes of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Faulkner, and Hawthorne to get my degree in literature, but I LOVE a good chick lit novel every now and then. Sorry I’m not sorry.

So there you have it . . . It’s what I’m owning. Thank you, Rachel, for the inspiration and for the huge sigh that just escaped me.

“I once shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.”

Pretty river next to our campsite.

Okay, that’s not exactly true, but I’m back! I’m alive! A bear didn’t eat me!

After a staff retreat in beautiful Moss Beach, I drove up to Reno, NV to visit Alex for a long weekend. On Saturday morning, we packed up, hit the grocery store and we were off to Blue Lakes on our first camping trip together (and first camping trip period for me).

As a fairly pasty individual, I worry about sunscreen and properly shielding myself from the sun’s rays — I burn very easily — but I didn’t need to worry that first night. We arrived around 6:30, just after a thunderstorm had passed through and it was surprisingly cold and wet.

The cold temperatures (Alex and I each hunkered down in our sleeping bags underneath three blankets and we STILL ended up pulling the dog close for warmth) and some minor hiccups with our lantern meant we drove back into town for some more supplies the next morning.The next few days though, it warmed and we relaxed around the campfire at night and spent our days playing cards, lounging on the lake’s beach, and playing with Alex’s very active dog, Cutie. (Yeah, that is her name.)

I was pretty surprised at how the altitude affected me. I mean, I’m a fairly active girl — I’m training for a marathon and I love to climb, hike, etc. — but at 7,000 feet, everything seemed to leave me winded those first 48 hours. All the fresh air and sun-tiredness meant going to bed at sundown and waking up pretty early — but I was having a blast!

Cutie, the co-pilot.

Before we left, Alex asked me, “Um, babe? What do vegetarians eat on camping trips?” Beats me. Normal food? Dinners were pretty hearty — thick, hearty tomato soup; veggie wraps; and vegetarian chili — and breakfast and lunch were pretty simple — who doesn’t love oatmeal and sandwiches?

I could wax poetic about how much I loved the outdoorsy experience, but I feel the need to make a confession: after three days sans-shower, I had kind of a mini-meltdown. Alex thought this was endearing and kind of cute, but “the flies [were] giving me a complex!” I sobbed. Warm weather, my lack of outdoors experience and our proximity to water meant those ‘flies’ were actually mosquitoes, but to me, it made no difference. I felt yucky, I felt gross, and I wanted a bath, goshdarnit!!!

A four-day, three-night camping trip might have been a bit ambitious an attempt, according to Alex, for a girl who is so completely NOT used to having to do without running water and the creature comforts of jumping in the shower after I’ve gotten sweaty, dirty, or otherwise a little less than squeaky-clean. All in all, I think I handled well with fresh water, a cook stove and an abundance of baby wipes — but let’s face it, it’s just not the same as a nice, hot shower.

I am looking forward to camping again, though. 🙂 Other vacation happenings: getting lost in Reno a few times, first trip to Qdoba (like Chipotle, but not quite the same), and putt-putt!!! I got my first hole-in-one, too. Alex nearly jumped out of his skin when I got it and squealed loudly with excitement.  Funny enough, we ended up tying in spite of all of my “gonna-kick-your-butt-at-putt-putt” trash talking. Ironic?

What was your last vacation like? Where did you go?