Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Weekend Update {Volleyball, Grilling, and Organizing}

Hi, how's the week going?  I had a great weekend, followed by a very loong Monday.  It was open house night, which meant I pretty much stayed at work until it was time to go to bed.  And talking the entire day was not too helpful for my voice, which still hasn't entirely returned.

The weekend was great, however.  Jay's school hosted the first boy's volleyball tournament of the season, and his team won the whole thing!  They played great and it was a lot of fun to watch.
After the games on Saturday, I went over to my friend Bri's house for dinner along with some other teacher friends.  She and her boyfriend put together the best healthy summer dinner of grilled kabobs, salad, and watermelon.  I packed my skewer with veggies and it was awesome dipped in hummus.  Kabobs are easy but feel so festive - I definitely need to remember to make them more often.
On the side, Bri made a salad minus the lettuce.  I loved how she just tossed a bunch of fresh veggies with dressing and basil from her garden.  The lettuce was entirely unnecessary.
Since Jay and I always have a surplus of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and fresh herbs from our garden, this is something I plan to make a lot for the remainder of the summer.  So simple and fresh!

For dessert, there were blueberry muffins packed with HUGE blueberries and homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream.  Yum!
With how hot it's been here, we've been trying to grill as much as possible rather than turning on the oven.  Meals like this are a great way to avoid heating up the house.  I think veggie kabobs along with my favorite Field Roast vegetarian sausages would make for an excellent combo.  

Sunday was pretty low key.  I helped tutor a friend's daughter with her Spanish and completely cleaned out my closet.  I'm trying an online consignment shop for the first time called ThredUp.  Once you sign up, you can order a big bag that the company will send you for free (at least the first time).  You then stuff it full of all the name brand clothing items you can possibly fit.  The postage on the bag is already pre-paid, so you can just drop it off at the post office or a Fed Ex location to send it back.  ThredUp will either pay you for the clothes and resell them or donate them to charity.  I must have stuffed at least 30 things into that bag - I could barely lift it into my car. 
I'm excited to see what they offer.  I'll let you know how it goes!  

Monday, August 18, 2014


Hello!  Just checking in since I haven't blogged in a while.  Work started back up full-time last week, and the new schedule is going to take some getting used to.  I've spent a lot of time up at my school attending meetings and getting my classroom up and running.  The first day for students is tomorrow, and there is always SO much to do!
I left this afternoon feeling pretty good about everything.  The only problem is, I don't really have a voice.  It started sounding really hoarse about three weeks ago and still hasn't come back all the way.  That is going to make talking all day to 160 noisy seventh graders quite a challenge.  It needs to get better asap!

Other than than that, I've just been trying to enjoy the last bit of summer.  Between work starting for me and Jay being busy with volleyball, it seems like we've been cooking less than usual.  We ate out several times this weekend and also enjoyed a couple of family dinners with relatives who were in town from Canada.  My mom made an awesome vegan lasagna last night that I definitely need the recipe for!  I contributed a salad made with strawberries, pecans, and goat cheese and tossed with balsamic vinaigrette.  It was a tasty combo!
We also gave our back porch a little face lift a couple weeks ago and have been enjoying spending time out there in the evenings when we can.  It's amazing what a difference comfy chairs can make!
And our garden is still doing well, especially for how late in the summer it is.  I picked these just the other day.
In terms of exercise, Jay and I are both sticking with the P90X3 program, although we aren't able to do the workouts together anymore most days.  I still really like it for the most part and hope I can stick with it during the school year.

I've been horrible about taking pictures and blogging lately, but I hope to get back into the swing of things once I settle into more of a routine.  I'll leave you with a picture of Wendy and her new BFF.  She is totally in the spirit of shark week - she adores this thing!
Have a great week!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Vegan Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese

Mac & cheese is one of my favorite classic comfort foods, but healthy it is (usually) not.  The boxed processed types are full of scary ingredients, and homemade versions generally aren't much better.  The average mac & cheese recipe calls for tons of butter, white flour, milk, and cheese.  Throw in some white pasta, and it doesn't get much more nutritionally void than that. 

Fortunately, thanks to wonder that is nutritional yeast, it is possible to make a mac & cheese that is both delicious and really good for you.  My go-to version involves the no-cheese sauce from the Forks Over Knives cookbook, which I shared a while back.  Last night, however, I was craving something a little different.  We had some sweet potatoes to use up, and the thought of a slightly sweet, cheesy meal sounded appealing.  I did some searching, and, sure enough, I wasn't the first person in the world to think of using sweet potatoes in a mac & cheese dish.  I ended up making some modifications to this recipe that I found on Alicia Silverstone's website (which is awesome, by the way) to create what you see below.  I highly recommend!
Vegan Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese
Total cook time: 1 hour
Servings: 4

  • 1 large sweet potato, cubed
  • 1 box (13.5 oz.) elbow macaroni (I used whole wheat)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded non-dairy cheese (like Daiya)
  • 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast and 1/2 tbsp of olive oil for topping

Preheat oven to 425° F. Place sweet potato cubes onto lightly greased baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Place in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until tender, turning once half way through.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot.

In a medium bowl, combine lemon juice, mustard, garlic powder, chili flakes, nutritional yeast, olive oil, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Remove sweet potatoes from oven (don’t turn off the heat) and add them to the bowl with all your seasonings, almond milk, and shredded cheese. Mash well.

Add macaroni noodles to the bowl and stir it all together.  Transfer the mixture to a large casserole dish.  Top with nutritional yeast and then drizzle with olive oil to form a cheesy "crust."

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the top begins to brown.  

Serve and eat!  As usual, we also topped ours with some Sriracha for an extra kick.  
This macaroni turned out even better than I had imagined.  Jay was a huge fan, too.  We practically ate the entire thing in one sitting. 
Hope it was a great week.  Happy Friday!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Recent Happenings {Florida Vacation and Some Tasty Eats}

Hello!  Hope you are all having a fabulous weekend!

Jay and I just returned from our last trip of the summer.  We spent most of last week at my grandparents' house in Lake Worth, Florida.  It was a relaxing visit filled with games, swimming, and lots of family time.  My aunt, uncle, and cousin from New Jersey also drove down with their two dogs, so it was great to see everyone and catch up.
The dog beach is one of the happiest places on earth!  There are dogs everywhere frolicking in the water and having the best time.  I would love for Wendy and Oliver to go some day...they would be in heaven!

Now it's time to get into back-to-school mode.  Boo.  Jay starts preseason practices on Monday, and I'll be shopping and working in my classroom to get ready to go back the following week. 

And so it begins...
On another note, I managed to keep my head in the sand (literally) all week about what happened on the Bachelorette finale.  When our little group finally got together to watch it last night, we were all surprised with who Andi chose.  We loved the ending, but loved the drama that unfolded "After the Final Rose" even more.  OMG, Nick!

Ashleigh made the best vegan dinner that I can't wait to recreate.  
The pasta was tossed with a simple, fresh avocado cream sauce (recipe here) with a strawberry walnut spinach salad and fresh baked bread on the side.  Delicious!

I brought along some of my favorite no-bake chocolate brownie balls.  The base is made of just three ingredients - dates, walnuts, and cocoa powder.  I blended them up and rolled them in some raw cacao nibs for crunch.  
And my friend Zenie made wonderful strawberry/blueberry shortcake.  
It was a perfect summer meal!  

Happy Sunday!