Things I like Thursday

Good evening friends! It has been a busy week of work and classes since I last posted, but it has been fun…Well everyday has been fun, but earlier today. Long lines and public transit were not my friends today. I got home three hours later than I thought I would. Oh well, I will not let those things ruin the rest of my day. I made it back home so that’s all that matters! 😛

Anyway, today I thought I’d write about something different from my usual posts. I wanted to started a new post called “Things I like Thursday” in order to share things that I am enjoying each week and to help my readers learn a little bit more about me. In return, I’d love to hear some of the things you guys have been enjoying this week, just comment below. Maybe this will become a new regular post on this blog!

As a disclaimer, the products below were products I reviewed because I wanted to and personally enjoy them- no one has paid me or influenced my reviews!

1. My new running hat.

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I have a child sized head and have a hard time finding hats that fit me so imagine my surprise when I finally found one! When I run, I typically just wear sunglasses, but then when I sweat it still gets in my eyes. Not anymore with this new hat, though! Furthermore, now my scalp is protected from the sun. I don’t know about you, but I’ve gotten scalp sunburn before and it really hurts :(. I really like this hat and I highly recommend this it (Asics Women’s Dawn2Dusk cap in Heather Iron).

2. AM by The Arctic Monkeys.

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(image from http://arcticmonkeys.com/releases.php)

I saw the Arctic Monkeys live at Lollapalooza earlier this month and since then I have been listening to them a lot. This week, especially, I have been listening to their newest CD called AM and I really like it! My favorite songs on this CD are Snap Out of It, Arabella, and Knee Socks. I am going to give their older CDs a listen too! Any other Artic Monkeys fans out there?

3. Stonyfield organic Greek vanilla yogurt.

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Lately, this yogurt has been my favorite snack/dessert. It has real vanilla speaks in it and tastes kind of like ice cream to me, especially if you pop it in the freezer for a few hours! For an extra delicious dessert I sometimes mix in a few dark chocolate chips and/or homemade granola. I normally consume Oikos plain or vanilla Greek yogurt, but this one tastes even better! Unfortunately, it is a little pricey so this will only be an occasional treat for me. :/

4. Morning runs.

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I started classes on Monday and since I work a few nights during the week I have been getting my runs and workouts in during the morning. I have really enjoyed running around 7 am while the sun is still rising. The view of the rising sun over Lake Michigan is incredible. :). It’s too bad I did not take any pictures because the view this morning was especially beautiful. I am very lucky to live near the lake and to be able to run on the Lakeshore path whenever I want. I love the feeling of starting my day with a run so I hope to continue waking up early and running before my classes in the coming weeks! Furthermore, now that my IT band injury is fully healed I look forward to getting back into racing shape and finding a race to train for.

5. Morning Oat Crunch cereal.

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Another snack I have been enjoying a lot this week is Morning Oat Crunch cereal. It kind of reminds me of Quaker Oat Squares, but is less sweet and a little crunchier. It is the perfect cereal to grab a handful of when you need a quick snack, but it also tastes wonderful topped with almond milk. I could probably eat an entire box of this in one day, but I don’t let myself. Everything one eats in life should be enjoyed in moderation except vegetables- we could all stand to consume more of those! ;).

6. The monkey mug.

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The last thing I have really been enjoying this week is my monkey mug. My boyfriend got it for me for Christmas last year and I cannot help, but smile whenever I drink out of it. I love that its arm is the handle of the mug! I needed an evening pick-me-up so I am currently enjoying a cup of chai tea from the monkey mug as I write this post. 🙂 I think my boyfriend bought it at World Market if anyone is interested in looking for it!

What things have you been enjoying this week and why? Also, have a fantastic evening everyone! 🙂

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Tasty Tuesday #5: Pasta Bean Casserole

Good evening friends! Sorry I have been MIA for a while. It’s been a little crazy on my end as I just got a part time job (after a month of searching, yay!). I had orientation for my part time job on Friday and my first day of work was today. I am a cashier at a local grocery store and wow today was crazy! I learned so much in one shift and definitely have room to improve. I hope to do a better job tomorrow, though, and I’m sure the first day is the hardest just like anything in life. Also, my nutrition classes begin next Monday already… Where has summer gone?!

Anyway, today I wanted to share with all of you a recipe that my boyfriend’s mom sent us. She found it in a vegetarian cookbook, but I am not sure what it is called. We made several changes to the original. If any of you want to know where the original recipe came from I can ask her, just comment below that you want the original. This recipe is delicious, healthy, not too spicy (can be adjusted though), quick, and filling. My boyfriend basically cooked the entire batch tonight as I was resting after my first work shift. I really have a keeper- he’s sweet, eats vegetarian food with me, and can cook! 😛 I’m a lucky girl. 🙂

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Pasta bean casserole

yield: 4-5 generous servings

ingredients:

2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil

1/2 bag frozen sweet peppers OR 1/2-1 whole chopped sweet or green pepper

1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes (undrained)

1 14 oz can tomato sauce

1.5-2 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 box of your favorite pasta (we typically use bowtie or wagon wheel)

1 can kidney beans (drained and rinsed)

1. In a medium or large saucepan heat the 2 tablespoons oil on medium high. Add the peppers and cook until they are tender (about 3 minutes).

2. Stir in the chili powder and cook for 1 minute.

3. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic powder, and red pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes. Be sure to stir the mixture often.

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4. In another smaller saucepan cook the pasta according to the directions on the box or package.

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5. Once the pasta is cooked stir it into the tomato mixture.

6. Add the kidney beans to the tomato-pasta mixture and cook until the beans are thoroughly heated. Serve the casserole!

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What is your favorite vegetarian Mexican style food? I’m looking for more vegetarian Mexican style recipes to try so please share ideas with me here if you have any. Have a great night everyone! 🙂

A BBQ “burger” recipe and the Lincoln Park zoo

Good evening friends! I hope all of you are having a great week and more importantly a wonderful day today. 🙂 Today one of my friends came up to Chicago to visit me for the day. Her and I went to the North Avenue Beach, the Lincoln Park zoo and the conservatory, and window shopped. I highly recommend stopping at the zoo and conservatory if any of you are ever in Chicago. It’s nice, fun, and best of all free! Today was a fun filled day and we must have walked over 4 or 5 miles total the whole day. I’m glad to have a friend who likes being active just as much as I do! I dropped her off at the train station a few hours ago and I am definitely going to miss her if she can’t come back to the city before leaving for graduate school in a little over a week though. 😦

On a brighter note, I took tons of pictures at the zoo and conservatory so I’m going to share a few of favorites below. Then, I’ll share a new recipe my boyfriend and I tried out using a vegetarian/vegan soy food called tempeh.

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I found this recipe on page 36 in The Teen’s Vegetarian Cookbook by Judy Krizmanic. This recipe is very easy and relatively fast. I hope you all enjoy it! We did not make any major modifications to the original recipe this time.

BBQ tempeh “burgers”

yield: 2-4 servings

8 ounces of packaged tempeh (we got ours from Trader Joe’s)

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1/2 cup of bottled BBQ sauce ( we used Trader Joe’s Bold and Smokey Kansas City Style BBQ sauce)

1/2 cup water

1. Slice the tempeh into four sandwich sized slices.

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2.  Combine the BBQ, vegetable oil and water into a bowl. Put the tempeh slices in the mixture and let soak for ten minutes.

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3. After ten minutes, heat a skillet over medium heat and place the tempeh slices in the skillet (no need to spray the skillet). Save the sauce. Cook the slices for 3-4 minutes or until they start to brown.

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4. After the slices start to brown, reduce the heat to low and pour the BBQ sauce over the slices. Cook for another five minutes or until the tempeh slices darken and the BBQ sauce starts to disappear.

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5. Turn off the heat and serve the “burgers” on buns  with your favorite toppings. We topped ours with sweet peppers and spooned some of the extra BBQ sauce on them.

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Have you ever had tempeh before? If so what did you make with it?

Tasty Tuesday #4: easy, peasy black bean salsa

Wow, it’s been way too long since I’ve posted a black bean recipe! Since black beans are one of my favorite foods and what inspired the name of this blog, I figured it was time for another black bean recipe. This black bean salsa is super easy to make, relatively healthy, and only takes about 5 minutes from start to finish. It would probably taste even better if you made your own salsa from scratch, but then it would take a little longer to make. This recipe is courtesy of my boyfriend and his sister. It will definitely be a part of our snack rotation here from now on. It tastes wonderful with tortilla or pita chips. 🙂

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easy, peasy black bean salsa

ingredients:

1 can of organic black beans

2/3 cup of salsa (we used On The Border Medium Salsa)

steps:

1. Drain and rinse a can of black beans.

2. Put the uncooked and rinsed black beans and 2/3 cup of salsa in a food processor.

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3.  Puree the black beans and salsa until relatively smooth.

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3. Store the salsa in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


While this salsa is delicious, I’d still have to say homemade black bean burgers are my favorite way to eat black beans. I posted a recipe for black bean burgers previously if any of you are curious . I’m thinking of making black bean brownies in the near future and featuring them on this blog, but we will see! I am always searching for new recipes using black beans so stay tuned. 😛 Have a great night everyone!

Have any of you ever had black bean salsa before? Also, do any of you have any recipes for homemade salsa you’d be willing to share with me? If so comment here or email me at blackbeanqueen@gmail.com.

Motivational Monday #4: Don’t let the weather stop you

Good morning friends! I hope all of you had wonderful weekends. I had a great one, but it went by way too fast. :/ I went home Friday morning to visit my family and my boyfriend’s family (we are from the same home town) and then I had a family reunion on Saturday in Wisconsin. It was a busy weekend full of boating, time outside, bonfires, bags, and eating (of course)!

Unfortunately between Friday and Sunday, I only ran yesterday when I got back to Chicago. I am upset with my laziness now that my IT band is healed. I The weather was not even rainy like it is today so I had no excuses (although weather is a poor excuse). I had busy days with my family and my boyfriend’s family, but I could have woken up early to run! I thought for today’s running motivation I thought I’d pick a quote to remind us that the weather is never too snowy/rainy/windy/bad enough to skip a run (plus there’s always the treadmill :P).

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I hope all of you have excellent runs or workouts today and do not let the weather stop you. It could always be much worse than rain. MUCH. WORSE. It could be the polar vortex with a balmy high of –15 degrees. Remember that when you think of skipping today’s work out.

I am still  trying to take it slow so I don’t reinjure my IT band, but two days in a row off of running (unless I am cross training) are no longer part of my plan. I’m aiming to get back to running 5-6 days per week and cross training on the 7th day or taking a rest day when needed. Today calls for a 4 mile easy run this evening. I am running in the evening to give myself 24 hours between consecutive runs. I do not worry about run timing except after a recent injury. I am hoping to get up to 5 miles or so without IT band pain by the end of this week.

Well, it’s time for me to grocery shop and then go to a coffee shop before my run tonight.  My boyfriend is going to read for his summer class and I am going to read for fun since I’m finally done with my summer class! 😛

What kind of run or workout do you have planned today?

Motivational Monday #4: Don’t let the weather stop you

Good morning friends! I hope all of you had wonderful weekends. I had a great one, but it went by way too fast. :/ I went home Friday morning to visit my family and my boyfriend’s family (we are from the same home town) and then I had a family reunion on Saturday in Wisconsin. It was a busy weekend full of boating, time outside, bonfires, bags, and eating (of course)!

Unfortunately between Friday and Sunday, I only ran yesterday when I got back to Chicago. I am upset with my laziness now that my IT band is healed. I The weather was not even rainy like it is today so I had no excuses (although weather is a poor excuse). I had busy days with my family and my boyfriend’s family, but I could have woken up early to run! I thought for today’s running motivation I thought I’d pick a quote to remind us that the weather is never too snowy/rainy/windy/bad enough to skip a run (plus there’s always the treadmill :P).

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I hope all of you have excellent runs or workouts today and do not let the weather stop you. It could always be much worse than rain. MUCH. WORSE. It could be the polar vortex with a balmy high of –15 degrees. Remember that when you think of skipping today’s work out.

I am still  trying to take it slow so I don’t reinjure my IT band, but two days in a row off of running (unless I am cross training) are no longer part of my plan. I’m aiming to get back to running 5-6 days per week and cross training on the 7th day or taking a rest day when needed. Today calls for a 4 mile easy run this evening. I am running in the evening to give myself 24 hours between consecutive runs. I do not worry about run timing except after a recent injury. I am hoping to get up to 5 miles or so without IT band pain by the end of this week.

Well, it’s time for me to grocery shop and then go to a coffee shop before my run tonight.  My boyfriend is going to read for his summer class and I am going to read for fun since I’m finally done with my summer class! 😛

What kind of run or workout do you have planned today?

Thursday Treats: vegetarian/vegan pancakes

To be honest today’s treat started out as an experiment. I had a serious craving for pancakes this morning, but my boyfriend and I were completely out of eggs so I was curious if it would be possible to make delicious pancakes without them. The answer is 100% YES! As a vegetarian who still eats eggs, I normally make pancakes with eggs, but now I’m thinking that this eggless pancake recipe will be my new go to recipe. They are that good (in my opinion)! 😉 As an added bonus, they cook faster than pancakes made with eggs! If you use maple syrup instead of honey as the sweetener these can even be made vegan!

This recipe is from The Teen’s Vegetarian Cookbook by  Judy Krizmanic on pages 16-18. The only change I made was using 1 cup of all purpose flour instead of a half cup wheat flour and a half cup white and then I used light vanilla almond milk instead of soy or dairy milk. I also made two of the six pancakes with dark chocolate chips as a little treat for my boyfriend and I.

For pancake toppings I personally like high protein toppings such as vanilla Greek yogurt and mixed berries or peanut butter, while my boyfriend prefers the classic maple syrup. The pancakes taste good with any of those toppings!

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vegetarian/vegan pancakes

yield: 6-8 pancakes (serves 2-3 people)

ingredients:

1 cup  all purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

dash of cinnamon (optional)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup light vanilla almond milk (or soy or dairy milk)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons honey (or maple syrup or another liquid sweetener)

steps

1. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl.

2. Combine the almond milk, vegetable oil, and honey in a separate bowl.

3. Mix the dry ingredients and almond milk mixture together just until combined.

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4. Grease a non stick skillet with cooking spray or a little vegetable oil and put the stove on medium heat.

5. Pour the pancake batter onto the skillet into circles about 4 or 5 inches in diameter. Put dark chocolate chips in the batter during this step if desired.  (I cooked two pancakes at a time since we have a pretty small skillet).

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6. Cook for about one-two minutes on one side or until bubbles start to form. Then flip the pancakes with a spatula and cook for another minute or two on the other side. The pancakes are cooked when they turn golden brown. This should take four-five minutes total.

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7. Once fully cooked serve the pancakes and top with your favorite toppings. We made 6 large pancakes with this recipe.

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running update

A few hours after breakfast I went on a wonderful solo run along the beach. Today was my furthest run to date post IT Band injury. It was just shy of 4 miles. It’s so good to be back to injury free running, but I’m definitely going to keep up with my IT band rehabilitation exercises and yoga in the coming months to prevent a relapse. I felt a little sore from yesterday’s run for some reason, but I still ran a decent pace even without my boyfriend to push me. 😛

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I’m hoping to try out a five miler this weekend and slowly start to increase my pace during my runs again in the coming weeks. Maybe I can start thinking about signing up for a late fall race now! Have a wonderful day everyone! 🙂

Today’s question: What is your favorite pancake topping?