Thursday, June 26, 2014

Last Week's Workouts

Last week's workouts were pretty ho-hum.  I wasn't really feeling it most days, so I just tried to get something in each day ...  Which I still managed to do, so I guess that's not too shabby. 
Monday - 60 pull-ups with the green band
Tuesday - 20 pull-ups with the green band plus 2 mile walk to library and early voting! Yay for participation, right? :)
Wednesday - 30 minutes on the exercise bike on manual level 7

Thursday - 30 minutes on the exercise bike on manual level 7 plus 30 pull-ups with the green band
Friday - 23 pull-ups green band plus 30 minutes on the exercise bike on manual level 7
Saturday - 2 mile run outside - gotta enjoy the weather when you get the chance!
Sunday - back outside for a 1 hour and 45 minute hike in Rock Creek Park.  I took a different route than usual and quickly learned that change is bad.  I bushwhacked a lot of the way on overgrown, buggy paths that didn't even offer much elevation change to challenge me.  Oh well, back to my usual circuit next time I guess!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Soup in Summer?

A little while ago I came across this recipe for Pumpkin-Butternut Squash Soup with Kale.  It looked so yummy - with a lot of my favorite flavors all mixed into one bowl of goodness - that I knew I wanted to try it.  But the recipe's author, Tina, wrote her post in March, when a warm bowl of soup always sounds just perfect.  It doesn't seem to make as much sense in summer ... especially when said summer is the sweltering heat of DC. 
But it looked so good I decided to crank up the AC and give it a try anyway.  Fortunately, unless you've just been outside for a steamy run, a bowl of soup is still quite nice in summer.  It's a bit like a shower - sometimes making your body warmer actually makes your surroudings feel that much cooler! 
I tweaked the recipe just a bit by nixing the ricotta, cinnamon, and nutmeg, (of course) substituting soy milk for cow's, and increasing the milk a bit - probably because I also used a lot more kale to make the whole thing more filling.  I'd say I ended up with proportions more like: 1/2 cup butternut squash, 1/2 cup pumpkin, 3/4 cup milk, 1 1/2 cups kale, salt and pepper.
Definitely a winner in my book.  It's so simple to throw together and low in calories but still substantial enough to serve as a main course.  I made it three times in one week (until my pumpkin ran out).  Plus Panda enjoyed helping to make sure every bit of pumpkin got used up.  I'm sure this soup will be that much better once it gets cold again - can't wait!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Searching for the Right Vegan Hollandaise Sauce Recipe

I was kind of a weird kid.  Whenever we went out to brunch, my go-to meal was always Eggs Benedict with no Canadian bacon and no yolks in the eggs.  I never liked the idea of ham, even when I ate meat.  And egg yolks, of course, are gross.  Runny egg yolks are even worse.  My mom joked that our server would think I had a heart condition.  But mostly what I was going for was the Hollandaise sauce.  Everything else was just a delivery mechanism. 
When I got a bit older I found that rather than nixing everything out of an order of Eggs Benedict, at some restaurants I could order asparagus with Hollandaise.  Or better yet, I could make my own sauce at home and whip it up myself in minutes.  Which I did.  Over and over and over again. 
When I became vegan it may not have been the thing I missed most, but every once in a while it would cross my mind.  And as I thought about it, I figured it should be easy enough to make in vegan form.  So why not give it a whirl? 
As a starting point, I followed this recipe from Vegetarian Times.  Unfortunately, I got a bit cocky and estimated all my measurements.  When I tasted round 1 the sauce had way too much lemon and a bit too much spice.  I promptly added more tofu, more salt, more oil (I used olive rather than corn) and tinkered around until I got a version I liked.  When I sat down to really eat the sauce on asparagus and toast, I found it was still too lemony for my taste, but it was definitely a decent approximation of real Hollandaise.  Definitely a good place to start, at least.  I enjoyed my asparagus, toast, and Hollandaise literally for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (not all on the same day).  This is definitely a recipe I'll continue tinkering with until I find the right balance.  And when I do I'll be sure to share the results!

Blueberry Muffins and Thai Arroy Dinner

Last week I managed to score a last-minute dentist appointment Monday morning (yay for cancellations!).  Unfortunately, I scheduled said appointment with my dentist up in Baltimore (I'm too lazy to look for a new dentist).  And now that the dentist isn't walking distance from my apartment, but instead a good 1 1/2 drive away, I asked Josh's parents if I could stay at their place Sunday night to make the Monday morning drive a bit an hour shorter. 
They were heading out to dinner for the evening, which would leave me alone with their cable TV, the dogs, and to fend for myself for dinner.  Fortunately, that gave me a great excuse to head to Thai Arroy on my drive up Sunday night to pick up yummy drunken noodles - which Thai Arroy will make vegan for you on request.  I haven't had these in forever and they were truly delicious.  Plus the serving was so huge I had leftovers for the next day too!  Dog cuddles, TV binging, and tasty food ... definitely a great night.
Of course I didn't realize I'd have drunken noodles left for breakfast the next day, so I still wanted to show up prepared.  Plus I always like to bring a treat with me when I visit Josh's parents to share the vegan love as much as I can.  For this visit I made a small batch of blueberry muffins.  I followed Chocolate Covered Katie's recipe for a single-serving blueberry muffin, so I actually had to quadruple the recipe to get the eight I ended up with.  (My muffins were a bit on the small side to stretch to eight.  If you wanted really big muffins you'd probably end up with five or six.)
I've made these muffins before with mixed success, but I knew that they would be a hit this time if I did it right.  They really are best made with coconut oil, with the applesauce version declared to be "gross".  Since I had leftover Thai food, I ate one little muffin at breakfast and then snagged another to go for a snack the next day.  I left the other six behind for Josh's parents.  And though I left before they got to sample them, the muffins were definitely a win in my book ...  Hopefully they agreed!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Reading, Reading, Reading ... On the Exercise Bike!

I found myself pretty sore at the beginning of last week from Fran the previous Friday.  I know ... three and four days later and I was still sore?!?!?  Normally I don't feel the real pain from a hard workout until two days later, but usually not three or four ...  I guess it was a good workout! 
But I was so sore I definitely wanted to listen to my body, so I spent the first three days of the week taking it easy on the exercise bike and getting some reading done. 
Monday - 30 minutes on the exercise bike at manual 5

Tuesday - 30 minutes on the exercise bike at manual 6

Wednesday - 30 minutes on the exercise bike manual 6

Thursday - off
Despite my pain from Fran at the beginning of the week, I decided to go right back there again on Friday.  Aaannnnnddd ... I improved my time by 30 seconds with the same weight!  Next time to try 40 pound squat thrusts ... (Ugh!)  Fortunately, I was no where near as sore after Fran round 2.  I must be getting stronger! 
Friday - 30 minutes on the elliptical at manual 6 plus 7:21 minute Fran with 30 lbs squat thrusts and 55 lbs pull-downs
Saturday - 1 hour and 40 minute hike in Rock Creek Park
Sunday - 30 pull-ups with green band plus 30 minutes on the exercise bike at manual 6

Monday, June 16, 2014

My Love for Peanut Butter

When I was at the grocery store the other day, I saw something truly wonderful.  There are few things in life as great as a sale on Peanut Butter & Co. peanut butter.  Actually, I think I really showed a great deal of restraint by only purchasing two jars (considering I had peanut butter at home already).  I bought one jar of White Chocolate Wonderful and one of Mighty Maple.  And have been blissfully devouring them all week. 
I can eat peanut butter on pretty much anything.  It's probably my favorite food, and I'm always stretching its versatility to the limits.  Granted, I bought two sweet flavors at the store, so most of my peanut butter consumption this week has steered clear of the savory variety, but not entirely. 
Of course, my favorite accompanyment for peanut butter is fruit, whether it's slathered on apple slices, mixed with a mashed banana, or incorporated into one of my morning protein shakes. 

I also took the opportunity to step up the game on my Peanut Butter Cup Chia Pudding by using White Chocolate Wonderful in place of plain, creamy peanut butter.  Oh yes, what a delicious improvement!  This stuff is great for dessert, of course, but also served as a delicious breakfast this week - full of protein and fiber, it does a great job of keeping you full until lunch time! 
And while of course peanut butter and grain seems normal enough when bread is involved - there's always peanut butter toast and PB&J sandwiches - not everyone thinks of peanut butter popcorn.  But this sweet and salty snack is super easy to make, and makes a surprisingly filling movie snack! 
Just prepare popcorn, nuke enough peanut butter for desired coverage (I used three tablespoons of Mighty Maple), drizzle PB over popcorn, and stir to coat thoroughly.  Then be sure not to tell anyone you made it so you can enjoy the whole bowl yourself!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Vegan Cotswold from the Non-Dairy Formulary

Since he was just a little boy, Josh's favorite cheese has been Cotswold (I know, what a pretentious little boy!).  Needless to say, I haven't had any since becoming vegan, but I thought it would be a great thing to be able to bring backed into our (shared) lives.  So I decided to try expanding into the more complicated reaches of the Non-Dairy Formulary to give their Cotswold recipe a try (labeled as Gloucester with Onions and Chives).  The recipe is actually somewhat similar to the ones for brie and Camembert, relying on coconut oil, soy milk, kappa carageenan, miso paste, and tapioca flour, amongst a few other ingredients.  The ingredients I didn't already have on hand were easy enough to get - tomato paste for color, plus chives and dried onions for that signature Cotswold flavor.   Though I had some difficulty with tapioca flour in my vegan brie (ultimately deciding both the brie and Camembert are best without it), I decided I should at least start by following the recipe the way it appears in the book before messing with it. 
And unfortunately it looks like messing with the recipe is exactly what I'm going to need to do.  My Cotswold never really firmed up all the way - in fact it stuck horribly to the mold and I had to scrape it out and kind of glop it back together.  Not a pretty sight, is it? 
Fortunately the taste is better - reminiscent of Cotswold, at least.  But that's really due to the chives and onions.  Even after days of storing it, per the book's instructions, in the fridge wrapped in a paper towel that gets changed once a day and then wrapped in plastic wrap, it's still a very spreadable consistency.  Not exactly Cheez-Whiz texture, but not particularly far off either.  And this clearly isn't what the book's author would have expected, because the instructions say after 24 hours of chilling you should be able to slice or grate it.  But mine definitely wouldn't hold up to a cheese grater. 
Since nixing the tapioca flour actually made both my brie and Camembert firmer, I might try this route next time for the Cotswold as well.  It tasted good enough to me that further experimentation seems worth it.  So ... I guess more Cotswold posts coming soon!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

R2D2 and the Return of Fran

Last week's workouts were really something.  Though I started slow hitting the gym and doing basic cardio every day, late in the week there were a lot of very involved workouts and I really ran all over the gamut of workout possibilities. 
Monday - 35 minutes on the elliptical at speed 6, manual setting
Tuesday - 35 minutes on the elliptical at speed 5, manual setting
Wednesday - 30 minutes on the stationary bike at speed 7, manual setting
Thursday - 4 mile jog/walk (2 mile jog, 1 mile walk, 1 mile jog) in Sligo Creek where I may have been seen in all my sweatiness by lots of people, but at least I got to enjoy the R2D2-looking trash cans along the way :) 
Friday - 5 minute warm up on the stationary bike at manual 5, Fran at-home WOD (7:51 time, using 30 lbs for squat thrusts and 55 lbs for pull downs - 70 lbs for first 4, then down to 55 lbs for the rest), 10 more minutes on the bike at manual 5, 3 sets each - 10 bicep curls with 2 10-lb dumbbells, 10 bent over rows with 2 10-lb dumbbells, 12 lunges, then finally 10 more minutes on the bike at manual 5.
Saturday - 1 hour and 40 minute hike in Rock Creek Park 

Sunday - I did a little treadmill experimentation with the goal of increasing my jogging time.  While I'm comfortable at about a 5.0 speed on the treadmill for a half hour, I realize this is pretty slow by most people's standards and wanted to see if I could increase it.  While I can easily go to 5.2 without much issue, something like 6.0 is quite uncomfortable ... which made it my new goal.  The treadmill routine looked something like intervals, just very long ones.  Basically my goal was to go as long as possible at 6.0 (original goal set for 10 minutes - exceeded, yay!), then recover walking, and go again. 
Treadmill Speed Increase Routine
Walk 1 min at 3.0 speed
Run 11 min at 6.0 speed
Walk 3 min at 3.2 speed
Run 6 min at 6.0 speed
Walk 4 min at 3.2 speed
Run 5 min at 6.0 speed
2 minute cool down at 3.2 speed

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Don't Watch Me Sweat!

After eating several servings of vegan Camembert per day for several days, I decided it was probably time to take my calorie-burning exercise up a notch.  Plus it was beautiful weather Thursday evening, everything just came together to make it perfect for a jog along Sligo Creek.  
I'm not a great runner.  I get out of breath easily, I always cop out of running up long hills, and my knees aren't so great so I can never go more than a few miles anyway.  But I still recognize that it's one of the best calorie burners around, so I'm always forcing myself to get out and just do it, regardless of how miserable it makes me.  The only thing that makes it bearable is getting to enjoy some nice scenery along the way. 
Unfortunately, quite a lot of other people feel the same way about the Sligo Creek Trail.  Hundreds of people use it for walking, jogging, biking, picnicing, lounging, and everything in between.  Which means you're passing someone every few seconds.  While I was jogging Thursday I'm pretty sure I even saw someone I know, but my recognition processors didn't kick in until the person had already gone, so I couldn't do a double take.  But that's all the better, because I certainly don't feel like running into anyone I know when I'm working out. 

Let's face it: I look crappy when I exercise.  I get all lobster-faced and I swear I sweat way more than the average person.  I would much rather not see anyone at all when I'm sweating, let alone someone I know.  Part of my attraction to the gym is the comfort of knowing that everyone there is staring at a TV or magazine rather than looking at me.  How vain is that?  I know, I know.  But I'm always secretly a bit irritated if I walk into the gym in my building and there's even a single other person there.  Sweating and huffing and puffing is really something that no one else needs to see (get your minds out of the gutter!).  Unfortunately, I'm not (and don't expect to ever be) rich enough to have my own home gym.  So left with the choice between my embarassment of being seen at not my loveliest and not exercising at all, I'll still choose the exercise.  I guess that's just another form of vanity, isn't it? 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Happy National Donut Day!

Not to be confused with National Doughnut Day, which is apparently in November.  Hey, the more days we spend celebrating donuts ... or doughnuts ... the better, right?  Unfortunately, it's a rare opportunity that I get to enjoy a donut since becoming vegan (unless I get out to San Fran to hit up Pepples).
So what option did I have on National Donut Day but to try my hand at making my own donuts at home.  I've never made my own donuts before, but I saw this recipe on Chocolate Covered Katie recently and it looked so good I thought I just had to try it.  I originally thought that at just 34 calories per donut (calculations by Katie), how far wrong could I go?  Well, after actually making my version, I decided to put everything into the MyFitnessPal recipe nutrition calculator and got 89 calories per donut ... significantly more.  Whomp whomp.  I'm guessing the big difference was that I went ahead and used real sugar rather than a substitute.  My milk of choice was also soy (had it on hand), which is higher in calories than some alternatives.  By halving the ingredients listed listed for the chocolate topping, I got the total down to 72 calories per donut and still felt like I had a decent amount of chocolate coating.  It seemed like a good compromise. 

I don't own a donut pan, so I opted to make donut holes rather than your traditional-looking donut.  Well, even the donut hole plan didn't exactly work out ...  I used a mini muffin pan so, surprise surprise!, what I ended up with was chocolate coated mini muffins.  Fortunately the still tasted pretty good.  But there's really no illusion that these are donuts.  A cake donut that isn't shaped like a donut is ... guess what? ... cake.  So it seems like if I really want to celebrate National Donut Day again (or National Doughnut Day in November), it seems I'll need to get myself one of these.  Or just head back to Pepples ...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Vegan Camembert from the Non-Dairy Formulary

Since getting the Non-Dairy Formulary for Christmas, I've made a couple of attempts at making vegan brie, including coming to the very important realization that failing to follow the recipe on my first go was crucial to making it actually seem somewhat like cheese (by accidentally omitting the mixing in of tapioca flour, but instead only using it to dust the outside).  I decided I should move on from the brie recipe for a while and try something new ... like Camembert! 
Fortunately, the book's recipe for Camembert is actually just the recipe for brie but with a teaspoon of truffle oil mixed in.  Which is quite handy.  I knew I had all the ingredients, and this also gave me a chance to go back to my flour-less recipe to see if my mistake would really yield a better vegan cheese result. 
And the results?  Love it!  Nixing the flour is definitely the best bet (in my opinion).  The truffle oil gives the cheese a lovely flavor, though it means it's not ideal for sweet uses (like topping with honey or on my beloved apple and brie sandwiches).  But it certainly made a tasty open-faced mushroom sandwich.  I just lightly sauteed some sliced baby bellas with seasoning, then served them on toasted bread topped with the Camembert.  Kind of like a cheapo version of mushroom pizza.  I'm probably the first person to ever refer to something with Camembert as "cheapo" ...

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Last Week's Workouts

Last week I was all about hiking in Rock Creek Park.  It's got a lot going for it ... close to my house, good elevation mix (not straight up hill for long periods), and not too crowded - but just crowded enough that you feel safe.  There's one looped trail in particular that I like to hike.  I generally prefer loops so you don't have to backtrack over what you've already done, and a short-ish loop like this one makes it easy to extend your hike by just going around the loop again.  It gives you a nice stop by your car if you want to grab water or a snack, but doesn't force you to bring everything with you.  Unfortunately, I don't know exactly how long my trail is, only that it consistently takes me 50 minutes to go once around the loop - so maybe 2.5 miles? 
Last week's workouts:
Monday - 1 hour and 40 minute hike in Rock Creek Park (two times around the loop)
Tuesday  - off
Wednesday - 45 minutes on the exercise bike at level 6 manual
Thursday  - off
Friday - 30 minutes on the elliptical at level 5 manual plus 30 minutes on the exercise bike at level 6 manual
Saturday - 50 minute hike at Rock Creek Park (once around the loop) plus 2 mile walk to library
Sunday - 50 min hike at Rock Creek Park (once around the loop)
I love hiking as opposed to hitting the gym for a lot of reasons.  For one, I get a little sunshine (hello, vitamin D!).  I also genuinely love experiencing a bit of nature - smelling flowers, watching birds and squirrels run around (some days I even spot a chipmunk or a deer), and feeling like I'm breathing fresh air (even if that's just an illusion and I'm still breathing smoggy DC air).  A lot of times I hike by myself and don't listen to music or a book and just take it all in.  But if I do listen to anything, I prefer to listen to audiobooks rather than music.  Hiking alone with basically no one around and few distractions, you can really get into an audiobook and sort of melt into that world.  Last week I took "Frankenstein" on all of my hikes, which was a particularly good book to lose oneself in while out in nature.  It might be too creepy to take on a night hike, but for broad daylight it was just perfect. 
Do you ever listen to audiobooks?  What book would you recommend listening to on a hike?

Chia Weekend

When I was a kid my mom never bought the fun foods that all my friends seemed to enjoy all the time.  That's not to say we didn't eat our fair share of junk, it was just the adult versions of junk.  One of her favorite treats to have around was chocolate covered almonds and I was obsessed with eating risotto as a kid (made from a box mix).  Yeah, I was that complete weirdo ...  But every once in a while I'd get to have a fun treat at a friend's house, and one of my favorites was hamburger helper. 
I don't even know why I liked it so much.  The whole idea is really pretty silly because without the contents of the box it's still incredibly easy to make a hamburger-helper-like meal.  And that's just what I've been doing all the time lately.  Just make up elbow macaroni, then mix in vegetarian beef crumbles, pasta sauce, and any additions you like.  I've added basil, broccoli, mushrooms ... but the possibilites are endless.  I even ate my version of hamburger helper for breakfast Sunday morning!

I also went full-tilt into chia seed mode this weekend.  First, I revisited one of my new favorite recipes, Almond Joy Chia Pudding.  I was out of almond milk, so I mixed up the recipe using plain soy milk which worked just as well.  But the real innovation came when I dropped the container of soy milk, spilling milk all over the kitchen floor.  Distracted by the mess, I never managed to add maple syrup to the mix.  And you know what?  I didn't miss the sweetness at all.  In fact, I never would have noticed anything except I was surprised by how much thicker the pudding seemed and thought it looked a lot whiter than normal.  At first I thought it was the difference between soy and almond milk, but then I realized it was the syrup.  I liked the non-syrup version so much I'll definitely never go back to adding the unnecessary calories. 
My second chia endeavor of the weekend was based on another recipe I saw on the blog Carrots 'n Cake, this time for Blueberry Chia Seed Jelly.  I thought that since I was loving chia pudding so much, chia jelly would also be great.  Unfortunately, I didn't feel like this was any great innovation.  I'll admit, I might have messed this up a bit myself by using frozen wild blueberries as opposed to "regular" blueberries - the wild blueberries tend to be smaller and firmer.  Regular blueberries might have been better at mushing into an actual jelly consistency, rather than rolling around on my bread like all I did was defrost blueberries and set them on top.  The chia seeds certainly didn't seem to do anything to create a jelly texture either ...

Oh well ... chia jelly fail.  Maybe I'll try it again sometime with regular blueberries.  Hmmm ... or raspberries!?  I guess I haven't sworn of chia jelly just yet ...

Monday, June 2, 2014

Puff Pastry with Vanilla Cashew Cream

Last week I hosted another one of my periodic group lunches at work.  This was the first one since session ended, so I really wanted it to go well.  Unfortuantely, Papa John's messed up the pizza order and I ended up completely stressed out and pretty much unable to enjoy the actual lunch.  But even if the pizza wasn't executed perfectly, the dessert I brought seemed to be a big hit.  Well, it all disappeared at least.  I had to really elbow my way in just to grab a couple for myself!
I remembered reading a while back that Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Cups were "accidentally vegan", so I decided that instead of baking something from scratch, I'd use them as a nice shortcut to make a cool summer treat - puff pastry filled with vanilla cashew cream and topped with raspberries and powdered sugar. 
I was a bit concerned that the puff pastry would get soggy if I made the dessert at home ahead of time, so I brought everything separate and assembled it at work.  I used a squeaze bottle with a frosting tip to fill the pastry cups, added the raspberries, then tried my best to sprinkle the powdered sugar on artfully with my fingers.  (It would have been a lot easier with a sifter, but I didn't bring one into work - too much hassle.)  I'm not sure the one single raspberry sticking out of the center of the cup looked all that great, but they sure tasted wonderful!
The vanilla cashew cream was definitely the best part of these little gems - and I'm not just saying that because it's the only part I actually made myself.  I ate the leftovers by squeazing a bit directly into fresh raspberries - it was all I could do not to just squeaze it directly into my mouth!  Yum yum yum.  Plus it's so easy I know I'll be using this again and again for a delicious fruit dip, in tarts, or maybe just to eat by itself with a spoon! 
Vanilla Cashew Cream
1/2 cup cashews
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon imitation vanilla extract (I used imitation because it is clear and would keep my cream whiter)
1/4 cup plain almond milk
Blend together and enjoy!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Shopping for Hiking Shorts

I didn't do a lot of the normal Memorial Day activities last weekend.  Though I did manage to get outside to enjoy the weather a bit, I didn't spend the weekend at the beach, at a BBQ, or at a sporting event.  Instead, I decided to turn to another way to honor our fallen heroes ... by shopping.  I trekked out to Wegmans for a few odd grocery items that are hard to find closer to home, including this delicious dragon fruit that I enjoyed Sunday afternoon on the balcony. 
I also headed to the mall, where I was looking for one important clothing item in particular: a pair of hiking shorts with pockets.  For some reason, women's workout clothes rarely have pockets.  And when they do they're barely big enough for a key and maybe a credit card - because we so often feel the need to stop and shop mid-workout.  I don't know about you, but when I workout I like to listen to something, like an audio book or music, and usually do so on my big, clunky iPhone.  It's just not going to fit in a pocket built for a key.  If I'm in the gym this isn't a problem, but when I try to get outside to enjoy a little nature I suddenly find myself in a bit of a bind.  While I've managed to find a few pairs of capris with a little more in the pocket space department, I've always had a hard time finding shorts that fit the bill. 
So with that in mind I hit up the Athleta at the Columbia Mall, thinking they would surely have something to end my pocket woes.  There still weren't a ton of options, but I still managed to find one where I liked the style and that had the pockets I wanted.  The staff even went incredibly out of their way to find the size and color I was looking for - just one left hiding in their backroom.  I bought the Costa in Cerulean Blue, and they're all I'd hoped they would be. 

I've used my new shorts three times in the past week - twice for hiking and once just hitting up the building gym. It's two got huge zipper pockets in the back - ideal for holding an iPhone or valuables like your key or money, plus slash pockets in the front that aren't quite as big, but can still hold an iPhone with it sticking out just a bit - fine for walking, but I'd worry about it falling out of a front pocket if you were running or jumping at all.  Now I'm thinking a pair in Saffron Red might be nice too ...

Easy and Nutritious Pasta Dinner

I love to make cashew cheese sauce to have on hand for occasions when I don't really feel like making a big production of dinner, but still want to make sure I have something that will be satisfying and delicious.  And those occasions seem to happen on an all-too-regular basis.  Fortunately, sometimes even the simplest dishes can be both tasty and nutritious. 
I throw this pasta dinner together on a very regular basis, but still enjoy it every time. 
Kale and Bacon Pasta with Cream Sauce
(serves 2 generously)
2 servings pasta of choice
3 large handfuls of chopped kale
3 strips LiteLife smart bacon
Prepare pasta per package directions.  Chop bacon strips and saute lightly in a pan.  After the bacon has sauteed about three minutes, add chopped kale and toss to combine.  Cover pan and let the kale steam for about three minutes.  Once pasta is finished cooking, drain and add to bacon and kale pan.  Top with cashew cheese sauce and toss everything to combine.  Serve and watch your dinner guests swoon!