Archive for : February, 2015

Same Girl, Only Better

The Skirt Girl is about to undergo some changes.  The good kinda change.  You know, like when you get a new dress and you KNOW you look good?  Or like when you try a new hairdo and people compliment you on it?  That’s what is about to happen to The Skirt Girl.

Hopefully, this weekend you will notice the website has gotten snazzier.  It will be easier to navigate on ALL devices, look cleaner and run smoother.  Yes, I finally got professional help.  Well…with the web design.  I know it has been difficult to get to where you wanted to go within the site. It was difficult to share, comment, reply and, basically, do anything except read the current blog.  I know nothing of web design.  I did this by myself, by googling every step. Then, after I googled, I would have to google what I googled because I didn’t know the terminology.   I tell you this to encourage you.  I never knew I could do any of this.  You can do more than you think you can do.  Don’t hide behind the “I don’t know hows” or the “I’m too olds” or the “I’m too…” whatever your “too” is.  You can.  It may not be perfect.  It may not be professional.  But you can do something and it can be perfectly YOU.

Okay. Pep talk over…

Once we reached a certain number of viewers, things got even trickier.  The web host got mad because they weren’t prepared for the kind of traffic I was having.  They would send me little nasty-grams throwing out terms like “over your bandwidth” and threatening to “thwart” my viewers.  I kid you not.  They threatened to thwart you.  I panicked.  The Skirt Girl will not be thwarted and neither will her viewers.  I paid them more money and they gave me my own private server and told me it would all be better.  It was for a minute.  Still…it would go down…and then you all would message me….and I was stressed.  And it was frustrating.  It wasn’t really the web host’s fault.  I just didn’t know what I was doing. I was just doing it. Some of the things that I thought were totally logical, were not really practical for a website. Finally, help was offered, just when I didn’t know what to do next.  That’s how things usually work in my life.  Just when I don’t know what to do next, something opens up.  An opportunity happens.

My next blog post will have all the updates.  I’m going to give you more information about the changes and just what The Skirt Girl is up to. And yes, my girl has gotten a little snazzier too.  Same girl, but sharper. Better.  Isn’t that what happens to every girl with age??

 

 

Quinoa. It’s Not Just For Birdseed Anymore!

Quinoa with chicken, zucchini, spinach and tomatoes

Quinoa with chicken, zucchini, spinach and tomatoes

In my last blog, Healthy Snacks and Mind Games, I talked about some of my favorite snacks and gave a few suggestions on how I keep my head in the right place, when it comes to diet.   I’ve said it many times before, I’m not a guru.  I’m just your average girl telling you some things that work for me.  I’m gonna stick with the healthy choices theme in this post.  I feel like I have to make up for Christmas Crack and the Slutty Brownies that I posted in December.  Those were so baaaad but sooooo good!  We just can’t eat things like that all the time.  We have to be sensible. Moderation in all things.  Today…we moderate.

First you should know, I have a stressful job.  It’s not manual labor but it can be mentally and even emotionally draining, at times.  Although I enjoy cooking, coming home from work and then slaving in the kitchen for 2 hours is not going to happen.  However, I can’t order pizza or eat a bowl of cereal every night….although both of those things have been known to happen on particularly taxing days.  My week night supper requirements are simple.   I need it to be healthy,  require very little prep and  even less clean up.  I used to eat a lot of brown rice.  Chicken or salmon and brown rice with a salad. Sometimes I’d throw the chicken in the oven myself.  Sometimes, I’d stop for rotisserie chicken at the beginning of the week, break it down into portions and put it with different things the rest of the week.

This past year I made a new discovery ….quinoa. Quin-wah??? Do not snarl your lip up!  I know what you are thinking.  But let me explain!  Wait!  Don’t stop reading!  Come back!  Can we talk about quinoa?  So, for my southern friends, it’s not pronounce Kwin-no-ah.  It’s pronounced keen-wah. It’s not kooky or freaky. It’s just a grain. Pretty much God’s gift to grains.  It’s as easy to make as minute rice. And for real, I like the taste better than brown or white rice.  I really, really do!   Quinoa is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids.  I have found that it can be used in most recipes that call for rice and some that call for pasta.  It is far more flavorful, though, when you taste it alone. But, it takes on the flavors of whatever spices you cook with it.  For 1/4 cup dry, it has 172 calories, 2.8g fat, 0 trans fat, 6g protein.  It fluffs up when you cook it and has that whole grain ability to fill you up.  Raw it looks like this…

Quinoa not birdseed

Quinoa not birdseed

Okay…go ahead. Gimme the jokes. I now you’ve got ’em. I know it looks like birdseed. But really, I wonder why have we not been eating birdseed all this time?! It is so versatile, easy, healthy and tasty.  The first time I remember eating it, was several years ago at a restaurant in Little Rock. They had put it in a mixed greens salad with steak, and a balsamic dressing. Ok..really my first thought was….this is weird. But it was so good. I only started making this at home last year. I was a little intimidated by it, at first, but it is a snap. Don’t be nervous. I’m gonna walk you through it. This is chicken quinoa with zucchini, grape tomatoes, broccoli and wilted spinach. But you can add any veggie you like to this. I love to add mushrooms too, but I didn’t have any on hand. Here’s what I used this time:

Spinach, zucchini, chicken breasts, onion, grape tomatoes, garlic, red pepper flakes, seasoning salt, broccoli coconut oil, Wildtree roasted garlic grapeseed oil, quinoa

Spinach, zucchini, chicken breasts, onion, grape tomatoes, garlic, red pepper flakes, seasoning salt, broccoli coconut oil, Wildtree roasted garlic grapeseed oil, quinoa, (chicken bullion cubes-not shown)

First in a saucepan that has a lid, put a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil. You could use vegetable oil, canola oil, olive oil or whatever your oil of choice may be. I am using this Wildtree Organic Coconut Oil.

Wildtree Organic Coconut oil

Wildtree Organic Coconut Oil

I got this last year, when I was on my quest to try new things. You can read about some of the things I tried here. Remember, back in the olden days, when ladies had Tupperware parties? Well, the new-fangled version of this is virtual parties via Facebook. The hostess, who wants free or discounted stuff for throwing the party, creates a Facebook event and invites everyone that she wants to attend.  At a specific time, everyone logs onto Facebook and goes to the event page. There’s a representative from the company, who has a video or perhaps a written schpeal about the product, that they post on the event page. The party guests then ask questions and place orders via inbox or commenting on the page. As I type this, it sounds impersonal and way less fun than having a little social gathering…but really…it was AWESOME. First, I hate going to parties like this. I feel obliged to go because my friend invited me. Then, I feel pressured to order something because she’s my friend and she made snacks. With this kind of virtual 21st century party, I felt no pressure to order, because my sweet friend didn’t make snacks or have to clean her house. She didn’t even have to get dressed and NEITHER DID I! I’d heard of Wildtree and had been wanting to try some of their products. They have lots of neat spices and combinations, all natural and organic. I was so glad that she included me because I found a couple of products that I really love. This was one of those products, along with the Wildtree roasted garlic grapeseed oil. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Whoa…totally derailed by the Wildtree products. Back to the quinoa recipe. To the coconut oil, add about a tablespoon of minced garlic. This is a weeknight recipe. Remember? Who has time or inclination to mince garlic? And if you did have time, do you really always have fresh garlic on hand? So, I give you permission to cheat.

Minced garlic in a jar

Minced garlic in a jar.

No judgment. Get the Food Network snobs out of your head. It’s a weeknight dinner, not Iron Chef. It is easy, doesn’t make your fingers stink and keeps in the refrigerator without growing fur in your produce drawer. Add to this, about 1/8 of a teaspoon of crushed red peppers…or more if you want to really spice it up. Let the garlic and pepper cook in the oil, on medium heat, for just a minute or two. Don’t let the garlic brown. Then put in about a half of a diced onion. I have been known to use dried onions in this when I don’t have an onion. No biggie. Do with what ya got! Can’t mess this up. I happened to have a for real onion…this time. Cook this on medium heat until the onion is translucent. Then, the secret ingredient. Another small cheat.

Chicken Bouillon Cubes

Chicken Bouillon Cubes

Bouillon cubes are a staple in my pantry. When I don’t have chicken or beef broth or stock, I use this. It adds a ton of flavor. I put about 4 of these in two cups of water and pop it in the microwave while my onions and garlic are cooking. When the cube are melted, I stir it into the onions and garlic and then stir in one cup of quinoa. Bring this to a boil. Then, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. If you weren’t going to add any vegetables, you would cook this until all the liquid was absorbed; about 15 minutes. Honestly, you wouldn’t have to add vegetables. Many nights I eat it just like this. Tasty! But if you want veggies, what you will do is keep an eye on it and when most but not all of the liquid is absorbed, throw in the tomatoes, zucchini and broccoli or whatever combo you like.

Tomatoes, zucchini and broccoli

Tomatoes, zucchini and broccoli

I sliced the zucchini and then halved the slices. I used grape tomatoes and I sliced those in half, as well. I just used a few broccoli florets because broccoli isn’t my favorite…but I’m trying to do better. I tossed the veggies around a bit, put the lid back on and cooked until the rest of the liquid is absorbed. Then, I turned off the burner and threw in a couple of handfuls of spinach on top, gave it a little toss and put the lid back on. You are going to let that sit on the stove until the spinach is wilted. You can stir a time or two as it wilts, but try to keep the lid on as much as possible. When it’s wilted, take a fork and give it all a toss. When the quinoa is done, the grain appears soft and translucent.

Qunioa with zucchini, broccoli, tomatoes and wilted spinach

Qunioa with zucchini, broccoli, tomatoes and wilted spinach

Again, you could pop this in a bowl and have a great dinner and call it a night. But while the quinoa was cooking, I baked a chicken breast. I used the Wildtree roasted garlic grapeseed oil. Grapeseed oil is rich in cholesterol-lowering polyunsaturated fats and has several other health benefits. But mostly, this roasted garlic flavor is delicious. I put the chicken in the pan and rubbed the grapeseed oil on it, added some seasoning salt, sliced some onions and because zucchini is my favorite and I had some left from the quinoa, I tossed that in with the chicken for good measure. Then, I hit it all again with some of the grapeseed oil.

Chicken breast in roasted garlic grapeseed oil with onion and zucchini

Chicken breast in roasted garlic grapeseed oil with onion and zucchini

I tucked all this away in a 375 degree oven and baked it until the chicken was tender and juices ran clear….you know…until it was done! This was really not about the chicken. This is totally about the quinoa. So here is another close up of our star.

Quinoa. Ready for it's close up.

Quinoa. Ready for it’s close up.

I really do hope that you will give quinoa a chance. Don’t just mark it off as birdseed. It is easy and delicious and completely under utilized. If you have a great quinoa recipe, I would LOVE to hear it. Share it with us in the comments. I always love hearing what you all have to say. Like The Skirt Girl on Facebook and you can share ideas there also. It’s a great place to get news and tidbits and extras.

As always, I appreciate you taking time to read The Skirt Girl. If you haven’t already, please consider subscribing. We have a lot of great things coming up! Ideas, recipes, reviews and even a giveaway or two.

If you enjoyed reading this blogpost you might also enjoy these from The Skirt Girl:

The Skirt Girl’s Green Smoothie

Mayo Hater Chicken SaladU

Healthy Snacks and Mind Games

Have you ever noticed that when you are trying to eat healthier, suddenly, donuts pop up everywhere? And you get invitations to go out to your favorite restaurant? And then someone has a birthday, so you have to eat cake? Sunday is your church potluck? Or your mom texts and says “Your daddy is frying fish for supper and I made a cheesecake. Stop by on your way home from work.” Okay…that last one is probably just me. There is nothing better than my Daddy’s fish, that he caught and fried up! It’s crisp, southern fried deliciousness.  He always makes a big pan of Cajun seasoned fries to go with it. And a tall glass of my mom’s tea to wash it down! Wait…see…even this blogpost nearly got sidetracked by the things that tempt me. Luckily, I have a plan. I knew where I wanted this blog post to go when I sat down at the computer. I was mentally prepared and I had everything that I needed to make the post happen. Do ya see where I’m headed here? Yeah…we are gonna talk about being prepared to eat healthier. To have what you need, to make things happen, whether you are trying to be more health conscious, trying to lose weight or gain weight. Yeah, when I typed that last one, I rolled my eyes. I couldn’t help it.

I am not a heath nut. I’m not a guru. My weight fluctuates. Like most women, I have my fat clothes, my skinny clothes, and my comfortable clothes. I struggle like everyone else with the changes that your body goes through when you hit about 40. But I have learned a few things. There are some snack choices and tips that I can give. I can’t guarantee that you will lose 3 dress sizes in a week, but there are things that I do to reduce my stress level when it comes to eating right. I’d like to share those things with you, served up with a little humor.

First of all, you have to get your mind prepared. You have to be in that place, mentally. I do this by making a list. Yeah…I’m a list maker. I love a good list. And I love lining through a completed task. But if you aren’t a list person, then do whatever it is that you do to prepare yourself for a task. Give yourself a pep talk, if that is what you do. Read some sort of motivational book. I don’t know….sit crossed legged under a tree and chant. Do whatever you do to get your head in the zone. Then, set a day. I’m a Monday kind of girl. Mondays are my fresh start days. But if you can’t get motivated on Mondays, make it Tuesday. Or if you are the kind of person that loves to torture yourself, start on Friday. I don’t recommend this, but hey, if it works for you, do it. Once you have your head wrapped around that day, and you have your resolve in order, you have to take steps to prepare for success. This means meal, snack and beverage planning. Don’t wake up on THE day and realize that you have nothing but Twinkies in the pantry and chocolate milk in your refrigerator. First, get rid of all that. Even if you have to binge on it all weekend. It needs to be gone by Monday. I am going to have some healthy meal recipes coming up on the blog over the next few weeks. Food that I have tried, that maybe you haven’t or haven’t made at home. But in this post we are going to concentrate on snacks. Not any big recipe, but things that you can buy in your grocery store ready-made and pre-packaged. Yet, healthy.  Because, as strange as it may sound, the most important thing is having a snack arsenal.  I am not the kind of girl to sit around and munch on a celery stick.  So, I have to be creative at times.  My snack requirements are:  1. it must be portioned out.  I cannot be trusted with a bag of anything.  Not even the healthy stuff. 2.  It must be portable.  I need snacks that I can take to work with me. 3. Easy.  Something I can grab and be on my way.

I live in a small town. My hometown has one grocery store. The town that I work in has a few more grocery chain stores but the closest Whole Foods is about 40 miles away. There is not a Trader Joe’s in the whole state. What I’m trying to say is that my options for “health food” or organic snack food is far more limited than if you live in a larger city. So, I’m not going to be showing you things that are going to be hard to find. Pretty much by the time it gets here, it’s everywhere.

First let’s talk nut butters. Nut butters confuse me.  There are so many available, now.  And I’m never really sure which is the most “healthy.”  Last year I did a lot of research and comparisons.  There is a lot of conflicting information out there.  So, I’m not going to tell you which brand to buy or which kind of nut.  Because, quite honestly, I switch around what I buy.  I’m just going to talk about a couple of less common ones that I have tried and like and what the benefits are to them. I can tell you this…if you are trying to be healthy, you might want to avoid this ginormous jug of temptation.

 

Ginormous jug of tempation.

Nutella. Ginormous jug of temptation.

However, that being said, if you want something delicious, that you can eat by the spoonful straight out of the jar, on bread, crackers, bananas or your finger, without regard to calories or health…this IS exactly what you want. I can’t be trusted with this stuff in the house. That is why this picture was taken on the shelf in the grocery store. You have no idea how hard it was not to put it in my basket.

A nut butter combination that I found, that is a little more unusual, is this coconut peanut spread.

& peanut spread.

Earth Balance coconut & peanut spread.

This is made with 80% peanuts and extra virgin coconut oil. It is non GMO verified. 0g trans fat. Vegan and gluten-free. 190 calories, 16g fat, 6g protein. Taste? Surprisingly good. I say I was surprised because I don’t love coconut. I don’t have an aversion to it but it’s just not my favorite. This was not OVERLY coconutty, but there was a definite coconutish thing happening. I have bought several jars and it is a nice change to have in your pantry.

The next thing I’m going to talk about may weird you out, if you haven’t heard of it. But just keep an open mind. K? Powdered peanut butter. WHAT? Yes. I know. It sounds like some sorta hippie, weird-science kinda thing. I promise it is not. Well…it kinda is. But it is good. The brand that I have seen is called PB2. And it also comes in a peanut butter chocolate, as well. Basically, you mix one tablespoon of water for every two tablespoons of peanut powder.

PB2 and PB2 with premium chocolate

PB2 and PB2 with premium chocolate.

It has 1.5g fat, 45 calories, 5g protein for the same serving size as other nut butters. With chocolate added, 45 calories, 1g fat, 4g protein. And oh my goodness! The taste! Both are really, really good! I have a friend who makes fun of my healthier eating habits. She laughs at me, while eating her double cheeseburger lunches. I asked her to try it…I left out the detail about it being powdered. And she loved it! She even said that she would buy it because it tasted so good and was so much less in calories and fat. Ahhhh…yes eventually, I will convert her to my healthier ways!

How about a little something crunchy to spread your favorite nut butter on? This suggestion may not be for everyone. But I really do like it. It’s called Mary’s Gone Crackers.

Mary's Gone Crackers

Mary’s Gone Crackers

For 13 crackers there are 140 calories, 5g fat, 3g protein. They are organic, gluten-free, non-gmo, whole grain and vegan. The cracker itself looks rather suspicious. But really, get passed it.

Suspicious looking cracker.

Suspicious looking cracker.

It has a nutty, toasty flavor. You can see the seeds and grains in the crackers. I can’t help myself. When I’m being strict, the first thing I crave is crunch. I want chips. I want crackers. I want starch. This tricks my mouth into thinking I’ve had those things. Mind games.

The last few things are just kinda random. Not that unusual but they are some of my snack staples and I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about them.

Dannon Light & Fit Vanilla Greek Yogurt,, Emerald 100 calorie cocoa roast almonds, Udi's Gluten free Vanilla Granola

Dannon Light & Fit Vanilla Greek Yogurt,, Emerald 100 calorie cocoa roast almonds, Udi’s Gluten free Vanilla Granola

First, the almonds. Cocoa roasted. It’s like they are just dusted with a bit of cocoa powder. They taste chocolatey with a hint of sweetness but not overly. 100 calorie individual packets that I can toss into my purse without weighing me down. I can even leave them in there for weeks at a time…I mean I could…not that I have. I’m just saying they still taste good…even if you forget they are there and discover them when you are changing bags. Moving on.

Ahh…Greek Yogurt. I always wanted to like you. You looked so creamy and delicious. But when I get you home, you make me gag a little. Yes, I have tried to like Greek Yogurt. It’s so healthy. I’ve tried adding fruits and granola. I’ve even tried the kind with fruit already added, even though I know that syrupy, sugar-filled fruit negates any healthful benefits. Still, it’s disgusting to me. Until I tried Dannon Light and Fit Vanilla. It really is good and not in a “it’s good for diet food” kinda way. But good like…I buy it when I’m not even trying to watch what I eat. If you think that you don’t like Greek Yogurt, try this. If you don’t like this, then give up…because the Greek yogurt thing ain’t happening for you.

Udi’s Vanilla Granola, I like because it is just a good, simple granola and I like granola. This is dairy, soy, egg and gluten-free. 140 calories for 1/4 cup, 6g fat, 4g protein.

When I am home and I have time to just relax, one of my favorite things is to put some fresh berries into a pretty, little glass bowl, put a spoonful of the vanilla greek yogurt on top and then a few sprinkles of the granola. It looks so pretty and makes it feel a little more indulgent.

Pretty snack. Vanilla Greek Yogurt, mixed berries and a sprinkle of vanilla granola

Pretty snack. Vanilla Greek Yogurt, mixed berries and a sprinkle of vanilla granola

The last thing that I want to leave you with, may be the most important thing of all. It is probably my biggest snack secret.

Snack sized ziplock baggies

Snack sized ziplock baggies

Snack sized zip baggies.  I mention this for a couple of reasons. One, no matter how healthy the snack, if you eat more than one serving size, you’ve sabotaged yourself. Secondly, I have a portion control problem. It is a weakness and I know it. So, when I get home from the grocery store, before any snacking begins, I break everything down into the portion that I need. These snacks size baggies serve a dual purpose. They keep me honest because they won’t hold much more than a serving of anything. And, because a serving fills up the bag, it makes me feel like I’ve had a lot more than if I had a tiny 1/4 cup of something in a full sandwich bag. Again with the mind games.

So, these are some things that I like, that help me stay on the straight and narrow. Most of the time.  I hope that you try some of the things I talked about. If you do, comment and let me know. Like it? Hate it? Have a better suggestion? I wanna hear!

As always, I thank you for taking the time to read The Skirt Girl. I hope that you subscribe and come back again. If you want periodic updates and extra tidbits, like The Skirt Girl on Facebook. In the coming weeks, I have some really fun things in store. Some recipes and some new things to try. And yes, we’ll be having another giveaway to my subscribers soon.

If you enjoyed this blog post you might also like The Skirt GIrl’s Green Smoothie or The Skirt Girl’s Super Lotion