I Just Had to Hop on the Bandwagon….

Oh…hello there! In case you eagerly search your inboxes ever Monday/Wednesday/Friday for an SHLB email, you may notice that they stopped coming for exactly 1 week. You have no idea how much that was killing me.

I started this blog back up in April and made a commitment to myself to stick to the manageable posting routine of 3 times a week. 

But over the past couple months, my life has gotten a bit unpredictable, which makes it harder for me to stick to that routine. It’s not about having the time, but rather the fact that for better or for worse, I’m an extremely genuine and honest person. I’ve gone through some tough times lately, and it’s made it difficult for me to write breezily about Peppermint Milkshakes (although it WAS delicious) and what I’m eating every Wednesday. It feels dishonest and inauthentic. 

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(I cannot tell a lie. It’s really frustrating.)

I have a lot to process and some big decisions to make, so my posts may be a little less predictable until I figure it all out. But please, stay tuned for that EPIC post. I will assure you it will be filled with a bunch of epiphanies and clichés that will completely blow your mind.

Until then, no matter what is going on in my life, I’d never forgive myself for passing up the opportunity to acknowledge what the rest of the Internet has already freaked out about: Thanksgivingukkah. I touched on it briefly in my last post, but in case you live under a rock, this year, the first day of Hanukkah falls on the same day as Thanksgiving. And, it won’t happen again for 70,000 years,  so it’s kind of a big deal.

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For me, the holidays have never been about religion. I’m Jewish, but I’ve never thought that should hold me back from throwing back some egg nog, blasting the “Country Christmas” station on Pandora and throwing some stockings on the ol’ fireplace. But I gotta’ be honest when I say it feels damn good to finally have Hanukkah front-and-center this holiday season!

(Last year's Hanukkah decorations...no tree but a bush!)

(Last year’s Hanukkah decorations…no tree but a bush!)

I myself am not the most religious girl the planet, but I’ve always embraced the food in my culture. A piece of Challah bread, a few glasses of Manizchewitz and a heaping piece of noodle kugel will never fail to bring a smile to my face.

I’m in NYC for Thanksgiving this year, so unfortunately won’t be able to partake in creating Thanksgivingukkah masterpieces. Instead, please enjoy these 5 recipes which combine the wonderful flavors of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. Remember, it’s not too late to run to the store for these ingredients. Whether you’re Jewish or not, your family will thank you for this later…

Manizchewitz-Brined Turkey: At first glance, this sounds like a gimmick. Let me assure you, it’s not. Manizschewitz is an extremely sweet kosher wine, and this recipe draws upon that sweetness to flavor the turkey and help make it a beautiful color.

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Challah Bread Stuffing: Even if you’re not Jewish, you’ve probably eaten challah before in french toast form. It’s a rich, braided egg bread that’s sturdy enough to hold its form when dredged in liquid. It’s also ridiculously tasty on its own, and us Jewish people actually have a prayer devoted solely to the challah (actually it’s the blessing for bread, but we break off pieces of challah before saying the prayer.)

So, why not take this already-delicious bread and make it the star of the show in your Thanksgiving stuffing? I like how this recipe draws upon the slight sweetness in challah by adding cranberries and raisins. 

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If you like to stick to the savory side of stuffing, I must recommend these Challah Stuffing Muffins. I guarantee you’ll win bonus points for originality with both the challah and the muffin tin.

Stuffing Muffins

Sweet Potato and Ginger Latkes: Latkes are kind of Hanukkah’s all-star food. There’s a story about why we eat them, but all you need to know is that they are essentially fried potatoes, and that’s why I’ve always loved them! This recipe uses sweet potato (a prime part of most Thanksgiving celebrations) to create a unique twist on the traditional latke.

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Rum Raisin Cranberry Kugel: Kugel is by far my favorite reason for being Jewish…

I kid, sort of. But seriously, whenever I used to attend an event at Temple or a holiday meal, I would actually dream about this traditional Jewish noodle casserole dish for weeks. Carbs, cheese and butter combine to bring you the ultimate Jewish comfort food. I’ve seen lots of Thanksgivingukkah kugel suggestions, and while some are extremely creative, I believe they stray too far from the original dish. This straight-forward recipe keeps all of the important elements that make up a traditional kugel, while incorporating the cranberry flavor of Thanksgiving.

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Israeli Jelly Donuts: If you’re a longtime SHLB reader, then you know I’m all about making donuts for Thanksgiving. Pumpkin pie is great and all, but really, can you ever go wrong with a donut? In Hebrew, jelly doughnuts are called sufganiyot, and believe it or not, in Israel, they’re the number one treat consumed on Hanukkah.  We eat fried foods to recognize the miracle associated with the Temple oil. Sounds like a great idea to me. Fry up these babies and serve with some melted gelt on the side. 

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I wanted to create a workout with this post, but I’ve run out of time, so here’s an old favorite of mine: Perfect for your pre-Thanksgivingukkah feast!

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Hope to be back soon, but until then HAPPY THANKSGIVINGUKKAH!

Things I’m Loving: ‘Tis the Season – Volume 2

A while back, I posted of my favorite fall treats from Pinterest and beyond. Well now that we’re officially almost at Thanksgiving, I think it’s time for another ‘Tis the Season, this time with a holiday focus. You’ll see a few Thanksgiving mentions in here, but overall, I can’t help but skip straight to Christmas (and Hanukkah, of course).

CURRENTLY DROOLING OVER: 

This Candy Cane Fudge. I couldn’t help but kick it off with another one of Sally’s drool-worthy treats. This recipe is as simple as they come, with only 5 ingredients and limited cooking time. It looks like the hard part is waiting for the creamy peppermint fudge to set for 3 hours before digging in!

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These delectable mint brownies. Talk about festive! That beautiful green mint layer almost looks to pretty to eat, but take my word for it, that wouldn’t stop me. I can’t help but wonder: if I baked these brownies, would they REALLY look like the pretty picture?

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Continue Reading →

Peppermint Dream Milkshake + Work Out Your Feelings

Good morning everyone – hope Friday is treating you well!

I’ve got some special treats to share with you to today, but first, a couple of highlights from my stay in O-Town.

At long last, after a 20+ year absence, a very important little coffee shop finally made it’s way back to Omaha a couple months ago…

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The only thing missing from Omaha was a Dunkin Donuts, so I guess, now my hometown is perfect. I was very excited to purchase my first extra large coffee in an Omaha DD. And, ok, perhaps I was imagining it, but I swear the people there were way nicer than any Dunkin I’ve been to on the East Coast!

As if anything could top DD, yesterday my friend Becca mentioned that she was going to a Chris Young/Brad Paisley concert, and on a whim, I decided to see if any tickets were left. Brad Paisley has long been one of my favorite country singers. I’m a sucker for country love songs, and Paisley’s ballads are as good as it gets! He’s not too bad to look at either…

Miracle of miracles, I was able to score a very good seat, so off to the concert we went!

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It was an incredible show. Every time I watch a country music concert, I’m just so impressed with the pureness of these singer’s voices. In the age of auto-tune, you can almost always count on country music to be just about the music. I was sitting very close to Brad, and I definitely screamed like a little girl at times…I’ll admit it. Continue Reading →

WIAW: Bloody Marys in the Sky

Hello from sunny (and cold) Nebraska! I’m back in my hometown, Omaha, for a couple of weeks, and as you know from previous posts, being home makes me one very happy Sometimes Healthy Girl.

There is something so warm and comforting about staying in the house that I grew up in and hanging out with my oldest friends in the world. I always say that if “home is where the heart is” then I’m not sure if my heart ever left Nebraska.

Since I was in-transit yesterday, the eats were not really very interesting, but in the spirit of keeping with the “What I Ate Wednesday” WIAW party, here’s a quick run-down of food from the friendly skies and the Heartland.

I stayed with Michelle in the city to make it easier to catch my morning flight and woke up around 6 am to some snowy skies! Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture, but I did snap a dark and poorly lighted picture of my blueberry muffin and extra large coffee from Dunkin Donuts.

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After that, I snuck in a quick workout at Michelle’s fancy NYC gym before running to the airport. As previous SHLB readers know, I absolutely hate to fly.  So, to calm my nerves, I’ll usually enjoy a bloody mary pre-flight…or two or three.

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Check out all the extra olives! I asked for a couple extra and received a cup full of them. The waitress must have seen the fear in my little eyes. The second breakfast of eggs/toast provided a solid base for a day full of flying.

Once airborne after the typical 30 minute delays at LaGuardia, I ordered just one more of my little friends.

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Nothing like a little mid-morning snack of airplane pretzels and a bloody mary! I had a small layover in Chicago, which left me just enough time to board my plane. So, unfortunately, my plans to purchase a small lunch went astray.

I landed in Omaha, and received a text message from one of my best friends, Jamie, who was just about to board a plane back to her new home Arizona. She had been in Omaha for the weekend and, unfortunately, our visits didn’t overlap. We knew that there was a small chance we might have the opportunity for a short airport reunion, and miracle of miracles, I was deplaning just as she was boarding at the gate next door. Oh, the glory of a small-town airport!

(old pic of us - no time to snap photos during our short airport reunion!)

(old pic of us – no time to snap photos during our short airport reunion!)

We said our hellos/goodbyes, made plans for me to visit AZ and yes, I shed a couple of tears. Feel very lucky that I got to see my old friend, even just a few minutes.

As soon as I got home, I ran to the store for some Sometimes Healthy essentials and a little lunch, since I hadn’t eaten much but bloody marys, pretzels and peanuts in-transit.

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I also noshed on a banana and some trail mix.

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On my way home from the store, I snapped this pretty picture of the sun setting over the small lake by my house.

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It’s no NYC skyline, but it still probably ranks up there with my top 5 favorite views in the entire world!

I ate dinner with my parents, and we opted to stay in the house, since I was a bit tired from my day of travel.

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BBQ Chopped Chicken Salad from Cheesecake Factory with many pieces of the delicious brown bread. Cheesecake Factory is a luxury I don’t have in upstate NY, so I was very excited when my parents suggested it for dinner. I am pretty sure my mother was relived that I didn’t ask to make them dinner and mess up her pristine kitchen. Give it time, mom….

Dessert was courtesy of this bad-boy, and yes, I ate it straight out of the carton. 

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Sorry for partying ya’ll.

Now, I’m off for a gym date with Becca and plan on just spending the day soaking up that Omaha comfort.

Have a great day everyone!


Girls on the Run 5K Recap: We Won’t be Left Behind

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Today is one of those days that I looked forward to sitting down and writing a blog post. That’s because, instead of the normal Sometimes Healthy Tips that I provide on Monday’s posts, this morning I’m going to recap the Girls on the Run Hudson Valley 5K, which took place yesterday.

Here’s a picture of my team’s big smiling faces after they all crossed the finish line!

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More on the days’ activities later, but first, I just wanted to explain why the organization of Girls on the Run means so much to me. I’ve volunteered and worked with plenty of non-profits throughout my life (including Make-a-Wish Foundation), but none have ever hit so close to home as Girls on the Run. I’ve alluded a few times to why I feel so passionately about Girls on the Run, but I’ve never shared the full story…so here goes.

This is a picture of me as a 10-year-old, just a bit older than most of the girls on my current Girls on the Run team.

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I know. I know. I am kind of adorable. Sure, I had buck teeth, weird bangs and giant glasses as a young child, but at that age, it didn’t matter what I did: I would always be cute. However, as time passed and middle school beckoned, the cuteness developed into awkwardness. I will spare you the pictures, but just trust me on this one, okay.

Continue Reading →

Vegetable Quinoa Faux Fried Rice + a Pinterest Workout

Last night, I had my neighbor over for wine, cheese and…Chinese food.

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Sure, that sounds like an odd trio, but really, Chinese food pairs well with anything. Beer, wine, cheese, ice cream, candy…whatever. Cold, hot, lukewarm…Chinese food always tastes delicious.

The problem is that Chinese food is incredibly unhealthy, whether it’s fried or not. There’s a reason that take-out always hits the spot, and it’s about 20 tablespoons of vegetable or sesame oil. You see, unlike when you prepare your own food, the chef in that kitchen doesn’t care so much about the health factor. It’s all about the taste, and if it takes buckets of oil and salt to get there, so be it.

That’s why I love to recreate the flavors of Chinese food in my own kitchen. Fried rice is one of my favorite Chinese takeout past-times, so last night I had plans to fine-tune a Vegetable Quinoa Faux Fried Rice dish that I had made for dinner on Wednesday. I was very excited (and surprised!) when my neighbor seemed enthusiastic about the dish as well.

The result was a flavorful dish packed with vegetables and protein power-houses, quinoa and tofu.

Vegetable Quinoa Faux Fried Rice
Serves 4
A savory, flavor-packed healthy alternative to a classic Chinese comfort food.
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Print
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 1.5 cup quinoa
  2. 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  3. 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
  4. 10 baby carrots, finely chopped
  5. 1 small onion, chopped
  6. 1/2 cup broccoli, chopped
  7. 3 peppers (red, green and yellow), chopped (pepper colors are optional)
  8. 3/4 cup frozen edamame, thawed
  9. 3 garlic cloves, minced
  10. 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  11. 1 package Lite Firm Tofu (14 ozs)
  12. 3 scallions, chopped (optional)
  13. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  14. non-stick cooking spray
  15. 1/4 cup soy sauce
  16. 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
  17. 1/4 cup toasted sesame marinade
  18. 1/2 cup egg substitute
Instructions
  1. In medium saucepan, bring quinoa and stock to a boil and reduce to simmer.
  2. Bring quinoa and water or chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan, and then reduce to a simmer.
  3. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until quinoa is cooked through; remove from heat and fluff with fork.
  4. While quinoa is cooking, chop mushrooms, carrots, onion, broccoli, peppers, ginger and garlic.
  5. Spray large sauté pan or wok with non-stick cooking spray and heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over high heat; add onion, carrot and peppers - cook about two minutes; add broccoli, mushrooms, edamame, garlic and ginger - cook about 5 minutes until all vegetables are softened
  6. Add in tofu and pour in soy, teriyaki and toasted sesame sauces - stir-fry for two more minutes.
  7. Add in the remainder of the olive oil and the quinoa- stir-fry for two minutes until sauce is distributed well; move mixture to one side of pan and pour in egg substitute, scramble.
  8. Toss everything together for another few minutes.
  9. Serve in bowl and add chopped scallions to top (optional).
The Sometimes Healthy Living Blog http://www.sometimeshealthylivingblog.com/
Let’s have one more close look at this “faux” masterpiece. Continue Reading →

WIAW: French Toast Roll Ups and Pink Muddy Buddies

Monday night was a BAD night for sleep, as in I didn’t get a wink of sleep. I remember how I used to pull all-nighters in college all the time like it was nothing, and now, my old bones definitely don’t function right without those Z’s.

Since, I couldn’t sleep, I decided to do something productive….like increase the content of all of my Pinterest boards. For the record, if you’re ever having trouble sleeping, I don’t recommend playing on Pinterest. I got so excited about all of my “pins” that it was impossible to get back to bed. I have had a major craving for Muddy Buddies (or Puppy Chow as some call it) lately, so I must have pinned about 15 Muddy Buddy recipes alone. Then, I decided to make a special Girls on the Run Muddy Buddy Mix for their last practice today.More on that later.

Let’s dive into Tuesday’s eats for “What I Ate Wednesday” (WIAW). Apparently, being tired causes one to make poor food choices. Let’s see how my lack of sleep affected the day’s eats.

Around 5 AM, I decided that it was time to get up and make some breakfast. It was a Pinterest find from just a few hours before I got out of bed: French Toast Roll Ups

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Do I really need to explain why I had to make these immediately after I saw them? Sometimes the simplest ideas are pure genius. This is one of them. Take pieces of white bread, flatten them with a rolling pin, slather on some delicious fillings, like marshmallow fluff and PB, dip in egg/milk mixture, cook ’em up in a skillet and coat in cinnamon n’ sugar. Then dip in maple syrup.

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After one dip in the syrup, I thought I had died and gone to french toast heaven.  Continue Reading →

Black Bean Squash Chili + Row Your Kettlebell

If you know me at all, then you know that I am VERY diligent about my schedules and routines. Schedules and routines keep me sane, and without them, I feel lost.

That’s why it’s so important for me to keep up with my Monday/Wednesday/Friday posting schedule. Alas, Friday went by, and no post.

I am not exaggerating when I tell you it was on my mind all night and day. In reality, I know the world can live without my scheduled post, but my little routine-oriented brain could barely take it. Friday was a bit of a hectic day, and Saturday, well, I just didn’t feel like writing.

But, I have a delicious recipe to share with you, and it just couldn’t wait until next Friday’s recipe post.  So, lucky you, here comes a recipe on Monday. This Black Bean Squash Soup is just what you need as the days grow shorter and colder. I’ve made it twice in the last week, and on Halloween, we enjoyed two heaping bowls with some red wine as our little puppy barked non-stop from 5:30 to 9:00 PM.

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I don’t think anyone hates Halloween more than Mr. Witch 1) Because his mommy dresses him in a ridiculous costume 2) Because the evil doorbell dungeons ring non-stop. It’s been a tough week for this guy between the vet and Halloween, so we’ve been giving him lots of extra love in the form of long runs and doggie treats.

Enough about the doggie, though – let’s talk about that filling, flavor-packed Black Bean Squash Soup. If you’re a veggie-lover, then this soup is for you, because the black beans and quinoa provide you all the protein you need. The adobe chiles kick up the flavor, and the tomatoes with diced chiles pull it all together. The best part is that it’s all done in, you guessed it, just under 30 minutes.

I’m not a spice-loving girl (I always order mild guac and salsa in Mexican restaurants), but the adobe chiles truly give this dish the perfect amount of spice, without overshadowing the taste of any other ingredients. 

Black Bean Squash Chili
Serves 6
Meat will not be missed in this veggie-lovers chili, which features butternut squash and black beans. But, the star of the show is the adobe chiles, which kick up the flavor and enhance the warm, homey feeling of this dish. Perfect for a big family dinner or simply served with wine on a cold, winter date night.
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Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  2. 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 2 cups)
  3. Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  4. 1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
  5. 1 yellow and 1 orange bell pepper, roughly chopped (about 1 cup each)
  6. 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  7. 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  8. 2 medium cloves garlic, minced or grated with a microplane grater
  9. 3 1/2 ounces (1/2 small can) chipotle chilies in adobo
  10. 2 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium vegetable broth
  11. 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  12. 1 cup quinoa
  13. 2 cans diced tomatoes with green chiles
  14. 2 tbsps corn starch
  15. 1 cup shredded cheddar or white cheddar cheese
  16. 1 avocado, diced
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and add butternut squash; season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes; add the onion and peppers, stirring and cooking until softened, about 3 minutes; add the cumin, oregano and garlic and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the chipotle peppers, stock, beans, quinoa and tomatoes; mix 2 tbsps of corn starch with 2 tbsps water until formed into a smooth paste - stir into soup; cook until the squash has finished cooking and the quinoa is fully cooked, about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and ladle into bowls, topping with grated cheese and avocado.
Notes
  1. For the meat-eaters in your household, serve over pulled chicken. Pour 2 cups chicken stock into crockpot, along with spices, including garlic salt and basil and about 1.25 lbs chicken breasts. Cook on high for 4-5 hours and pull.
Adapted from Serious Eats
Adapted from Serious Eats
The Sometimes Healthy Living Blog http://www.sometimeshealthylivingblog.com/
And don’t go leaving off the avocado and cheese. You’ll regret it, trust me.

If you’re feeling saucy, you can do what I did last week and serve it up in a “faux bread bowl” baked acorn squash.

Continue Reading →