Monday, November 24, 2014

One Girl. One Year. No Booze.

Me with a dirty martini -
one of my favorite libations!
Hey gang!
I’m starting up this blog again to document a big change for 2015…
…I’m going booze-free for 1 year.

Some background:
I have never been very heavy drinker.  I have certainly had those binge-drinking nights in college and a few in the recent years, but nothing I would consider an addiction. In general, I’d say I consume somewhere between 6-8 alcoholic beverages per week on average. Not a ton, but not exactly moderate either.

In the past, I’ve said that I want to cut back on my alcohol consumption for a number of reasons. The biggest reason is for the sake of my health, but also for being lucid on Saturday mornings, not having to deal with hangovers, or just to simply save money. However as I found out with trying to cut back on chocolate, sometimes it’s easier to just cut it out. Completely.

I started taking classes in nutrition this year, and they have opened my eyes to how amazing the human body is.  It takes a lot of crap from us, and keeps on trucking.  To function optimally, it needs a lot of hydration and nutrition. Alcohol is one of those things that has no benefit whatsoever to our bodies. The water in it is counteracted by the diuretic qualities, it’s processed in our body as sugar, and it contains no vitamins or minerals. It’s really just a toxin – a poison for our bodies and our little cells.  Alcohol also puts a lot of stress on our livers and our kidneys.

I know what you’re thinking: everything in moderation! And yes, some studies have shown that a glass of red wine here and there can be beneficial. But with my Italian heritage, I don’t think I’ve ever been able to have ONE glass of red wine. Come ON.

Now don’t get me wrong – I LOVE alcohol. I love toasting a drink to friends, and I love the association with celebration. I love trying new beers, ciders, wines, and spirits. Living in Colorado has opened new doors to tastes and flavors I’ve never experienced, and the people who craft these libations amaze me with every new sip. I even enjoy the loopy little buzz I feel after a couple of drinks with friends. I appreciate the craft of making alcoholic drinks, and the friendly bartenders I’ve come to know over the years.
Oh, Colorado beers. How I love you.
But in 2015, I’m doing something drastic, and giving my body a break for the first time in 12 years. I’m cutting out the booze.

From January 1st, 2015 to December 31st, 2015 I will not consume one drop, sip, swig, shot, glass, or pint of alcohol. I intend to blog about my progress here (whether good or bad), and hopefully inspire some people along the way. 

I understand that thousands of people have already done this, and it’s certainly not a new concept. So many people have fought their battles with addictions and overcome them. There are people out there who don’t drink because of health, and others that don’t because of addiction. I applaud those people for making the change for themselves and their families.  People that have overcome their addiction and can still be constantly surrounded by such a socially accepted practice amaze me.

Although my situation is different, I still seek empowerment from my decision. I want to do this for myself, but also to hopefully raise awareness. I want people to think about the way they want to drink – not just because it’s social, but because of how they truly feel about it. If you don’t want to drink, you don’t have to. If you do, you can do so responsibly.

I also want to challenge myself and see what I’m capable of. I want to see the changes in my body, my bank account, and hopefully in other surprising ways as well.

I will be tracking my progress on this blog daily, and also tracking big changes every 3 months, on these pillars:
1)   How I feel (in general – energy levels, mood, mentality)
2)   Money (savings)
3)   Physical changes (wellness and health, weight, sleep)

I am going to start a fundraising campaign in the near future. I’m still determining the company, but I will have the information up soon with how to donate.  If you’d like to support me in this endeavor, “buy me a drink” on that fundraising site. Want to “buy me a drink” on my birthday in March? Donate $5 to that campaign instead. It’s my non-booze fund!

Yes, a year is a long time. But considering the 33 amazing years I’ve already spent on this planet, it’s still just a blip in my existence. It could be a fantastic change, and I’m sure it will be a great challenge. Whatever it will be, it will be an interesting journey.

Cheers to 2015!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

My NEW blog!

Hey everyone!

I just realized that I didn't get an update posted about my brand new blog!  It's called Cook With Love | Share With Love.  It's all about food and recipes, and I just LOVE IT!  Please visit me there for all of my updates and recipes.  I have a lot of delicious new creations to share with you!

Also, please visit my new Facebook fan page as well.  I would love it if you stopped by!

Thanks so much for being a follower, and for your continuous support.  I am so excited about this new endeavor, and I can't wait to hear all of your feedback in the future.

Much love,
Beth XO

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Best Vegetarian Chili EVER

Over the weekend I decided to make some chili.  I wandered around the farmer's market just picking up random fresh items to throw into it - and really, just about everything sounds good in chili!

I don't mean to brag, but I make probably the best freakin' vegetarian chili EVER.  I get so bored with the store-bought kind, and it seems as though "vegetarian" usually just means "tons of beans".  Kind of like the way that "vegetarian" on your office's pizza day means "cheese only".

What the heck, man?  I'm vegetarian not just because I don't eat meat, but because I LOVE VEGETABLES!!

So here's my recipe for a delicious vegetarian chili full of veggie-love.  It has a little kick and a unique (but addictive) flavor!

Beth's Best Vegetarian Chili EVER
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40-60 minutes
Total time: About 1 hour 15 minutes
Makes about 6-8 servings
Gluten-free* / Vegan

- 1 sweet potato (OR 3-4 carrots), peeled & chopped
- 4 small to medium-sized peppers (any kind), chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 10 mushrooms, sliced
- 1 can vegetarian baked beans
- 1 can black beans (drained, but not rinsed)
- 2 cups veggie broth (or water)
- 1 tbsp curry paste (curry powder will work fine)
- 1 can corn (or 2 cobs of corn, steamed and cut off the ears) 
- 1 cup soyrizo (vegetarian chorizo), (*you can substitute vegetarian ground beef, or vegetarian sausage - but please keep in mind these may NOT be gluten-free)
- 1 can tomato paste (small) 
- 2 large tomatoes, diced (OR 1 large can diced tomatoes, not drained)
- 1/2 cup brown rice
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- salt & pepper
- olive oil
- shredded cheddar cheese (for garnish), optional (a dollop of cottage cheese is awesome on top too)

In a large pot over medium-high heat, add the sweet potatoes (or carrots), and onions, and cook until the onions become soft.  Add the peppers and garlic, stir well, and cook another minute.  Add the mushrooms, stir well.  Carefully add the remaining ingredients.  Cover and simmer for 40-60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so (you may need to add a little more liquid).  Serve hot!

I like to put them in containers in the freezer, and store them for up to a month!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Hooray for September!

It has been raining cats & dogs here in Denver!  I've been loving every minute of it too.  I got up early today, put on my rain boots and my rain coat, and went splooshing in puddles.  It was awesome. 

It was like the weather thought "Huh, it's September now.  Maybe I should cool off?"  And it sure did.  And I'm a happy girl. 

My schedule has been pretty insane lately, and I'm not sure how I'm going to make it all work.  I may need to figure out yet another strategy, and that is more than a little frustrating.  But I'll find a way and come out stronger in the end.  A little spoiler of what I'm working on... a new blog that's all about FOOD!  It's going to be a big project but I'm so totally excited about it.  More info to come soon. 

I am also still very happy that I (usually) get weekends off too, and that means a little extra time to enjoy the changing of the seasons.  

And to enjoy the little things, like this... 

...and this...

...and this...

...and this...

...and this...

Hello, September!  So nice to see you again. :) 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Banana Cashew Muffins

I decided to make a new muffin recipe to start off the week right.  I love having ready-made breakfasts on hand so that I can just grab something healthy before I leave the house for the day.  It just starts my day off on the right foot! 

I adapted this recipe from my favorite cookbook of all time, How It All Vegan.  Their recipe calls for blueberries and bananas, but I figured I'd leave the fresh berries to serve on the side with yogurt (my favorite way to eat a muffin!) so I substituted nuts instead.  

I also added in Wheat Bran for a little extra fiber, and some spiced tea for an extra kick.  

Banana Cashew Muffins
Adapted from the recipe in How It All Vegan
Makes 9 muffins
Time: About 1 hour

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup dry sweetener (I used whole trade sugar)
1/2 cup oil
1 cup soy, almond, or flax milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp maple extract (optional)
1 banana, mashed
2 Tbsp ground flax seed
2 Tbsp wheat bran
1 cup raw cashews (or any other kind of nuts you have on hand!)
1 black tea bag (any kind will do, but one with vanilla notes will work best)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and sweetener.  Cut open the tea bag and dump the contents into the mix.  

This is the kind of tea that I used, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand!  I think anything with vanilla in it is just an added bonus. 

Your dry mix will look "peppered" when you add the tea bag - but it just makes it even prettier!

Add the remaining ingredients and stir together gently until "just mixed".  

Spoon into lightly oiled muffin tins. 

You can fill 'em up pretty high, they don't rise too much.  You can use muffin liners too if you'd like, but I like to crumble my muffins, so I didn't use them.  You can also sprinkle some brown sugar or extra nuts on top at this point if you'd like something a little extra!

Bake for 35-40 minutes.  Test with a knife to see if done.  

Easy peasy, huh?  I love recipes like this that you can just throw together and keep munching on the rest of the week.  The added fragrance of the tea really brought out something special in these guys.  I can't wait to have them for breakfast again tomorrow! 

As a note, I would recommend storing these in the fridge in a container - it'll make them last longer!  Take one out when you first get up and let it come to room temperature as you get ready for the day.  Or zap it in the microwave / give it 5 minutes in the oven at 300 degrees, so it's toasty. Yum yum!  

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Roasted Patty Pan Squash Soup with Beans

When I went to the meeting for the Sunshine Project, I came home with this beautiful UFO-shaped squash...

...and no freakin' idea what to do with it!

I started Googling "UFO-shaped squash" because I didn't even know what type of squash it was - turns out it's just a really large Patty Pan squash.  It also turns out that I did not know how many varieties of squash there are out there!

Today I was pondering what to do with it, and after some thorough searching I realized that there are about 3 ways people make Patty Pan Squash in a recipe:

1.) Stuffed.
2.) Cubed in a casserole.
3.) In a curry.


Naturally, I decided to make soup. :)

Since I love roasted squash SO MUCH, I decided to incorporate that into my recipe since I wasn't exactly sure how this type of squash would taste - and roasting seems to bring out the best in things.  As it turns out, when it's roasted it turns into a buttery savory bundle of deliciousness, so I know I made the right choice!

I threw in a few cloves of garlic while roasting too, because really, who doesn't love roasted garlic?

Roasted Patty Pan Squash Soup with Beans
Cook time:  About 1 to 1 1/2 hours
Serves:  About 4-6

- 1 large Patty Pan Squash (peeled, seeded, and cut into 1" cubes)
     If you only have small Patty Pan squashes you can definitely use those too!  I'd recommend about 5 total.
- 6-8 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/3 cup brown rice
- 1 can Great Northern Beans (I used canned)
- 2 cups Vegetable Broth
- Olive oil
- Sea Salt & Pepper
- 1 tsp Sage
- 1 Tbsp Braggs Liquid Amino Acids (or Soy Sauce)
- Shaved Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

Set oven to 400 degrees F, and spread the cubed squash on a large cookie sheet.  Throw in the garlic cloves, and douse everything with olive oil.  Season with salt, pepper, and sage. 

Roast in the oven for about 30-45 minutes, turning once halfway through.  Everything should be pretty evenly browned when they're done. 

Pretty gorgeous, huh??

In the meantime, heat the veggie broth in a large pot on the stove to medium-high until boiling.  Dump in the brown rice, reduce the heat, and cover to let simmer for about 20 minutes.  The rice will not cook all the way through.  

Dump in the roasted squash & garlic and stir.  Reduce heat to medium-low, and let simmer for another 10-15 minutes.  

Add the beans, and stir until everything is heated through.  You may need to add a little more hot water or broth at this point to make sure everything is submerged. 

Remove from heat and use a hand blender to blend everything together.  I left some big chunks in there still, just for texture. 

Serve with some crusty bread, and top with Parmesan cheese if desired! 

This turned out so delicious and creamy (without any cream!).  This soup would be beautifully accompanied by a bright & fruity green salad to counter the salt.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Leftover Chili Dinner & My Favorite Mug

I made a TON of chili a few weeks ago.  I had a bunch of ingredients that were about to go bad (beans, tomatoes, etc.), and I realized - I can throw together a batch of "whatever I've got in the fridge chili!"  And it was pretty awesome.

I put half of it in the freezer, and I've been thawing it out and having it periodically for the past month or so.  It's SOOO GOOD.

I wish I could remember how I made it, but I can't.

I CAN however remember how I ate some of the leftovers!
I didn't have enough to make 2 whole bowls (I wanted to make it last for 2 more dinners), and I wanted to get my greens in there too.  So I decided to heat up my leftover chili, and dump it over a bed of arugula and warm brown rice.

But it was missing something.  Something creamy and delicious to top it off just right.

A fried egg!  YES!

Oh man, this is my new favorite dinner.  WAY yummy, and surprisingly healthy to boot!  You could make this with any leftover chunky chili, soup or sauce.  So easy!

On another note, how's this for a great way to start your morning?

It's by far my favorite mug 'cause it cracks me up every time.
Wanna buy one for yourself?  Click here!*

*Note: You may need to change the Content Filter to see all the products listed (including the Asshat mug). There’s a little tabby thing on the left. Just change the filer from SAFE to OFF (you'll need to enter your birthdate). :)  You're welcome!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Another new job? WHAT?

Hey gang!

What's in the news today?  Well I got ANOTHER new job!  Yay!
I just started working with Modern in Denver Magazine.  I'm going to be helping them part-time with social media, email advertising, writing & editing, blog updates, general office help, etc.  I'm so excited!

It's a little strange to be working two part-time jobs instead of just one full-time, but I think I might actually like it.  I tend to get tired of the same thing every day, and I like the idea of having things changed up a bit.  I should have a pretty set schedule soon as well, so that's AWESOME - and I'll even have WEEKENDS OFF!!  WOOHOO!!!  That made me so friggin' happy.

I feel so lucky and blessed that this all magically lined up for me (I really do think there was some magic involved), and I can't thank you folks enough for being so helpful and supportive during this whole process!  It's going to take a little bit of adjustment over the next month or so (I'm gettin' my feet wet - bear with me), but I think it's going to be really good for me.

I'm so happy to find positions that will not only A) be flexible when I do start school again, but B) possibly open up some opportunities in the future.  All about who you know, right? :)

And did I mention that I'll have WEEKENDS OFF???
Hehe.  I'm pretty happy about that.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Elizabethtown - it's all in the timing

I just re-watched Elizabethtown tonight.

It's not a great movie, and the first time I saw it I thought - meh, it's ok.
This time around I liked it a little more.

I'm not sure why, but it's been about 8 years since the last time I saw it.  Really when you think about it - a lot's changed in 8 years.  With me, with my life, with the world - all that junk.

It's funny how when we change, the way we see things change.  You can read a book, watch a movie, or meet a person - and everything is different.  You experience it completely differently than you did before!  It's certainly not something you think of at the time, but the second time around you think:  Man, I can totally relate to this movie.  Or man, this person GETS ME.  Or holy shit - why didn't I see this before?  It was right in front of my face!

Anyway, it's just funny.  Funny how things change.  How we change.

I liked this movie better the second time around.  The way they dealt with death.  With family.  With the insecurities that come with love - and the security that comes from finding someone who gets you.  It's kind of beautiful when you see it that way.

And it made me want to go on a road trip - really bad!  Ha!

You should check it out if you want a nice melancholy movie with a damn good soundtrack.  :)  It's a nice distraction.  Enjoy it.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sunshine Project!

Last night I attended a meeting at a beautiful little house to talk about getting good food to people in Denver who don't have access to it.

I knew this was gonna be right up my alley.

It was only a small group of people, but we talked about the need for affordable, organic, fresh & unprocessed foods to be accessible to EVERYONE - especially certain "food deserts" in Denver (where there are no grocery stores nearby, no access to any foods except fast "foods").

It was a wonderful meeting, and I love how excited everyone is about this food program.  It started as a co-op, but they're now a full non-profit.  They need help with gardening, filling orders, reaching out to the community, and much more.  I am SO EXCITED.

This is just a sample of some of the amazing foods they sent me home with from their garden!

I can't wait to try them all!  :D

Click here to read a little more about the project (it's from last year, but still has good info).  I'm so excited to be a part of this program, and to be helping people who share the same passion that I do.  Getting good, local, organic, HEALTHY foods to EVERYONE.

It's time to change the world!