Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Weekend (Sober) Thoughts

I never need booze to help me with karaoke.
Friday night was… interesting. 

It was the first night that I went out partying without booze this year, and man, it was very apparent how sober I was. A bunch of us went to karaoke night, which was SUPER fun. But everyone else around me was either tipsy or flat out drunk.

When I was on the dance floor I realized I wasn’t letting loose as much as I normally do. I was suddenly a little self-conscious, which was weird for me. I didn’t have anything to take the edge off, just sureness of myself, and suddenly I was unsure. It was a strange feeling, but it made me think: why do I need alcohol to be my ridiculously silly self? 

Later that night I was talking to a boy I've kinda been crushin’ on. He had been drinking, I had not. We had an awkward conversation about our mutual attraction (well, awkward for me without the booze), and he told me that with everything said he was not looking for a relationship with anybody right now.

I realized if I had been drunk, none of what he said would have mattered. I would have taken the part about our attraction and run with it - ignoring the part about not wanting anything more. I maybe would have tried to smooch him. I would have not thought it through, just gone with the moment. I may have been okay with my decision later (or I may have had some regrets), but at the same time wondered if I was being true to myself.
Being a friend's back-up dancer is always a good idea.

With a clear head, I realized - I don’t want that. I thought to myself: I don’t just want a fling, I want something more (whatever that may be). I want to meet someone and get to know them, and if something comes out of it awesome, if not, move on. I want to see if something great could actually happen, not just a one-night make out session. I realized that this was a really good guy, and that doing something in the moment now could mess up any potential of something maybe happening down the road. Shit, nothing could happen in the future for all I know, but I didn’t want to just be some girl that was a temporary distraction. I’m better than that. I’m not a distraction, I’m friggin’ rad. I realized that I not only respected him, but I respected myself too much to just jump into the unknown. Don’t get me wrong - I’m all about living in the moment. But through a haze of alcohol? That’s not always the best way to do it.

Yeah, I don’t think I would have thought of all that if I’d been drunk. 

Saturday morning I woke up feeling good about my decision, and about myself. It felt good being the person that safely drove my friends home. It also felt good waking up on a weekend morning without any regrets, and with a clear head.

I can’t believe it’s only been 11 days, and I’ve already felt like I’ve learned so much!

PS. Money not spent so far (after the weekend): $62 total. That’s kind of awesome. 

PPS. If you get a “mocktail” at a bar or restaurant, be sure you know the price of the damn thing before the server brings it to you. Somehow our server on Saturday night failed to tell me that my deliciously mixed glass of non-alcoholic juice and fizzy water was 6-friggin-dollars. Ugh. Lesson learned!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Not Boozing When Bummed

Yesterday I had a date planned that canceled.
I actually had another date lined up the same night (just in case one canceled), then they canceled too.
Just the week before I'd had a date cancel as well.


It's gotten WAY too easy for people to cancel last-minute on things. I have always had a love/hate relationship with technology, and I hate that the ease of communication has resulted in people flaking out more regularly, and having very little accountability. But I digress.

Last night was the first difficult one for me without the booze. I know it's only been 7 days (one stinkin' week!), but I was bummed out, and I wanted a glass of wine.

But I didn't have one. I met up with some friends for not-a-drink at Terminal Bar (I had soda water with lemon), then went home, watched some Peaky Blinders, knitted a bit, made a soda water with elderberry juice concentrate, and went to bed. And it was just fine!
Looking at this guy is a nice distraction from anything, really.

When I thought a little more about it I realized: there is a healthier way to deal with this stuff. Not everyone will flake, and it just seemed worse because it happened all at once. I was bummed, but there are still good people out there (shit, look at my friends for cryin' out loud), and I can totally deal.

I woke up this morning feeling better (although a little tired), and more positive. Tonight I'm planning to go for a run after work, for the first time in a while.

Goodbye to bummed, and hello to a healthier and happier me! 

PS. Due to a lack of drinking last night, I have already saved a total of $36 for the month of January. That's a nice dinner, or a pair of shoes right there! Woot! 

Monday, January 5, 2015

4 days down - lots more to go!

Last weekend was my first weekend in a verrrrrryyyyy long time without any booze.

It actually went pretty darn well! The hardest part was sitting at home when nothing was going on, and not drinking out of boredom. So what did I end up doing instead? Drinking tea and SNACKING.

Yah, I'm gonna need to find a healthier substitute. Tea and biscuits (although delicious), will not help with making it a healthy 2015.

I went out a couple of times over the weekend, and calculated that I've saved about $26.00 on booze so far. So that's a bonus!

I have a feeling my next big challenge will be hitting the social scene and dating, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

As of right now, the New Year's No-Booze Challenge is going great. I feel good, I've slept like a rock the past few days, and I LOVE waking up without any fog in my brain.

Hope you all had a wonderful New Year! 

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!