Marvelous is My First Weekend Off (WIR)

I’m excited to say that my first year at college is officially complete. Three of my teachers have yet to submit grades yet, but so far things are looking great. I plan on spending my next two weeks before my summer internship starts relaxing with my family, friends and pets.

Here is a short review to give you and idea of my last week at school and my first weekend off for summer break, courtesy of Meghan’s link-up:

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  • Last week I spent most of my time studying.

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  • The rest of the time I spent reading blogs, taking care of last minute scholarship requirements, and cleaning up my dorm room.

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  • On Tuesday I took my Physics exam, on Thursday my Statistics exam, and on Friday my MIS exam.

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  • When I was finally finished with all of my tests, I was actually kind of upset…

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  • Oh, who am I kidding?! I was ecstatic to be finished!
  • After my final exam on Friday I went to the convenience store to use up the rest of my leftover meal plan dollars from the fall on snacks for my brother.

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  • Then my dad came and helped me pack up everything. We also had to de-loft my bed… WAY harder than it sounds 😦 And boy do I wish that the moving truck below was our own, because that sure would have been nice. Especially if it came with two or three surly dudes who would be thrilled with carrying out my microwave and pounds of clothing.

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  • This past weekend my dad has been working on tilling up the ground in preparation for our vegetable garden.

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  • We’re also working on possibly opening up our pool soon!

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  • And that’s basically my past week in review. Today I also had the opportunity to make some stuffed squash for my parents and retake the pictures so that I could share the recipe with you all.

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Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

Grain/Gluten/Wheat-Free, Egg/Dairy-Free, Nut/Peanut-Free, Nightshade-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegan Suggestions in Notes*

Two Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 acorn squash (or any winter squash you have on hand)
  • 1 pound grass-fed ground beef*
  • 2 tsp of fresh or 1/2 tsp of dried rosemary, thyme, sage, garlic/onion powder (whatever herbs you have on hand. Cayenne or cinnamon would add a nice kick too)
  • Ghee/Coconut Oil
  • About 1-2 cups diced vegetables (onions, peppers, mushrooms, broccoli slaw would all be great options)

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the acorn squash whole on a parchment-covered baking sheet and bake for approximately 1 hour 30 minutes or until soft.
  3. Remove the acorn squash from the oven and let cool slightly.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Coat with the ghee/coconut oil and cook the ground beef until almost done. Add the seasonings and stir to combine.
  5. Then add the chopped vegetables and cook for about ten more minutes or until tender (cooking time will depend on the vegetables that you use).
  6. Remove the skillet from the stove and let rest while you prepare the squash.
  7. Take your acorn squash and carefully slice it in half. Use a spoon and scrape out the innards (seeds).
  8. Now stuff each squash half with your beef and vegetable mixture. There will probably be some left over depending on the size of your squash.
  9. Enjoy!

Shared at Thank Goodness It’s Monday

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*Notes: When I first showed a picture of this stuffed squash on Wednesday, I had a few non-meaters say that they would be interested in the recipe. Now, obviously this recipe as-is is not meat-free, but it’s such an easy one that I don’t want anyone to miss out over such a small ingredient! The most authentic tasting option would to just replace the meat and seasonings with a veggie-version of sausage crumbles. However, you could also replace the ground beef itself with about 2 cups of textured vegetable protein, still adding in the seasonings and vegetables like the recipe calls for. Other great vegetarian/vegan options would be to replace the ground beef with 2 cups of scrambled tofu/tempeh, or even cooked quinoa!

I hope these pictures make up for the terribly grain pictures that I posted on WIAW… And that they entice you to try this recipe out for yourself!

Hope you all have a marvelous Monday.

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What did your past week/weekend look like?

Are you done with school for the summer/forever? Are you excited?

Any major plans coming up for vacations or fun trips?

What I Made (And Did Not Eat) Wednesday

Catchy title, right?

Well, I think it’s pretty obvious from my update on Friday (by the way- thanks so much for all of your amazing comments and support!) that I will not be eating anything blog-worthy for quite a long time. No matter though, because thankfully my family doesn’t have the same food restrictions as me and are very willing for me to make all of their meals when I’m home 🙂

Today I’m going to share some pictures of what I cooked up this past weekend, and let me know which recipe you’d like to see first!

It just so happens too that I have food for every major meal of the day. Perfect.

Breakfast: Oatless Oatmeal

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If you would believe it, my dad doesn’t really miss the bread on his hamburgers or the chips for his salsa since going GAPS. No, he misses the quick and easy… oatmeal. It’s okay. Laugh a little. I sure did when I came home to find two full canisters of oatmeal sitting on our island. It turns out my dad just couldn’t take it anymore and was planning on throwing them out (he just hadn’t gotten to the “throwing them out” step yet as our trash was full 😉 ). When I reminded him that my brother makes himself No-Bake cookies practically every few weeks though, the oatmeal went back into the cupboard. A spark had been lit in my head though and I vowed to make him a bowl of GAPS-approved oatmeal that same weekend.

You may remember if you’ve been reading awhile that I made some allergy-free oatless oats for a snack last summer. This recipe is still grain-free, dairy-free and can be nut/peanut-free as well, but sadly not egg-free. For all of those of you who can eat eggs though (which is probably most of you), you will love the new recipe. Still, I gotta support my allergic peeps here (yes, I really did just call you “peeps”) and say that I’ve read that you can replace the eggs in the recipe with flax egg or tofu, but I of course I can’t guarantee the results!

Lunch: Homemade Ranch Dressing

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My mom has been complaining (okay, not really complaining but “mentioning”) for quite a while that her salads just aren’t as enjoyable anymore without a good dressing and all of the homemade recipes that she has tried were less than stellar. When I got home this weekend I made it my mission to change all of that. I did a little research online and got a good idea of some of the ingredients that others put in their ranch dressing recipes. Then I pulled out a whole bunch of stuff from my pantry and got to work. Five minutes later I had something that looked and smelled like ranch dressing. The ultimate test though would be if it actually tasted like ranch dressing. This picture shows a salad that I whipped up for my dad (romaine lettuce mix, diced onion and pepper, sunflower seeds, raisins, chopped grass-fed beef burger) with organic green beans on the side. Of course there was the ranch dressing too.

Thankfully it was a success and my dad was genuinely surprised that it tasted so close to the real thing. I have to admit that I was a little surprised (and relieved) too. It’s so hard to make something and not be able to test it beforehand.

When my mom got home from work later that day she heard of the infamous ranch dressing and asked if there was any left. Um… Whoops. But within a couple of minutes there sure was. Let’s just say that my mom was even more thrilled than my dad and asked for the recipe. Again… Whoops. It turns out my hands have a pretty good memory though and with each dash of “such and such” and spoonful of “this and that” that I threw into the mix we measured out the ingredients and had a solid recipe.

This ranch dressing can also be made allergy-free with one simple substitution, so I’ll make sure to include that in the notes when I eventually post it on this blog.

Supper: Stuffed Acorn Squash

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This will be more of a simple How-To. In fact, just from the picture you can probably already guess what the main ingredients will be comprised of. 🙂

Snack: Oh-So-Secret Snack Bars 😉

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My mom tried Larabars for the first time on Saturday upon my recommendation and really liked them. Of course the price and size probably would have made my dad’s eye twitch, but the ingredients are so wholesome and clean it would be a shame to pass them up! Once again inspired though, on Monday before I left for school I whipped up some homemade bars with an ingredient that you’ll never guess (Hint: It involves recycling). These will be similar to the Acorn Squash recipe in that it will be more of a How-To with some measurement suggestions, but I’ll be making them again and can probably get a more accurate recipe for you all next week.

That about wraps up WIAW for today. Jenn is so awesome for hosting this shin-dig so go over to her blog and leave a comment thanking her for putting up with all of us every week 😉

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I’m hoping to get up at least one of these recipes on Friday, but if I’m absent, just know it’s because I have been swallowed by the vortex that is Spring Semester Final Exams. I have one on Thursday and one on Friday so Wednesday will be jam-packed with studying and trying ever so hard to not get on Pinterest/Hulu/Facebook/Netflix. But we all know that’s not going to be possible. 

Still, I am going to be quite busy this week in preparing for these end-of-year tests, packing up my dorm room, getting ready for my internship and moving (just under 3 weeks!) and taking care of some Financial aid stuff at school. Of course I’ll still be blogging, but if I’m late in responding or commenting, you’ll know why. 🙂

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Did you make (and not eat) anything for someone this week?

Which recipe would you all like to see first?

What have you been busy with lately? Exams? Spring Cleaning? Getting ready for summer? Busy at work? Share!

Sweets for the Sweetest (WIAW)

Thanks for all of your super thoughtful (and funny comments) on my Marvelous in My Monday post on practical Christmas presents. If you missed it, check it out here to read some ridiculously offensive gifts!

Now to run in the completely opposite direction, I was nominated for The Super Sweet Blogging Award by Liv Lives Life and Scribbles and Sprinkles. I’m so grateful whenever I’m nominated for an award like this. First of all, it makes me happy to know that people are reading and enjoying my blog. Second, it gives me an excuse to fill out fun surveys!

Super Sweet Blogging Award.

The rules:

  1. Give credit to the person who chose to nominate you.
  2. Answer the “Super Sweet” questions.
  3. Nominate a “Baker’s Dozen (13) blogs.

Super Sweet Questions:

1. Cookies or Cake? How about both? I would pick cookie dough cake, like this one I found on foodgawker:

CCC Cake-cut

2. Chocolate or Vanilla? I’m a vanilla girl through and through.

3. What is your favorite sweet treat? Ice cream. No matter the season.

chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream

4. When do you crave sweet things the most? When don’t I crave sweet things? I would say that during the morning and at night though I dream most often of pies and muffins and cookies and ice cream.

vegan blueberry muffin

5. If you had a sweet nickname, what would it be? Whatever I say is going to seem cheesy or self-centered, so for your sake and mine I’ll refrain. (If you’d like to make up a nickname for me though, that would totally be acceptable!)

My nominations:

Now onto the rest of my “sweet” post involving WIAW, which is ironically not very sweet.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m on the GAPS diet or “healing protocol” as I like to call it. I dislike the negative connotations with the word diet. In no way am I restricting my calories with this plan. If anything, I’m eating more than I have been able to in a long time.

I haven’t posted many pictures, because as you could see on New Year’s Eve, all of my meals basically consist of soup. Broth, vegetables, and meat to be specific. Throw in some coconut oil, olive oil, sauerkraut and some supplements, and you have my grocery list.

Because it is What I ATE Wednesday though, I’m not going to post what other people ate like I have been doing lately (even if their food is way more exciting than mine), but I’ll share a few photos of what I’ve actually been eating.

For my main meals I eat soup with a broth base, either chicken or beef as the meat, and some form of squash like zucchini or acorn. Following the GAPS protocol I also add some type of fat like coconut oil or olive oil, sea salt, and a tsp of sauerkraut juice.

Soup #1: Chicken and Zucchini Noodle Soup

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Soup #2: Beef and Squash Soup

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For my snacks I cook some type of vegetable with broth. I drink the broth separate with some sauerkraut juice. On top of the cooked vegetables I melt some coconut oil and sprinkle sea salt.

Snack #1: Glazed Carrots

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Snack #2: Boiled Acorn Squash

To make the acorn squash I have to peel before cooking because it’s not organic:

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Acorn squash is SO HARD to peel though. Look at all of those tiny pieces!

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Unfortunately I scarfed down the cooked squash before I had the chance to take a picture, but that’s okay because I have another award to share:

I also was nominated by Liv Lives Life for Blog of the Year 2012.

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The rules:

  1. Select another blog or other blogs who deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award.
  2. Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.
  3. Include a link back to this page Blog of the Year 2012 Award at the Thought Palette and provide these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!).
  4. Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them.
  5. You can now also join our Facebook group – click ‘like’ on this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Facebook group and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience.
  6. As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…

Nominations:

Same as above!

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Here’s to another great year and many more WIAWs to come!

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Questions for you:

  1. Answer one of the sweet blogger survey questions above.
  2. Are you a fan of coconut oil yet?
  3. Technological question for you all. Whenever I upload and/or try to edit this soup picture, the bottom part gets strangely colored and pixelated. What do you think would cause this?

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Weekend WIAW (With 3 Recipes)

It’s yet another Wednesday, and time for yet another WIAW! If you missed my other posts from last week, here they are: What I Ate/Watched Wednesday, Gluten-Free Vegan Banana Bread, and Things I’ll Never Know I’ll Never Know (And Another FFF!).

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So…. Notice anything different about Eating 4 Balance?

I’ve changed the header! Fall is all around and I wanted to make the blog’s header and background fit the season appropriately.

It is slowly but surely getting colder, and I am loving every second of it. Long jeans, boots, sweatshirts and fuzzy socks. I love it all!

Especially the food that comes with the cold weather. Thanksgiving feasts and Christmas cookies… My favorite part of the year!

Speaking of Fall… Halloween is coming up soon, which brings us to WIAW, themed appropriately with Spooky Snacks and Healthy Treats!

Thanks Peas and Crayons!
Spooky Snacks and Healthy Halloween Treats

This WIAW is going to be a summary of the food I made over the weekend, inspired in part by my last Friday Food Finds #4.

First up, microwave brownies!

Microwave Brownies

Serving size: 2 brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp brown rice protein powder (8 grams)*
  • 2 tbsp carob powder (10 grams)*
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder (sodium and corn-free)
  • 1 packet stevia (if desired)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree (60 g)*
  • Water, if needed to thin out

Directions: Combine all ingredients and spread in a microwaveable container. Microwave for 1:30 to 2:30 minutes until cooked to desired texture.

Substitution Notes: You can replace the protein powder with regular flour, the carob powder with cocoa powder, and the pumpkin puree with any other kind of fruit puree.

The next recipe that I have for you is inspired by Chockohlawtay’s healthy cookie dough recipes.

Pumpkin Banana Bread Batter

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (120 grams)
  • 1 banana, mashed (100 grams)
  • 1/4 cup quinoa flakes or oatmeal
  • 2 tbsp brown rice protein powder (16 grams)
  • 2 packets stevia

Directions: Combine all ingredients and refrigerate or freeze until thickened. The longer it sits, the better it tastes!

Oh man is this good! After taking a few bites I had a moment of inspiration and remembered one of my Friday Food Find recipes: zucchini muffins!

So… I just add some shredded zucchini- Instant zucchini bread batter! Shredded carrots would be great too.

Then, I had another idea. Why not add some baking powder and microwave this batter to make REAL zucchini bread muffins?

It was okay, but the batter was much better. Actually, isn’t that always the case? I remember when I younger that I would beg my mom to make chocolate chip cookies just so I could eat the dough. The cookies themselves? I usually only ate one or two. Ha!

And I saved my best recipe for last. Well,  actually it is more of a How-To.

Before my mom drove up on Friday to take me back for the weekend, she texted me and asked if there was anything I needed. One of the things I asked for was acorn squash! When I was still home my mom taught me her trick  for making it in the microwave. And I’m going to share it here so that you can make squash super quick too!

How To Cook Acorn Squash in the Microwave

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe acorn squash
  • 1 plate
  • 1 sharp knife (I actually used a butter knife and it worked!)
  • 1 spoon
  • 1 microwave

Directions:

1. Cut the squash in half.

2. Scoop out the seeds and place both halves on a plate.

3. Microwave the squash for 8-10 minutes and check it with a fork. Microwave for a few more minutes until soft, tender and done.

Other than food this weekend, I also visited my grandmother’s for my environmental allergy shot. Ugh.

Here’s a picture of the damage. It really doesn’t do my arm justice at all. After an allergy shot it gets really swollen and hot. Sometimes it even turns into a huge goose egg. Next time. Next time!

In more exciting news, I went to see Pitch Perfect this weekend:

The beginning was a little slow to start, but when you have Fat Amy making cracks every few seconds the film just flew by! I loved all of the songs that they sang and was amazed at how well the actors did with the acapella.

If you haven’t already seen it, YOU NEED TO.

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Do you like the batter/dough of recipes or the finished product better?

Have you ever tried making squash in the microwave?

What exciting things did you do this weekend?