4.28.2015

Garden Chowder

My co-workers are the best. Last summer, we decided to make a food club. I made us a blog and every month people post a recipe and then we talk about it at our club meeting. Think "finer things club" but just with the food.

Last week was my turn to bring something so I brought Garden Chowder. When I was at BYU, Kelsey Nixon (who had competed on Next Food Network Star) came and gave a demo for a stake relief society. I wasn't even in the stake, but I saw the poster somewhere for the announcement so I decided to go! I sat by myself and sat in the back, but I learned a lot of great tips and tricks about knife skills and also got to sample this great soup.

I doubled the recipe to bring to work and my coworkers gobbled it up. It was pretty fun because Becca brought baguettes and Martha made chocolate covered strawberries so it was a real Zupa's experience.

Here is the blog post I posted on our work food blog

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This soup is available in the summer at Zupa's Cafe! Local chef, Kelsey Nixon, developed the recipe for Zupa's. She now has a show on Food Network!
This soup is super easy to make. It's very affordable and all of the vegetables grow well in Utah.



Here is the original recipe.

I chose to make a lightened up version with a little less butter and cheese. Adapted from this blog.

Ingredients
1 tablespoon butter 
2 medium zucchini, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons parsley
1 teaspoon basil
2 tablespoons flour
3 cup water
2 chicken bouillon cubes 
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can low fat evaporated milk
1 can corn
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup cheddar cheese, plus extra for garnish
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
In a 5 Qt pan (or larger) sauté zucchini, onion, parsley and basil in 1 tablespoon butter until vegetables are tender. 
Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Gradually add in water. 
Add the bouillon cubes and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for roughly 2 minutes until it starts to thicken. 
Add tomatoes, corn, and milk. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes, or until corn is tender. 
Before serving, add in Parmesan and cheddar cheese. 

New Meals!




 

  

 

 

 


Food food food! We got so many beautiful new dishes and cooking utensils for our wedding! It has been really, really fun to plan new meals with them and take pictures. The sewing table is right by the window and it gets really nice light in the evenings. Usually I finish cooking dinner around 6 and it's the perfect time to take a little photo before we eat. I even bought a piece of foam core that Greg holds to bounce the light for our little photo shoots before dinner. I've started using a hastag on my instagram account #rebeccamadefood if you'd like to follow along.

In order:
Italian meat sauce
Potato, ham, and egg hash
Lettuce wrapped cheese burger
Spaghetti squash with italian meat sauce
Pork chops with creamy mushroom gravy, peas, and mashed cauliflower
Freshly squeezed orange juice and carrot juice
Ramen noodles with chicken, peas, and carrots (Greg's brain child!)
Oatmeal with dates, pecans, cinnamon, and apples
Chicken tortilla soup
Grilled naan pizzas (with the Trader Joe's balsamic glaze on top)
Home made orange julius!
Caprese salad
Homemade Hawaiian pizza (Trader Joe's delicious herb pizza dough)
Asian chicken salad


2015 Learning About Food

After the New Year celebrations, Greg and I decided that we were going to try to be a bit more healthy. I was feeling really motivated! I had a few health situations that I was seeing doctors about, but getting no answers. After I complained to Greg for a bit, he suggested that I read his book by Alejandro Junger called Clean. His main concept is that we could be allergic or have sensitivities to certain foods and not even know it. He talks about how chronic problems that we think are just problems with our body, might be caused by a few different food or toxin triggers. And he said that sometimes our weight gain isn't just caused by too much fat and too little exercise, but it could be that our body is in a state of swollen-ness from something we are eating or exposing ourself to. This sounded like something that could be affecting me.

Late last year, I started getting some red bumps on the front of my shin. They were only painful when the doctor applied pressure. But they kept getting worse and spreading all over my leg. I remember the night I had my final wedding dress fitting with my mother-in-law and my mom. I started crying because I was so worried that the bumps were a sign of cancer. I went to a few doctors and the dermatologist twice and the bills kept piling up. Blood tests, prescriptions, x-rays, and office visits sure add up quick when you have an HSA medical plan!



So I decided to read this book. And the diet he suggested was really tough for us. Well, for me. Greg is a rockstar when it comes to eating healthy. He really turned around his health while serving a mission in Holland. He came home and got into exercising, competed in triathlons, a marathon, half marathons, and got into road biking. He went off sugar for a year, just to prove to himself that he could do it (and only stopped when he was in Italy and was told he needed to have real gelato). Last year when we met, he was on the Paleo diet and really happy about it. When we started dating, we kept using desserts as an excuse to get together. The second time we hung out, I told him he should come over and try mochi, and the cycle just continued. So by the time we got married, we knew that we had plenty of reasons to be together and we didn't always have to enjoy a sweet to celebrate! Ha!

We followed the strict guidelines in the Clean program for a couple weeks, until I couldn't handle it anymore. I had really been enjoying cooking and trying new recipes now that I had someone to cook for. But the rules of the Clean program bummed me out and made me not want to cook. And when you love food and cooking as much as I do, it felt like a piece of me had died. I'm a little dramatic, but really, it was difficult. We couldn't have any sweeteners except stevia. Only fish and poultry, no fats except coconut oil, no grains except brown rice and almond flour, no dairy, and minimal fruits. Half of the meals were liquid because it's easier to digest your food when it's already been broken down. It seemed that his main concept was that when you're always eating, then your body is always working to digest. But if you don't give it a break then it has no time to clean up the rest of the extra food because it's too worn out just handling what you ate that day.

But it was just too strict for me. I couldn't ever eat out and I felt like just getting off sugar was difficult, so to not be able to have cheese or bread was rough. I decided I couldn't do it anymore. But that I wanted to take some of the learnings we had from the diet.

So we started making smoothies. Greg always has two boiled eggs and a green smoothie for breakfast. I always have wheaties (because you know, it's the breakfast of champions) but I started having a Greg breakfast. I felt really good and really healthy. There's something fun about carrying in a blender bottle to work and listing off all the ingredients that makes you feel really awesome. Every day I carried my smoothie in to work, I felt like I was a size 0 wearing black stretchy pants and I just finished running a marathon because I'm just so healthy. Ha! We started exercising more, but yet when I weighed myself a couple months later, alas, I had gained 6 pounds! So much for that size 0.

Needless to say, I was pretty upset. I had cut most of the sweets out of my life and really upped the fruit intake. We were eating great, healthy balanced meals, but I was gaining weight! So we switched to Somersizing! This is a diet plan from Suzanne Somers (you know, Step by Step, and thigh master) in her book Eat, Cheat, and Melt the Fat Away. My sisters and mom were on this diet a couple years ago and they all really liked it. Especially my mom, she lost a ton of weight! I thought it would be a good option because I knew that my genetics had success on this diet.



There are a few main rules with Somersizing:

  1. No "funky" foods. White flour, potatoes, corn, sugar, avocados, carrots, white rice, sweet potatoes, squash, milk with fat. (These are either high on the glycemic index or they have both carbs and fats.) 
  2. Eat proteins and fats with vegetables. (Meat, cheese.)
  3. Eat carbohydrates with vegetables. 
  4. Eat fruit by itself on an empty stomach (30 minutes before a meal or 2 hours after a meal).
  5. Eat at least 3 meals a day and do not skip meals. Eat until you're full.
  6. Wait three hours between meals if you're switching from protein to carbs.
  7. Do not eat protein or fat with carbs.
The main concept of her plan is that we digest our food differently depending on what it is composed of, which makes sense to me. My body is going to handle a potato very differently than an orange. We did this for a few weeks. Unfortunately we started it the week before my birthday, so we had to cheat a few times but I think it helped us from going overboard on birthday sweets. It was very, very hard. But we were able to eat out and get salads very easily. 

We've had a lot of success, which might also be coupled with more consistent exercise. But Greg lost 10 lbs! And I have lost 5! In just 3 weeks. We've been really happy with the results but in general, we don't feel like it's a sustainable option for us. We talk a lot about the "sustainable future" and about trying to pick up habits that we can maintain for our life. For example, we've talked about some exercising programs and diet plans that might make sense for the short term, but if we can't hold on to them long term, then what's the point of adapting our lifestyle if it's just going to be a short lived change. We also use this phrase for a lot of things like "what's the best type of jobs we can have right now, what is the best color for our bedspread, what type of motorcycle should we get, etc. "

As much as we've enjoyed the weight loss from the Somersizing, we both feel like we're eating too much dairy and meat. It is much easier to do a protein and fats meal than it is to do a carb meal, so it seems like a lot of our meals are very filling, which is good. But not when it feels too heavy or greasy. We've bought a lot of cheese- which is actually pretty fun to have an excuse to buy the fancy cheeses at Trader Joe's (I'm looking at you, Old Amsterdam Gouda!). 

We're trying to still follow some of the rules, but not quite as strict as we have been. I keep relearning the lesson that in all aspects of my life, BALANCE is the answer. Too bad it's so tricky to figure out what the right balance is. But, we're trying to enjoy the process. 

Basically I'm just really grateful for a husband who is so willing to go with the flow and try these new things with me. For someone who won't order his favorite burger and fries when we go out with his friends, but instead get a cobb salad so that he can support his wife's crazy ideas that will probably change tomorrow. 

Next up! Portion control! Before this year, I had never been on any diet program or basically anything restrictive. But as my metabolism catches up with my love of food, I'm realizing that now is the time to figure out what works best for me to be healthy. Testing out all the good ideas out there! So let me know if you have found something that works for you to maintain the size you want to be while also living a normal life without being obsessive about food! 

Sidenote: After hours and hours of research, I figure out that I had erythema nodosum. They are these spotty bumps on your shin that are really just fatty cells caused by an infection. I thought it would be worth getting a strep test to see if my strep throat last year hadn't really been taken care of by antibiotics. Sure enough, I tested positive for strep and was able to take another dose of antibiotics to clear the infection from my system. I learned the difficult lesson that you can't just count on doctors to have all the answers, but you have to put the pedal to the metal and do some work yourself.


Clean book cover source
Eat, Cheat, Melt the Fat Away book cover

4.23.2015

Wedding: Retrospect


We're "looking back" on the blog today!
If you've been following the past few posts, there are a lot of details about the wedding! It was a fast 100 days of planning, but it was really fun for us. I wrote down A LOT of details because I didn't want to forget everything and wanted to document while it's fresh. Probably the next step will be documenting our story of how we came to be.

FAIR WARNING: I write long posts.

So here are all the posts to do with wedding details:

Proposal
Preparation
Website
Engagement Pictures: with Mikki, with Martha
Invitations
Bridal Showers
Dress
Formal Pictures
Week Before the Big Day
Temple
Family
Food
Decor
Luncheon
Reception
Blog Features

And if you're like me and love seeing everything wedding related, here are even more pictures...  here are ALL the pictures of the wedding by Claire Marika. And ALL the formal pictures by Mikki Platt.


Wedding: Prep

From proposal to "I do" we had 100 days to plan it all! As a major DIYer, I knew that would mean a lot of crafts! I tried to snap a few photos as we crafted.

My mom and I collected cans and bought a few at the cannery to spray for the flowers. I asked Greg to pick up can of gold spray paint at Home Depot. He loves spray paint, so he knew all the right kinds to get. He got a matte metallic gold, a super shiny gold, a rich bronze, and matte white. At first when he got home I thought he had purchased too many. But it was the right amount and I loved having so many different varieties of the colors. Great work Greg!





I wanted to have pinecones from my yard as the place card holders, so my mom and I collected a couple hundred and cleaned them all.

 

My mom and our neighbor Kayla spent hours cutting out all the blocks for the quilt and ironing them onto freezer paper so it would be easier to write on for the guest book. And she made this fabulous embroidery to go in the middle.

 

Greg was a trooper. Especially when it came to wedding announcements. He hand stamped the return label on all the envelopes because I wanted to handwrite all the other addresses. I caught him mid-stamp while we watched Emperor's New Groove.


Unfortunately I got a sinus infection about a month before the wedding. But nothing can hold me back from finishing these invites! So here I am in the doctor's waiting room. Stamping and writing.

 

 This is the first wedding gift we received! It came in the mail to my office. So I sent Greg a picture and we filmed ourselves opening it up that night. Receiving presents in the mail ahead of time was SOO exciting!

When we my mom and I went to meet with the caterer, we chose all of the dining utensils and the platers that everything would be served on. Marvellous Catering was such a dream to work with, and when she pulled out these kraft recycled square plates, I got so excited! 

The other picture if when Greg and I had to go down to Provo before work and get our marriage license at the Utah County offices. Wohoo!

 

Our bridesmaids wore navy blue dresses, but I wanted them to have some floral component. I stressed about these necklaces for far too long, but I thought it would be fun to include some of the floral fabric that Melissa designed for Kokka. So I used these and made some necklaces for each girl. They took forever and I kind of regret it. But, hey. They all matched! 


 

Along with my wedding gown, my mother-in-law made a sweet yellow dress for my niece with a little scalloped hem. She also made this beautiful blue organza dress for herself. So much work and they turned out great! 

 


When I went grocery shopping the week before the wedding, I knew we were getting close because milk would expire on our wedding day! The countdown began!

This last picture is our last day at the singles ward. Greg had become a member of my congregation after we got engaged so that we could attend church together. The bishopric started a marriage preparation class for us and a couple others during the Sunday School hour. But on this last Sunday, the teacher wasn't able to make it. So we thought we would do our own marriage prep course. We found this room upstairs with really nice light and we talked about what we wanted our Sundays to look like in our married life, what sorts of service we wanted to do in the church and said a prayer of gratitude for the change to take a marriage prep course with our amazing bishopric. We were so grateful for all the counsel and wisdom they gave us. 

Wedding: Luncheon

After our wedding ceremony in the morning, we invited everyone who was at the temple and a few others to come join us down the street for the luncheon. I asked our photographer to take pictures of every table so that we can remember everyone that was able to make it.

We started with the food, and then had a bit of a program. First we had someone from each table introduce everyone at their table. That way everyone knew who was who, and related to whom. Then each of our siblings gave us a little sentimental gift. Next, we watched a wonderful slideshow that Greg put together. As Greg and I were planning our wedding, a slideshow was low on my priority list. Luckily, it was important to Greg and he made it happen. Complete with Star Wars themes and some of our favorite songs. In the end, I was so glad he made it and took the time to track down all those photos and scan them in. Here it is...



After the slideshow, each of our parents said a little something about Greg and I. Then I got up and gave a little tribute to Greg. Midway through, I asked my sisters to come up with me and we sang "For the Beauty of the Earth" accompanied on the guitar by our family friend, David Golden. Not all of our guests are religious and many of them weren't at the temple to see the ceremony, so I wanted to make sure that we had a bit at the luncheon about praising God and how precious love is, not just on earth but also above.

Here are the lyrics to this hymn that has always been a favorite of mine:


For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flow'r,
Sun and moon, and stars of light,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth, and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.


Lastly, Greg got up and said some very sweet words about me and our relationship. And then it was over! I'm so glad my brothers were able to record the whole thing. It is a bit long, but it was very sweet for us to have everyone together so I'm so glad we have recordings of what everyone said.

Here are a few of our favorite pictures during the luncheon...


 


Mo, Ashley, Evan, Laura, Terry, Troy, Amy, Tina


Jackson, Isaac, Michael, Sarah



Marilyn, Courtney, Trevor, Chris, Darren


Sarah, Stephen, Alex, Lindy, Melissa


Rick & Jana, Natalie & Bruce, Rosemary & Brent


Kim & Mike, Kent & Wendy, Jayme & Richy


Rex, John, Braeden & Chandra, Maddie & Sam, 


Gary & Val, Deanna & David, Suzette & Randy, Blaine & Carolyn


Cassie, Jeff, Sandie, Karen, Trishelle, Mike, Sarah, Danny


Eric, Nicole, Kris, Glen, Janine, Pete


Jerry, Connie & Will, Marilyn, Deann & Fred


Megan, John, Michelle, Dave, Matt, Marge, Marilyn


Aaron & Melissa, Jaime & Jesse, Emily, Calvin, Lizzy, Matilda


Roland, Denise, Rebecca, Greg, Lillian, Ray