Whole30 Week 2 Recap

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Week 2 of Whole30 is over and I am pretty sure Sam lost at least 10 pounds by now. You are not allowed to step on the scale at all while on this diet, so I am not certain, but people at work have been telling him he looks different, and I’ve noticed the changes too! Meanwhile I am here eating watermelon, and I can’t stop!

This week was definitely easier than the last, at least for me. I think the biggest part of it was me going to Costco last Monday to do some grocery shopping. Costco always makes me feel better, and I made sure to stock up on meat to last us for the next 2 weeks if not more.

I mentioned that I will share a few things that I bought for Whole30. So here goes: eggs, chicken, beef, bacon, salmon, bananas, watermelon, carrots, dates, avocados, peaches, broccoli, snap peas and a whole lot of nuts! I can’t emphasize how incredible it is to have this membership, and how much easier it is to get all my shopping done in one place.

For this week’s post I also asked my friend Kate to share her experience with Whole30, she was the one who got us all eating right after all 😉

My name is Kate and I began Whole30 on July 6. I am almost half way through with my first 30 days and I feel amazing! I work 40 hours a week and am a busy mom so planning and meal prep has been critical for me. 

I love the meals and how I’ve been feeling while on this program. It really feels like a lifestyle change. Plus now I have enough energy to workout again!!! 

I am not the best in the kitchen, but I have found the recipes to be really delicious and pretty easy. While making Clarified Butter I did start a small fire and burn my arm. So for now I will be buying my Clarified Butter (ghee) from Trader Joes! 

My favorite recipe so far has been one that I made with my Mom (she is also on Whole30). We made Romesco Garlic Shrimp with Zucchini Noodles. We plan on making it again for an upcoming family dinner. 

A few of my favorite things this week: 

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Also the app TwoGrand (soon to be YouFood) has kept me accountable! I love checking off my daily goals and sharing my food photos. 

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Now to share some of my favorite recipes with you!

Saturday night I made this Chicken Apple Orange Spinach Salad for dinner, and Sam said that it has probably been his favorite so far.

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2 chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces

2 tbsp olive oil

1 apple diced or sliced (whatever you prefer)

1 orange peeled and diced

1 cup spinach (or more if you like spinach)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Turmeric to taste (it will make the chicken yellow, so Sam calls this Yellow Chicken Salad)

1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in the pan, add chicken and spices and cook until done.

2. Meanwhile prepare your spinach and your fruit and mix in a bowl.

3. Add chicken, mix well and serve.

Beef and Turkey Meatballs was another meal I cooked up for us. I’ve been craving meatballs way before we started Whole30, so getting to finally making them is a huge accomplishment.

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1 lb ground beef

1/2 lb ground turkey

2 eggs

Rosemary and Parsley to taste ( I grow those two in my very very small garden, seriously it’s two pots, but I was really excited to use them in this recipe!)

3 tbsp flex seed (now this has a weird taste, and if you’ve never had it I suggest you skip out on it, or start with 1 tbsp).

1 medium onion diced

Salt, pepper and garlic to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Mix all ingredients in the food processor.

3. Scoop onto a foil or parchment lined pan with a spoon (I use an ice cream scoop!)

4. Bake for 10 minutes, flip and bake for 10 more.

Makes about 32 meatballs.

For the sauce:

1 can Organic Tomato Paste (I use the Costco brand)

1 Roma tomato diced

3 small peppers diced

Italian seasoning to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a small sauce pan, heat for about 5 minutes.

And finally, I want to share this Cashew Date Craisin Bites recipe. I got the idea from Lee of Fit Foodie Finds.

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25-30 dates

1 cup cashews

1 cup craisins

Pulse all the ingredients in the food processor until well mixed, then shape into bars, or roll into bite-size balls. These can be dangerous though, because they are pretty much all I want to eat now.

Well I hope you liked this week’s update, I can’t wait to share more!

My Kombucha is Square

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As some of you, Instagrammers, have noticed, I started brewing my own kombucha! Wait what? We all thought I hated that stuff!

Back in the day, when I still lived in Russia, I had some American friends over, who had never seen kombucha before! So when they saw it their eyes grew bigger, and bigger, and I think it’s worth mentioning that I didn’t know the English for Kombucha (it was over 10 years ago! give me a break 😉 ) and in Russia we call it Tea Mushroom (чайный гриб). I also have memories of it being nick named the Happiness Mushroom! I guess it’s supposed to bring happiness and good luck to your household! Hey, okay with me 😉

A few years ago when I still nannied for a family in New York City, we were doing kombucha as well, but I hated it. I guess the childhood memories made a deep deep impact! I do remember killing one scoby, but the second one lived 🙂 And I even remember sharing it with someone on freecycle!

What is scoby? SCOBY is an acronym for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. Other good examples are Ginger beer plant, kefir, mother of vinegar, sourdough – you can read more about it on Wikipedia!

I don’t know what made me try Kombucha a few weeks ago when I was out and about with a friend, I don’t know what made me like it, what made me ask for it on freecycle, what made me drive to Apple Valley after work to get a scoby, but I did all that, and now I have a square kombucha living in my kitchen, if you ask my husband, he’ll tell you that it’s something that should be in a science classroom!

Now everyone brews their kombucha differently, but here is what I do, and I learned that from Jade – the person who shared her scoby with me:

Bring three quarts of filtered water to a boil, and then add a cup of organic sugar and continue to boil for 5 minutes. Then take the pot off the burner and steep four bags of organic tea (2 black & 2 green) for 10 minutes. Then pour the mixture into a gallon size jar and let it cool to 98 degrees (body temp).  Once it reaches that temp add the starter (the liquid that the scoby is in), give a little stir, then add the scoby. Cover it with a white flour sacking cloth, and let it sit for 7-14 days. Metal should never touch the kombucha, so no metal utensils or anything!

I mix green and black tea when I brew my kombucha, it’s no specific brand, just something I pick up at the grocery store, or Marshall’s/TJMaxx – they have great tea variety (sometimes!), I also use regular white sugar, and then it all lives in a square glass jar I bought at Target for $5.99, that’s why it’s actually square! 

Of course we’ve all heard stories about some woman in Iowa, who supposingly died from it, but yet again some people say it helps cure cancer. I know one thing – everyone’s result is going to be different, so give it a shot, and see for yourselves!

Now let’s talk about what I like to put in my kombucha! Let me make it clear though, all the additives go in the glass, not the scoby jar!

Lemon juice has so far been my top choice!

I did try adding spinach/cucumber juice to it, and it tasted okay, but I wasn’t a fan! 

I do like to add cranberry to it though! That is super yummy!

Let me know if you like kombucha, tried it, hate it, whatever your opinion is – please DO tell! 

Happy Monday everyone! 

Xo,

Z

PS. If you are in the Twin Cities area and would like a scoby, let me know!

 

Highlights of my Day! (SHOES, duh!)

Number 1: I got my Minnesota driver’s license (not in the mail yet, but I got it). For those of you who don’t know – to get a license in this wonderful land of 10,000 lakes, you gotta take the Permit Test! Wha??? Yes, you heard me. So I studied, studied, studied, and viola – passed it! I was also excited about getting a new picture on my license, and have my weight change from 120 to 117 lb! The lady at the DMV and I have also decided that my eye color is Grey! Took us a while to figure it out, she was going to put it down as blue, but my eyes are anything, but… Well anyways, once the license actually comes in the mail, I’ll let you all take a look 🙂

Number 2: Thrifting! I totally planned that! You know me! After I was done at the DMV, which was located on Lake and Chicago, I went east to check out the local Savers. On the way there, though, I got sidetracked to St. Vincent’s thrift store and got the most amazing $4 pair of shoes you can get!

The coolest thing is that they are made in Brazil, so I wanted to use this moment and say hi to all of my Brazilian friends out there! You girls are a ton of fun!

And last but not least: Sam and I made Peanut Butter/Hershey Hugs Blossoms – aren’t they tasty looking?

I hope you had a Fantabulous day! I love you all, and thanks for reading 🙂

 

 

PS. I did make it to Savers and it didn’t impress me much. I will do a more detailed review later in one of my upcoming posts, where I will talk about the most popular thrift stores in Minneapolis! So stay tuned!

 

Great Vintage Finds and Thoughts on becoming a Vegetarian

Today has been one strange day, but every day is strange in Zhenyaverse! That’s why I blog about my life, and not my neighbors life. Besides if I blogged about their life, you all would be depressed and crying your eyes out. Well, let me tell you a secret, there are sad times in my life, especially when I go visit my Grandpa at the hospital. Good thing he will be home soon!

The first thing I want to share with you, is that Sammy D from Sammy Davis vintage added me to her blog roll! Yup! I made it, I am famous now 🙂 You can check it out here http://sammydvintage.com/ , I am right there under Fab Fashionistas! That’s right, it’s me! Love you Sammy D! I will be bringing you vintage from Russia! 🙂

As some of you know I have recently made myself a skirt, and it’s all vintage too, because fabric is from the 70’s or so, it has paisleys people! Alright! (Can you tell I am hyper? Because I am, it’s all that coffee I’ve had tonight! Coffee and yoga! If you have never done yoga check out Namaste Yoga by Kate Potter, right now! Go and google it! She is that amazing! Well finish reading the post first! 🙂 ) So today I was looking around and found these amazing pieces of fabric, in the colors that I absolutely love. I also found a pair of white gloves, so if you have any ideas when and where to use them (other than Minnie Mouse on Halloween), I will be extremely grateful.

My mind wanders on! I followed a recipe I learned from one of my friends at the Bridal Shower, and made this wonderfully – amazing vegetarian dish.

Now vegetarian or not, it’s worth trying. The veggies are from the frozen food isle, so is the dough! Butter the pan, put it all in, sprinkle salt and spices, add some oil, cover up with the dough, and bake for about 40 minutes at 350 F. For those of you chicken lovers – you can add that too!

I have tried becoming a vegetarian before. A few years ago when I worked at DHC, my friend Jessica showed me a book called “100 things to do before you are old and boring”! And one of them was “being a vegetarian for a week”. Back then my week ended several days early, because I just couldn’t resist spaghetti! Yes, I have great memories of camp food! So maybe now, I will actually stick to the plan! Let’s see if I can be a vegetarian for a week!

PS If you love sewing and have ideas on what magic I can do to those vintage fabric pieces, let me know!

Life’s Lessons: What I learned from the Jews

This is the continuation of my Life’s Lessons series, so far there has only been one post about it, on Flexibility, and you can check it out here http://beingzhenya.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/lifes-lessons-flexibility/

Now, what does a simple Russian girl like me have to do with the Jews? Well, I used to work for them, I used to live with them, I celebrated Sabbath (almost every week) with them, I celebrated the other holidays, and I simply talked to them, and through that communication came the life’s lessons that I want to share with you today, maybe you’ll find them helpful, maybe not, but the goal of this post is to prove – that there are so many good things different nationalities can learn from each other (FYI: I do have a MA in Cultural Studies)

Lesson One: Patience

I lived in a family, that was in constant law suits (I do believe there was more than 1 going on at the same time). One of the law suits is still going on, as I am writing this post. Have you been in one? No? Me neither! But watching them go through this, I definitely realized, that sometimes you just need to be patient and most of the time, it’s the only thing left to do!

Lesson 2: Gratefulness

This lesson naturally comes out of lesson 1. I learned to be thankful for not having to go through law suits. I learned to be thankful for not having kids who misbehave, who pee themselves, and do other not so fun stuff. I learned to be thankful for Grandmothers, because the one they had was so extremely helpful (thought at times annoying), it definitely made me realize how important our relatives are! And to be thankful for the family! I learned to express my gratitude, and thank you cards is not all there is! You can make cookies, you can bring flowers, you can make photo collages, etc, etc, etc… What counts, is being grateful!

Lesson 3: Cooking

Not that I didn’t know how to cook before, but I learned how to enjoy the process! The host father was a fabulous cook! The best one I’ve ever met, never used a cook book, always followed the instinct/ intuition/heart/gut (pick whichever one you like!). He didn’t teach me how to cook, he taught me confidence! That no matter what you are making, it will turn out, as long as you are confident! I am not saying I am this super talented chef now, but I can cook to impress, and I am happy about it! I also learned the importance of buying organic and eating kosher meat (with all the junk they pump the meat with in the States), it’s the safest way to go and tastes as good. I began experimenting, trying different recipes, trying different foods! I never thought I would like falafel or beets! Now I do!

Lesson 4: Persistence

I will call until I get an answer (no matter how long I am going to have to spend on hold). I will fight until the end to get my refund. I will write reviews on sales reps, managers, assistants, if I liked them, if I didn’t like them, if I hated them, and in many other situations. Today, thanks to my persistence, I was able to finally get rid of this nervous, flip flopping feeling in my stomach! And all because I called and asked the right questions!

Lesson 5: Useful lingo

“Schmuck” & “Putz”, enough said!

Lesson 6: Saving on Everything

Couponing, shopping on sales, clearances, but I didn’t stop there. I began to freecycle (www.freecycle.org ), thrift shop, and it’s not just to save the money, but to reuse and save the environment! I am not an extreme couponer, like the ones they show on TLC, but I know my way around, and how to get free stuff. Some things I have freecycled include, but aren’t limited to 🙂 clothes, books, iHome, jewelry (real and costume), toiletries, house decor, movies, CDs. You name it, I have probably freecycled it at one point or another! I also went to monthly swaps! And those were amazing! Even my jewish host mom was amazed at me, because she considered herself thrifty, but I beat here there. Though sometimes I think she was just a plain hoarder 🙂

Lesson 7: Acceptance and Tolerance 

When it came to other cultures and religions, I used to be a person who would flinch, and go her own way, but this Jewish family changed a lot for me. I didn’t become a Jew, nor am I planning on becoming one, I simply was able to get a better perspective on God’s chosen people. Having been a Christian for the most part of my life, we were always taught the New Testament is more important than the Old. I was able to see that Old Testament with my own eyes, experience it through different holiday celebrations, and learn a lot about God, or as they call him HaShem.

I hope you enjoyed reading this, let me know if there is anything you want to disagree with.

PS. I left out the names, I hope I don’t need to explain why! Another important thing: this is the good stuff, there was plenty of bad, ugly, and even unmentionable. But I chose to remember the good, forget the bad, and move on. Though this only relates to my Jewish family, the Catholics can forget I ever existed!