Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts

This salad is drool-worthy. Like, restaurants, seriously–take notes and sell this for like $14 a plate. It is so. good.

Ingredients

Green of some sort – arugula works well.
Toasted pine nuts, like 1/4th of a cup. Maybe less. Up to you.
Strawberries.
Goat Cheese.
Balsamic Vinegar

Directions

1. Toast some pine nuts. Turn your stove on lowish, toss your pine nuts in, and stir constantly until they start to brown. Don’t let ’em burn, keep stirring!

2. Chop your salad up, cut some strawberries, sprinkle some goat cheese, then add the pine nuts.

3. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. We go to a specialty store and get a fig-flavored one for extra brownie points.

4. Drool a little because it’s that good.

5. Eat.

Really good with grilled duck. Just saying.

Spicy Chickpea & Quinoa Bowl

This has been the busiest. Month. Ever. We spent August gearing up for the wedding of the century (it did not disappoint–holy WOW, Kitty and Jim!) and have barely had time enough to breathe, let alone cook things we aren’t sure we’ll like.

During the wedding prep (it was a masquerade ball, so we didn’t want to stick out for the wrong reasons), Jason went to Montreal for his all-staff retreat, then my brother came to visit. We then went to Denver where Jas met all my various and sundry friends, and I then immediately headed to Chicago for my work retreat, and finally Jas just got back from New York.

We. are. tired.

xD Still, we’re back at it until the next travel bug bites us!

THIS IS SO GOOD! Spicy and filling and protein packed!

Deliciously spicy, satisfying, and filling chickpea dish. I’m actually not missing chicken (to which my beau is allergic, as he has recently discovered) much today!

Spicy Chickpea and Quinoa Bowls
Serves: 6 Servings
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cups beef broth
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1-2 jalapeños (seeded unless you’re crazy like us)
  • 2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes (save like half the juice)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes (or more if you like a lot of heat!) We used a tablespoon. Will probably use two next time.
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • Spinach/kale/green of choice
  • Fresh cilantro, garnish (optional)
  • Hard boiled egg, garnish (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. To make quinoa, rinse and soak for about 10 minutes in warm water. Bring 2 cups of beef broth (we used two cups of water and two bouillon cubes) to a boil in a small saucepan, drain quinoa and add to boiling broth. Add 1/3rd to half the can of juice from tomatoes. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer, cooking for about 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off heat and allow quinoa to sit for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork; set aside.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, drizzle olive oil and sauté onion and garlic  and jalapeños until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients (minus the cilantro), stirring to combine. Towards the end, add the cilantro.
  3. Cover the pan and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. To assemble the bowls, lay down a bed of greens, place ½ cup quinoa in each bowl and top with a heaping ½ cup of the chickpea mixture.
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (Ish. We added things.)
Serving Size: ½ cup quinoa + ½ cup chickpea mixture • Calories: 342 • Fat: 5.8 g • Saturated Fat: 0.5 g • Carbs: 62 g • Fiber: 10.2 g • Protein: 12.4 g • Sugars: 2.2 g • WW Freestyle Points: 4
Recipe adapted from EatYourselfSkinny.com. If you want a less spicy or all-vegetarian option, use their recipe instead of our modified one! IT IS SO GOOD!

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe – Allrecipes.com

These chocolate chip cookies were gooey and delicious – even I, Cookie Monster’s cookie-hating antithesis (there’s a childhood joke in there), LOVED these cookies. Will make again.

Ingredients
1 h – 12 servings – 298 cals

.5 cup butter, softened
.5 cup white sugar
1/4th cup honey
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1teaspoon hot water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cups semisweet chocolate chips
.5 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
White chocolate chips to taste.

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth.
Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
Dissolve baking soda in hot water.
Add to batter along with salt.
Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts.
Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans.
Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned.

Adapted via Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe – Allrecipes.com

Spicy Shrimp Stacks: Modified from Pinterest

When I was craving sushi like whoa, this dish totally hit the spot. The best part? Everything is cooked! ❤

Spicy Shrimp Sushi Stacks
Prep Time:10 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Total Time:30 minutes
Servings: 4

Spicy shrimp sushi stacks with layers of sushi rice, cucumbers and avocado in addition to the spicy shrimp!

Ingredients
For the sushi rice:
1 cup uncooked short grained rice, well rinsed <–We used brown.
2 cups water
2 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

For the avocado and cucumber layer:
1 cup avocado, mashed
1 cup cucumber, diced
1 tablespoon lime juice
salt to taste

For the spicy shrimp:
1/2 pound cooked shrimp, diced
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sriracha

For the stacks:
4 teaspoons furikake

Directions
For the sushi rice:
Bring the rice and water to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the rice is tender and the water has been absorbed, about 20 minutes, before letting it cool for a bit.

Gently fold the mixture of the rice vinegar, sugar and salt into the rice.

For the avocado and cucumber layer:
Mix everything.
For the spicy shrimp:
Mix everything.

For the stacks:
Place the rice into the stack guides, pat down lightly, top with the avocado and cucumber mixture, followed by the shrimp mixure
Option: Change the cooked shrimp with your favourite sushi meat like raw tuna, salmon, etc.

Option: Add a layer of diced mango!
Tip: Use an empty can of soup with both ends removed to stack the layers.
Tip: Use a greased 1 cup measuring cup to stack the layers in and then flip it onto the plate.

Note: Furikake is a Japanese style rice seasoning that typically contains toasted sesame seeds, salt and shredded toasted nori.

Nutrition Facts: Calories 397, Fat 15g (Saturated 2g, Trans 0), Cholesterol 123mg, Sodium 735mg, Carbs 47g (Fiber 2g, Sugars 3g), Protein 17g

via Spicy Shrimp Sushi Stacks – Closet Cooking

You can also make this as poke if you’re hungry and don’t give an eff about presentation. It’d also be good with some smoked salmon instead of shrimp, likely. Mm. Now I’m hungry again.

Grilled Duck & Peaches w/ Balsamic-Raspberry Drizzle

This duck dish… omg. It makes one feel like royalty among plebeians.

Ingredients

Protein
Whole duckling

Spice Rub (Equal Parts…)
Japanese 7 Spice
Chipotle Pepper Flakes
Coriander
Tumeric
Garlic Salt

Other Stuff
Ripe Peaches – 3 Peaches
Frozen Raspberries (No Sugar Added) Thawed – 1.5 Cups Raspberries
Water (1/8th a cup)
Balsamic Vinegar (A Dash)
Goat Cheese – To Taste
Arugula (we used whatever we had for it)- (3 Cups)

Directions

  1. Preheat the grill. Make it hot. 😀
  2. Using a mortar and pestle, grind spices, then rub on quartered duck.
  3. While the grill heats, quarter peaches. Puree raspberries with water and balsamic vinegar (to taste). Put bed of arugula on a plate, scatter with goat cheese.
  4. Cook duck on grill until it’s done. Flip every five until done.
  5. Towards end, put peaches cut-side down on the grill; about five minutes.
  6. Put duck and peaches on top of salad. Drizzle with raspberry-balsamic sauce. Serve.

Tasty, right?

Hypothyroid: One Month Since Starting T4-Only Treatment

I can’t believe how many small, tiny details of my life were negatively influenced by my under-active thyroid. Mayo Clinic covers a lot of them, but “dry skin” doesn’t even begin to address the small life annoyances that drove me crazy.

“Thinning hair” didn’t equate to the hair I was losing in the shower – my hair looked fine and had always been on the thin side–losing a few more strands, and then a few more, and then a few more, didn’t exactly raise any warning bells.

“I thought it was normal.” Over and over, I told myself this.

It wasn’t.

This little pill feels magical. Sure, I’m still tired first thing in the mornings and do seem to still have less energy than everyone else (might just need a higher dose), but I am functional. I am functional. I am not broken. ❤ It’s a touch rough, not being able to eat or drink anything of substance for an hour after taking my pill, but the benefits SO outweigh the drawbacks.

One Month of Taking 25mg of Levothyroxine: The Difference

My hair is growing! There is far, far less hair clogging my drain in the shower. Also, it’s growing! It’s been essentially the same length since I cut it over a year ago; now, it’s shoulder-length! The downside is that I have to pluck my eyebrows more often, but I’ll take it!

My energy levels have evened out some; I’ve stopped waking up in the middle of the night, night, but it’s still less difficult to wake up in the morning. Now, I stay awake during every movie I try to watch after five p.m. Before, I used to fall asleep the moment a movie started playing.

Now, it doesn’t take all day to wake the hell up. For example, I awoke at eight a.m. this morning, and stayed awake. Even without coffee, by nine, I felt like a normal person. Previously, I would feel exhausted for hours (usually not feeling fully coherent until three or four in the afternoon).

No more unexplained bruises. I’ve stopped bruising constantly. I always had random, unexplained bruises all over my body, and no recollection of trauma. That has stopped. I’m not a banana anymore!

Lady perks: My period has gone back to the clockwork 28-days of my youth and is far more normal. Before taking my meds, it was bizarre — 31 days between cycles, 34, 37, and the last one, 62 (?!) – my periods were basically non-existent, way lighter than they should have been (contrary to the super-heavy-intense-pain that many women with hypothyroidism experience). The point? Not all symptoms will match the diagnosis exactly. The downside? Normal lady-time symptoms have come back with a vengeance, so that’s less pleasant, but again, I’ll take the energy thank you very much!

Fingernails: My fingernails have stopped breaking off. Literally the day I was diagnosed, my pinky toe nail just fell off. Yes, the whole thing. It didn’t hurt, just separated from the nail bed. It has since grown back in a single month!

My pedicure will LAST this time! My feet look like NORMAL FEET. No more disgusting, peeling, painful, cracked dry skin all over the soles of my feet; before this, I had no idea how everyone else had smooth, pink heels. Mine were dry, crusty, painful, and cracked, always. I just figured everyone else invested much more heavily in pedicures, or wore house shoes like my boyfriend. I haven’t done anything else to them, and the callouses and nastiness are wearing off, all on their own. I’m thrilled!

I have a chin again! My face seems thinner (could just be my imagination) and my chin is back to being pointy; for awhile there, it was rather puffy and unpleasant. This one could be my imagination, but I’ll take it!

Easier time exercising: I no longer feel HORRENDOUS after every bout of exercise. This weekend, we spent all day on a pontoon and I spent literal hours just swimming around. Sure, I was tired at the end of the day, but I didn’t feel like absolute death!

Fortunately, even before being diagnosed, I escaped some of the less fun gastrointestinal issues many people with hypothyroidism face, but I suspect a lot of that has to do with my pre-existing diet. We cook at home constantly, eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains, which likely helped all along. Additionally, I have always avoided fried foods and generally don’t consume a ton of added sugar–just fruit (hurray for fiber and nutrients!) I’ve switched to black coffee instead of drinking sweet chai lattes in the morning, cut any lemonade I do drink with unsweetened black tea (Arnold Palmers for the win!), and drink soda water with lime instead of any sort of sugary beverage. With this in mind, I’m not implementing any of the super restrictive diets many of the hypothyroid books suggest. I’ll probably stick to mixed greens over kale and limit my cruciferous vegetables just in case, but generally, most doctors don’t think there is any benefit or credence to aiming for a “hypothyroid diet”. This may not be true for everyone, especially if your tummy is often upset, but for now, this works for me!

We’ll see how this continues – I suspect my dose is a touch low still, but I had blood drawn today to see if my TSH levels have gone back down to normal levels or not. I am just so absolutely relieved!

Shakshuka: Modified Recipe

This dish is one of our absolute FAVORITES. It is healthy and packed with flavor in the best way. Everyone should try it at least once! 😀

INGREDIENTS
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
⅛ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1-2 teaspoons of chili powder
1-2 teaspoons of onion powder
1 (14-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes drained juice, coarsely chopped
2-4 Jalapenos
Bell Pepper OR can of Rotel (Level of heat is your preference)
Can of tomato paste
3 to 4 Cups of Spinach/Kale
¾ teaspoon salt, more as needed
¼ teaspoon black pepper, more as needed
6 large eggs
Chopped cilantro (for serving)
Naan (for serving)

PREPARATION
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and optional bell pepper. Cook gently until very soft, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Blend: Pour tomatoes and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Throw it into a blender along with remaining spices, jalapenos, spinach or kale, can of rotel (drained) or bell pepper. Blend until smooth, then pour into skillet with onion and garlic.

4. Stir in cumin, paprika and cayenne.

5. Simmer until tomatoes/paste have thickened, about 10 minutes.z

6. Gently crack eggs into skillet over tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.

7. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until eggs are just set, 7 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with naan.

You can also add goat cheese to this, and it is AMAZING.

Modified recipe from Shakshuka With Feta Recipe – NYT Cooking

Leftovers: Use as a pasta sauce over noodles of some kind or over eggs, any style.

Personal Protein Pot Recipe by Tasty

Personal Protein Pot
by Matthew Johnson
Print
Ingredients
for 1 serving

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup (60 mL) soy sauce
1 chicken breast
½ cup (85 g) quinoa
1 ½ cups (360 mL) chicken stock
½ cup (55 g) sliced carrot
½ cup (50 g) snap pea
½ cup (50 g) shredded red cabbage
½ cup (50 g) bell pepper, sliced
½ cup (75 g) broccoli floret
1 egg
salt, to taste
½ avocado, sliced
scallion, sliced, for garnish
toasted sesame seed, for garnish
Preparation
Under 30 min
In a small measuring cup, mix together the garlic, ginger, sesame oil, honey, and soy sauce. Whisk to combine.
Pour about 2 tablespoons of the sauce over the chicken in a small bowl and set the rest aside for serving. Toss the chicken in the sauce to coat.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a small pot over medium heat. Cook the chicken until golden brown on one side, then flip and cook the other side until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of at least 165°F (75°C), about 10 minutes total. Remove the chicken breast from the pan. Let rest for 5 minutes, then slice.
Add the quinoa and chicken stock to the same pot. Stir the quinoa and bring to a boil on high heat. Then, reduce the heat to low and place a strainer over the simmering quinoa.
To the strainer, add the carrot, snap peas, red cabbage, bell pepper, broccoli, and the egg. Sprinkle with salt.
Cover the pot and cook for 20 minutes.
Remove the food from the heat, fluff the quinoa and add the chicken and veggies. Top with the sliced avocado and the cooked egg. Pour on the rest of the reserved sauce, and garnish with scallions and toasted sesame seeds.
Enjoy!

via Personal Protein Pot Recipe by Tasty

Grilled Salmon with Orzo, Feta, and Red Wine Vinaigrette recipe | Epicurious.com

YIELD
Serves 4

ACTIVE TIME
15 minutes

TOTAL TIME
35 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  1. Orzo
    • 1 1/2 cups orzo
    • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    • 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
    • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 ounces fresh baby spinach (about 3 cups not packed)
    • 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half
    • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted (see Kitchen Note)
    • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
    • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (4 ounces)
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, for garnish
  2. Salmon
    • Four 5-ounce skinless salmon fillets
    • Olive oil, for coating the fish
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

PREPARATION

    1. Prepare an outdoor grill for medium- high cooking over direct heat.
    2. Meanwhile, make the orzo salad: Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the orzo and cook, stirring often, for about 8 minutes, or until just tender. Drain the orzo in a sieve and set aside.
    3. In a medium bowl, whisk the vinegar, shallots, and garlic together. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
    4. In a large bowl, toss the warm orzo, spinach, tomatoes, pine nuts, and basil with the vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside at room temperature.
    5. To cook the salmon: Coat the salmon with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Oil the cooking grate. Place the salmon on the grill with the top right corner of each fillet facing the 2-o’clock position and cook for 4 minutes, without moving the salmon. (This will help give the salmon a good sear of nice grill marks and help it release from the grate.) Using a thin metal spatula, starting at the corner of each fillet nearest you, flip the fillets over. Grill for about 2 minutes, or until the fish is opaque with a slightly rosy center when flaked in the thickest part with the tip of a small knife. Remove from the grill.
    6. Mound the salad in the center of a large serving platter or four dinner plates. Sprinkle with the feta cheese. Top with the salmon, sprinkle with the chives, and serve.
Toasting Pine Nuts
To toast pine nuts, heat a dry medium skillet over medium heat. Add the nuts and cook, stirring often, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate and let cool.”

via Grilled Salmon with Orzo, Feta, and Red Wine Vinaigrette recipe | Epicurious.com

Hypothyroidism – First Week Taking T4-Only Medication (Levothyroxine)

Imagine listening to your favorite music; you set it to turn on the moment you awaken, excited about your favorite lyrics, how it makes you feel, the actions it inspires you to take.

Except the moment you open your eyes, an AIRHORN/MEGAPHONE/SIREN gets screeched directly into your ear.

SLEEP! It wails. SLEEP! SLEEP! YOU MUST SLEEP! SLEEP NOW! SLEEP FOREVER!

It goes on and on until you either give into it (it stops the moment you shut your eyes) or you stagger through it (you know, so your life doesn’t collapse when you 1. get fired or 2. miss deadlines or 3. piss off all your friends/significant other, all of which matter more than the airhorn, though it still blares deafeningly most of the day.)

Though you know your favorite music is playing, you have no hope of hearing it, so unless your world is about to be set on fire by life responsibilities, you give in. Your eyelids flutter closed.

You go back to sleep. Again.

^ That’s the best way to describe the life I led with hypothyroidism.

tired
Teaching while the megaphone was blaring into my brain was super fun. ^ Accurate depiction of me as a teacher, yo.

It’s been four days since I started taking levothyroxine, a synthetic version of the T4 hormone my body is not producing nearly enough of.

Verdict? It is DEFINITELY making a difference.

Getting up in the morning has become a choice. I wake up, and though I am still sleepy, I am not groggy. I lay in bed and consider whether I should up and at ’em, or if I think my body needs more rest. I base it on the number of hours I slept the night before. I use logic. The airhorn dictating my life has gone mostly silent, or is at least much quieter. I can think through it.

Hypothyroid Reality: Getting up was not a choice before treatment.

I really tried everything. Every night, I’d think about all the amazing things I wanted to do–get up, do yoga, make a nutritious breakfast that I LOVE, spend time quietly reading and sipping coffee, get to work on my latest novel idea that I was excited about–but nothing roused me.

I could prep breakfast and my clothes, set my coffee maker to go off right as my alarm did so it would be waiting for me. I could make sure I was ready to go for whatever it was I was excited about doing. I could set my alarm across the room, or better yet, outside the room entirely. I prepared a self-talk speech to recite to myself the moment my alarm went off, bought nummy lotions to pamper myself in the morning if I woke up and functioned like a person as a reward. Hell, I even “practiced” getting up a few times at night by setting an alarm, putting my feet on the floor, stretching, getting out of bed and going downstairs in an attempt to make my muscle memory work in my favor.

Nothing worked. 

IMG_5428
Not whiskey; COFFEE!

Well, except for drinking an entire carafe of coffee at the first alarm, then going back to sleep for an hour. That helped… until it didn’t. Turns out, you build an immunity to drugs like caffeine. Shocking, I know.

Before, unless I would lose a job, a doctor’s appointment, or a friend over not showing up on time, my brain refused to let me get up until it was absolutely necessary or I finally felt somewhat awake.

I was never rested, but sometimes awake.

Today, I feel rested; I feel like a person. I feel like ME.

First Week Taking Synthetic T4: Differences

I wake up every morning and take my pill between 9:00 and 9:30 a.m., aiming for 9:30. I drink it with a full glass of water, and eat and drink nothing else for at least sixty minutes. These are the results:

Pros

1. I can actually wake up early and think clearly. I have a choice.
2. When I get a touch sleepy in the afternoons, it’s no longer debilitating (and it hasn’t happened yet today!)
3. I’m still sleepy at night; it still sometimes gets to the ‘groggy’ level, but that’s probably a good thing in the long run, but I no longer feel like puking if I stay up a touch later than my brain wants.
4. The vericose veins in my legs and in my hips have faded significantly! They’re still there but I’ll be curious to see if they go away entirely!

My boyfriend also says my voice is higher. Whether that’s a pro or a con is up for debate, but I’m sure it’ll help my lilting soprano tones! Early Mariah Carey, here I come!

Cons (If you can call them that.)

  1. I wake up at night more often, or at least, remember it.
  2. I have a much harder time going back to sleep once I wake up in the middle of the night.I think I wake up a lot anyway (as evidenced by sleep talking and having entire weird conversations with people I never remembered the next day) but my body would drag me back under so fast, I would have no recollection of it. Now, I wake up and spend some time looking at my ceiling or the back of my eyelids. I remind myself that this is a small price to pay for feeling like a person 80% of the time instead of 20%.

    And hey, if I’m awake for longer than half an hour in the middle of the night, there’s no reason I can’t get up and do all the things I haven’t been able to for so, so long! #optimism

    Fingers crossed this keeps getting better and better! I know my levels will need to be adjusted throughout my life, but it is SUCH a relief to feel like a person again!