Hello all! The last two months have been crazy. I was busy finishing up exams and clinical hours for the end of the semester and planning for our wedding when I had a severe headache that ended up being a rare brain cyst requiring surgical removal – so scary! Thankfully, surgery was successful and I recovered in time to walk down the aisle and marry my best friend 3 weeks later. We relaxed and recovered from the wedding and pre-wedding health scare during our honeymoon in Banff, Canada, and Napa Valley. After enjoying so much decadent food and relaxation (ie not much exercise) on our honeymoon, I am ready to start eating healthy again. I hated being in the hospital and a critical component of maintaining health and avoiding doctors is good nutrition. Today, I tried out a recipe adapted from the Avocado Tortilla Soup recipe from the Vitamix cookbook that came with the blender. The result was a fresh, delicious meal that left me feeling re-energized rather than overstuffed. Ingredients included 2 cups vegetable stock, 5 roma tomatoes, one carrot, one celery stalk, 1/3 bunch of cilantro (leaves only), 1/2 avocado, 1 cup of black beans, 2 handfuls of tortilla chips, and 2 tbsp penzey’s chicken taco seasoning. Making the soup was super easy. I added the first six ingredients to the vitamix, blended on high for 10 minutes, and then added in the seasoning, blackbeans, and tortilla chips, blended on the lowest setting for a few seconds and my soup was ready! This could be modified to include chicken and would be great served with toppings such as diced jalepenos, diced avocado, cashew sour cream or regular sour cream, and/or cheese.
Eating out is great fun but is not so kind to the waistline. With our wedding coming up, I want to eat healthier so am working on finding easy quick and tasty recipes that work for both me (I don’t like much meat) and Greg (who doesn’t like many veggies). I would like to develop a list of staple recipes that I can always turn to in a pinch.
This week I made chicken and artichokes (http://www.dinneralovestory.com/tag/chicken-with-artichokes), a recipe from Dinner a Love Story blog. I had high hopes for the recipe as it is easy and sounded tasty. Our meal turned out eatable but not one that I would care to eat again.
Other recipes that I’m thinking of trying out this week are Crispy Black Bean Quesadillas with Feta and Slaw (http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2009/02/crispy-black-bean-tacos-with-feta-and-slaw/), Sausage Bean & Kale stew, some kind of fish with Trader Joe’s Miso Broth, or Sweet Potato, Blackbean and Corn Enchiladas (http://www.averiecooks.com/2014/06/sweet-potato-corn-and-black-bean-enchiladas.html). . . . . Wish me luck! Hopefully I will find some winners to make the process of deciding what to cook each week easier with less wasted leftovers.
Today I made a Green Smoothie using my “new” used Vitamix. Greg, my fiance, bought me a Vitamix from Craigslist for Christmas. Buying a used Vitamix was much more cost effective and the older models supposedly last longer. I also love the thought and extra effort that go into finding a gift on Craigslist.
I definitely need to balance out all of our delicious dining out with healthy dining in so am thrilled to have a Vitamix to make healthy eating even easier. My attempt at a green smoothie came out pretty good, one of the better ones I’ve made. I recently tried a carrot smoothie with leftover carrots I had on hand but it did not work as well. I managed to get down one glass of it but couldn’t bring myself to drink the rest. Here is the recipe I used for my Green Smoothie adapted from the Strawberry and Greens Smoothie in the Whole Food Vitamix Cookbook (http://www.amazon.com/Vitamix-Whole-Food-Recipes/dp/B00801WPLS).
1 cup water
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 handfuls baby spinach
1 cup fresh strawberries (I left the green tops on, much easier and still tasted good!)
2 very ripe frozen bananas
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used Designer Whey brand from Trader Joe’s)
1 tbsp ground flax seed (I also purchased this at Trader Joe’s)
1 tbsp chia seeds (Much cheaper at Trader Joe’s than Whole Foods)
Add all ingredients in the order listed to your Vitamix or high-speed blender. Blend and Enjoy.
Here is a picture of my smoothie. It tastes better than it looks, I promise!!
Thanks all, until next time.
Greg and I have been dining at Ray’s the Steaks since we first met and before the existence of Hellburger, Ray’s to the Third, and other Ray’s locations. When we lived in Colonial Village, we dined at Ray’s every one or two weeks. It located in a small space, between Pho 75 and Guajillo. There was always a wait, often times more than an hour, the service was always terrible, and the steaks were amazing.
Last night (approximately six years after our first dining experience at Ray’s) we went back to Ray’s to celebrate Greg’s birthday with some family. Ray’s the Steaks moved several years ago and is now in a larger space less than a mile from the original location. Consistent to its roots, the service was poor. The waitress couldn’t tell the difference between a lemon and lime and never brought out limes when requested. I had hoped to surprise Greg with a key lime pie for dessert with candles but we ended up with a slice and one candle. To top it off, the waitress forgot to ask anyone else if they would like dessert before dropping off the check. At least the waitress remembered our table, unlike a previous dining experience when our waiter completely forgot about us including closing out our check.
Since we first started dating, I have stopped eating red meat and chicken so I can’t comment on the steaks. From our table it appeared the hanger steak was the winner out of all the steaks. Greg had a huge cowboy cut and liked it but wasn’t as enthusiastic about it as usual when dining at Ray’s. Other guests tried out the filet mignon and enjoyed it but weren’t wowed. I had the shrimp scampi and a house salad. The scampi was good but nothing to write home about and the house salad is simple – mostly greens with a few cherry tomatoes coated in a balsalmic vinaigrette. I have learned to order the appetizer portion of the scampi or scallops as the entrée portion generally includes only one additional shrimp or scallop but costs $10 more than the app.
Overall, it was a great night celebrating with family but Ray’s was definitely better in the good ole days when rudeness was the status quo of the restaurant staff, the wait was long, but the steaks were the best around town.
Bottom line: Although still listed in the top 100 very best restaurants by the Washingtonian, Ray’s moved down a few slots on our list (to be posted soon). We will likely continue to stop by once in while when Greg has a hankering for a steak as its close to us, the value is good, and they have non-steak options for me but won’t resume frequenting the restaurant as often as we once did in the past.