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Ok this is gonna be a quickie because there’s no point in dragging it out.  Seitan isn’t hard to make.  It gets an unnecessarily bad difficult rap.  If you’re scared to try it, don’t be.  I’m a loser and I can manage, so trust me, you can too.

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Finding Vital Wheat Gluten is actually 75% of the battle.  Try Whole Foods or your neighborhood Co-Op or health foods store.  I usually get Bob’s Red Mill, but I’ve used Arrowhead Mills before too.

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The ratio of vegetable broth to VWG is the variable in most recipes.  It really just depends on how dense or chewy you prefer your seitan to be.  I generally go for a one to one ratio of wet to dry ingredients because I like my seitan like Jillian Michaels likes her glutes…packed tight.

Simple seitan

Wet ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce*

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 cup Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast

Mix the wet and dry ingredients separately and then add them together.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

*The main difference between this recipe and my other one is the amount of soy sauce.  More soy sauce = more flavor.  I should also mention here that if you prefer your seitan to be more juicy (and not as tough or chewy) you may want to up the vegetable broth a bit (1/4 cup extra should be enough).

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It looks hideous, but it will all turn out ok.  I promise.  Now is when you get out your frustration.  Make the ball your personal punching bag and knead, knead, knead.  There’s no real right or wrong way to do this, and it’s not like how much you do it will make or break the seitan, so don’t freak out if you haven’t a clue as to the technical kneading protocol.  The goal is to get it into some kind of shape that can be edible.

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The more you work it with your hands, the more dense (and thus chewy) the seitan will be.

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I usually form patties with mine, but you can make smaller nugget shapes or whatever.

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Place them in a cooking pan submerged in a bit of vegetable broth and cook it in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

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After 15 minutes, the top side should be browned.  Flip them over and cook the other side for another 10 minutes.

And that’s it!

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Time to go brag to your friends that you have just mastered seitan.  You may get some funny looks with an opening line like that…

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Mmmmm…

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Always store seitan in liquid (preferably leftover broth/soy sauce) otherwise you’ll look like a teething infant when attempting to eat dinner.

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Ta-da!

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If you’re looking for seitan ideas, there are plenty of elaborate recipes on the internet or in vegan cookbooks, but I prefer the simpler dishes.

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Seitan with stir fried veggies and chickpeas.

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Seitan in a whole wheat wrap with veggies.

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Hope that was helpful.  Let me know if you give it a try.

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I called in sick today.  :( 

I couldn’t help but feel that I would be doing more harm than good for my patients.  Healing hands?  Not so much.  So, rather than pass on my germies, I opted to keep my infectiousness to myself.  Hoarder!

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You know I’m feeling bad when I bring out this bad boy.  My entire fist fits in this mug, I LOVE it :D  Half coffee, half leche, half froth.  Yes, the mug was SO big, the laws of mathematics didn’t even apply – it fit 3/2 in it.  Notice the cookbook in the background?  Stay tuned 🙂

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Along with my massive mug of java, I had half a baguette of Dave’s Sin Dawg.  I’m glad they don’t list the calories on the bag because I’m fairly certain my AM eats were in the 1000s range.  Dave’s bread is just TOO effing good!  I was desperately trying to practice portion control, but it was all in vain.  I kept taking trips back and forth from the couch, to the kitchen, to the toaster, to the couch, to the kitchen, to the toaster…and before I knew it, the baguette was gone!  Good thing I only started with half a loaf. 

I did have some fruit, too.

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Moving on…

I decided to put my sick day day off to good use.  As I alluded to previously, I had been browsing Terry Walters’ cookbook Clean Food all morning to assemble a massive grocery list.  So, once I digested breakfast, I was off to WF where I spent HOURS in foodie bliss.  Thanks to Terry, I explored areas of the store I didn’t even know existed and (with the help of some great deals at WF) I came away with several staple ingredients in her book.  Happy day 🙂

Since my morning eats were a bit on the heavier side, I wanted something light for lunch.  Enter Terry! 

I bought a pear over a week ago, and it only JUST ripened (friggin’ finally).

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As per the recipe, I marinated the pear slices in the balsamic dressing.  Then I decided to throw caution to the wind and added strawberries into the mix, too.

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I substituted them for the walnuts 😛 and tossed them in to the lettuce.  LOVES.

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Who would have known the way this dressing would bring out all the different flavors so well.  Every ingredient was perfectly harmonious.  Cool.  Crunchy.  Sweet with an acidic balance. 

Hit. The. Spot. 

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This was such a success, I can’t wait to try more Clean Food recipes.  I don’t want to go overboard with my praise, but I really felt much better after this meal.  The sweet balsamic mustard dressing seemed to clear out my sinuses (Dijon – the gift that keeps on giving).  There’s something to be said for listening to your body and taking a sick day.  After feeling guilty for the first half of the day, I realized I definitely made the right decision.  Forcing myself to push through another 12 hours would only extend the blah feelings I’ve been muddling through the past few days.  Clean food + rest = recoup.  

Much like yesterday, I opted not to exercise today.  I swear, I’m NOT trying to sabotage myself for my race on Sunday.  Trust.  The looks I would have gotten gasping for oxygen through my clogged airways was enough to keep any gym rat home.  Instead, I did some ExerciseTV yoga and stretching, along with soup-can arm exercises.  I doubt it would impress Jillian, but at least it was something

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After upping my resting heart rate to a super fatiguing 90 bpm, I snacked on some juicy pineapple chunks.  **Side note: I don’t have a Garmin (or any heart rate monitor), so my sarcastic remarks about my heart rate are simply that – sarcastic.  No accuracy whatsoever 🙂

Dinner was another cheesy affair.

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Into the bowl went: quinoa, broccoli slaw, shredded carrots, raw corn, chickpeas (done up al dente of course), and the most amazing UN-cheese ever.  At what point do I consider my excessive use of nooch a problem?  Like a 5 year old, I nearly threw a tantrum when the WF employees informed me they were out of nutritional yeast.  OUT!?!  The store has been open for less than a month.  How many other hippies are out there going through a pound of nooch a week?

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Medjools, medjools, and MORE medjools.  Dried fruit desserts always knock my socks off, and this one didn’t disappoint.  Each bite was like a mini PB&J explosion in my mouth (hopefully tNwss).

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Now for the most important part of this post:  Call to all readers hip on the music scene!!  I need some new tunes STAT.  Since I have a half marathon on Sunday, I will need some MAYJ pump up jams (and since I’m ridic out of shape, I’ll need well over 2 hours worth…haha).  Comment away with anything that you think will get my a$$ in gear.

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I loved hearing about all your PM routines!  Such planners we all are.  Well, most of us…

I have to say, it’s a little reassuring to know there are other freaks out there just like me.

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As I said before, I was kinda behind getting my ducks in a row on Thursday night.  As a result, I expended minimal energy making this lunch (probably a 2 out of 10 on the effort scale).  Basically, I just kept adding more snacks in the hopes that the next day there would be at least something I wanted in my backpack.

When I got to work they were overstaffed and asked me if I wanted the day off.  Ummm, no! It’s 6:30 and I’m already here – you better believe I’m getting paid.  Fools.  Since none of the other nurses wanted to take the day off, it was a reallllllly easy shift.  Loves.

In the interest of full disclosure, I only ate 35% of my (above) packed lunch.  I guess my insatiable appetite that plagued me all last week was “out to lunch” so to speak…har har har (wow that was a bad pun).  Actually, there seems to be a cold going around the hospital right now and I’m feeling the beginning stages of it coming on.  I was sucking on lozenges for most of the day, and downing hot tea for the rest…fightin’ the cough!  Grrr.

FYI: Topping salads with sweet potato slices is AMAZING, espesh with the hummusI am feeling a sweet potato hummus concoction in my near future…

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Leftovers.

I’ve had this sesame asian tofu in the freezer from I don’t even remember how long ago.  I decided it was time to clear things out, so I made some stir fry veggies and topped it with this thawed out tofu.

I copied the Whole Foods asian marinade to the best of my ability: first I pressed some slabs of extra-firm tofu and dusted them with flour (it makes the marinade cake on better).  Then I dipped it in a mix of teriyaki sauce, honey, ginger, sesame oil, rice vinegar, garlic, red pepper flakes, and a TON of sesame seeds.  If you want to thicken it more you can add in some cornstarch.

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I baked mine in a pan with the leftover sauce on the bottom so it could soak up more flavor as it was cooking.

I was nervous that freezer burn would kill the flavor and texture, and although it wasn’t as plump and savory as the first time I had it, it was still good.  Tofu does tend to shrivel up a bit after it’s cooked, but I ‘aint hatin’ on it.

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Dessert won the fave-meal-of-the-day award, hands down.  Nothing makes my tummy happier than an english muffin lathered in Naturally More almond butter (aside from pounds and pounds of hummus, that is…). 

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I’m gonna gloss over my AM eats because they weren’t too interesting.

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If I were on Top Chef I’d call it a de-constructed smoothie, but I’m not, so for blog purposes it’s simply frozen nanner slices in a Blueberry Chobz.  Told you I like bananas Jess!

Lunch was a fantastic plate of yum.  On a bed of fancy shmancy lettuce and broccoli slaw, I added my WF baked tofu leftovers, baby carrots, and a few blobs of tofummus.

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I was feelin’ the ‘fu BIG TIME.  Mmmm…

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Perfectly protein packed.  I’m already on my second batch of TOFUMMUS.  Love.

Lunch dessert: medjool dates filled with raw macadamia nuts.

I was nervous about trying macadamia nuts (I’m still working on getting over my nut phobia, so this was the next step in my self-imposed program).  I haven’t had them since my dinner at Pure (the “cheese” sauce in the lasagna is macadamia based).  But given my obsession with dates, I figured this was the safest way to introduce them (I’m like a 5 year old). 

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They weren’t my favorite nuts, but I didn’t gag.  So I guess that could be considered a success?

I went to the gym later in the afternoon and happily danced my way through 8 miles (good playlists and several gym-less days tend to have that effect on me), followed by an ab workout and stretching.

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I rehydrated with juicy honeydew, and then went grocery shopping for my very exciting dinner.

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Thanks to amazing reader/email pal/commenter extraordinaire Courtney, I’ve had a recipe for white UN-CHEESE on stand-by for quite a while.  Literally, I have been wanting to make this recipe since she first sent it my way, so now that I finally have a functional kitchen appliance the magic bullet, it was definitely a high priority. 

This was my first experiment with nutritional yeast, and I gotta say, it was VERY cheesy :)  Consider this the first (of many) fan letters I will write:

Dear Nooch,

Thank you for providing a dairy-free alternative to cheese that I can add in bulk to my meals and not endure GI suffering for hours days following my feast.  I promise I will introduce you to every carb and vegetable in the apartment.

Fondly, Elise

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     Dish #1 Cheesy broccoli noodles            Dish #2  Cheesy carrot noodles

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     Dish #3  Cheesy carrot                             Dish #4 Cheesy quinoa

I’ll let Courtney reveal the recipe (if she chooses) in the comments section.  But keep in mind I increased the amount of tofu because I left out the agar flakes.  This made it a more sauce-like consistency, which was perfect for me.

After watching several hours of tennis, I was ready for something sweet.  Inspired by my Texas love, I had a bowl of frozen cherries for dessert.

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First day of PT tomorrow!

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Cha-ching!!  Hear that?  That’s the sound of the $$ being deposited in my bank account after working a holiday.  Time and a half, yes please! (Sadly, I have a feeling the influx of cash flow on my end is probably barely enough to cover the amount oozing out of my better half while he is living it up in Vegas…)

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I gave the tropical fruit Larabar another shot (but ONLY for you Julie!) and I’m sorry to say, I still wasn’t a fan.  Want the proof?  I actually threw out the uneaten half.  Now, I’m definitely not one to waste food OR money, so you KNOW this was serious.  I just don’t think citrus and nuts are meant to party together. 

Aside from the pistachios in my pretzel/raisin/nut mix and the hummus, there wasn’t much protein to be found in this lunch.  So I’m thinking maybe that’s why I’ve been so hungry lately???  Any thoughts?  I guess I have a pretty carb heavy diet, but those are the things that I like and that are also easily portable. 

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I have been trying to UP the protein lately in my PM eats (Jay Robb dessert smoothies, etc), but maybe I should be having more throughout the day, too.  Then again, I don’t always have such a ravenous appetite, it’s fairly random when the insatiability hits.  So, for now, I guess I’ll just keep bringing more things with me to work so I’m not without options when hunger DOES strike.

When I got off work a very hungover sleepy Kyle was back in Manhattan and ready for dinner.  I suggested WF since neither one of us was feeling up to cooking (although for completely DIFFERENT reasons…).

Joyous hot foods bar 😀

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I guess I have never made tempeh correctly before, because HOLY YUM, this was good.  The WF employee brought it out as I was doing some pre-selection browsing (as I often do) and it was calling to me.  Plus, I was the first to serve myself from it, which is always a good thing in buffet style settings.  It had red onions, bell peppers, and zucchini in a really delicious (unknown and thus probably fatty) marinade.  Naturally, I filled that side of the box out with baked tofu.

The other half of the box was carb-i-fied.  Many a pitas were consumed with the second batch of yesterday’s tofummus

As I said, this was a far thicker batch (because I didn’t use hardly any chickpea can “juice”) and had a more hummus like consistency.

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I also couldn’t help but get my fave new seitan dish (Candle’s chimichurri), which I placed over some left-over quinoa, with a side of carrots and tofummus.

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Hello protein-dense dinner.  I didn’t even realize it in the moment, but I got 3 different non-meat “proteins” from WF (seitan, tempeh, and tofu).  Apparently, my inner cravings have a pattern that I was never all that aware of.  Ok, that’s not true, I know that I prefer lighter, fruitier fare in the AM, as opposed to the savory things, which I crave in the PM.  But that’s just me…anyone else tend to crave certain types of food at different times of the day?

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Drool.  I HAD to have seconds 🙂

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I was full and drowsy, but I couldn’t go to bed because starting at 10 PM was our fantasy football draft.  [insert geek description here]  I know, I know, I am SUCH a loser.  But seriously, I live for this time of year.  I love nothing more than Sundays in the fall, sitting on a couch watching football ALL.DAY.LONG. I just changed my ringtone to the Monday night football theme song, too.  OK, tangent over. 

Since I had to stay up, I decided it was the perfect time to try POM’s latest iced teas.  I opted for the Pomegranate Lychee Green Tea flavor.

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If you build them they have caffeine, I will come…

I can’t think of a flavor to compare this to, but I liked it.  It wasn’t overly sweet, but the fruit was definitely the dominant flavor.  Actually, I don’t know that I really tasted green tea that much at all.  I have no clue what lychee is, or what it tastes like, but it worked with the pomegranate, so I’m on board.  It also kept me awake, so that’s a good thing, too.

After we drafted what will definitely be a winning roster (Kyle and I co-manage share a team), I happily hit the sack. 

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Remember that horribly inappropriate song?? 

Well, today I had an appt with an Osteopaedic MD who specializes in the spine.  I’ll get into the deets later, but rest assured, I’ll be making some changes so I don’t end up looking like this by my 30th birthday.

Severe Kyphosis 

I started the day with coffee.

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Doesn’t that beautiful foam make you wanna dive right into it?  Flowers for Algernon is my latest read, btw, although my wait to see the MD was so short I didn’t even need it!  NYU Joint Disease knows how to treat their patients RIGHT (I’ve never been seen so quickly, it was such a pleasurable visit).

My appointment was early, so I was home in time for a Sin Dawg b-fast.

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Dang this stuff is good!  I had to exercise ALL self control not to polish off the entire roll in one sitting. 

After my bread baby was semi-digested, I went to the gym for some cardio.  I left sweatier than normal, so I was in a great mood. 

Lunch was a mini-Mediterranean feast, packed with yummy flavors. 

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Falafel and roasted red pepper hummus – aka chickpeas and MORE chickpeas. 

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I munched on some almonds while waiting for my sister’s plane to land.  SO excited!!  And if anyone is curious, the citrus flavor Kombucha was really good, so it gets the hippie stamp of approval.  I was nervous it was going to be so tart my lips would pucker after one sip, but it was nice at mind.  I didn’t really taste much citrus at all…I think I am going to make it my goal to try ALL the Kombucha/Synergy flavors.  I have tried about 5-6 so far…

Anyways, it took my sister a good 2 hours to get from the airport to Penn station, so my tum was still gurgling for more food.

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Kyle had a leftover roll from last night’s dinner…poor thing didn’t stand a chance!  I enjoyed it with some hummus while talking Marie through the LIRR/Jamaica station chaos.  Once she was Manhattan-bound, I hit the road to meet up with her at Penn Station (which was another 2 hour ordeal in and of itself…).  Sometimes the simplest plans just don’t unfold the way you think they will. 

It was 6 by the time we made it back to the apt.  Le sigh.

Once Kyle got home, we decided that a WF dinner was MORE than necessary (Central Park provided a nice summery ambiance). 

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A pretty standard trip, no?  Falafel balls (again), chickpea/edamame salad, lentil/couscous salad, 2 broccoli florets, and a few spinach leaves. 

Now that I think about it, it really looks like I was trying to trick myself into thinking I was eating a salad :) 

Let’s pile errrthang on top of some green-age and call it a salad, yes??

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Here’s Marie’s WF swag (since she got some balls too, we split a tub of hummus with our dinners). 

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Creamy, chickpea bliss.

Kyle went with a confusing choice (given the fact that it was 800 degrees out with 95% humidity). 

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Grilled corn on the cob and arroz con pollo.  I was already sweating bullets, but Kyle said “bring it!”

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The non-vegans enjoyed some chocolate cake, while my dessert came in the form of chickpeas…I MAY have licked the tub of hummus (just a little, though)  😉

 

After dinner, the night took an interesting turn.  Rather than go home, we strolled by my bestie, Jess’ apartment…annnd next thing I know, this is happening.

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There were a few too many beers pitchers that led up to this point.  A few things to note:

(a) The drink above is actually a fish bowl

(b) I’m ridiculously pale

(c) I’m wearing the same outfit I sweat through 6 hours earlier (ew)

(d) I’m the only one actually drinking in the photo

(e) Apparently I didn’t feel as though a fish bowl provided enough DRANK, seeing as I am double fisting it

The last three probably explained my lack of back pain as the night went on…

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Anyways, we partied into the wee hours of the morning (initially we were confused because it was light outside when we left the bar – but it was just the huge spotlights shining on us because they were filming this in the street outside the bar).  I still have 3 more days of fun with my sister!!!

 

So here’s the dealio with my spine: my x-rays all looked normal [insert sigh of relief here], but the doctor did say I had a “giraffe neck.”  Ummm…what?  First of all, I’m not tall, in fact, by America’s Next Top Model’s standards normal standards, I’m short.  And yet, he actually told me I have the longest cervical spine section he’s ever seen.  I had to practice all restraint to not blurt out TWSS.  Anyways, crazy long neck aside, apparently my range of motion is pretty piss poor, so I’ll be engaging in some physical therapy for the next few weeks.  Who knows when the heck I’m going to find the time for that…

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I woke up at 6:50 am today.  FYI, my shift starts 7.  Uh.  Oops?  After having a mini-stroke, I got my butt in gear and hauled ass to work.  If there’s ONE THING you should know about me, it is this: I HATE CHAOS.  Odd, given my job right? 

To be honest, I feel like it is actually this quality of my personality that’s one of the reasons I thrive in the ICU.  I think the constant drive to create order and stability works to my advantage in such an intense setting. 

And yet, in my own life, I work so hard to avoid curve balls.  I get to work an hour early every day, so I can sit in Starbucks to read/crossword/wake up with a nice steamy cup of coffee.  At any given point, I have 3-5 checklists.  I write myself reminder notes, set multiple alarms, and feel at ease with the same routine day in and day out.  So you can imagine the anxiety that I felt after starting the day off in such a tumultuous manner.  EEK!!

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At least I had already packed my food, right?  Wrong.  In my rush I sprinted out the door without grabbing my salad from the fridge.  Double oops.  I did have the rest of the eats, though, so the day wasn’t totally ruined. 

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Plus, PB+J Larabars make errrthang bettah!  I also just realized the mini-tub of hummus that I brought didn’t make it into the above photos, but TRUST, I didn’t leave home without it.  I’m just gonna put this out there, Sabra should DEF consider making BBQ flavored hummus because the BBQ PoP chips and hummus rocked my world when paired together…try it!

The rest of the goodies were nice snacks, but I was missing my MAIN course 😦

So, on my lunch break, I hit up WF to replace the ensalada.  I was in (and out) like Flynn since the length of the WF line doesn’t exactly accommodate the length of my break.

I ended up reproducing a quinoa dish I recently made at home.

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Pretty good substitute, huh?!  Quinoa, carrots, dried cranz, and edamame. YUM!

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Even though I was behind from square one, my work shift wasn’t too horrible (I think that’s the hindsight speaking now).  I just kept reminding myself that my sister would be arriving into town TOMORROW.  Woohooo!  Having a light at the end of the tunnel helps with yucky shifts. 

The one positive side to my absent-minded day, was that I didn’t even have to think about what to make for dinner.  My lunch salad was ready and waiting for me 🙂

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Check out the Mexi salad…with enough salsa-loading to make my girls proud. 

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The key ingredients were LightLife’s “meat” crumbles and raw corn, which were pretty bomb when mixed with salsa.  Loves it.  I also green-ed it up with spinach, clover sprouts, and broccoli slaw.  DEE-lish!

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All mixed up, don’t know what to do…(well, aside from eat it).

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Dessert was dried and fresh.  Papaya spears, apple slices, bloobs, and honeydew.

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Fruit loading much?  I just wanted more and more and more…sometimes I just can’t enough fruit.  It’s summer though, so I think now is the time to take advantage.

Does anyone else watch Top Chef?  The newest season is in Las Vegas, which I am a bit skeptical of…are they known for culinary genius?  I think New York and Chicago were the best locations that they filmed, but LA was good too.  I have never missed an episode, including the most recent mini-season of Top Chef Masters.  Anyways, I have tivo-ed the first ep of the new season, but haven’t seen it yet.  If you DO watch, who’s your fave panel member?  I love me some Tom Colicchio, but Padma is pretty much my idea of drop dead gorgeous (no offense to Gail).

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