fitness

Day 64 – 70 of My Fitness Challenge

70 days in, and things are still going well. I worked out more this week, and I did what I said: I planned out my meals a bit better so that I could more healthily during the week.

gym

Did I still indulge in treats on a daily basis? Yes, I did, but despite that, I didn’t gain any weight. In fact, I was down a few ounces at my last weigh-in, so things are still moving in the direction that I desire. However, some more intense workouts are on the agenda for the upcoming week: I want to end the last 30 days of my fitness challenge on a strong note.

As promised, I’m sharing my typical menu with you all. For the most part, I eat this way daily, since it’s easy, affordable, and healthy.

Typical Daily Menu

  • Prior to eating: water or hot tea with no sweetener
  • To break my fast: Fresh fruit (this week, it was peaches or a small container of berries)
  • For lunch: Pre-made salad, frozen entree, couple of bite-sized pieces of candy.
  • Snack: Fruit medley or avocado with salt & pepper
  • Last meal/Dinner: Homemade soup, pasta with some sort of protein, one or two glasses of wine, ice cream

For my pre-made salads, I usually purchase something from Ready-Pac Bistro. They make a variety of salads, many of which are vegetarian, that have everything you need for a delicious, satisfying and healthy meal. I typically use only half of the enclosed salad dressing, so that I can minimize my sodium intake.

Speaking of sodium, there tends to be a lot of sodium in any sort of pre-made or frozen food items. As a general rule, it isn’t good to rely upon these too heavily, as too much sodium creates a whole other set of problems. However, when time is short, we do what we must, so I will grab a Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice or (my favorite) Amy’s frozen dinner.

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Too much salt can cause major issues

I don’t believe in depriving myself, so I am sure to eat as much as my heart desires during my eating window. I just eat a lot of “good” stuff and only have a few treats per day.

That’s it for this week’s update. I’ll be back next week with more info on my journey. Talk to you all tomorrow!

culture · Uncategorized

I’m Coming to YouTube!

One of my big “surprises” for the blog is that I will starting makng YouTube videos in the next couple of weeks! I’ve thought about it long and hard, and some messages are best communicated verbally as opposed to the written word. I won’t be posting videos every day, but for some topics, I think a video supplement is the best way to get the point across.

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I have some short videos up right now, and I’ll be re-filming a video that I posted to my Instagram account last week. Here’s a video from my time at the Embassy of Ireland several months ago:

 

There will be lots of travel, cooking, art and cultural videos on my channel. In other words, it will be an extension of this website. I’m so excited for this new chapter, and I hope you all will enjoy the content I create!

life curation

Operation Birthday Blowout Was A Success!

I can say, with no doubt in my mind, that my birthday blowout was a success! I got to see Janet Jackson perform, I went to two museums I’ve never visited before, I spent time with friends, I made some new friends, AND I got to try some new restaurants while I was away.

Then, the day after I got home, I was a bridesmaid in a wedding and I went to a family reunion. It’s been a very busy past few days! I’ll admit, though, that I’m loving every minute of it. It’s been a while since I’ve had a whirlwind (long) weekend.

I’m still working on a few of my side projects related to this blog and life in general, so I’m going to keep this post short and save my energy. I’ll share a few photos that will be part of future posts in the next few days. Also, I’m still thinking of a special way to commemorate this blog’s 1 year anniversary . . . I have something in mind but I’m open to suggestions! Feel free to let me know how we should celebrate this first year of Bronze Butterfly!

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En route to the wedding

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Brunching in Raleigh

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Seeing my spiritual mother, Janet Jackson

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A visit to Nasher Museum

food · international

Review: Awaze Ethiopian Eritrean Restaurant

My first day in Raleigh was great! Along with the main event I attended (more on that in a couple of days), I also got to try a new Ethiopian restaurant. Despite coming to this area several times, I’d never known about any restaurants specializing in Ethiopian/Eritrean cuisine until today, when I researched it and discovered one less than 10 minutes away from my hotel.

Awaze Ethiopian Eritrean Restaurant sits unassumingly in a strip mall. Its simple storefront doesn’t begin to capture the deliciousness that lurks inside. I was greeted by a friendly young man and was seated immediately. I ordered the veggie platter, which, according to the menu, had 4 different vegetable sides. My order arrived quickly and everything looked delicious. To my surprise, there were actually SIX sides on the platter. I was delighted!

(from left to right) Misir azifa (sauteed lentils), fasolia (green beans), kik alicha (yellow split peas), miser wot (red lentils), tikil gomen (cabbage), gomen (collard greens)

The order came with a generous side of injera (flatbread). I ate to my heart’s content. As I ate my last few shreds of injera, the waiter asked if I wanted more – his timing was impeccable! However, I was stuffed and couldn’t eat another bite, so no more injera for me.

Mmm, injera

I was thoroughly pleased with the quality and flavor of my food, as well as the great service. I noticed that Awaze had been awarded for being the best Ethiopian restaurant in Raleigh. The honor is obviously well deserved. I can’t recommend this place enough! If you love Ethiopian food and you’re in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area, you must visit this restaurant. You won’t regret it!

life curation · travel

An Abbreviated Travel Itinerary

Happy Thursday, beloveds! I’m enjoying my first full day in Raleigh, NC and, if all goes well, I’ll have a special treat for you all in the next few days. I thought I’d share with you all some of the basic things I consider when planning my travel. I hope it helps you to plan your perfect trip!

checklist

Make a list, check it twice

  • Visit to at least one museum
  • Dine at one of the finest restaurants in the area
  • Dine at a “local favorite” (a restaurant most highly recommended by people living in town)
  • Spend time in a park, at a river or on a trail in the city I’m visiting
  • Shop at a local thrift store
  • View the local monuments and the downtown area
  • Visit a local bookstore

Whenever I plan a trip, I try to include as many of these things as possible. For me, these things comprise an ideal trip: shopping, dining, sightseeing, books, and some time in nature. Every now and then, I can incorporate two or more of these things in one outing (for instance, a visit to a park in the downtown area that’s located a block or two away from the “local favorite” restaurant).

One item that I didn’t list on this sample itinerary that I *hope* you all will include is REST. I can’t begin to describe how hard it is to do all of the fun stuff you’ve planned when you’re exhausted. So make sure that SLEEP is part of your plans, as well!

That’s it for my mini-itinerary. Enjoy your Friday, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

 

 

 

food

No More Food Deliveries!

Happy Thursday friends! I’m coming to you all with a (mini) gripe. I don’t usually complain on this blog: after all, I believe that life is wonderful and good things are all around us. As a rule, I don’t complain.

However, I have my limits. And, because I have my limits, I feel that it’s time to put my foot down and turn over a new leaf. As we go into this next blogging year, I felt it was important to tell you all the change that I’m making.

You’ve read the title, so you have a clue what I’m talking about. As you all may know, I love food. Like, I really love it. I’m a huge fan of international cuisine, such as Thai, Indian, Kenyan, Jamaican, Ethiopian and (authentic) Chinese. As a result, I tended to order a lot of takeout and I enjoyed – for a time – having food delivered to me.

food

Well, doesn’t this look yummy!

Unfortunately, I’ve had a string of poor experiences over the past few months. Missing items, incorrect orders, food not being spiced/seasoned to the level requested … It was clear that something had to change because the quality of delivery orders that I received has steadily declined.

So, I’ve decided to quit ordering delivery and start making more dishes at home. I only have a surface-level knowledge of foreign cuisine, so it’ll be fun to learn more about how to prepare dishes from around the world. I’ll be blogging about these recipes and sharing my tips, tricks, and (yes) even my fails! I hope that you all stick around for the journey.

I’ll still be dining out and reviewing different restaurants, but as far as delivery goes? There will be a moratorium on that for an indefinite period. It’ll be more fun to learn how to cook and to share what I learn with you all. We’ll have fun together – I promise!

food · international

Trying My Hand At Portuguese Food – Vegan Caldo Verde

I’m still studying the Portuguese language (more on that in a future post) but I know that part of learning about a culture includes exploring the cuisine. And, as a self-proclaimed foodie, I find that immersing myself into the culinary aspects of a culture does wonders for my overall excitement. So, I tried my hand at preparing a traditional Portuguese dish. Here’s my story about it.

I looked through various online sources to find out what makes up the bulk of the typical Portuguese diet. What I found was a lot of seafood and vegetable dishes, and a wide array of pastries. Fortunately, I love ALL of these, so I was excited. I wanted to start with something simple, so I decided to try making caldo verde, a traditional Portuguese soup that gets its signature green color from its sole green ingredient, kale.

Only one problem with caldo verde – it normally contains chourico (chorizo), a type of pork sausage. I don’t eat any pork, so I had to adjust the recipe. I tried making it twice, and both times turned out well, though my second attempt (using a combinations of Trader Joe’s soy chorizo and Field Roast Italian Sausage, though next time I’ll replace the Italian sausage with Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausage) was more of a success.

First try: caldo verde with Field Roast Italian Sausage only

I also used a blender, as opposed to mashing the potatoes by hand. It’s much easier for me to get the consistency I desire by using the blender. It also made the food prep portion easier – I could chop the potatoes and onions coarsely because the blender would take care of the rest of the work for me.

The soup is luscious, filling and very easy to make. It’s also pretty inexpensive: it contains a lot of common ingredients and can easily be tweaked for your taste. I’m going to share my recipe below, as well as the recipes I reviewed while coming up with my own version of caldo verde.

Second try – even tastier since I added the Trader Joe’s soy chorizo along with the Field Roast Italian Sausage slices

Caldo Verde (serves 6)

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped into large pieces
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (approximately 2-3 cloves)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 gold potatoes, chopped into large pieces
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups veggie broth
  • 4 cups kale, chopped into bite-sized or smaller pieces
  • 1/2 pack Trader Joe’s soy chorizo, sliced to the size that you prefer (it’ll crumble up so the sizing doesn’t matter)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 pack Field Roast Sausage of your choice
  • salt and pepper
  • Add oil to a large pot, and warm over a medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and stir. Cook until translucent (about 4-6 minutes).
  1. Add potatoes, water and veggie broth to the pot. Stir to combine, cook until potatoes are soft (about 15-20 minutes).
  2. Turn off heat, and scoop out potatoes and onions, using a slotted spoon or straining spoon. Place potatoes and onions into a blender, along with some of the broth. Blend until smooth.
  3. Return blended ingredients to the pot, and stir well with the remaining broth. Add chopped kale, and cook over a low heat. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes, or until kale softens. Season with salt and pepper
  4. Add chopped sausage, and stir well. Warm for an additional 5 – 10 minutes (make sure the the sausage is heated thoroughly).
  5. Serve while hot.

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Close up of the finished product, second time around

I used AllRecipes, Olivia’s Cuisine and Leite’s Culinaria to create my recipe. Many thanks to them for such clear directions! I couldn’t have done it without their recipes as templates. Muito obrigada!