How to Roast the Perfect Kabocha Squash

how to roast kabocha squash pittsburgh | almost getting it together

Confession time: I had no idea what a kabocha squash was until I started reading HLB blogs. I probably had eaten one in a curry at some point and never realized it.

I forgot how much I loved winter squash until this past year. I’ve always been a fan of summer squash – but winter squash? They were shaped funny and how the hell are you supposed to cut one open? Then everywhere I looked there was a kabocha squash recipe – kabocha donuts, kabocha soup, kabocha pancakes, roasted kabocha. I couldn’t escape it so I had to find one to see what the buzz was about.

I finally found one little kabocha at Whole Foods in September. My first attempt at roasting it turned into me nearly slicing my hand off trying to cut it open – then drizzling it with agave and cinnamon. I started picking at it straight from the oven – and I was hooked.

Then, in true Pittsburgh form, kabocha was no where to be found. Angela and I even went to City Market in Columbus trying to find them from the farmers, but no luck. I even Googled “where to buy kabocha squash in Pittsburgh” – nothing.  If you know me, you know I don’t give up that easily.

Finally, after four or five different desperate Google searches, a Yelp review popped up of a Japanese market in Squirrel Hill. “Only place to find kabocha squash, or Japanese squash” some helpful Yelp-er told me. That person is a saint. If I knew where they lived, I would send them an Edible Arrangement*.

I didn’t go to this particular market right away. I was afraid of being disappointed. One day, my friend Jamie followed me to the mall, and I noticed an “Oriental Market” in the North Hills. I immediately turned and was the only white girl in there. No one knew what I was doing. I did, though. I headed straight to the produce section, and low and behold, sweet, sweet kabochas, I snagged two huges ones and gifted one to Angela since she had never experienced the delight it had to offer.

Then a few months passed (okay, maybe a month) and I didn’t head back out that way. I suddenly decided to stop by the Japanese market in the aforementioned Yelp review. They had one little kabocha. I asked the shopkeeper if he had more. “How many do you want?” I told him all that he had. He brought me out a box of four kabocha squashes.

how to roast kabocha squash pittsburgh | almost getting it together

Squash of my labor.

If there’s a run on kabocha squashes in Pittsburgh – I know why and I know who reads my blog in Pittsburgh and I’m going to be really pissed if I can’t find one. (Okay, I’ll help you out – the Korean market in Shadyside by the Laundromat also has them.)

Moral of the story: if you can’t find kabocha squash, head to an Asian grocer. They always come through.

how to roast kabocha squash pittsburgh | almost getting it together

Roast kabocha squash.

Perfectly Roasted Kabocha Squash
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Ingredients
  • Kabocha squash
  • Coconut oil, either melted or spray
  • Cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Wash squash thoroughly because you can, and should, eat the skin.
  3. Put squash in microwave on high for 3 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes.
  4. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with coconut oil.
  5. Cut squash in half and scoop out the strings and seeds.
  6. Once squash is cleaned out, cut in strips or wedges (I prefer strips).
  7. Line on baking sheet and spray lightly with coconut oil.
  8. Sprinkle cinnamon on squash.
  9. Bake for 40 minutes, turning halfway through. Don’t be lazy – it seriously makes a difference. Kabocha squash is the one place I don’t get lazy.

 

Chat with me:
What food do you love but you can’t find? Do you love kabocha squash? Has anyone ever sent you an Edible Arrangement? (I’ve never gotten one, if anyone would like to send me one please contact me for my info.)

*Edible Arrangements did not sponsor this post, but if they are reading this and would like to send me an Edible Arrangement to review, feel free.

Getting it Together on the Road – Preparing for Travel to a Third World Country

mekong river delta |almost getting it together

While you’re reading this, I’m probably getting my butt kicked by some waves in Nicaragua. The WiFi situation is not good (i.e., third world country Internet) so sorry for my laziness/lack of photos. Also now you know why I’m not commenting on your blog. I’ll be back soon, I promise!

Can I even say Third World country? Is that politically correct? I think it’s developing nation but whatever, I majored in fashion, not poly sci. This post isn’t about how to act in a Third World country – act like a normal, respectable human being and be compassionate, duh – but rather, how to prepare so you can have an awesome, stress free trip and maximize your time doing cool things, not dying of food poisoning or getting Tom Hanks-ed at the terminal when you don’t have a visa.

I recently joked to my father while packing for Nicaragua that I couldn’t remember at what point in my life that I traveled somewhere so unprepared that it caused me such post traumatic stress disorder that I grossly over-pack every time I leave the house, let alone the country.

In college, I studied abroad in Hong Kong for 6 months, which is clearly not a third world country – it’s much cleaner and more advanced technologically than the US in many places. I literally had no idea what to expect especially since I didn’t even know where it was on the map (nerd alert: coming from a girl who competed at the State Geography Bee numerous times). So what did I do? I thought about every country in Southeast Asia I would potentially visit while there and prepared accordingly.

  • Check what vaccines you need.
mekong river delta |almost getting it together

Me five years ago in the Mekong River Delta, not dying of malaria because I was prepared.

If bugs are bad where you are going (so, basically everywhere in Central/South America, Africa, or Asia), and you can get anti-malarial pills, do it. Something in them definitely helps keep bugs away. Also use a bug repellent with 40% DEET. I don’t care about the chemicals, I care about scratching myself to death in my sleep and how I look with shorts on.

Make sure you get booster shots. One polio shot in the US as a child is good, but in places where it hasn’t been eradicated, it’s probably a good idea to get it. Same with hepatitis A – you can get it from contaminated food/water, and last I checked, kidney transplants aren’t fun.

If you’re going to South America or Africa, you’ll need a yellow fever shot. You can also get a typhoid shot for Central/South America and Africa. Five years ago I was able to take pills for typhoid, but allegedly according to my doctor now it’s shot-only.

  • Find out if you need a visa.

This should be self-explanatory – see if you need a visa in any of the countries you are traveling in. If you’re a US citizen, it’s more likely you’ll need one than your foreign pals. Take visa photos (you can get them taken at any pharmacy) for any country where you get a visa upon-arrival.

Always make sure you have at least 1-2 completely blank pages in your passport as well as at least 6 months’ validation left. If you’re traveling and about to run out, you can stop by the American Embassy (you usually have to make an appointment) and get more pages added.

  • Pack snacks.

I know, I live in fear of being hungry. I pack snacks for the drive to work basically at this point in my life. You never know what the food options are going to be where you’re going – I kind of remember one Sunday in Italy where everything was closed, including the grocery store, and I was literally about to eat my arm I was so hungry. I only kind of remember because we finally found an open bar and a bottle of wine on an empty stomach with our new 80 year old friend Rocco really did me in.

I’m also a complete psychopath and pack oatmeal, nut butter packets, Kind bars, chia seeds and protein powder with me whenever I go anywhere. Then I know I at least have some nutrients in the form of fiber, protein and healthy fats. My family actually packed a suitcase full of American food for me every time they came to Hong Kong (then took back a suitcase full of crap I was over).

  • Get currency before you leave.

Third world countries are great at ripping you off with fees and awful exchange rates. Some countries I’ve visited, like Cambodia, take American money – but it has to be in PRISTINE condition because counterfeiting is rampant. If you give your bank enough notice, they can order any currency for you for free – you just pay the exchange rate.

Also – tell your bank you’re leaving or they’ll cut off your card.

  • Don’t flaunt your wealth.

Leave the good jewelry at home. I don’t care if you feel naked without your [insert jewelry here]. So do I, but I’d rather feel naked for a week or two rather than never see it again. There’s pickpockets everywhere, even in Pittsburgh, I’m sure, but you don’t want someone to cut off your wrist for your diamond tennis bracelet. Also it just makes you feel guilty. This tip is also especially good for Europe, especially Southern Europe. A gypsy once stole my grandmother’s wallet when we were in Barcelona (still hasn’t turned me off from My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding).

Chat with me:
Have you ever traveled to a Third World country? How did you prepare? Would you ever want to visit one?

Salted Caramel Chia Pudding

salted caramel chia pudding gluten free vegan | almost getting it together

Chia seeds are having a real moment. I personally love chia seeds, mainly because I have a fear of not getting enough omega-3s or fiber, and also a tablespoon of them can turn 1/2 cup of oatmeal into like 3 cups of oatmeal if you do it right. (Okay, maybe 2. Just add double the water). If you want to learn more about chia seeds (and seeds in general), Davida at The Healthy Maven had a great round-up of all thing seed.

Yes, if you live under the superfood rock, chia seeds are what makes chia pets. Also most things you should eat are plants so I don’t know why that scares you. Chia seeds also make pudding, without all the milk and sugar and crap JELL-O sticks in theirs (sorry, Bill Cosby). I’ve been seeing chia pudding everywhere and started craving it. I had a failed pumpkin chia pudding recipe… and then decided I wanted salted caramel pudding. I’ve been craving caramel pudding since I saw it on a post on Running with Spoons, but unfortunately caramel pudding does not exist in the US (or at least not in the greater Pittsburgh metro area grocery stores).

Even though this recipe looks time intensive, it seriously takes five minutes total. It’s kind of an overnight plus the whole next day sitting around waiting time, so start it before you go to bed (soaking the dates and almonds) then blend it all before you go to work/school/have a fulfilling life that doesn’t involve either of those (and then I’m extra jealous of your life and the fact you will be enjoying this delicious chia pudding). Make it for your next dinner party because it’s vegan, gluten free, paleo, raw – whatever, everyone can eat it unless they’re allergic to almonds.

salted caramel chia pudding gluten free vegan | almost getting it together

Topped with a little cocoa powder because life is short.

Salted Caramel Chia Pudding
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 cup almond milk, separated into ½ cups
  • ¼ cup raw almonds
  • ¼ cup dates, pitted
  • 3 tbsp chia seeds
  • ½ tsp fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp pink Himalayan sea salt (or normal sea salt)
Instructions
  1. Put almonds and dates in a small container and cover with water. Let sit overnight.
  2. The next morning, drain water from almonds and dates.
  3. Put almonds, dates, ½ cup almond milk and lemon juice into blender or food processor and combine until a liquid and no small parts remain.
  4. Put chia seeds in a container. Poor almond-date-almond milk mixture over chia seeds. Add remaining ½ cup almond milk. Cover and shake to combine.
  5. Let mixture sit at least 4 hours, or until chia seeds absorb all the liquid.
  6. Top pudding with sea salt and enjoy.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 4 Calories: 98 Fat: 5.5 Carbohydrates: 12.3 Sugar: 7.4 Sodium: 163 Fiber: 3.7 Protein: 2.9

 

Chat with me:
What’s your favorite superfood? How do you like to eat it?

Please, Eat a D**n Salad (and Giveaway Winners!)

matcha green tea muffins by one ingredient chef | almost getting it together

First off, I wasn’t even going to post today but it’s Angela‘s birthday so basically this post is homage to her. If I had never met Angela, this blog wouldn’t be in existence because she gave me the courage to start my blog and write about things I wanted to write about, not what I thought I should write about (hence why I never post about clothes anymore – I do that enough at work!). Ang, thanks for making me a better person you beautiful girl, you.

nutty for life angela | almost getting it together

Look at those tans!

Back on track: If you know me, or even know of me, as a person, you should know that I love green things. And by green things I mean vegetables. I truly, truly haven’t met a vegetable that I haven’t liked (other than white potatoes, ew). I know it’s probably super obnoxious to people who can go days without consuming a vegetable, but I honestly just like them. A lot. I grew up eating a ton of veggies, I dabbled in vegetarianism in high school and college – I’m that person who chooses what she’s eating based on sides rather than the main course.

I originally made what I lovingly referred to as a “basic b***h shamrock shake” (because come on, what food/healthy living/lifestyle blog/anything with print doesn’t have a shamrock shake redux somewhere in the past 16 days?) for Davida’s Green Food Link-Up but like, I couldn’t be that girl (sorry if you were that girl). Then I made my mint chocolate chip overnight oats and my life was basically changed.

Today, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I wanted to showcase some green recipes I’ve either tried and loved or want to try because I think I’ll love them. In my honor today, I’m asking you to eat a salad, and if not a salad, please just eat something green that is natural and not from food dye. I swear it won’t kill you.

 

Oh, and without further ado… here are some people who #gotlucky thanks to random.org number selection! If you won, please e-mail me your full name and mailing address to cpisone@gmail.com!

nunaturals giveaway rafflecopter| almost getting it together

Chat with me:
What did you do for St. Patrick’s Day this year? What is your favorite green food?

Mint Chocolate Chip Overnight Oats and a Giveaway [Closed]

mint chocolate chip overnight oats | almost getting it together

As usual, I’m behind the times on green recipes. Since my birthday falls 10 days before St. Patrick’s Day, clearly I have other priorities in March.

I had actually been craving a shamrock basic b***h shake (i.e. a mint flavored smoothie in my world) but when I made it I just felt… basic and unoriginal. Maybe I’ll still post it because it was pretty good but whatever. (Has anyone seen the nutrition facts on a real Shamrock Shake? Ew. Just ew. I saw them while looking one up to show Davida what they were).

Then it came to me – mint chocolate chip overnight oats. I remembered I had Peppermint NuStevia and had yet to try that flavor. I actually originally made this with just mint and it wasn’t minty enough. True peppermint extract scares me because of a peppermint extract overdose incident (if a recipe calls for 1/8 tsp of peppermint don’t increase it) so I was glad to have a little dropper that held me accountable.

This oatmeal was amazing. So good I had to text Angela to tell her. Honestly it’s vaguely scary looking – I’m kind of self-conscious about how my food looks anyway (#foodbloggerprobs) and I was really self-conscious of this guy. But whatever, get festive and make a jar now – they’ll probably be great hangover food on the 18th. (Off topic: for a while, a kale smoothie was my go-to hangover cure.) Plus – they’re gluten free and vegan!

Mint Chocolate Chip Overnight Oats

mint chocolate chip overnight oats | almost getting it together

Sorry these photos are dark – natural light is no joke.

Mint Chocolate Chip Overnight Oats and a Giveaway [Closed]
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 2 cups spinach
  • ½ large banana
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 sprig fresh mint
  • 5 drops peppermint NuNatuals Stevia
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened carob chips
Instructions
  1. Put spinach, banana, almond milk, cacao powder, fresh mint, and peppermint stevia in your blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Put oats and chia seeds in a jar and shake to combine.
  3. Pour blender mixture into jar.
  4. Add carob chips to jar mixture.
  5. Shake well to combine.
  6. Refrigerate overnight and in the morning, top with Greek yogurt or additional carob chips!
  7. Try not to be self-conscious of your breakfast.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Calories: 333 Fat: 10.4 Saturated fat: 3.2 Carbohydrates: 57.0 Sugar: 12.2 Sodium: 166 Fiber: 14.5 Protein: 12.5

 

Now you can #getlucky and win a NuStevia prize pack that includes the peppermint, cherry vanilla and lemon flavors! I’m giving away four prize packs and this is open WORLDWIDE. You’ll also get some NuStevia packets for sweetening on the go. If you don’t think you’re lucky, you can score 15% off your purchase with BLG0614 on nunaturals.com.

Now for the not so lucky part… I am not currently self-hosting and the free version of WordPress has some serious limitations, so you have to enter by going to the Rafflecopter page. I hope this doesn’t deter you from entering. Feel free to leave me a comment or shoot me an e-mail if you have any problems entering and I’ll help you out. This giveaway ends at 12:00 a.m. on Monday, March 17th so enter now!

The giveaway is sponsored by NuNaturals but all opinions and recipe creations are my own. I was not paid for this post.

Chat with me:
What was your most memorable (or least memorable… haha) St. Patrick’s Day ever?

What I Ate Wednesday [4]: Savannah and Birthday Eats

Zunzis Savannah Salmon Salad Zunzis sauce What I Ate Wednesday | almost getting it together

Incase you don’t follow me on Twitter or Instagram, I spent the past weekend in Savannah. The last thing in the world I was going to do was spend my 25th birthday in Pittsburgh.

In early February, I received an invite in the mail to an award ceremony for my aunt who lives in Savannah on my birthday and knew it was a sign (she was named a “Woman of Distinction” by the Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia – little known fact, my family, especially my aunt, is super involved with Girl Scouts). I immediately called my cousin Jaimie who lives in Atlanta and we quickly planned a trip.

Since we arrived late Thursday and spent a few hours talking with my aunt when we got to Savannah, we slept in. There was a ton of fresh fruit so I had my favorite breakfast for my birthday – lots of oatmeal with fresh fruit and Greek yogurt (not pictured).

gluten free oatmeal with chia seeds and fruit what i ate wednesday | almost getting it together

My grandmother and aunts all have the same dishes. No matter where I am, I feel like I’m at home!

There was a luncheon for the awards ceremony, but nothing was really gluten-free so I picked at some grilled chicken and veggies. Totally forgot to take a photo and also it wasn’t photogenic. t was at the same table as all of my aunt’s girlfriends, many of whom I have ran half-marathons with in Savannah or Disney, so it was definitely fun. My aunt also did an Ellen-style selfie on stage… and I realized my entire family is selfie-obsessed except me.

family | almost getting it together

I look totally out of place with my cousins and aunt because of my dark hair and skin. Was I adopted?

Afterwards, we decided to go downtown and do a little shopping at my favorite store in the world, Paris Market (more about that on Getting it Together on the Road: Savannah, coming soon). I was hungry – verging on hungry, really – so we stopped by Zunzis and I had my staple salmon salad and one of Jaimie’s falafels that honestly was maybe the best falafel of my life.

Zunzis Savannah Salmon Salad Zunzis sauce What I Ate Wednesday | almost getting it together

Salmon salad from Zunzis with a bite of falafel off to the side.

My Aunt Sherry is a huge runner (I ran my first half-marathon with her on my 21st birthday!) so she signed us up for a Shamrock 5K that ran through the squares of Savannah. I was a little disappointed during the Savannah Half-Marathon that the race didn’t go downtown but after running approximately one hundred corners, I understand why.

I started scheming and thinking I had a chance to place in my age group. Never before (besides the AEO 5K we had at work this summer) have I been in the front of the pack (okay, top 1/5th of the pack) in a race. Eating a salmon salad an hour and a half before was a bad idea (I know better but my hunger got to me) and I definitely felt it around mile 1.5 (despite running a 7:42 mile two). I didn’t place in my age group, but I was in the top 15% overall and top 6% of women so I’ll take it. Also this time is off because I did not cross the start line at the gun – I was definitely sub-26.

savannah shamrock 5k | almost getting it together

THIS TIME IS WRONG, SAVANNAH.

savannah shamrock 5k | almost getting it together

I proceeded to never warm up that night after taking off my gloves, ear band and jacket.

My aunt is also gluten-free and told me about this new restaurant that had gluten free pizza called My Your Pie (JK on the my pie, I’m glad I fact-checked that). Your Pie is basically the Chipotle of pizza – you choose your crust (white, whole wheat or gluten free) then whatever cheeses, veggies and meat you want. I never eat pizza anymore (besides my 10-Minute Gluten Free Pizza), so I was pretty pumped to eat pizza on my birthday. Then I had to indulge because it was my birthday and eat a kid’s sized gelato – half pistachio and half dark chocolate.

what i ate wednesday my pie gluten free pizza | almost getting it together

Gluten free pizza from Your Pie.

what i ate wednesday my pie gelato | almost getting it together

Birthday treat – gelato from Your Pie.

So basically on my birthday I ate a ton and felt totally guilty on Saturday and had to run it all off (kind of… before I proceeded to drink a ton of champagne). This was really different for me because I feel like for the past few years I’ve had to go somewhere fancy for my birthday with my family and this year I just wanted pizza so I had it. This is basically a break-through with me eating things because I feel like I should.

Full Savannah recap coming soon!

And of course, linking up with Jenn from Peas & Crayons for What I Ate Wednesday!

Chat with me:
Have you ever been to Savannah? What did you eat on your last birthday? Is your family as cool as mine?

Autumn Vegetable Fritatta

autumn vegetable gluten free fritatta | almost getting it together

I know autumn is long gone (unless you’re in the Southern hemisphere, then it is just on the horizon), but this is what a certain someone asked me to make when I asked what they wanted for breakfast. 

My mom used to make frittatas pretty often. I used to think they were so fancy, but they were her way of using up whatever vegetables were leftover in the fridge. I honestly hadn’t really made more than one or two before (that honestly were just failed omelets, so I was so surprised when this one turned out.

I probably would have used gruyere cheese (let me know if you try it with that), but the pepper jack gave it a nice kick. Plus, I add Cholula to anything savory that stands still so it gave me an excuse to use my favorite condiment and a little bit of avocado for some healthy fat on the side. I actually ended up eating a slice of this cold one morning when I was particularly snacky and knew I would be ravenous in an hour so I just wanted to nip the hunger in the bud.

Autumn Veggie Fritatta
Serves six

autumn vegetable gluten free fritatta | almost getting it together

Serve this for St. Patrick’s Day since it has some green in it… right?

autumn vegetable gluten free fritatta | almost getting it together

Gotta Fritatta.

Autumn Vegetable Fritatta
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 4 eggs
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 chicken sausage link
  • 6 oz pepperjack cheese, grated
  • ½ cup butternut squash, cooked
  • 8 oz shitake mushrooms
  • 4 cups spinach
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions
  • ¼ cup almond milk, unsweetened
  • 2 tbsp garlic
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
  • ¼ tsp crushed black pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat a sauté pan or a cast iron skillet on the stove on low heat.
  2. Add olive oil & garlic. Cook garlic until fragrant, about one minute.
  3. Add chicken sausage and cook about 10 minutes or until nearly fully cooked.
  4. Add mushrooms and cook until soft, about 10 minutes (because you're on low heat).
  5. While mushrooms are cooking, mix eggs, egg whites, grated cheese, almond milk, salt and both peppers in a bowl and set aside.
  6. Add spinach, green onions and squash and cook until spinach is wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Continue stirring to make sure veggies are well mixed.
  7. Add in egg, cheese and milk mixture. Turn up heat to medium.
  8. Let sit on medium heat until fully cooked, about 10-15 minutes.
  9. Set oven to broil and pop pan/skillet in for 3-5 minutes until top browns.
  10. Serve with salsa, avocado or whatever else you like with your eggs.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 6 Calories: 235 Fat: 15.1 Saturated fat: 7.6 Carbohydrates: 9.1 Sugar: 2.3 Sodium: 660 Fiber: 1.7 Protein: 15.4

 

autumn vegetable gluten free fritatta | almost getting it together

Look at all that vegetabley goodness.

 

Chat with me:
What’s your favorite way to eat eggs? What meal could someone cook to impress you?

Now Trending [3]

I had some cool ideas in my mind for a blog post on my birthday but alas, between traveling and work and life, things got ahead of me. Time spent on inevitable flight delays (will I ever be on a flight that is on time again?) has given me some time to catch up a little on my reading list and the ability to share some cool stuff with you.

Life
Aziz Ansari, one of my favorite comedians and star of one of my favorite shows, Parks and Recreation, is working on a book about love! He did what Aziz does best and took to Reddit to get some real-life stories on love.

Pittsburgh is 5th on the list of unhappiest places to work. Womp womp.

Ever wonder how you can live the life you love? Lorna Jane’s blog, Move Nourish Believe, has a cool spreadsheet to make you see what your priorities are versus what makes you happiest.

Food
Climate change is about to impact us all in a big way – the price of avacados might rise so steeply that Chipotle may stop selling guacamole. Say it ain’t so.

It’s Girl Scout Cookie season and if I was able to eat gluten, you know I would be all over a box of Thin Mints. Just kidding, I have exceptional self-control, I would have one then forget I ever bought them. But all kidding aside, I miss Thin Mints, so I’m going try this refined sugar, flour-free Thin Mints from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen.

Fun fact: when I was in high school, one summer after cross-country practice every day I would make chocolate chip pancakes. Thus began my love obsession with pancakes, breakfast and eventual weight gain (likely). I loved undercooked, battery pancakes and these Cookie Dough Chocolate Pancakes from Purely Twins look just like what the doctor ordered.

Watch
Iggy Azalea has been at the top of my running-list playlist for the past couple of months. I love when musicians make over classic movies for their music videos (Has anyone seen This Must be the Place by Miles Fisher?) and Iggy nails it with her rendition of Clueless.

Getting it Together Thursdays: Goals for 25

year of the snake Philippines bohol island | almost getting it together

Tomorrow I turn the big two five. I made the curve from early-twenties to mid-twenties (someone kindly told me last year 24 was mid-twenties so I took it). Every year I say “this is going to be my year”… and 24 definitely was not my year. I strangely think even numbered ages are bad for me (22 was alright, despite one pretty bad thing happening). Also according to the Chinese, the year you were born in (i.e. ox) is supposed to be a bad year for you. Last year was the Year of the Snake and I was born in the Year of the Snake so it makes sense.

year of the snake Philippines bohol island | almost getting it together

YEAR OF NOT GETTING EATEN BY A SNAKE. Philippines 2009, baby.

Anyway, 2014 is all about learning to set goals and figuring out how to achieve them. I think a mixture of 25 15 goals is attainable – some are little attitude or habit changes, others are things that are just perennially on my to-do list. Now that I have this blog about becoming an adult, I can check in on a goal or two each month so I’ll hold myself a little more accountable.

Note: I’ve been trying to think of 25 goals since January. I came up with 15. This gives me a little wiggle room and maybe I can find 10 new goals before I turn 26.

Goals for My 25th Year

Personal Goals

  1. My number one goal is actually not able to be posted up on my blog. If you know me, you probably know what it is. If you don’t, feel free to go to my About Page, send me an e-mail and ask.
  2. Go on a solo trip. I don’t want to be held back on adventures because I don’t have someone to go with. I actually already have this one planned – I’m going to surf camp in Nicaragua later this month! I want to be able to just go out surfing on my own (granted I’m by the ocean and not in Pittsburgh) so I figured the best way to really hone it is to go to surf camp.
  3. Get Italian passport. I’ve seriously been meaning to do this for like six years. I have Italian citizenship through my grandmother and it’s just a pain to deal with the Italian embassy. It’s in Philly, it’s open literally nine hours a week in total. My grandmother gave me the name and number of an attorney who will actually do all the paperwork for me – I seriously just need to get it together (pun not intended) and call. From my adventures in third world countries and desire to go to Cuba, sometimes traveling as a non-American has its perks.
  4. Run a marathon. This is the year I’ve finally decided I’m ready. If I don’t get in the New York City Marathon, I’m going to run the Savannah Marathon with my great aunt for her 70th birthday. I would have ran Pittsburgh but I’m running the DC Nike Women’s Half the weekend before and I really want to focus on doing well at that race.
  5. Take the GMAT. I’m not totally sure if I want to get my MBA yet, but just in case, this will be the year I take the tests
  6. Start/finish my novel. I used to think this was stupid and unattainable until I read The Happiness Project. If you write 1,667 words a day, you can have a short novel done in a month. I am going to self-publish and see if it goes anywhere from there.
  7. Go to Wanderlust/other yoga retreat.
  8. Read one book per month. 
  9. Start swimming again. I keep talking about it – I just need to do it.

Blogging Goals

  1. Redesign my blog for a more professional feel. Self-explanatory.
  2. Self-host my blog. Google Analytics would be nice.
  3. Aim for new content three times per week. I want to have new content more often that that, obviously, but I know for goal making you’re supposed to set attainable goals.
  4. Make a press kit. This is becoming my to-do list in a blog post.
  5. Apply for one new partnership opportunity/guest blog/free lance writing gig a month. If I want my blog to be successful, I need to put a little time and love into it!

Friends & Family Goals

  1. Spend meaningful time with my family at least once per month. I’m guilty of blowing my family off, screening calls because I’m busy or sitting at my grandparents house reading blogs. I seriously need to focus on them when I’m with them.
  2. Make time to talk to my friends. I am also guilty of saying I’ll call and never do. A lot of my friends live in different cities and are always there for me when I need them. I really need to make more of an effort to pick up the phone and talk to them every once in a while rather than texting.
  3. Reply to e-mails within 48 hours. Do you ever get an e-mail from someone and don’t want to respond right away so you can write a meaningful response and then totally forget to respond? Yeah, me too. I need to write a response, even if it’s short and sweet.

Today I’m linking up with Amanda from Running with Spoons for her Thinking Out Loud series since this post was basically me thinking out loud and I love reading her Thursday posts!

Thinking-Out-Loud running with spoons | almost getting it together
Chat with me:
What do you think of my goals? Do you make goals for yourself on your birthday – or New Years – or randomly?

What I Ate Wednesday [3]: 24 Hours in NYC

blueberry crumble overnight oats | almost getting it together

This past weekend, as part of my 6 week travel bender, I was in NYC. I was supposed to be in town a more substantial amount of time – 48 hours – but between a cancelled flight on Friday and changing my flight on Sunday because of the 1 millionth polar vortex of the year, I was in town for approximately 24 hours. It was for Carly’s birthday and I hadn’t seen her since Montreal so any amount of time was good time in my book.

The benefit of getting on an early morning flight last minute means you get upgraded to first class. I hadn’t sat in first class on such a short flight in such a long time (WOW I sound like a brat), so I forgot you get better snacks than peanuts or Biscoff cookies (not that I don’t love Biscoff cookies). Isn’t it annoying how on United you don’t even get any snacks? RIP Continental. Okay, flight rant over.

I didn’t eat anything from the snack basket but I did judge others around me for eating chips and Twix at 7:30 a.m. I had packed blueberry crumble overnight oats (recipe still being perfected, look for it soon). Yeah, I’m that freak who packs food for the plane. (#sorryimnotsorry) I did have a funny encounter getting off the train between terminals in Pittsburgh where a woman in sweats proclaimed, “I already smell ‘dem taters”. So basically my only airport breakfast option is McDonalds which clearly will never happen ever.

blueberry crumble overnight oats | almost getting it together

Overnight oats with a side of book and destroyed denim jeans.

After a short nap in NYC, I set out for a 10 mile run since the sun was shining and I knew #snowpocalapyse was upon me once again. I listened to two podcasts – both Dinner Party Download. About six or seven miles in I had half a coconut cream pie Larabar for a little extra fuel. I didn’t take a photo since I was running (obv) and I also think the other half is still in my jacket pocket. (The title of this blog is Almost Getting It Together, do you seriously expect more from me?)

coconut cream pie larabar | almost getting it together

Stolen coconut cream pie larabar photo from Larabar.com.

After my run, I set out on a mission to score Carly some much-needed birthday ginger ale and coconut water. The only store I know near her apartment is a Gourmet Garage so I made a huge salad to refuel incase she didn’t feel up to getting lunch.

gourmet garage salad bar salad  | almost getting it together

Huge salad: greens, grilled veggies, grilled chicken, artichokes & feta.

Before dinner I was obviously hungry again and Carly is the best and keeps yogurt at her place for me, so I had a yogurt with quinoa granola. The below photo is not the actual yogurt I ate because I forgot, but a yogurt from a few days before with blueberries.

 

yogurt mess | almost getting it together

Favorite thing to eat ever – yogurt with stuff on top.

We went to dinner at an Italian place called Morandi. I wanted yet another salad but since they couldn’t add protein and I knew I would be hungry in an hour without it, I went with lamb chops. They were a little heavy for me, especially because I had red meat already last week, but they were good. They came with roasted vegetables which definitely had bread crumbs which was totally unnecessary and not gluten-free friendly.

morandi nyc lamb chops | almost getting it together

Lamb chops from Morandi.

Later after we went to see Young the Giant in concert I had half a Kind chocolate and sea salt bar I found in my purse – craving chocolate, obviously.

Kind Chocolate & Sea Salt bar | almost getting it together

Stolen Kind Chocolate & Sea Salt bar photo from kind snacks.com

I vaguely feel like I don’t eat a balanced diet. Whoops. This is pretty decent for me when I’m traveling. Look for a post on how to eat healthy when traveling coming soon! (Monday night I ended up out late with Angela so it didn’t get written.)

Special thanks to Jenn from Peas & Crayons for hosting one of my favorite link-ups to read during the week!

Chat with me:
Have you been to NYC? Do you have any places you love to eat when you’re there?