Lemon-garlic tilapia with warm lentils and mozzarella


Geez, what a title.  Though, I guess having a wordy, descriptive title makes me more legit…now I can hang with the other food bloggers.  Until they see my photos and kick me off the internet.  Crappy-camera-phone-in-my-poorly-lit-kitchen-pictures FTW.


It seems like each month I set goals that are really specific, which usually works fine, but this month I’m gonna be hella busy with last-minute wedding stuff (mainly because I haven’t done any actual planning until now…) so my goals for October are gonna be pretty loose.  Like, “you should eat better and exercise” kinda goals.  And by “eat better,” I mean “try not to inhale the twelve bags of cheesy-poofs Zack ordered online to sabotage my weight-loss goals.”

He actually did that.  What a dick.

That said, I’m gonna try and follow the Mediterranean Diet this month, and probably follow that diet in general as a lifestyle change.  This diet has everything I’m looking for…fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and seafood, poultry, and healthy fats like olive oil and nice cheeses.  Also, WINE.  Here are several scientific articles touting the benefits of the Mediterranean diet:

I posted links to *actual scientific articles* because, no offense, the average journalist knows jack-shit about science and the scientific method.

Image result for smelling fart cancer

Thought I was kidding, huh

Yeah.  Scientific illiteracy is a huge problem.  Buuuut people are jumping on the Mediterranean diet as a trend, or a fad, but in this case I’m gonna let it go because I believe the science is behind it.  This seems legit.  So today at the health food store, I find some puy (green) lentils, some marinated mozzarella, and some protein bars made out of crickets (those didn’t make it into this recipe), and I think “heyyyyyyyyy let’s have lentil salad for dinner.”

So.  Warm lentil salad, melty mozzarella cheese, and grilled tilapia came together for a high protein, high fiber meal.  Salmon would hold up well against the heavy texture of the lentils, but I didn’t have any salmon.  I had tilapia.  It worked anyway.  If you don’t have/like red wine vinegar, use another vinegar or lemon juice instead.  Use French herbs instead of Italian.  Make the tilapia spicy instead of mild.  It’ll work anyway.  =)

Lemon-garlic tilapia with warm lentils and mozzarella

Lemon-garlic tilapia with warm lentils and mozzarella


    For the lentils
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
    For the dressing
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp grainy mustard
    For the fish
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tilapia fillets
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper


  • Combine the broth, lentils, basil, oregano, and garlic in a saucepan and heat to boiling, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 40 minutes or until the liquid is cooked off.
  • When done, take the lentils off the heat. Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing, then mix into the lentils. Add a few marinated mozzarella balls, and heat (in the oven or on the stove) until they are melty.
  • Meanwhile, season the tilapia with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and cook in the olive oil over medium heat. When cooked through, add a splash of lemon juice.
  • Put the lentils and mozzarella on a plate...and put the fish next to them...and that's it.
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    Back in black

    Image result for mushu i live gif

    I wish I could say there have been no posts because I was climbing Everest, or doing a technology cleanse, or had to go underground while saving the world, Mission Impossible-style.  Instead, blogging the last four months has been more like this:

    Image result for nah i don't really feel like it gif

    Between planning a wedding, having a bit of summertime sadness, and being good-old-fashioned lazy, posting about stuff just didn’t happen. Plus, it was hella hot outside.  Bleh.

    But…here we are at the start of fall, which is also the start of race season for people who live in hot states.  I’ve got 5ks, bike rides, and a regatta coming up quickly, and I’m excited to share that with you!

    I’ve also got recipes for fall soups, portable lunches for time-crunched days, and a (slightly) healthier option for when you’re craving pizza.

    Not to mention my wedding, my dogs, and my favorite holiday, HALLOWEEN!!!!!  October is bout to be poppin.

    Image result for autumn funny gifs

    Long story short…I missed you guys.  Let’s do lunch sometime.

    Reflecting on May and setting goals for June

    Woooo!  May is almost over.  In my neck of the woods, that usually means we swing our attention from tornadoes to heat stroke, which I’m actually okay with.  Tornadoes are super stressful.

    Look at these smug bastards. I bet they didn’t even poop their pants.

    I wanna take a few minutes and reflect back on the last month and the choices I made, and apply that knowledge to June.  There’s something special about starting a goal on the 1st of the month, so let’s make some solid plans and start June off right!

    3 things I did in May that I’m proud of:

    1. I bought a cookbook (which is rare for me) and cooked many of the recipes.  We had a lot of fun dinners and I liked the structure of knowing what to cook next as I went down the list of tasty-sounding recipes.
    2. I had a weekend with—count em—FOUR social engagements, and I didn’t flake out and cancel any of them!
    3. Even though I’ve been working on this blog since February, I was really nervous about showing it to anyone.  A few days ago I took the plunge and posted it on Facebook…and the response from you all has been overwhelming.  I had nothing to fear!  Thanks for being so awesome, you guys.

    3 things I did in May that maybe I shouldn’t have:

    1. No lie, I’ve been on a junk food bender for about three weeks now.  It’s awful.  I feel awful.
    2. I flaked out on exercise far too often, usually using bad weather as an excuse.  In reality, I could have done yoga, body weight circuits, or used my rowing machine because those are all indoor activities.
    3. I let politics and current events stress me out.  It’s great/necessary to be well-informed, but I found myself seeking out inflammatory news articles and raging silently to myself…which helped no one.  I didn’t channel that energy into something constructive like activism so it served no purpose except to work myself up, and I wasted a lot of time and energy stressing.

    Goals for June:

    First things first, let’s clarify the language I use: your goal is the end result that you hope to achieve (e.g., weigh X pounds, squat Y pounds, feel confident in a swim suit, get your diabetes under control).  To achieve those goals, you decide to take certain actions (start a running program, join a gym, practice body-confidence, eat a well-balanced diet).

    Goal setting board

    The finished product

    After reflecting on the past month, I chose some goals and wrote them down onto a giant dry-erase board that I keep in my living room (so front, center, and impossible to ignore).  My goals for the month of June are to lose 4 pounds, be able to do 10 real push-ups, feel better about my diet, and improve the photography on my blog.  health goals for juneThen, I decided on several actions I’ll take to achieve those goals, and sorted them into three areas: fitness, nutrition, and personal stuff.  Each category has two primary actions that I intend to deliver on every single day, and then a few more supplementary actions that I aim to try and complete, but aren’t super critical to reaching my goals.

    Fitness Goals for Junefitness goals for june

    Running and boot camp classes at my gym will help me lose weight, and the boot camp will also help me improve my push-ups.  In addition, I’d love to do activities like riding my bike or walking my dogs, and those activities will bring me closer to my weight-loss goals but aren’t necessary on their own.  I’ll focus on completing the first two actions, and the others are secondary.

    Nutrition Goals for Junenutrition goals for june

    I’ve found that if I focus on the things I can’t eat (pizza, sugar, Taco Bell), I crave them more.  Instead, I want to focus on what I can eat by increasing the servings of vegetables I get each day.  I don’t feel nearly as deprived when I think like that.  Also, alcohol is expensive, unnecessary, and full of empty calories, so I’m going to cut back to 2 or 3 drinks a week that I’ll carefully measure out.  Additionally, I’ll try to keep up on fruit, water, tea, and spices, and to limit the added sugars that I eat.

    Personal Goals for Junepersonal goals for june

    Whenever I start to feel all worked up about politics or things outside my control, I’m going to direct that energy into either: 1) completing an online certificate program (LMU) that I started for my job, or 2) learning how to improve my photography skills.  There are many other side projects I’m working on, including a Spanish program, keeping up on my chores, planning my wedding, and tanning a deer hide that I’ve had in my freezer for a while.

    …I’m not a serial killer, I swear…

    Ha ha ha. But really, I’m not.

    Morbid jokes aside, I’m really looking forward to June.  I challenge you all to set some goals for next month and come up with several concrete actions to help accomplish them.  Let’s push ourselves, and be accountabili-buddies!
    Post your goals in the comments and let’s start June off right!

    How to make morning workouts not suck

    This might surprise you, but I’m a morning person.

    *Whispering* “Can it be? A bitchy morning person?”

    30 Rock is possibly the best show ever made

    Yes my friends, it’s possible!  In fact, if I don’t work out pretty early, it’s just not gonna happen.  By the time I get home from work I’m tired and hungry, and the middle of the day is just stupid.  Here are my tips and tricks to working out like an early bird:

    Make your workout plan.  I know it’s cliche but failing to plan is planning to fail.  Don’t try to decide on a workout at 6 am…because you’ll decide to go back to bed.  Make a plan the night before: weights at the gym?  45 minute bike ride?  Cardio dance DVD in your living room?

    In fact, have a plan A, B, and C.  Why?  Because it’s all too easy to wake up, see that it’s raining, and go back to sleep because you wanted to go running.  That exact thing happened to me recently when it was tornado-ing outside, and I moved on to plan B: row machine for a half hour.  Only guess what???  My legs were extremely tight and sore from yard work, and I knew I couldn’t do 30 minutes without hurting myself.  So I moved on to plan C: 15 minutes rowing, followed by 15 minutes light yoga and foam rolling.  Boom!  I got in my half hour and felt great the rest of the day.

    Put your clothes out.  Now that you have a plan, get all your crap ready the night before.  What I pack in my gym bag (if applicable) depends entirely on how I’ll be exercising.  My examples:

    Running around the block–>Lay out workout clothes and run first thing.  Shower at home.  Dress for work at home.

    Weights at the gym–>Shower at home first thing.  Wear workout clothes to the gym.  Dress for work at the gym (pack work clothes).

    Cardio at the gym–>Wear workout clothes to the gym.  Shower at gym (pack all my shower stuff).  Dress for work at the gym (pack work clothes).

    See?  The prep scenarios are different based on my workout.  So make your plan, then set everything out the night before so you can grab-and-go.

    Make your food.  Again, go off your plan.  I eat before and after weights, but only after cardio (eating before makes me sick).  I might take a LaraBar, protein shake, some frozen waffles with peanut butter, or a fruit smoothie with me to the gym.  If you can make it the night before definitely do so, but otherwise make sure your ingredients and utensils are set out so you don’t waste time looking for a shaker ball, etc.

    Find motivation.  Normally, I roll out of bed, get dressed, and am three streets away before I really wake up and am coherent.  My morning routine was totally devoid of motivation, but it never occurred to me that I needed any.  All that changed when I found The Rock Clock.  The Rock

    The rock fanny pack

    Yep, this one

    designed an alarm clock app that allows you to set a goal, and when the alarm goes off your goal is displayed.  There’s also a motivational video or saying from The Rock himself that you can play as you get up and get ready.  And the best part of all, you can choose a funny alarm, like The Rock singing to you or kittens meowing.  It might sound dumb, but the last several days I’ve been awoken by Dwayne Johnson crooning to “get my ass out of bed,” then read the words “lose ten pounds” on my phone, then watched as he lifted crazy weights…and I’m so freaking motivated to exercise.

    You don’t have to use The Rock Clock if that’s not your jam, but try putting a motivational quote or picture where you’ll see it first thing.  Find an image, song, or whatever to focus on right when you wake up, and doing the actual work goes sooooo much smoother.

    Alright, that’s all I have for morning exercise.  What do other early birds think?  Are any night owls gonna try this out?  Let me know in the comments!

    Rugged Maniac Obstacle Course 5k

    Rugged Maniac 5k obstacle course

    Like many of you, I suffer from a lack of intrinsic motivation.  Half my brain says, “eat a kale salad before your arteries completely solidify,” while the other half of my brain is like

    One “trick” I use to keep myself motivated to exercise regularly is to sign up for something really fun or challenging, like a race.  Having a deadline looming, plus not wanting to completely embarrass myself, makes a HUGE difference in my habits.  When my alarm wakes me up balls early it’s much easier to get out of bed knowing that I have a 5k in two weeks.  Enter: the Rugged Maniac.

    Motivation-bonus aside, this race was SO MUCH FUN.  Mud pits!  Water slide!  Jumping over fire!  Climbing nets!  There were 25 obstacles spread over a 3-mile course, and it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time.  I felt like a little kid playing in the mud.

    Rugged Maniac 5k obstacle course

    Me being a goofy goober

    Rugged Maniac 5k obstacle course

    Some lady about to eat it!!!!!

    Rugged Maniac 5k obstacle course

    Not actually a picture of me, but we can pretend

    The running part was actually the easiest, and you mostly just jogged between obstacles.  The obstacles themselves were a good mix of upper- and lower-body exercise, which really surprised me.  I expected a big emphasis on the upper-body (like monkey bars, rope climbs, etc.) which is my weakest area, but most obstacles were full-body (like low crawls under barbed wire, or climbing up a net).

    I’m definitely going to do this race again, and next year I want to complete every single obstacle.  Training-wise, I think Crossfit-esqe exercises are the way to go.  Beyond just strengthening my upper body with weights, I’ll incorporate more dynamic and practical movements, such as push-ups, pull-ups, monkey bars, and rope climbing (lolz, we’ll see).  Instead of running flat trails, I’ll add in sprints and jumps to get my lower-body used to variable movements.

    I think what’s great about these types of races is how they level the playing field.  With an obstacle course, fast runners are slowed by the mud, dude-bros are forced to do cardio, the lady that skips leg day has to charge up a hill with only her legs…I never felt self-conscious of my race time or ability to do an obstacle, since pretty much everyone was struggling.

    TL;DR: This was the most fun I’ve had in a long time, and someone with medium fitness abilities (me!) could have a blast.  Sign up today!

    Caprese Bites recipe//pruning basil plants

    caprese bites

    Every gardening guide I’ve ever seen has recommended basil, and for good reason.  It loves full sun (so you won’t accidentally scorch it), it’s hard to kill, there’s a ton of varieties, and best of all, it tastes amazing.  I think all cooks and gardeners, noobs or otherwise, would benefit from growing basil.  Word to the wise: you gotta prune it.basil

    Like, wrecking your plant will make it grow bigger.  I know!  It’s so scary!  Won’t that give me less basil?!

    Nope!  Basil is like Hydra (the monster, not the Marvel universe organization), and when you cut off a head, more grow back in its place.  The key is, you can’t pluck random leaves; you gotta break off a stalk at a break point.

    pruning basil

    it’s hard to see, but there are three large stalks converging, and I’m pruning one

    Pruning like this every once in a while will get your plants huuuuuuuge.  The problem is, what are you gonna do with that random ass stalk of basil you just plucked?  It’s usually not enough to make pesto, and basil is a pretty strong flavor for a traditional garnish.  Well friends, when life gives you a strange amount of basil, make caprese bites.

    caprese bites

    look at these beauties…drool

    I’m a loser and don’t like to eat tomatoes excepts sauces and spreads (it’s a texture thing), but I love the flavor of sun-dried tomatoes.  This recipe is super simple, takes about 10 minutes, and makes an impressive appetizer.  Or, you know, side dish for those nights you’re having wine for dinner.

    Fresh Basil Caprese Bites

    Serves 2 for dinner, 4 for an appetizer; 10 minutes

    • 1 loaf skinny French baguette
    • sun-dried tomato pesto (I only found small jars, and used about half)
    • fresh mozzarella
    • fresh pesto
    • olive oil for drizzling

    Pre-heat the oven to 350.  Slice the baguette into pieces about 3/4 of an inch wide.slicing baguette

    Spread each piece with a generous amount of the pesto.sun-dried tomato pestopesto on bread

    Place small pieces of the mozzarella onto each slice.  We found these great little cheese balls that we cut in half, and the two halves fit next to each other on a single slice.


    each packet has three cheese balls

    mozzarella on pesto and bread

    each slice has two balls hehehehehehehe

    Next, place the pan of bread slices into the oven for about five minutes, or until the cheese is melted.  Top each with a basil leaf, and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.

    caprese bites

    Voila!  Instant impressive adult meal

    These are so simple, but unbelievably good.  Basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella are a classic combination that’s sure to impress your neighbors or your mom or your cat that’s used to seeing you eat dry cereal straight out of the bag.  Whatever.  No judgments.

    So get off your ass, get those basil plants growing big and strong, and make apps like this in the meantime.  Happy Sunday!