Good bye 2008, Hello 2009

Wow, I can’t believe 2009 is here!!! ¬†That’s just crazy ūüėÄ

2008 was a really great year, full of delicious healthy eats, 8 of which I decided would be fun to feature in this post ūüėõ ¬†It was hard to select just a few, but I think these were especially tasty dishes that I can’t wait to make again one day (and you should too!). ¬†So here we go…

1. Chocolate and strawberry stuffed french toast for a delicious at home brunch that can be enjoyed guilt free

2. Peanut butter/chocolate chip pumpkin muffins – I still haven’t perfected my modification, but you should try Tina’s recipe and maybe add your own twist

3. Spinach artichoke dip – ever since I made it for the first time earlier this year, I’ve been asked to make it for every party. ¬†This recipe is really a winner!

4. Cider glazed roots with cinnamon walnuts РOMG, the best fall side dish!  Although (cheating a little bit here by referencing another recipe) brussels sprouts with parmesan cheese are a close second (and a lot easier to make on a week night!)

5. Mexican pizzetas – I threw this together trying to use up some leftovers in the fridge, but it was so good, it deserved a top 8 spot of this year’s eats!

6. Shepherd’s pie with sweet potatoes – simply incredible

7. Shrimp with orzo, basil and feta – I misread the recipe and only made myself a half serving. ¬†It took all the will power not to eat my husband’s portion too. ¬†I think I’m going to make this again very VERY soon!

8. Sweet-spicy glazed salmon. ¬†I just made this a few nights ago and my husband proclaimed that if he got this salmon at a fancy restaurant, he would not hesitate to go back. ¬†Now that’s the kind of review this girl loves! ¬†I substituted the Chinese-style hot mustard with 1/2 honey mustard and 1/2 dijon mustard and otherwise followed the recipe to the T. ¬†Amazing!! ¬†Here is a picture of one of the slices served over mixed greens. ¬†I had another slice for lunch over a very large salad and it was still as delicious as the night before. ¬†This is definitely the best salmon I’ve ever had (including any restaurant salmons!!).

Here is a picture of the note my husband made in the magazine next to the recipe.  How cute is that?! :)

***

With all the delicious healthy eats were many other delicious and very unhealthy eats but also many food frustrations and even a few tears (ok, a lot of tears!). ¬†Out of one of these food related tears of frustration, I think actually something positive came out … I realized that I am a chocoholic! ¬†I’ve said it before, but the other day I realized I really am one. ¬†I was at work, drinking my morning cup of coffee on Monday when a chocolate craving kicked in. ¬†Ok, nothing unusual here. ¬†I was planning on being very healthy that day, so instead of ignoring this very loud voice in my head, I cut myself a little piece of chocolate:

Then I found these things somewhere in the office and grabbed a few pieces…

Then I was passing by a box of chocolates and grabbed these babies:

Now you may say: “It’s hard to eat healthy during the holidays… it’s ok, you can have a healthy lunch and dinner, fit in a sweaty workout later in the day and move on.” ¬†Unfortunately, something in my brain just went off when I tasted that first cracker/chocolate thing above and I couldn’t stop eating everything in sight. ¬†Multiply the 2 pictures above by like 5. ¬†The rest of the day I was on a hunt. ¬†I kept on casually passing by the box of chocolates, grabbing one or two at at time and tasting them (I didn’t actually eat all of them because some of them weren’t that good… so I just spit them out at my desk and went back for more). ¬†I also went out of my way to hit up the little cookie tin with those homemade cracker/chocolate thingies. ¬†I don’t know what they were, they were incredible, but what I do know that it was hard to concentrate on doing real work when all I could think about was going back for more. ¬†I am a chocoholic, and like an alcoholic or a drug addict, once I have a little bit of chocolate (most of the time) I just cannot control myself any longer. ¬†I have to have all of it, in unreasonable amounts and guess what, then I’m too sick to work out, which prevents me from achieving my other fitness goals! ¬†So once I realized the reality of my chocoholism (laugh if you’d like but identifying this as such I think will actually help me this year) I’ve also come up with a plan. ¬†Ok, it’s not a plan, more like a rule: no more treats at work! ¬†This sounds restrictive, but you wouldn’t offer an alcoholic a glass of wine with lunch and expect them to go back to work like nothing happened. ¬†No, that means that offering me a piece of a little chocolate cookie or another chocolate treat may also prevent me from being productive for the rest of the day because I become a little animal and start searching the cupboards for more until I’m satisfied or come home crying and go to bed. ¬†Not much helps to stop this either – I remind myself of how great it feels to be healthy, how beautiful I’ll look when I get to my goal weight, how inspiring and motivating other bloggers are who can pass up on needless eating and stop eating when they’re full (and especially when they’re already sick from overeating) but I just can’t seem to stop! ¬†So yeah, that’s going to be the new rule, but I will allow myself splurges, but they’ll have to be calculated. ¬†I will also continue eating chocolate on daily basis in familiar combinations that have proven to be “safe” (as part of my breakfast trail mix or TJ’s 100 calorie packs, for example). ¬†And believe me, this will make for a much happier Elina so my blog should be more interesting too! :) ¬†Ok, I think that’s enough sharing of my crazy thoughts.. hope you’re still reading ūüėČ

New Year’s Eve Party

For NYE we had a few friends over. ¬†Since this post is getting outrageously long, I’ll just post some pics of the food spread. ¬†I munched on all these goodies all night. ¬†All our guests were happy :)

NYE food spread

The trivet is where the buffalo chicken dip went.  And here is my first bite:

Buffalo chicken dip

Rest of the food close-ups.   I guess we had a lot of random dips with chips.  Little crostinis with roasted red peppers/cream sauce, laughing cow cheese and pork tenderloin:

Pork crostinis

Tj's olive tapenade with crackers

TJ's olive tapenade

homemade hummus with baby carrots and pita chips

salsa and tortilla chips

Paradise bakery giant cookies

Blackberries

And I had some red wine and champagne, of course! :) ¬†It was a really fun night. ¬†I even played some Wii for the first time, even though we’ve had it for 2 years! ¬†Oh, and I got my butt kicked at Asshole, which we played just like in college. ¬†Nothing better than turning simple games into drinking games! ūüėČ

Now let’s move on to 2009 New Year’s Resolutions!

I’ve never really been a fan of New Year’s resolutions. ¬†I think most of us set goals for ourselves on continuous basis and try to achieve them as best as we can, but this year I thought it would be fun to actually put some goals on paper (kind of) and since I have a blog, you guys can all keep me accountable! ūüėÄ ¬†Here are a few food and fitness related resolutions…

Become truly Healthy AND Sane! ¬†The name of my blog is something I truly aspire to be. ¬†I have days when I’m healthy and days when I’m sane (and not healthy) but finding the balance between the two, I think is the key to my happiness. ¬†I have the most amazing husband, a good job and great friends and family, so this is the one thing that’s missing. ¬†This is a loaded resolution but I know I can do it. ¬†This means no mindless eating, truly enjoying every bite and in moderation when it’s a bit of a caloric indulgence. ¬†This also means continuing challenging myself physically (whether it’s at the gym or outdoors… more on that in my next goal) to keep myself in the best shape possible (and burning some of the calories of the inevitable brownies and chocolate treats).

Stop being scared of running outside. ¬†I’ve come a long way on the treadmill from not being able to run just one mile to running 8 and even holding back a little. ¬†I still don’t consider myself a runner, but I think I can get there, especially if I start running outside! ¬†This year, when it gets a little nicer (let’s not kid ourselves – beginning to run outside in the freezing cold is the best way to ensure I’ll never do it again) I want to do at least one run a week outside. ¬†The treadmill is great, but it’s unnatural. ¬†This will also help me with my next goal…

Race a 10K! ¬†I’ve run 3 times outside in the last few years. ¬†One of them was a 5K race last spring, during which I thought I could maybe die. ¬†Now mind you, I’ve run over double the distance by that time on the treadmill with no problems, but with the wind blowing in my face and random hills coming out of no-where, this was so challenging!! ¬†I finished in 28:42, which is not bad at all, but seriously it took everything out of me and I know it’s because I’m just not used to running outdoors. ¬†So since this year I will start incorporating more outdoor runs into my workout schedule, I should do better. ¬†I am going to sign up for another 5K during the spring, and eventually by the end of 2009 I want to do a 10K as well. ¬†One day (maybe 2010?) I really want to run a half-marathon, but I’m not there yet…

– Lastly – improve this blog! ¬†This blog is my baby. ¬†It makes me happy but sometimes it’s very time consuming and I get a little frustrated. ¬†It’s especially hard to post when I haven’t been healthy and I feel like a joke. ¬†This is supposed to be a healthy food blog, so why would you want to read it if I’m stuffing my face, right? ¬†This year, though, I really want to continue raising my baby blog, and hopefully it will grow into a beautiful, fit and healthy young lady ūüėÄ ¬†Wow, that was cheeseball! ¬†Ok, I want to grow into a beautiful, fit and healthy young lady. ¬†Let’s start with that and that should help with a better blog with a positive message. ¬†Writing posts when I’m healthy and happy is the best feeling. ¬†I want to share this feeling with everybody and motivate you all to get out there and make delicious healthy meals, run faster/further than you’ve ever run before, or do whatever else that gives off this high that cannot be replaced by anything else. ¬†I may try different methods and would love your feedback! ¬†I really miss my daily posts, so I think I have to go back to them. ¬†I may try to make them a little shorter, so I can still spend a little more quality time with my husband, but hopefully I’ll find the perfect balance and you guys won’t leave me writing to myself.

On that note, I want to wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year. ¬†Let’s kick some a$$ in 2009 and achieve our goals!!!

I’ll be back with a recap of today’s eats tomorrow morning :)

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