My Happy Place

I have an announcement: Los Angeles is my happy place.

…and not just because it was 78 degrees today, sunny, and the beginning of a 4 day weekend.

LA is my happy place because no matter what is going on I cannot look outside and NOT be happy. This city just makes me feel so calm and at ease. I’ve literally never been this relaxed and satisfied in my life.

It also helped that even though I went out last night I still got to my early yoga class. There really is no better way to start a weekend. I was the only person in class (!) so I got extra attention and let me tell you, there was a lot of hip cracking.

And then I did this for the first time…

Source

No, that’s not me. And yes, I did this against a wall. But it was an exciting first. I don’t have killer abs because, lets face it, who has that kind of dedication to core work? Not me! Doing my first headstand was pretty awesome. I had a total yoga high after this posture and and amazing meditation. I felt like I was floating on air all day.

Yesterday was a beautiful day too! I went on a great 5 mile run. The sun was out and the miles flew by. After I come home and stretched out I put “blendy” to good use by making a green monster.

In the mix we have two handfuls of spinach, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, a spoonful of Greek yogurt and pineapple.

So fresh and so green.

After chocolate milk, this is my favorite recovery drink. Literally, its like drinking a slightly sweet creamy salad. I feel like a green machine.

Speaking of green machine… another reason today was awesome? White wine orzo with kale, asparagus, and lemon.

I made a garlicky white wine sauce, like this. While the sauce was simmering I added asparagus and kale. Then I combined with orzo and topped with a little bit of squeezed lemon and Parmesan.

When I opened my fridge I really just wanted something light, fresh and veggie packed and this dinner totally delivered. And it only took about 10 mins. Kale is my new favorite add in for any pasta dish and when its cooked in the white wine sauce it loses a bit of its bitterness and tastes so good. It’s a super food don’t you know!

Phew.

and finally,  Amanda and Andy are doing What I wore this week and in its honor I present…

What I wore this week: Going Out Edition.

Yesterday night Danielle and I went to bar review at BLVD 3 in Hollywood. For those who don’t know, Bar Review is a bar event that the law school hosts every Thursday night. No Friday class obvious equals dirty gin martinis. For the occasion I dressed up a little bit:

Top: The bebe outlet for $8 because it had a button missing which I reattached. Great deal!

Bottoms: J Crew matchstick jeans

Earrings and necklace: Express

Clearly it’s all about the shoes…

Shoes: from Buffalo Exchange which, like, the best place on earth for bargains. I got an INSANELY (read: 100’s of dollars) marked down Catherine Malendrino dress with the tags still on today. Love.

And that is that! I’m still rocken’  a yoga high from class and I am looking forward to a nice long weekend!

Do you have any weekend plans? Do you have a long weekend?

Moroccan my world

Yep. I went there. Ha ha.

I have been dying to recreate this Moroccan tofu dish since last October when I went to the Nasoya Tofu event. You might remember that I downed about 9 spoonfuls and it ignited my liking of tofu. I would say love but let’s not lie, I’m still warming up to tofu. Anyway, the other night I remembered that Nasoya posts all the recipes on their website and I decided it was time to make Moroccan tofu.

It all starts with the sauce: honey, orange juice, cinnamon, cumin, salt and pepper.

Saute carrot and onion in canola.

Mixed with golden raisins, green olives, and cubed tofu.

Add the sauce and simmer.

While all the tofu simmering was happening I made whole wheat cous cous. Why? Because it’s quick and easy. After letting it simmer I added the cous cous and served with raw blanched slivered almonds.

Reunited and it feels so good!

It was a bit weird eating this in a bowl and not off of a tiny spoon. It was also a little sweeter than I remember (I only have creamed honey so maybe that was the difference). The sweetness of the honey sauce is broken up by the raisins and the green olives. The almonds on top were crunchy and gave this dinner a little something extra. The tofu was small and, lets face it, drenched in orange and honey so what was there not to like?

You should make it too! Here is the recipe!

Stylish Blogger Award

I was recently tagged for a Stylish Blogger Award by Kate and Madeline! Thanks for tagging me 🙂

And now I am supposed to tell you 7 things you probably don’t know about me! Here we go…

1. The first thing I ever “wanted to be when I grew up” was a meteorologist.

2. I was obsessed with US Weekly when I was in high school and I read it religiously every week.

 

here is an example of an US weekly I actually remember READING

source

3. My favorite book is “To Kill a Mockingbird” but I also love everything written by Jhumpa Lahiri, especially the Namesake.

Source

4. When I was in college I was on the Student Government Executive Board for two years. I served as Student Affairs Officer and VP! E board 06-07 and 07-08 represent!

5. My favorite TV show of all time is “Arrested Development”. I can reference it at the drop of a hat.

6. I didn’t strictly go to law school to become a lawyer. Crazy, I know. After working on social psychology and policy research surrounding race and education I wanted to go to law school to learn about critical race theory, civil rights, policy, government, and law. I love law and fully expect to practice but I also love government and policy. At heart, I still consider myself to be a social scientist and I want to have a long career crossing many different fields.

7. When I was in high school I once sneaked an entire lunch from Burger King complete with a large drink into a movie theater. I was a wild child.

Well, that’s that! I hope we all learned something new. I’m supposed to tag 15 bloggers but I feel like everyone I read has been tagged… but I will tag

Lea at Healthy Coconut

Melissa at Trying to Heal

new additions

Say hello to a new addition to the Left Coast Contessa kitchen…

It’s a mini blender! I am taking suggestions for a name. The most creative thing I could think of was “blendy”. Yep, because I’m uber creative. I’ve wanted a blender for a while but I don’t have that much room and I wanted to make sure I got a good deal. I research this one online and ordered it online from Kmart and was able to pick it up same day in store. Also, because I ordered and paid for it online it was 10% off. Major savings. The ability to pick it up in store is really nice because I hate paying for shipping.

This blender is only large enough for one drink. It only has one setting and the blender doubles as a to go cup! It can’t be used in a dish washer but hey that’s ok because I don’t have one.

I had a late class last night and afterwords I made a little pick me up: a pineapple ginger smoothie. I adapted this from this months Everyday Food. I love Everyday Food. It has great recipes and they print nutritional information. I combine frozen pineapple, crystallized ginger (for a tiny bit of added sweetness), unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and a spoonful of Greek yogurt.

And I mixed it up!

Fantastic smoothie!

I love pineapple and I wasn’t sure I would be able to find it frozen but TJ’s delivered like it always does. The ginger gave the sweet pineapple a little bit of bite and the yogurt gave the smoothie a thickness.

I will be making this again and I foresee many more smoothies happening in the near future. I reallllllllly want to make a Green Monster. Maybe tomorrow after my run 🙂

There is another new addition to the blog!

Amanda and Andy have added a feature to their blog called What I wore this week. I’m a little shopping obsessed so I love the idea of doing a little fashion spot light. Sadly, unlike Amanda and Andy, I don’t have anyone to take a picture of me, you know, until I can teach Iz how to work a camera. But I still tried!

Top: Wilster (bought from Haute Seconds on Wilshire in West LA)

Bottoms: J Crew Matchstick jeans

Shoes: Michael Kors Silver Flats (bought second hand at the Buffalo Exchange in Westwood)

And now we all know whether or not my bathroom is clean! I like playing with proportions and pairing a loose top with a pair of skinny jeans.

Awesome idea Amanda!

I am beat! Hope you all had a good hump day 🙂

garbanzo bean flat tops

Lesson learned: always check your school email. I had one class canceled yesterday and I came to school fully expecting to be in class right now but ANOTHER class was canceled. Its pretty fantastic! Yesterday was especially nice. Because I planned out my workouts before classes started I am taking this week to see if I can make all the workouts and if its do able. Yesterday I went to an awesome morning yoga class. Because my first class of the day was canceled there wasn’t any time pressure and I was able to make sure that there was ample time to get home, shower and eat lunch before I have to go to school.

The yoga class itself was amazing! There were some elements of power yoga but for the most part it was just gentle stretching which my body needed. During meditation the teacher came around and gave shoulder massages with lavender oils. I will definitely be going back to that class on a weekly basis. Not only was it a great class but  I really enjoyed starting my week with some mind clearing yoga and meditation.

Last night I tried  a new meal: garbanzo bean flat tops. I adapted it from Super Natural Cooking.

I started by taking 1/2 of a can of garbanzo beans washing them, and combining them in the food processor with 1 egg, and sea salt.

Mix in the food processor until it has the consistency of hummus

Then combine in a small bowl with a small handful of cilantro, 1/3 cup panko, a small amount of lemon zest, and 1/4 cup onion, diced. Stir the ingredients together until well combined.

Let sit for two mins and then shape the mixture into 4 mini patties.

Prepare a large skillet by heating it to medium low heat. Use 1 tablespoon canola oil in the pan. Let it heat up and then add the patties.

Let the patties brown and then flip over. It’s important to keep an eye on the patties so that they don’t burn. It took about 5 mins for each side to brown.

Then, one they are off the heat top them off with the toppings of your choice! Avocado would be tasty but I was out so I used cheddar cheese (I peeled it with a vegetable peeler) and spinach.

I paired the flat tops with a side of baked sweet potato “chips”

I also saved one which I just enjoyed for lunch. Yes, it does heat up well! Which is good because I’m back in school and on campus dining option leave a lot to be desired. Can I also tell you about my flat top obsession? I haven’t prepared a sandwich with a top in a couple of months. Who knows why. I just prefer my sandwiches topless!

I’m off to do readings. I forgot how much time actually goes into law school readings. Whoops.

Hope you’re having an awesome Tuesday!

the best fitting room moment ever

Today was the last day of my vacation. I got to read the New York Times, relax and most excitingly go shopping. I went to pick something up at Kmart (which you will get to see next week!) and I was right across the street from The Grove so I decided to stop in and shop. Immediately after I stepped out of the parking garage I saw JCrew and had to stop in. If you know me at all you know I have a J Crew obsession and I also had some Christmas money.

I browsed around the sale section and other areas of the store admiring all of the cute Spring clothing. I hesitated for a second above a pair of pants but decided to try them on anyways. I recently went through my closet and took out everything that didn’t fit. This included all of my pants that weren’t jeans so as you can imagine I have a bit of a hole in my wardrobe.

And then the greatest fitting room moment ever happened.

Size 4 pants. Size small top. Bam.

When I first made the choice to live a healthier lifestyle I didn’t really have a set goal in mind. I knew I wanted to be healthier and more active. I knew that, by doing so, I would lose weight and along the way I had some ideas about what a number might be. I gave up the idea of a scale number a while ago when I got rid of my scale.

Of course, when setting out on anything there are public goals and private goals. From the time I first started my healthy lifestyle I had an idea about a size number I wanted to see if I could achieve. I only told a handful of people and I didn’t put too much emphasis on it throughout the past year but it was always in the back of my mind. I knew that I would ONLY do what was healthy for me and thus the number might not be attainable. If my body settled at a bigger size than so be it. I’m not on a “diet” so it wasn’t the finish line and I didn’t even know if it would be achievable. I didn’t want to set myself up to fail (what I perceive to be the problem with “diets”) and thus I was totally OK if I never hit that number.

Well, it is. I went from an 8 (lets not lie for the sake of vanity, my pants were really tight) to a 4. It was the best fitting room moment ever and I will not lie, I’ve had a lot of bad fitting room moments.

Like last March when I though for sure I’d lost a pant size only to realize that my thighs hadn’t lost any weight. Or trying to fit my arm holes into sleeves that didn’t fit. Or trying on a pair of pants only to realize that the pants wouldn’t go up past my knees. We’ve all had those moments, haven’t we?

Any ways, I put the above outfit on and paraded out of the fitting room and examined myself in the main mirror and told the lady working in the fitting room about my weigh loss. It was awesome and I celebrated with a latte. I was the same size (or forced myself to believe I was the same size even though I was really a bigger one) for so long. It’s weird to think I’m not that person anymore. And truly, I’m not that person anymore. Bigger Katherine didn’t run half marathons, she didn’t take good care of herself and she was always hoping something would change but I never took action. I won’t harp on it too much since I posted on almost the same topic a few weeks ago but I am so happy today for all I have worked for.

On that positive note: I made a delicious, healthy and vegan (I love when that randomly happens) dinner. I was inspired by the stir fry I made the other night and came up something easy: Avocado Fried Rice.

I cooked a little over 1/3 of a cup short grain brown rice.

I’m buying all my grains in bulk and transferring them into plastic bags. I know it’s terrible for the environment but its a new system and I plan on reusing the bags.

While the rice was cooking I prepared bok choy.

I ended up chopping up 3 stalks but not before finding a stow away…

I actually wasn’t too freaked out by this… hey at least I know its fresh. I put the little guy outside and continued on.

Once the rice was done I cooked up the bok choy…

Added the rice

and topped with an appropriate amount of soyaki (>2 tablespoons).

Now here is the truly genius part. This is just a plain, actually rather boring stir fry until we top it off with THIS:

Half of an avocado. You might ask, what does this add? An appropriate response would be “what doesn’t this add?!” The avocado was super creamy and fresh tasting. Nothing makes something light and creamy and delicious like an avocado. This is a different variety of avocado than I typically buy. I was told that the type is Fuerte by the man at the FM and that it would taste “buttery”. Um, sold! It was very buttery and delicious. Normally I don’t buy avocado because I just don’t use it that frequently and it goes bad fast once cut into but I see many more fuerte avocados in the near future. This meal was good, cheap, quick, easy and the creaminess of avocado and the soyaki flavor together were very interesting!

Tomorrow is my first full day back at school. I don’t have class until almost 2 so I have morning yoga planned. As for right now I’m going to eat some delicious homemade biscotti (because I have awesome friends who just send me delicious baked goods in the mail) and watch Desperate Housewives. Side note: my spell check doesn’t know biscotti. How is that even possible?  Hope you’re having a good night!

scenes from a lazy Saturday

How was your Saturday? Mine was lazy. I start back to school on Monday so I spent today chilling out and it was awesome.

I started my day with an amazing bowl of oats which included delicious crystallized ginger. Putting the ginger in the oats was great because they have a little bit of sugar which sweetened up the oats a bit. I love me some crystallized ginger!

I added some unsweetened coconut to the oats also because I have a ton left over from my baking adventures. I love the unsweetened coconut. The ginger was already sweet so I didn’t want any more sugar in my breakfast.

Tasty! This will be a repeat breakfast. I love the crystallized ginger because you get the ginger flavor but its slightly less pungent.

After breakfast I went to the Farmers Market which was hopping today.

I’ve been doing a great job of meal planning since I got back from Chicago. Going with a set list helps me stick to the plan and avoid purchasing oddities like this humongous cauliflower…

I had a number of things to purchase. I also had to get eggs. I always buy local and un caged organic eggs.

I like to know that the chickens are “happy chickens that like to hang out in their area”. I’m also debating switching to local butter and local meat. I don’t often buy meat so I think local organic meat might be a good upgrade.

I also was delighted to find and new snack at TJ’s:

Mini wheels of brie?! Yes please! I enjoyed this with a few pretzels and it was just enough cheese. Thank you Trader Joe’s!

After lunch I went on a 7.35 mile run. I haven’t run more than 5 since before winter break and it felt good to get out and got for a nice long run. I went faster than I did for my 5 miler on Thursday and it felt great! I feel really good about this upcoming year in races. Should be a good year in running! I stuck to my training plan (for the most part) this week. I didn’t totally keep it but that’s OK because I was sick and I was getting back into serious running after a break. Overall I logged 16 miles and it feels good to be back!

Tomorrow is my last day of vacation. I plan to run a few necessary errands and relax and enjoy my Sunday New York Times!

Hope your weekend is groovy too 🙂

 

give tofu a chance

Its no secret… I’m warming up to tofu.

Let me explain.

The first time I had tofu was when I was probably 10. It was at Kama Kura in my hometown and I was chowing down on some sweet miso when I encountered some little tofu bits. Tentatively, I bit into one. I did NOT like what I tasted. I took personal offense to the texture and didn’t like the flavor (no offense to Kama  Kura). Since that time I have been adverse to tofu.

I started to take baby steps back to tofu at a Nasoya event last October. I tried tofu creations that were tasty and that I could re create on my own. I definitely felt myself warming up to tofu. In the past few months, while I didn’t actively buy any tofu I tried it at Akira and several other restaurants. Finally, last week, I got the guts to buy and cook tofu.

This is not a recipe post because I didn’t attempt anything fancy. I made a stir fry that any old person can make. I probably oversauced it with soyaki (Bartol style for all of those Simmons alums out there). And I have to say that I enjoyed the tofu prepared this way. It was light, but filling.

I think the key was marination.

Short on veggies. I added garlic, egg, broch, bok choy and red onion (one of these things isn’t like the other).

It was colorful and pretty until it was soyakied within an inch of its life. I blame it on my apprehensiveness when it comes to tofu (which is dissipating).

I mixed it with short grain brown rice. I just discovered the bulk section of Whole Foods. Great deal! I got a ton of brown rice for $3. Budget FTW! I made two portions and I have to say that this was actually pretty tasty and very filling. I will continue to eat meat but much of the time I don’t prepare meat at home because it’s expensive and moderately time consuming. I have leftover tofu and I definitely have recipes from the Nasoya site I want to try (I’m looking at you Moroccan Tofu).

Do you like tofu? Have you always liked tofu? Any tasty recipe suggestions?

things that are awesome right now

1. Beverly Hills, palm trees

**if you live in a cold part of the country you might want to advert your eyes**

How can you look at this and not be in a fantastic mood? Not to mention I had an awesome siting of Indiana Jones himself while I was driving through town.

2. Baking with friends

Yesterday Danielle and I had a massive baking extravaganza. In total we iced cupcakes, made chunky Lola cookies, brioche, goo for sticky buns, and cornmeal and raspberry muffins. It was intense and I have way too many baked goods. We caught up on everything that’s been going on and even planned a law school baking throw down. Get excited.

and the aftermath…

3. New Christmas ornaments

4. Creamed honey

I ran out of honey this week and all I had was creamed honey. I was also short on cash because it was that time in the semester when we’re all waiting for our loans to come through. Instead of spending half of my remaining money on honey (I did contemplate it through) I found this in my cabinet and decided to use it.

I also learned an important lesson about spending. I do a bit too much of it. I’m quick to rush out and buy something new when I have an good replacement in my pantry.

New goal for 2011: be more mindful of my spending.

Off on a 5 miles run! Hope you have an awesome day too 🙂

snap, crackle, pop

Hello blog world!

I woke up today feeling even more congested than the day before. I hate having colds and I am a total baby about it. But in the spirit of positivity I am choosing to view this as a good thing. It has to get worse before it gets better, right? I managed to be a little bit more productive today than I’ve been for the past few days which is a good thing because one of my classes starts tomorrow. I really hope this cold goes down. I don’t want to be that girl in the first row with the tissues.

Another reason I had a pep in my step today? It was the first day of my new training plan (which can be viewed here –> also linked on my races page). Day 1 called for yoga. Rather than snotting all over Yoga Co I decided to do at home yoga on Exercise TV.

I am terrible at stretching so it felt good to stretch for a change. I definitely need to do more yoga cross training. That was my hips going “snap” “crackle” and “pop”. I did “zen in your den” and it was great.

Last night I had something pretty great too: risotto style barley with citrus and spinach from Super Natural Foods. I’ve never had barley before and I was excited to give it a try.

I started by sauteing two cloves of garlic, one shallot and 1/4 of a medium yellow onion in EVO and seasoned with salt and pepper. Cook for about 4 mins, until soft.

Then I added 1 cup pearled barley to the onions and garlic and stirred until coated.

Then I added a 1/2 cup of white wine and cooked until the wine was absorbed.

Then I added a 1 cup of water at a time, mixing each cup until it was absorbed. The water should simmer. The barley will start to puff up.

Make sure you continuously stir. This might take a while but it is so worth it. By the end the water doesn’t need to be completely absorbed at the end, just mostly absorbed.

While you are stirring zest a lemon, zest an orange, and peel and cut an orange. I used my favorite kitchen tool: a peeler that makes “twists” for cocktails!

When the barley has absorbed three cups of water total I turned the heat down and added 1/4 cup of creme fraiche (my good old friend!), the oranges and zest, and a 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.


I mixed this  on low heat until the barley had absorbed some of the creme fraiche.

Then I added and handful of spinach and stirred until mixed and wilted.

I got some awesome spinach from the farmers market last week and I’m loving adding it to everything.

Top with a bit more parm and serve!

I loved having a dinner with a little citrus! It brightened up my dinner and tasted light and summery- just what I needed on a rainy night. The barley was very filling and yummy when cooked with wine and parm. The recipe makes two servings so I enjoyed it again tonight with a side of roasted veggies. This is going to be in my regular dinner rotation form now on and I need to find more uses for barley.

Have you cooked with barley before?

And for dessert?

Hot chocolate + cayenne because a little heat never hurt anyone.

Hope you had a great Monday!