Sunday, June 27, 2010

Quesadillas

I love Mexican food but it tends to be greasy and fatty so I like to take the framework of a dish and mix it up a little bit to add more nutrients and decrease the fat. A quick and easy lunch or dinner to make are quesadillas. These items are what I typically like to put in them:

- grilled chicken
- black beans
- some sort of low-fat cheese
- sauteed bell peppers and onions
- chopped tomatoes
- whole-wheat tortillas

*salsa and homemade guacamole on the side

I will cut up all my veggies, saute the onions and peppers, cook the chicken, and have all the other ingredients in prep bowls all around me so that I can assemble each quesadilla quickly, then I grill them up two at a time while I keep working on the other ones. I like to grill the quesadillas in a panini press but you can do it right in the pan on the stove. No need for nonstick spray or oil, just throw them dry right into the pan and voila! you've got yourself a delicious meal that includes a good balance of lean protein, good carbs, veggies, and good fat.


When you have everything prepped for assembly, it makes life so much easier






So yum!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Whole-wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

Pancakes are a classic breakfast item but its nutritional value is pretty much nil since it's typically made up of mostly white flour and white sugar; include the butter and syrup people normally slather all over their pancakes and you've got yourself a disastrous start to the day. Well, I wanted to find a way to make pancakes that packed a healthy punch while also being tasty and I think I've found it. I discovered this recipe in Health magazine but even that version still called for white sugar and all-purpose flour so I tweaked it to get rid of those items and lessened the sugar content even more. Served alongside some wild blueberry sauce (blueberries are a powerful antioxidant that help fight cancer), you will not want to go back to eating plain old pancakes ever again.

For the pancakes:

- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
- 1 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
- 1/8 cup of brown sugar
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 large eggs plus 2 large egg whites
- 1 cup low-fat milk

For the wild blueberry sauce:

- 2 cups frozen wild blueberries
- 1 Tbs. brown sugar
- 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbs. water

Soak the oats in 1 cup of the buttermilk in a small bowl for 15 minutes. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl and then whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup of buttermilk and the regular milk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry - mix until just combined but don't overstir or else the pancakes will be chewy. Cook in a skillet over medium-high heat (I like to turn the oven on to 200 degrees and put the finished pancakes in there on the top rack in a baking dish until I'm all done so that all the pancakes will be nice and warm for serving).

For the sauce, combine the blueberries, brown sugar, and lemon juice in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch mixture and stir until slightly thickened.




So good!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Turkey & Brown Rice Meatloaf

As I've mentioned in a previous post, Matt and I want to strive to live a healthy lifestyle so any recipes that can revamp a dish that is typically not very good for you and can make it nutritious and delicious at the same time is a winner in my book! A cookbook I've really enjoyed is Tosca Reno's "Eat Clean Diet Cookbook," and her Turkey-Brown Rice Meatloaf is soooo good, in fact, we've cooked this a lot for our dinner guests and they all seemed to really like it (at least they said they did:) This meatloaf is very easy to make, you can even prep it the night before or early on in the day, and then pop it right into the oven an hour before dinner time. I cooked this tonight for dinner and served it up with some baked sweet potato fries and oven roasted zucchini both tossed in some olive oil, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper. Try it!

- 1 pound lean ground turkey (or whatever other lean protein you'd like)
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup plain, low-fat yogurt cheese *see note on bottom about this
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped red, green, or yellow bell pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tsp. sea salt
fresh ground pepper
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. dried basil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. (I like to buy a box of those latex gloves so that I can use my hands to mix it up). Place in a loaf pan that has been lightly coated with nonstick spray. Bake for about an hour. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before cutting. Makes 6 servings.

*So what is yogurt cheese? It's basically strained yogurt. Just take a small colander or strainer, line it with a paper coffee filter and scoop yogurt into it and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight over a bowl - what you have the next day will be yogurt that has a consistency similar to ricotta cheese but with less fat. It's good!

Nutritional value per serving: 149 calories, 20 grams protein, 12 grams carbs, 1 gram fat.


So flavorful and so much better for you than the standard meatloaf recipe


Dinner is served!


As my dad, George Phan, would say: "So yum!"


And of course I've got to post some recent photos of the little Monkey - enjoy!


He's pulling on his hair with his other hand, even in his sleep. Poor kid, to be blessed with so much nice hair that his hands can't resist pulling on it, resulting in screams of pain.


Like father, like son - both like to sleep with the covers over their faces


Meeting another great-grandmother for the first time


Thanks for the onesie Carly Jean!


Jet's Erykah Badu impersonation


Another attempt at eating some rice cereal


Another nickname to add to the ever-growing roster: Captain Milkbeard


We can't believe that we get to keep him!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

With today being Father's Day I cannot help but think of the great fathers that are in my life. I am so thankful that in a world full of absentee or abusive fathers, I am blessed to have and to know the best four.


Everyone knows the typical jokes about in-laws but I am so thankful that none of them apply to me and my situation. I have inherited the best father-in-law anyone could ever ask for. Papa Sylvester is a kind, giving, and thoughtful man who loves the the Lord and His word like nobody's business. From making sure all your needs are met while you're in his home, to genuinely caring about you by asking questions and listening to what you have to say, Daddy Sylvester is a soft-spoken, funny, and humble man of God and Matt and I are so thankful to call him dad. Not to mention that after having raised four boys, Papa S treats me like the daughter they never had, venturing near princess status:)


My dad is one of the most hard-working people I have ever known; having come to this country as a refugee, he has been relentless in working however many hours in whatever context in order to provide for us as a family and has gone on to become a very successful businessman. But despite his accomplishments, my dad never takes for granted a single penny and has instilled in me a healthy sense of frugality when it comes to self while being an over-the-top generous giver when it comes to others. And even though he's a hard-working man, I love that my dad plays just as hard, enjoying life by singing, dancing, traveling, exercising, and eating well. I am so thankful for all the ways my dad has has provided for me and taken care of me from the day I was born until now.


Being the best husband ever, I shouldn't be surprised that Matt would also be the best dad ever. Jet is beyond blessed to have the privilege of calling this man daddy and my hope is that my son will grow up to be just like his father. Matt's love for Jet is seen in everything from changing a practically lethal diaper to feeding him in the middle of the night to taking the time to just play and talk with him throughout the day to not ever getting frazzled or frustrated when Jet won't stop crying to praying for him - I cannot wait to see how he will continue to grow as a godly father and to watch his relationship with Jet develop over these upcoming years.

And finally, I am most thankful for the greatest Father any of us could ever know. Ever since God saved me in high school, I have known what it is like to be provided for perfectly, to be disciplined fittingly, to be carried faithfully, and to be loved infinitely. All the amazing earthly fathers are just a mere shadow and slight glimpse of the Heavenly Father we all need and long for and I am full of thankfulness and praise to have the privilege of being a child of God whose heart is able to cry out, "Abba Father!" I love you Lord.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Home Sweet Home

We made it! After 5 days of driving, we rolled into Ajax, Ontario at 4am. Major props to my hubby for driving practically the entire time so that I could sleep and rest. It is good to finally be here and we will be staying with Matt's parents until we get a place of our own. We are excited for this next chapter of our life and hope you'll come along for the ride!


Lake Superior





Pit stop at one of the numerous lakes we drove by


Finally meeting Grandpa Sylvester


With Auntie Tara





Chillin' with Uncle Daniel

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thunder Bay

So what we thought would be a genius idea of driving through the night in order to get to our destination sooner backfired on us. Matt and I ended up getting SO tired that we decided we better stop at a motel for the day so that we can get a good night's rest in order to tackle the last 15 hours to Toronto tomorrow. We are currently in Thunder Bay, Ontario at a Best Western and Matt is fast asleep already and Monkey is talking and kicking next to me on the bed and I'm trying to stay awake just a little bit longer so that I don't end up waking in the middle of the night. We are so excited to be so close to home!



We're in Ontario!

We are currently in Dryden, Ontario, about 22 hours from our destination. We basically drove through the night and we're actually feeling pretty good. The last leg of the drive was pretty boring in terms of landscape and I have never seen so much roadkill in my life. Driving through western Ontario this morning was amazingly beautiful, so many lakes with mist rising up as the sun arose - too bad I didn't take any pics. We are hoping to drive 11 hours today to Sudbury, stay the night, then make our final trip to Ajax. We cannot wait to get home! Until then...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Saskatchewan to Manitoba

Hi Loved Ones,

Just a quick update as we make a pitstop at Subway (who knew they had wi-fi?); we are currently about 3 hours west of Winnipeg and at this point we are planning on driving through the night to see how far that will bring us. We are wanting to get to Toronto asap so we are willing to do whatever it takes to get there. Alright, better eat our subs and off we go again! Thank you for all your love and prayers!

From B.C. to Alberta

Hi Everyone! I'll be short with my words on this update since it's late and we are beat tired but just wanted to let you all know that we made a pretty smooth crossing at the border and are currently in Medicine Hat, Alberta. The drive through B.C. and the first half of Alberta was amazing, like looking at a cinematic movie scene the entire time as the pictures will testify, and the latter part of the drive through Alberta has been what I imagine Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz would have called home. But we are all doing well, Jet has been a champ in bearing with the long hours of driving and Matt has been our awesome fearless leader so we are well on our way to Toronto! Will try to update again soon!






Monkey checking out the scenery - this kid breaks my heart with how cute he is




In the famous Banff National Park - so beautiful!


Lake Louise = Absolutely breathtaking








This is what the second half of Alberta looks like, farms and flat, go prairie land!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Toronto or Bust!

Wow, I can't believe we've already been in Bellingham for 1 month already. The days have flown by and now the day has come for us to pack up and embark on our trek across the Great White North. We plan on leaving here tomorrow morning and think it will take about 5-6 days to make our way to Toronto. We would greatly appreciate your prayers for safety and smooth travel and will try to keep the blog updated on the road.

We have had such a wonderful time here with my family; we ate well, exercised and hiked consistently, spent time with many family members, and were able to just relax and enjoy life. My parents have blessed us beyond measure with their hospitality and care and we cannot thank them enough for all they have done for us during our stay. And how else would the Phans celebrate our last night here? With karaoke of course! Love you all, and to all our Canadian friends and family - we'll see you soon!


This guy knows how to rock the mic!


Jet enjoying his daddy's vocal genius

Friday, June 11, 2010

Margarita's Birthday!

Today was my mom's birthday. My mom is one of the most amazing people I know; she is kind, generous, sacrificial, fun, thoughtful, and resilient. I remember back when I was in 5th grade, our class was having a bake sale. Even after working a 15 hour day at the restaurant, my mom stayed up to make homemade sugar cookies (each one decorated) just so I could bring something to contribute to the bake sale so that I would feel like I was a part of the class. This is just one of the many examples of how my mom served and blessed me throughout my whole life. Anyone who has met my mom knows how loving and sweet she is and I hope that I will be as great as a wife and mom as she is. We went out to celebrate her birthday at a seafood restaurant, topping the evening off with some frozen yogurt and a movie. We all love Margaret and feel privileged to have her in our lives.


I love my Mom!!!


Me and the cutest baby in the entire world


Monkey is getting so big. He's wearing an outfit for a 6 month old... he's 4 months.


The Parentals


Jet with Grandma


View from the restaurant


Me and my Man!


My two Hunnies


Monkey's first time in his Bumbo - growing up so fast!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Clayton Beach

After a stretch of rainy days, today was sunshiney and beautiful, a perfect day to take a little hike with some of my cousins and their families. We decided on a mild trail leading to Clayton Beach, where we sat and enjoyed the sunshine. Days like these are gold!



Chuckanut Drive has so many trail head entrances and is such a pretty drive, definitely car commercial material on a beautiful sunny day.



The trail to Clayton Beach is so beautiful with running streams all over the place and bright and vibrant trees and plants everywhere - the smell is amazing!





My hot hubby!








My cousin Cathy and her husband Donn


Michael's and Sopurn's son, Alex. It was great watching him have so much fun in the sand and sun.

My cousin Michael and his wife Sopurn and their dog Shadow








And last but not least, a sweet pic of the two men in my life. I heart them.