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BLUEFIRESTORM86's Recent Blog Entries

Butternut Squash Pasta Salad....delicious!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Hello all! Did you see the good news? I'm under my calories today!

Yes, I'm a little "too" under, but I hear it's good to surprise your body every once in a while with a day you don't eat quite enough, so this is okay.

Plus, I'm full! Whooo!

I wanted to share one of my go-to recipes for this week. This pasta salad is delicious, and it's vegetarian too! It makes a TON, so be ready with your pint freezer bags to freeze 12, 1 cup servings. I've been having it for lunch for the past few days, and it's awesome!

Butternut Squash Pasta Salad (Originally from BUDGET BYTES, one of the best cooking websites EVER!!! I luv you Budget Bytes!)

1 3lb. butternut squash
4 T extra virgin olive oil, divided (you can use regular olive oil too)
1 t dried sage (all I had was powdered, so I used about 1/2 t to compensate)
1 lb. pasta (bb recommends orecchiette, but I couldn't find any, so I just used regular small shells)
1/2 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 c. dried cranberries (after making this once, I think I'll add more next time)
3/4 c. shredded parmesan (all I had was grated and it worked fine.)
salt and pepper to taste

STEP 1: Cut the ends off of the squash to provide a flat, stable surface. Stand the squash on one end and use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. Slice a few rounds off of the small end to shorten the squash, and then cut down through the center of the thick end to expose the center. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and center pulp. Cut the remaining squash into small cubes.

STEP 2: Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large pot or skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the cubed squash, sage, salt & pepper (a generous sprinkle). Saute until the squash tender (about 10-15 min). They will looks slightly translucent and will start to smash a little like a cooked potato. Taste a cube or two to make sure they're cooked through. Turn the heat off.

STEP 3: While the squash is cooking, cook the pasta. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add a generous sprinkle of salt to the pasta water for flavor. Cook the pasta according to the package directions (boil for 7-10 minutes or until al dente). Drain the pasta.

STEP 4: Once the squash is tender and the pasta is drained, add the pasta, cranberries, and chopped parsley to the pot. Stir to combine.

STEP 5: Drizzle the last 2 Tbsp of olive oil over everything and add salt and pepper to taste. Lastly, stir in the shredded parmesan. Serve warm!

*Note: all of the above recipe is the property of Budget Bytes. Please don't sue me! I'm a really poor grad student....

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NIGHTSKYSTAR 3/13/2012 6:22AM

    this looks really good!! and yay on being under!! I wouldnt be adding anything to it..i will be trying this!!

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    Sounds could add some black beans for protein. I really like black beans with butternut squash. And maybe some red peppers too.

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A Happy Update.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Hello everyone! I know I haven't been keeping up with the blogging, but no need to worry. I'm still on the wagon!

I've been doing much better, and I think it's because of a few key changes I've done to give myself a leg up in my own battle. Here's a list of my favorites. They've really helped, so if you're running out of ideas, feel free to try them out. I know they've given me a definite advantage.

1) food scale

This is just a dinky one I bought at walmart. No electricity, no special settings. Just pure, simple weighing power. Before I got this, I never knew what a single serving of dry pasta looked like. Now I do, and I can accurately keep track of my calories as a result. It's also great for cooking at makes portioning out ingredients SO much easier!

2) Protein shakes

I have this problem of being hungry in between meals. Not just a twinge of hunger, either; it's a deep, empty hunger like I haven't eaten in days, but I just ate an hour before. Now I have pretty bad acid reflux, so I know that's part of my problem. However, having one of these shakes on hand at all times "quiets the monster" if you will. It's not enough to fill me up completely, but it takes the edge off for another hour or so, and it's fairly low in calories (about 100 per bottle). You'll have to buy a few kinds before you find one you like; for me, it's the special K chocolate ones.

3) Insurance-assisted gym membership
I don't have an image for this one, so I'll just explain. A little while back, in january, I heard a rumor that you could get a discount on gym memberships through your insurance. So I called my insurance company and asked, and it turns out they have a really great plan where you get about $10 a membership to participating gyms in the area. The catch is that you have to go a set number of times per month, but I haven't found that to be a problem just yet.

Going to the gym is something I've never done before; I always felt intimidated when I did it during college, and I never went consistently enough to make a difference. But i've found that if I go early in the morning, hardly anyone is there yet. I put my headphones on and tune out of my head, just enjoying the movement and the feeling of accomplishment after I'm done working out.

Check with your insurance and see if they have something similar. If they don't, the next step would be to find a workout that you ENJOY...whether it be a dance class once a week or walking down the road to have some quiet time to yourself. Every little bit helps!

4) OAMC (once a month cooking)

This is a big deal for me. Every night, the man and I come home and we're EXHAUSTED. Like beaten down tired. It's really hard for either of us to think about physically making dinner, and then cleaning up afterwards. We usually would resort to eating out, which isn't good for our waistlines or our wallets.

Then I found this site about once a month cooking, where they show you how to make meals in bulk at the beginning of the month, and store them in your freezer so you're all set. That way, you come home to either a meal that's all ready in the crockpot, or one that simply needs to be heated in the stove or the microwave. They have breakfasts and lunches too, so you're covered for every meal. LIFE SAVER.

The best thing about this particular site is not only do they make the menus for you every month, but they also make a grocery list and complete instructions for you. They make it so easy! AND there's a menu for almost every type; vegetarian, gluten free and vegan, dieting, traditional american, etc. I'm in awe of the work these people put in to their site every month.

Check it out!

5) Salad in a jar

That's right, you heard me. Salad. In a jar. Want to learn to eat more veggies? This is a good way to do it.

Remember those shaker salads mcdonalds had a while back? This is the same concept. You layer ingredients in a jar (a mason jar), then shake to combine when you're ready to eat. This makes an awesome make-ahead lunch for work, and it's super filling too! I got my recipe from the site below, and once you get the hang of it, you can add whatever you want! I usually add a bit of feta cheese and slivered almonds to mine.

Well there you have top 5 things that are helping me win the battle. I've only been using these tools for the last two months or so, but they've really helped me stay on track, even if my weight isn't budging (sidenote: GRRRRR). But at least I'm building momentum and habits, and that's a win in itself.

Until next time!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DISPATCH91 3/7/2012 10:27AM

    Hi, I'm a friend of Holly's and she told me you had a wonderful blog with some good sites to share.

Thanks so much for sharing and I have shared these sites with my friend here at work.

You are doing so good, just keep on keeping there and you will hit your goal.


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NIGHTSKYSTAR 3/7/2012 6:17AM

    this is WONDERFUL!! have to check out the once a month cooking...sounds fantastic!! i have a full week at school next week might just try it out then...big are AWESOME!

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Soooo.....unmotivated? No, I still want what's wrong?

Sunday, January 08, 2012

I'm having a conflict.

Well, no. Yes. maybe. See what I mean? emoticon

I don't know which way is left, right, down, up....they all just kindof blend together. emoticon

So this isn't me being depressed or anything. Actually, things really couldn't be better right now! I started my FABULOUS internship at the best museum ever, and I'm loving it! My final paper from this past semester was accepted to an annual Art History symposium in March, and I know I will ROCK that presentation! I'm actually making some headway on this art history thing!

So why am I eating so much? EVERY DAY I wake up and tell myself "ok, today you're going to NOT eat sweets or donuts or whatever," and EVERY DAY I end up doing it anyway! I eat too much dinner after being PERFECT all day, or I sneak a donut in when I go grocery shopping and then nom it in the car in the parking lot. Ugh....

I'm not sure what's wrong with me. I'm even exercising regularly with this "January Jumpstart Challenge" thing! I've done the videos every day so far, even though I haven't been able to get the walking in every day, but I feel accomplished in this area.

The frustrating thing is I know I'd be progressing with the re-shaping of the physical me if I could just get my eating under control. So why can't I? I know how to cook! I have fruits and veggies and delicious protein shakes in my what is it about the second half of the day that makes this hurdle so impossible to conquer?

I read YOOVIE's blog entry "Pipe Cleaner Plan" today, and I tried to absorb as much of her "go and get it gurl" attitude that I could...but I'm afraid it won't last into tomorrow night.

I will keep pushing forward. I start again every day....but failing every day is really eating away at my motivation.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NIGHTSKYSTAR 1/8/2012 6:56PM

    try this,,,do it an HOUR at a time. for this hour i will not eat donuts
then when that one is done, go for the next.
and i will too. cuz i've not been so good myself.

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    Are you eating enough during the day? If you aren't eating enough during the day, that might be why you are over eating at dinner. Why don't you just give yourself permission to have one treat a day? I am in the camp that says if you deprive yourself of everything you love, you are just sabotaging yourself.
One thing that helps for me is that nearly 3/4 of my dinner is veggies! Seriously...and I always enjoy my dinner and fill up.
Try not to be so hard on yourself. You are doing great with the exercise, just relax and you will get the nutrition thing down.

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Absent the wagon...not yet!

Monday, October 31, 2011

I'm so sorry I've been away!

Some interesting things have happened; one of which was that I started school. I'm a master's student, and while I only attend two classes a week, the extra reading and researching which goes along with it are BRUTAL! I've been focusing more on Lin Fengmian and Elihu Vedder (my research topics) than Sparkpeople, but I promise I haven't forgotten.

I also have a job which really messes with my sleep patterns, and therefore my eating patterns. I work at a coffee shop, and most days I start at 5 am, which means I get up at 4 am....which is just too early. Even though I eat breakfast before I go in, I find that I am FAMISHED during the shift! That's dangerous at my coffee shop, since they specialize in sweet, chocolaty drinks and delicious bakery items. I try to bring my own fruit with me to eat when I get this way, but it doesn't work all the time. I'm still working on how to combat this one. Any thoughts?

Additionally, I GOT AN INTERNSHIP!!!! This doesn't affect my eating habits, (well....the day I found out I was so excited I COULDN'T but this is a great step towards that shiny Art HIstory career I'm working towards!! I'll be interning here: The Minneapolis Institute of Arts!!! Holy Cow!!!!

I couldn't believe it when I first got word I'd been accepted, but it's TRUE! Can you tell I'm excited? emoticon

I'll be working in the sculpture department dealing with issues of provenance. Don't know what provenance is? Click here emoticon

It's super cool, in a really nerdy art way... emoticon

BUT....since all of this has happened, I have fallen off the wagon just a tiny tiny bit.

Which is why I'm going to try to write at least once a week.

This will keep me on track, i'm sure of it. Because then I'm not just accountable to me, I'm accountable to you, my wonderful Spark community.

So I've been trying to do small things to counteract this. One of the new rules I've adopted is to never finish what I'm eating unless its one of my healthy, 100 calorie fruit snacks (which I have throughout the day so I don't go nuts on food). If I don't have the gumption to run or do a strength training workout, I MAKE myself go for a quick walk outside. The minnesota air is becoming colder by the day, and the shock of the cold not only helps me focus, but encourages me to walk faster. emoticon

I'm going to buy some more new workout clothes soon as well. I don't have anything I can wear outside in the cold! Old Navy is having a sale right now that I'm going to take advantage of; if you're thinking about buying some new clothes you should check it out too.

Perhaps looking awesome in some new gear will get me motivated to sweat some more emoticon

So, out of all of this, my resolution is simply to KEEP GOING. Sometimes I have to say it outloud just to make myself believe it. I've come so far!!


Life tends to do that.

And I'm going to deal with it.

See you next week emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CAROLYN_ROSE 11/1/2011 10:52AM

    Congrats on the internship!!!!

You need more protein to curb your hunger. Try bringing protein bars or shakes with you to work. It'll help stop you from eating somethng bad there.

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NIGHTSKYSTAR 11/1/2011 6:39AM

    i am SOSOSOSOSSOSO proud of you for getting that internship!! And proud of them for knowing who was best!! you are both lucky!!!
tip on the coffee shop. wait no..i was going to say chew trident but i bet they dont want you gnawing away on something. hmm. ok so...when it gets bad keep a small stash of dove dark chocolate small pieces. say..if i get through this hour without having anything else i can have one. and no chewing it it has to melt on your tongue!!!
Thant usually

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OYAVIBE 10/31/2011 5:14PM

    Love this blog! These past few weeks have been busy for me also and I am now getting back into the swing of things:) Your blog added that motivating SP love I needed today! On the sweets advice...Lol. I too am working on this one!

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SPADIVAMOM 10/31/2011 5:09PM

    You are right, life tends to do that to us! :)

Congrats on your job and going to get your masters! That is awesome. I have dreamt of getting my masters degree soon when I am back in the field of work I actually find intersting and worthwhile. Right now my job just pays the bills. That is about it. But in this economy I'll take it.

Good job checking in on Sparkpeople. I know the more I am active on sparkpeople that more I stay on track.

Happy Halloween!! emoticon

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MEGANOBER 10/31/2011 5:07PM

  I would like to add you. I am still relatively new here. :)

Coffee is addicting, but if they sell tea too, that would be a healthier option! :)

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Pimp my P(ride) challenge....It has begun!!!!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


1) See how many of each exercise you can complete in the span of 1 minute....go!!!

emoticon crunches: 43

emoticon modified pushups (admittedly my feet were NOT crossed, and I couldn't lower all the way down to the floor): 21

emoticon pullups: N/ "pullup" area

emoticon proper plank: 30 sec

emoticon squats: 34

2) What equipment will you be using for this challenge?

B, C, D, and E. My apartment complex has a universal weight machine (with limited exercises) in a room in the quad. I will be additionally using my own body weight, a 2 and 5 lb. dumbbell that I own, and a resistance band.

3) What weight are you starting at?

- for most lower body ST, I will start at 20 or 30 lbs. For upper body, anywhere between 5 and 15 lbs.

4) Why do you feel the burning desire to grow stronger, to change shape, to prove yourself?

- Have I ever been strong? No. Not at all. If I'm going to go all out to change myself, then I'd better work on strength, which I have never had. I want to be, physically, a different person. Doing something I've never done is the best way to go about that.

5) Create your tracking space:

- I will be using a combination of writing reps and weights for each session on paper during, and then tracking them on SP after. I will be planning out my ST sessions within the next few days.

6) Before pictures:

Look at that involuntary smirk on my face......I wasn't really smirking. Well, maybe I was a little....

7) Starting line measurements: (ugh)
emoticon Biceps: 16"
emoticon Forearm: 9 1/2"
emoticon Waist: 45"
emoticon Butt: 51"
emoticon Thigh: 28 1/2"
emoticon Calf: 18"
emoticon Bust/Back: 46"

Let the challenge.....BEGIN!!!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NIGHTSKYSTAR 9/8/2011 6:42PM

    know what?? you look GREAT!! WOW!!! smokin hot...
love the plan!!

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DISPATCHER04 9/8/2011 5:58PM

    Very cool! :)

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JAYNELAYNE 9/7/2011 9:40PM

    It's going to be a great challenge, lets do this!

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TERRIPAL1 9/7/2011 7:16PM


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CAROLYN_ROSE 9/7/2011 3:58PM

    Good Luck!

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