New Year, New Attitudes

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone had an awesome holiday season and stayed relatively healthy!  The beginning of every year is full of resolutions and promises, most of which are geared towards weight loss or some other health topic.  Since I’m fairly satisfied with my health and fitness level (I follow the workout plan by Back on Pointe— short, sweet, and effective!), I decided to focus my new year’s efforts on being smoke free and managing money- budgeting in particular.  I quit smoking almost two years ago, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t bum the occasional cigarette at the bar, or smoke a cigar on a nice summer night.  At 11:50 pm on New Year’s Eve, Ethan and I went outside to have one last cigarette.  It was really disgusting to say the least, but now I’m fueled and ready for a Smoke-Free 2013!  That’s not a goal I forsee having issues with, so I’ll just tell you a little about the money management.  With grad school starting in a week, I know that I’m about to be “broke college student” all over again.  Noooooooooo!  I figure if I can set up a decent finance plan, I may be able to keep my head above water long enough to enjoy myself these next few years.

Basically, I’m sticking to one of the popular “envelope” plans.  This means that I allot a certain amount of money per month for each category, then withdraw the money and put it into separate envelopes– one for each category.  I have 4 categories: Fuel, Grocery, Dining Out, and Personal (clothes, hair stuff, nails, etc.).  Every pay period, I go to the bank and withdraw money for each of the envelopes, then only use that money for my weekly spending (no more card swipes).  The idea is that the rest of the money in the bank goes towards bills and after that, savings.  It’s only day 2 for me (the first week of the year was spent planning), but so far it seems to be working!

Looking at my grocery budget, I quickly realized that I needed to plan out exactly what I was going to eat throughout the week so that I could make the most efficient grocery trip possible.  I made areas to list breakfast, lunch, dinner, and juice (of course!) for each day.  I also added a list at the bottom for organized grocery shopping.  I went shopping Monday night after work, and bought an entire week’s worth of food…. and I was $4.18 under budget!  I put the template into a sheet protector, so that I could write on it with dry-erase marker each week.  Here’s what it looked like in the middle of my planning:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Juice, Water, and Grocery List

So, what was on the agenda for today?

Juice of the day: Orange Cranberry Juice (super yummy!)

5 Valencia oranges and 12 ounces of Cranberries.  Juice it all!  My plan was to throw some frozen mango chunks into a blender with the orange-cranberry juice and get a little more texture, but I ate all the mangoes while cooking dinner.  Oops!

Dinner Recipe: Kale and Chickpea Stew.  I was nervous, like I usually am with new recipes, but it turned out AMAZING!  I am definitely making more next week!  I adapted this recipe from one I got off the website for The Washington Post.  They suggested serving it over hot polenta, but I thought it was super filling all by itself!

1 bunch Kale2 cans Chickpeas (with liquid)2 tbsp Cilantro (chopped)3 Roma Tomatoes (roughly chopped)1 Yellow Onion (chopped)6 Cloves Garlic (minced)1 Cup Water1 tbsp Olive Oil (or any oil)1 tsp Paprika1/4 tsp Corriander1/4 tsp Cumin1/2 tsp Salt2 tbsp Lemon Juice

1 bunch Kale
2 cans Chickpeas (with liquid)
2 tbsp Cilantro (chopped)
3 Roma Tomatoes (roughly chopped)
1 Yellow Onion (chopped)
6 Cloves Garlic (minced)
1 Cup Water
1 tbsp Olive Oil (or any oil)
1 tsp Paprika
1/4 tsp Corriander
1/4 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tbsp Lemon Juice

1. Pour about a cup of water into the bottom of a deep pan and once it starts boiling, add the kale and wilt it.  Drain the water and put the kale on a cutting board.  Roughly chop.  Place it into a bowl on the side.

2. Using the same pan, add the oil and on medium heat, add your garlic, onions, and tomatoes.  Let them sizzle for about 4-5 minutes, and then add your cumin, corriander, and paprika.  Let sit for another couple minutes.

3. Add the chickpeas and stir the mixture until it starts barely boiling.  If you want more liquid add another cup of water to the pan.  Put the kale back into the stew.  Simmer everything for about 12 minutes and then add the lemon juice and cilantro.  Enjoy!

I hope you love this recipe as much as I did, so let me know what you think!

Happy Juicing!

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