Humbling experiences

Today, I had the honor of going back to my roots. I went to my alma mater, Holy Trinity High School on Long Island,  and spoke with the  junior and senior theatre students about my life as a performer. I explained about my high school and college experiences. I told them about becoming a Rockette, getting my first big National Tour, my Broadway debut, and being in original broadway casts. I spoke not only of the successes but of the let downs and struggles. It was so humbling to reflect on where I have been, and how difficult it has been to get here. Speaking with kids, and being able to educate and (hopefully) inspire them is so incredibly rewarding. I feel good. I feel REALLY good! 1956941_10152637107644499_2944661474478534338_o
10842144_10152637107329499_1104687629879750697_o-1Wait isn’t this a food blog?? Sorry! I just had to share 🙂

So!!!! As I said, I have been focusing on experimenting with Breakfast. I like to call it “Project Breakfast Branch Out!” Today, I’d like to focus on the super grain:

quinoa

Quinoa is probably my favorite grain. It has a fantastic nutty flavor, it’s super high in protein, and has almost double the fiber as other grains. That’s not all! There are tons of vitamins, minerals and other amazing nutritional benefits. I’ve only ever used quinoa  for dinner, and normally top it with steamed, or roasted veggies of some sort.

If I love it so much for dinner, why can’t I eat it for breakfast? Well, I did, and it was AWESOME….

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Overnight Blueberry Quinoa Cereal

  • 1/2 cup quinoa cooked
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • stevia
  • cinnamon
  • 1/2 fresh fig sliced
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 1 TBS pistachios (or nuts of choice)
  • 1/2 TBS Hemp seed hearts
  • optional: Unsweetened coconut flakes

Instructions: In a mason jar, combine all ingredients. Leave in the fridge over night. Enjoy in the morning by re-heating or simply eating them cold!

Note: If you want to, add more milk when you’re ready to eat!

This was such a great breakfast! The blueberry flavor was absorbed by the quinoa making it gorgeously sweet. The texture was fluffy and refreshing. I am absolutely obsessed with this bowl of goodness…and to think I would have never discovered it if I hadn’t “BRANCHED OUT FOR BREAKFAST”!!!!

 

I hope your day was as fantastic as mine was!!!

xoxoSYN

Fast and Easy

People say that they don’t cook because they don’t have time. It is much easier to pick up the phone and order, or to get in the car and drive through. Eating out doesn’t have to equate to unhealthy food. Sometimes, there are considerably healthy options when you are ordering from an establishment. In my opinion, it is absolutely alright to order out once in a while, but it is crucial that we cook our own food the majority of the time.

For one thing, eating out is EXPENSIVE. It is really east to spend $15.00 on a single meal. A home cooked meal will more than likely cost you half that amount.

When we cook our own food, we have complete control. We know exactly how much of each ingredient we are putting in. We can add extra greens, omit excess salt, and make sure that the dish has JUST enough spice 🙂

If time is of the essence, make sure you are prepared! Here are a few suggestions on how to make home cooking easy and fast :

  1. Frozen vegetables: Open the bag, spray a pan, cook…Voala! Veggies cooked in under 5 minutes
  2. Pre-cook grains: Whenever I cook quinoa or brown rice, I make enough to last me for the week. Put it in a Tupperware and store it in the fridge. It re-heats really quickly, and you don’t have to waste your time making and remaking the same thing.—-(Use About 3 cups of water to 1.5 cups of grain when cooking)
  3. Easy Proteins: When I’m in a rush, my go to proteins are: eggs, black beans, and frozen shrimp. Eggs can be cooked in a mug (spray with cooking spray, pour 1/2 cup egg whites and microwave for 1 and a half minutes). Beans can be thrown on anything, and frozen shrimp cook in about 5 minutes.

Here is my favorite quick meal. It is satisfying, fast, and extremely cost-effective 🙂

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Vegetable “fried” Quinoa

  • 1/2 cup liquid egg whites (or 3 whole egg whites)
  • 1/2 bag of frozen veggies (I used asian blend)
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1-2 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 2-3 tbs soy sauce
  • 3 tbs water
  • optional: fresh chopped ginger, sriracha sauce

Spray a pan with Non-stick spray. Cook veggies and garlic with 3 tbs of water (cover for about 3 minutes). While veggies are cooking, spray a coffee mug with non-stick spray, and microwave eggs for about 1 1/2 minutes.  Chop the egg whites into small pieces and add along with  soy sauce and quinoa to pan and stir. (Add optional sriracha).

Transfer to a bowl, stir in sesame oil, use chopsticks (because they are fun) and ENJOY!!!

Food cooked at home always tastes better 🙂

xoxoSYN

Hey Dairy!

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but most of my recipes don’t contain any dairy products. For the past month and a half, I have been experimenting with a dairy free diet. I did this for a number of reasons.

  1. Dairy is an incredibly controversial food source. Many health nuts preach the negative effects of a diet that includes dairy. They say that the body can’t properly digest it.
  2. I wanted to try to live by a diet that included limited grains and natural fats, and unlimited plant food.
  3. A dermatologist told me that dairy is often the cause of skin problems. I suffer from break-outs and wanted to see if cutting dairy out would clear up my situation.

After more than a month of going dairy free, here is what I found:

  • I didn’t miss dairy a ton, but I CRAVED fat. All I wanted was avocado, nuts and Sunbutter
  • I had trouble with digestion (use your imagination, things weren’t moving)
  • I felt like I needed more protein
  • My skin didn’t show any real change

My Conclusion: I process dairy just fine. I really enjoy it in limited portions. I feel satisfied, my body feels good, and I don’t have serious cravings. So, with that said, I’ve decided to reintroduce it into my diet.

Some people may think this is a bad idea, but I am a firm believer in “Bio-individuality”. This is the idea that everyone’s body is different. Everyone needs different sources of fuel to function and feel GOOD.

Tonight after rehearsal I enjoyed this fast, simple, and filling treat. If you are a dairy eater, try it out 🙂

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Greek Yogurt PBQ Bowl

  • 1/2 cup 0%fat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 frozen banana sliced
  • 1/3 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1-2 TBS quinoa
  • 1/2 TBS Sunbutter (or nut butter of choice)
  • 2 packets stevia

Combine yogurt, sunbutter and stevia in a bowl. Mix well. Add fruit and quinoa. Mix again. Enjoy!!

xoxoSYN

Confessions and Small Victories

When you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle, each and every day is a choice. A choice to choose the salad over the burger, to eat one chocolate instead of 10, or cook instead of ordering from your favorite mexican joint.

I totally understand that sometimes you just want to say screw it and eat whatever you want. I went through that today.

I have a confession to make: I have been trying to give up dairy, and I wont lie, it’s HARD. I ate Greek yogurt, goat cheese, and string cheeses probably every day (I’m a creature of habit and usually have the same things all the time). After learning that a lot of my skin issues were directly related to my dairy consumption, I decided to give it up. I am  the kind of person who has to give things up COLD TURKEY and I did just that. It has been two weeks and dairy has not entered my mouth. My skin is a bit better, but that doesn’t make me miss it less.

Today I was making a salad for lunch and thought…”A little goat cheese won’t hurt”. I made the entire salad and left the cheese to add last. As I was about to measure it out, I thought, “If I eat this, all of my will power will have been for nothing”. I decided against the cheese and opted for pistachio nuts instead. In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and more importantly I was incredibly proud of myself. What did I learn? Stick to the promises you  make yourself. If you cheat, the only one you are cheating is yourself. It was a small victory, but an important one!

So, I challenge you to make a positive change in your life! Whether it is introducing more greens to your diet, having a meat free day every week, or giving up artificial sweetener, you are capable of success. All you have to do is make a choice and stick with it. I promise it is a fantastic feeling when you succeed 🙂

Ok, so here is something I have been enjoying almost daily. I love to have breakfast for dinner, so here it is!

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Quinoa and Sprout Power Omelette

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup sprouts
  • chopped veggies (I used broccoli, red bell pepper, kale, mushroom and green onion)
  • 1/4 cup cheese of choice (I use Galaxy Rice Cheese Brand) or (one low-fat string cheese works too!)
  • cooking spray
  • spices

Spray a pan with cooking spray. Cook chopped veggies until soft. Pour egg whites over veggies and let them fill the pan. Top veggies with cheese, followed by quinoa, and next sprouts. Fold the remaining egg on top, cook and flip to the other side. The cheese sprouts and quinoa will melt into each other creating an almost casserole texture. It is soooo yummy I promise!

When cooking your eggs, don’t use butter or oil to line the pan. Instead choose cooking spray. It is way easier to monitor how much you use, and you are avoiding all of that extra fat and calories!!!. This omelette is awesome because the quinoa is a great protein boost, and the sprouts are high in vitamins and nutrients. It holds you for hours!

ENJOY!

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Question: What promises do you want to make to yourself?

Question 2: What steps can you take to achieve these goals?

 

xoxo SYN

 

Sushi Time!

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How Beautiful is this???S I took it with my iPhone!

My fellow cast member and friend Robin had a bunch of the cast over to her rooftop for a pre rehearsal gathering. It was so great to see everyone! I can’t believe how lucky I am to be a part of this incredible show, and spend every day with these crazy people 🙂 I am so excited!!! Please please please support Big Fish, and get your tickets!!!!

OK, onto the food.

I LOVE sushi. I could seriously eat it every single day. I don’t of course, but yesterday I was craving it! I remembered that I bought some dried Nori (the seaweed that sushi is rolled into) and decided to make my own… and it was AWESOME!!!!

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Tuna Can Sushi

  • 1 Nori Sheet (you can buy these at Whole foods, or natural food stores!)
  • 1 can of tuna
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 tbs spicy brown mustard (i love mustard in my tuna, you could also substitute greek yogurt, or mayo)
  • Optional: squirt or two of Siracha sauce
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • fillings: sprouts, cucumber, red pepper, mango.. ALL SLICED VERY THIN)

Mix tuna, avocado, siracha and spicy mustard in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix apple cider vinegar and quinoa. Take nori on a cutting board, and tightly press quinoa flat down on the side closest to you. Next, take HALF of the tuna mixture and spread on top of the quinoa. Take thinly sliced fillings and lay them on top of the tuna. Next, carefully roll the side closest to you into the traditional sushi shape. After you have a long “log”, take a very sharp knife, and gently, with a sawing motion, cut the roll into pieces. Serve with a side of soy sauce, and use chopsticks!!! ENJOY 🙂

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If you make this, be aware that it could just fall apart. The first one I tried, I the sliced of veggies i put in were too big… I couldn’t roll it and it fell apart 😦 (but still tasted good!) The second stayed together beautifully… SUCCESS!!

xoxo SYN