CC Reads: The Dovekeepers

Hey ya’ll! Hope everyone is having a fantastic weekend. Mine has been pretty good so far. I’ve been having a lot of volleyball practices, which keeps me busy and pretty entertained. I have been reading a lot too. I am going to do a CC reads post each month on the book that I have loved the best. This month’s will be the Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman.

The Dovekeepers follows four Jewish women, their relationship to each other, and their connection to Masada. At the fall of Jerusalem, these four women find their way to Masada as it is believed it will be the safe haven against the Romans. As we know from history, Masada did not end up saving the Jews from destruction, but this novel is a wonderful tale of life on Masada. The four main characters are: Yael, the daughter of a famed assasin, Revka, a village baker’s wife, Aziza, a warrior that was raised as a boy, and Shirah, a woman knowledgeable in witchcraft and medicine. While the book is fiction, the author did a lot of research on the history of Masada to try to recreate the book as accurate as possible. I think Hoffman did an excellent job in applying her research to a fictional book.

Masada from the Roman Path View

I recommend this book to everyone. You do not have to be Jewish to fall in love with this novel. Although if you are Jewish, you will definitely want to read this – I think I may have about one Jewish person that actually reads my blog, besides my family of course. If you appreciate history, you will also want to read this book. However, I just thought it was a good read in general. The characters of the novel make you become extremely invested in their lives, and keeps you turning the pages to find out what happens to them.

Me on top of Masada looking out towards the Dead Sea

One reason why I loved this book so much was because I could connect to it on a deeper level. This wasn’t just because I was Jewish, but more because I had actually been to Masada. I had climbed the Roman Path. I had stood on top of the mountain. I had gone through the Roman baths. I had looked over King Herrod’s palace. There was also a cat on top of Masada – something I still will never understand. When I was actually at Masada, I wasn’t really listening to our guide because I was dying from the hike up and I was hot. Also we were going to the Dead Sea, so that was pretty much what most of us were focusing on. However reading the book, it brought the images in my mind and on my computer to life.

Obviously not taking anything serious on top of Masada…

The other reason I love the book is because Alice Hoffman deeply researched the history behind the mysteries of Masada and used everything very accurately. She went to the Museums at Masada to study the artifacts, which she then applied throughout the novel. Also she makes sure that the ending of the book aligns with what actually occurred in history. While about 900 or so Jews lived on top of Masada during the battle, only seven survived. Hoffman made sure to keep this fact apart of the novel. You will have to read it to find out who survives.

My younger brother going down the Snake Path

The only part of this book that is really random is the involvement of witchcraft, demons, and magic. These topics aren’t very prevalent in Jewish beliefs, and Jews typically do not believe in Hell either. While I thought this was sort of random, apparently it is part of the author’s style, I thought it brought a whimsical effect to the book. Go buy this book or check it out from the library like I did. Apparently you can even download audiobooks and e-books for your nook from the library.

If you ever need a good book to read just ask me because I seriously always have my nose in one. Maybe I’ll make some sweet book lists soon.

Have you read a great book recently?
What is the best book you have ever read?

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Another two-fer

Hey ya’ll! It is Thursday. So excited that it is almost the weekend. I am literally exhausted from doing crafts and finally unpacking my apartment – I know, I moved like two weeks ago. I’m just really lazy. I have a doctors appointment today (hopefully I’m not slowly dying), and I have volleyball practice tonight.

Aren’t these girls sooo cute? They are my JCC Maccabi Team Austin volleyball team – it is a Jewish thing. It is sort of like the Olympics for Jewish teens from 13-16. Every year, a city hosts it and hundreds of Jewish teens come in to compete in different sports. This year Houston is hosting, so it will be huge. I’m excited. Especially because when I played I was a gold medalist.

Anyways, I’ve been doing slave labor and hand painting t-shirts for them. The girls gave me the money, told me to get hot pink, and I came up with the design. This is the front, and the back will have their last names and a cute volleyball quote. Everyone is going to be jealous, and I won’t be able to stand up from hunching over to paint them. I’ve only been able to do 5 so far because painting the fire is time consuming. Hopefully I’ll finish soon.

Baked Apple Oats
1/2 c Oats
1 1/2 c water
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 packet truvia
1 melted banana
1 sliced apple
1 tsp chopped walnuts
2 tbsp raisins
1 tsp brown sugar

1. Add oats and water into a microwavable safe container, and heat for 2 min and 55 seconds.
2. In a second container, add the slice apple, sprinkle with a pinch of brown sugar, and cover with plastic.
3. Heat in the microwave for 2 minutes.
4. While apples are cooking, add vanilla, truvia, and brown sugar into oatmeal.
5. Then add melted banana (previously done in microwave for 1 min and 25 seconds).
6. Then add in apple mixture (make sure to slice down to even smaller pieces).
7. Add in raisins and walnuts.

Enjoy. This recipe reminds me of fall because of the sweetness of the apples. I could probably eat more than one apple a day because I love them so much. However, this definitely doesn’t keep the doctor away.

Black Forest Oatmeal Parfait (I know I promised this recipe a while ago)

1/2 c of Oatmeal
1 1/2 c of water
1/4 c of fat free cottage cheese
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 packet of truvia
1 packet of 20 calorie hot cocoa
chocolate chips
1 c of sliced cherries

1. Microwave oatmeal and water in a safe container for about 2 min and 55 seconds.
2. Mix in vanilla, truvia, chocolate, and cherries.
3. Spoon one layer of oatmeal mixture in a cup.
4. Top with a layer of cottage cheese.
5. Then another layer of oatmeal followed by cottage cheese until you run out of oatmeal or get to the top of the cup.
5. Top with a few chocolate chips and some more cherries.

This is definitely an amazing breakfast. I love parfaits – mainly because of TCBY, but this one is pretty good.

These girls are seriously too cute. There was a big storm at the last practice, so they wanted to go out and play in the rain for a little bit. Being the cool coach that I am, I decided sure. They are so funny. I don’t know what I would do without these girls!

Have you ever coached a sport before?
Have you ever participated in a competitive event like this?

WIAW #5 and Trader Joes Finds

WOW! I haven’t blogged in a week. That was like a mini uneeded vacation. I partially didn’t blog because I was in Dallas a couple of days, and I was out having fun instead of having time for my computer. Also this is going to sound totally crazy, but at my mom’s my computer does not work with the internet there, so it is literally impossible to blog there unless I have everything pre-loaded and just hit publish. Obviously I am not that advance, but I am back. It is What I Ate Wednesday, so I definitely had to pop in for that. Plus I have a ton of recipes coming ya’lls way and a trip to this amazing Israeli market in Dallas. Shout out to Jenn for hosting this day, she really is awesome for coming up with this.

Tropical Sunrise Oats. These oats are ridiculously tasty, and the mix of orange, pineapple, and mango definitely gives you a boost of energy in the morning. Of course I had to throw in some chocolate chips to give it that sweetness that I’m always craving.

For lunch it has been my classic peanut butter, raspberry jam, and banana sandwich. This is my go to meal when I don’t have a lot of food in my pantry and I want to eat something that is filling, but low calorie. This always hits the spot to. It is something about that classic combination of peanut butter and bananas. The sweetness of the jam makes it that much better.

Hello favorite snack. Arctic Zero Cookies and Cream topped with gluten free chocolate chips, marshmallows, and banana slices. Oh man. This is definitely one of my top two favorite flavors of this “ice cream”. It hits the spot on a hot day, and you totally aren’t breaking the bank calorie wise. Since the whole pint is only 150 calories, if you gorge down the entire thing it isn’t that bad.

Let me get to the good stuff. The Trader Joe’s finds. Oh yes. It was a glorious moment when I stepped out of the car to enter this beauty. Finally Trader Joe’s has reached Texas. Now I just need one in Austin. Luckily San Antonio is getting one in September, and that is only about a 40 minute drive from my apartment. Success. I will def be doing like monthly drives to that Trader Joe’s and the two story forever 21 (gotta through in some shopping).

Meet my best friend. The falafel chip. I have a deep love for anything falafel, as we can see from my frequent trips to St. Pita’s. These chips are life changing. They actually taste like falafel. It is quite scary actually to imagine how they get all the flavors of a falafel and put it in to a small chip. I’m not complaining though because these are amazing. I’ll probably have to stock up on these when I go to Boston – I can just see myself now, carrying like huge trader joe’s bags onto the airplane alongside a Mike’s Pastry box. Laugh as much as you want, but I will have all the goods.

So I actually have a lot of best friends because these guys are also on the top of my list. Banana slices covered in dark chocolate. You really can’t get better than that. These are one of the main reasons we went to Trader Joe’s. My entire family loves them, and we even finished one box before we left Fort Worth…..we were hungry. If you ever go to Trader Joe’s, I definitely recommend these.

There is a trend here. Chocolate and snack foods. Who needs meals when you have dark chocolate bars? This is healthy. Really though. The higher percentage of cacao the better for you. Chocolate has shown to be very important in heart health, so go out there and buy yourself some chocolate (make sure it is cacao).

These are white something something peaches, but man they are delicious and really juicy. The fruit is one of the reasons why I love TJ’s. You can buy apples for 68 cents a pound! Um what? YES. I think my mom and I got about 14 apples for pretty cheap. Then we got these peaches for like 50 something cents, which was definitely a smart buy. The only other fruit we got were strawberries, and they were perfect.

These were an amazing found. I also got the mahi mahi ones too. Since I’ve gone pescatarian, I’ve been on the search for a good frozen fish burger. When I saw these at Trader Joe’s I was so excited. They are really low calorie, delicious, and provide a ton of healthy nutrients like Omega-3’s.

Welcome to heaven. You can thank me later. This is probably the most amazing discovery in the entire world. Oh god I had some of this on a toasted english muffin. Mind blowing. Seriously, run to your local Trader Joe’s and stock up on this stuff immediately. Oh man I could totally have a cabinet just dedicated to this stuff because it is just that amazing. I can eat it straight out of the jar, on oatmeal, on pancakes, or on top of pretzels. The combinations are endless. You will be so happy you bought some for yourself.

Some of the other Trader Joe’s finds we had were pita chips, rosemary raisin chips, two different types of cheeses, and two buck chuck of course. Can’t go to a TJ’s without getting some of that two buck Chuck. I used to go to Boston, and load up my suitcase with this stuff. Yes, I’m cheap and I like cheap tasty things.

WIAW #4: The Breakfast Club

Hey ya’ll! It is that awesome time of the week: What I ate Wednesday. Shout out to Jenn for hosting such an awesome blog link up party online. While everyone else is having epic Wednesdays, I’m sitting around my apartment all day waiting for the energy company to come hook up the gas. Yeah, no fun. Luckily I have my computer, books, and my roommate’s cat to keep me entertained. Let’s get to the good stuff. Today I’m doing a post all about breakfast. Seeing as it is my favorite meal of the day, I thought it was appropriate. However, I’m also going to give you a little nutrition lesson too.

Black Forest Oats Parfait

Breakfast is probably the most important meal of the day because it gives you a healthy start to the day. Most people think that by skipping breakfast, they will be able to lose more weight. However this is actually a myth. Eating breakfast actually increases your metabolism, which in turn helps you lose weight quicker. Also, if you don’t eat breakfast by the time lunch rolls around you are hungrier and therefore more inclined to eat more food than you would have. This leads to more weight gain. Obviously the key point here is to eat breakfast, but there are also many other benefits that can be connected to eating breakfast.

Studies have shown that breakfast has a huge impact on cognitive function. Most studies have been done on school aged children showing that by eating breakfast they perform better on tests and in school. However this information can be used for adults too since our brains need fuel to function properly. Breakfast is also connected to concentration. Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast have an easier time focusing on the task at hand compared to those that do not consume a morning meal.

S’mores Oats

Another reason that breakfast is an important meal of the day is because of energy. By eating breakfast, we are supplying our bodies with nutrients and substance. From this, our body gets energy. When you sleep at night, the body goes through seven to eight hours without eating, so it is important to eat breakfast. Otherwise you will lack the energy needed to get through the day. No one wants bad grades or to get fired, so EAT Breakfast.

Pistachio Pancakes

A healthy breakfast doesn’t have to take long to make or be super fancy. All you need is plenty of fiber and a healthy source of protein. These are things that help you stay satisfied for a long period of time, provide a good amount of energy, and keep your metabolism going. For fiber, one can consume whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. For protein, there can be a variety of sources based on the diet. Obviously you can have meat, but other choices include beans (for vegans and vegetarians), eggs, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, or tofu (I saw a great recipe at Jenn’s for Tofu french toast – definitely going to try it out soon).

The lesson is you need to eat breakfast. I find that breakfast is fun. Don’t worry. I will share all of these recipes pretty soon! I wouldn’t show you pictures without telling you how to make it. I hope everyone has an awesome Wednesday. I’m just hoping that the energy guy comes soon, so I can finish unpacking and doing stuff that I need to do.

What is your favorite breakfast?
Do you ever skip breakfast?

Hop To It

Hey ya’ll! I just got back from Austin. I couldn’t post while there because I realized I forgot my camera plug at my apartment. Total fail. That tends to happen when I pack to go somewhere. I always forget something, and I get this feeling that I did, but I can never remember what I forgot until I’m already halfway away. Oh well. It was a pretty nice weekend. The highlight was definitely going to Hopdoddy’s, which is a nice burger bar in Austin.

There are two locations in Austin. The original one that is on South Congress, and this newer location on Anderson Lane. I go to the Anderson Lane one since it is down the street from where I live. Seriously best day ever when I got the news that they were getting a Hopdoddys in my neighborhood. My mom, brother, and I decided to go after my CT scans because I could only have clear liquids before, so I was starving.

I ordered the Janis Joplin. It is a hemp seed patty with avocado, bean sprouts, tillamook cheddar, and horseradish honey mustard. This is one of the best veggie burgers I have ever had. The bun is soft and has the perfect sweet, nutty flavor. The actual patty is extremely tasty, and filled with a variety of flavors. The toppings go perfect with this burger, and you definitely know you are eating the healthiest of everyone at the table.

My mom ordered the Primetime. It is Texas Akaushi Beef with caramelized onions, brie cheese, truffle aoili, and steak sauce. This is one of the fancier burgers they have on the menu. I think it is quite delicious (although I don’t eat red meat anymore), and the brie cheese is to die for. Whoever thought of putting that on the burger alongside the aoili, three points for you.

My mom and I split an order of fries. One of my favorite parts of Hopdoddys is that they have tons of sauces. Horseradish honey mustard, some chipotle BBQ sauce, and sassy sauce (their special).

My brother got the Greek, which is lamb, feta cheese, arugala, pickled red onions, tomato, cucumber, and tzatziki sauce. He said it was pretty amazing. He especially loved the feta cheese on top of it.

My brother also ordered a milkshake. The milkshakes here are life changing. This is the sea salt and caramel. It was amazing. The sweet and salty combination was perfect. I would definitely order this one next time I’m there. Although all of the milkshakes are good. I also got a t-shirt when I was there that says: “We spank our patties and they like it”. I really can’t wait to wear that around and get weird stares.

I hope everyone has been having a fantastic week!

Where is the best burger you have ever had?
What would be on your perfect burger?

Breakfast and Boys

Hey ya’ll! I’m so happy it is the weekend. Although now every day will be like the weekend since I’m out of summer school. Onwards to finding a job, but until then I will be enjoying my summer break.

Since all I post is pancake recipes, ya’ll must think that is all I eat. I swear I eat other food. I do, however, have another pancake recipe for you. Haha. I can’t help it that I love my pancakes and record them more than other things.

Lemon Raspberry Pancakes
1/2 c Whole Wheat Flour
1/3 c Unsweetened Almond Milk
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp lemon juice
1 packet stevia
3/4 c. raspberries
lemon zest
1/4 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp egg white substitutes

1. Mix all dry ingredients into a bowl.
2. Add in wet ingredients and stir well.
3. Mix in 1/2 c raspberries into the batter.
4. Pour batter onto pre-heated pan and wait to flip until bubbles appear on top.
5. Flip over and cook until lightly brown.
6. Smash with 1/4 c raspberries with a little of water and some raspberry jam to make a thick syrup to top the pancakes with.

These pancakes are delicious. If you are a fruit person then this is the way to go. It is just the perfect amount of sweet with a good amount of tartness.

I’m in Austin! So excited. This weekend is going to be pretty fun. Especially because I get to see some sexy men tonight….in the form of Magic Mike.
Do I really care what this movie is about? No. Do I even care if it is good quality? No. Do I care that there are tons of hot shirtless men on the screen? YES. I’m excited plus I’m going with two of my friends who I haven’t seen in forever, so it will be a good time.

Of course what is the first thing I do when I get to Austin? Go get a snowcone with my family.
I got cupcake. OMG. It was amazing. It tasted like liquid cupcake. It would have been even better with condensed cream on top. Oh well. Next time. My mom got the apple pie one, my younger brother got a horchata with cream, and we got a wild cherry to go (I know boring person). Ice Queens is going to be my new spot in town. I even have my own punch card with 4 punches on it. Winning.

I hope everyone has an awesome weekend! I have volleyball practice tomorrow and I’m getting cat scans on Monday.

Do you have any big plans for the weekend?
Have you ever had something cupcake flavored?

Fourteen Things Friday

Happy Friday, but really today is especially happy because it marks the end of summer school for me. I have somehow survived three demanding classes in a 5 week span. I’m not sure how I did it, but I’m still standing. I was actually going to do this post yesterday, but it was going to be called Ten Things Thursday. However I ended up having to study way more than I thought, deal with apartment things, and finish my research proposal. So now its fourteen things – I know you are excited to learn 4 more things about my life than you were originally supposed to know.

1. I have met my first blogger, and she is the sweetest thing ever. Min, who blogs over at Savor the Rainbow, is actually in my agriculture class (which is an awful class). I randomly found her blog one day, and was happy I did. Anyways to the point, she had made some muffins with the Wild Harvest Product from HLS and she let me sample one. THEY WERE AMAZING. Seriously it was the best snack I have had in class all month long. I was sad when it disappeared.
2. Speaking of agriculture, I’m done with summer school. Hallelujah. Although that final is sort of irritating me because the multiple choice part was a little harder than normal. At least in my opinion.

3. I’m going to Austin tomorrow. This means another trip to the Ice Queens snowcone trailer, and food adventures with my family. I also plan on doing some foodie pen pal shopping.

4. I’m having my first volleyball practice since a while ago on Sunday, and I couldn’t be more excited to see my girls. They are the cutest things ever. I will share a picture soon.

5. I decided to drown my agriculture final sorrows and my excitement for school to be over in some froyo from Crazy Good. I got White Chocolate Macadamia with chocolate sauce, strawberries, pineapple, jimmies, and gummy bears. Best treat for a hot day.
Yes, I have also discovered instagram – months later. Hello new addiction.

6. I have finally completely moved out of my old apartment, and I am into my new apartment Granted I still have a million boxes every where, but the main point is that I have a glorious new closet or should I say closets – as in two.
This photo doesn’t even do it justice because it chops off both sides. Also I have another bar under the clothes on the left for more of my clothing that is still in boxes. Remember, this is just my first closet! I love life.

7. I’m going to start volunteering at the Food Bank in San Marcos next week. I’m super excited to do something worthwhile for once. Also I’ll be researching more opportunities to help out the community in a food and health related way.

8. New snack alert. Normally I’m not a big eater of processed foods, but sometimes when you are sitting in class for 6 hours straight – you need easy snacks. In comes, fiber one cookie bars – SO much better than the brownies.
9. I’m going on a mini-vacation to Dallas with my mom and younger brother. Hopefully I can convince them to go to the Trader Joe’s in Fort Worth, but if not I’ll settle for H&M and a two story forever 21.

10. You guys must think all I eat is pancakes, but I really don’t. I just eat them on the weekends only. Anyways I’ll post up the recipe tomorrow and just share the picture now:
Lemon Raspberry Pancakes, so delicious with a nice tart taste.

12. I got a 101.6 in Accounting. I have to say that I’m pretty proud of myself. I’m a nutrition major that is a science girl, so going into accounting I was a bit scared from all the horror stories of the other nutrition majors. However, I was a boss and destroyed it.

13. I have a new favorite snack: Arctic Zero Vanilla Maple with banana slices, mini chocolate chips, and a little bit of sugar free syrup.
This is the perfect snack on a hot day plus it is pretty sweet and very low calorie. I mean the whole pint of ice cream is only about 150 calories.

14. I’m not sure I have announced it on my blog, but I’m going to Boston from August 16th-22nd. I’m really excited for many reason: 1. It is during HLS, so I’ll get to meet tons of bloggy buddies, 2. I get to see my best friend, 3. Best friend and I will go on epic food adventures, 4. I’ll get to pretend I have a fabulous city life for a week, and 5. I get to see someone special. I seriously love Boston, and I’m not just biased from having gone to college there.

I hope everyone has an amazing weekend. Mine is going to be filled with food, family, and fun. I can’t wait because I have needed this break for a long time.

Do you have any exciting news in your life right now?
Are you going to HLS in Boston?