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Archive for the ‘Saving Money’ Category

Ate Days a Week

In Beans, Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Challenge, Fruit, Healthy Lifestyle, Holiday, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Nuts, Oats, Party, Pasta, Pizza, Quick Meal, Rice, Salad, Saving Money, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on February 24, 2015 at 7:04 pm

When it comes to healthy eating, I find there is a fine line between two philosophies: 1)Variety is the spice of life and 2)Consistency is key.  How does one stay in balance without getting bored of the same 10 meal repertoire?  When it comes to diversification, I’m always looking for inspiration.  I often look at healthy eating blogs/sites, fitness magazines, and even get sucked into the articles on the latest celebrity eating crazes.  There are definitely common trends (who else is sick of seeing kale everywhere?), but there is also a lot of differing and conflicting information.  Some people eat the same exact breakfast and lunch every day because it helps them stay on track, while others will cave into candy if they have another egg white fritata.

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Could you eat THIS every day?

Where do my habits fall on this spectrum?  It’s kind of hard to say.  There have been weeks where I definitely fall into the same lunch rut, and others where I order take out every night.  It really depends on what else is going on that hour/meal/day/week/etc.  In an effort to better answer this question, I decided a couple of weeks ago to keep a log of my food/water/alcohol intake every day for 7 days.  This practice helped me to reflect more accurately on my habits and identify trends, which is something I hadn’t done in several years.  Back in my days of working with a personal trainer, I had been required to turn in a nutrition log at the beginning of each session, which gave me so much anxiety.  If I was honest about every morsel, I’d get ripped apart for having even one cookie, even if the other 98% of my intake was perfect.   I would end up omitting anything that I knew was “inconstant” and veering away from my “goals”, just to avoid the wrath of someone who subsisted on protein shakes, whey, and hardly any fresh fruits or vegetables.

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Homework…

It’s been a long time since I’ve followed any sort of “diet” or meal plan, so this time I took a different approach to the journaling process.  I didn’t focus exclusively on calories, macronutrients, or obsessively counting and measuring.  While I did note approximate amounts (I have a very good sense of portions and volumes, so that’s how I was able to quantify all the ingredients), I didn’t use any measuring devices (scale/cup/calculator), except when required by a recipe (baking).    I just wanted to get a sense of 1)the main components of my meals, 2)some idea of ratio (is the meal 1/2 veggies, 1/4 each protein/carb), 3)how often/frequently I eat, 4)what kind and how often I was having alcohol and “treats”, and how 5)much water I was consuming.  For water, I used the same size glass throughout the day (usually a 17 oz size, which I’d note as 2 cups), and I didn’t include cooking water.  I also noted times I ate/drank to understand the frequency better.

Here’s a high level overview, which I’ll follow with more details and pics.  This particular week had a busy weekend (Valentine’s Day, birthday parties, 2 big family dinners), so it’s an example of more splurging than usual.

  • Breakfast is the most consistent, usually some combination of protein (eggs or yogurt) with whole grain (oats) and lots of veggies
  • Lunch is usually leftovers or a simple salad
  • Dinner is the most varied, usually freshly cooked, and has carb heavy options for the other members of my family
  • I’ll have 1-3 in between meal snacks or bites
  • I drink a minimum 12 cups of water a day, but usually 16+ (especially on days I exercise).  This equates to about a cup/hour.
  • 1-2 glasses of wine 4 times a week; 1 night of cocktails.  None of that bothers me. 🙂
  • A piece or two of chocolate 3x; ice cream 1x
  • During the week, frequency is 2-3 hours; Weekend eating frequency is less, but more indulgent

That’s the basic gist of the week’s trends.  Some of you may want more information, the same way I look at other blogs as I mentioned earlier.  For those who want more details, here they are, along with some photos when I remembered to take them.

  • Monday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 530: 2 cups water before/during barre workout
    • 7 am grande coffee w 1 oz milk
    • 7:45 am: 2 cups water; porridge – 1/2 cup oats, 2 cups water, 1.5 cups kale, 1 tsp miso, 2 eggs, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
      • 2 more cups water btwn meals
    • 11:15 Carob spirulina energy bite (1)
    • 12:30 pm: 2 cups water; salad of 3 celery stalks, 1 small gala apple, 1/3 cup chickpeas, lemon juice; 1 brown rice cake with 1/3 avocado and 1/2 oz sharp cheddar
      • 2:30 2 cups water
    • 3:15 whole wheat banana nut bread
      • 4:30 2 cups water
    • 6:00 low fat string cheese 1 cup water
    • 7:15 2 cups water; whole wheat pasta with honeynut squash olives capers and almonds (1 cup)
      • 1 cup water after dinner
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Porridge

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Lunch

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Whole Wheat Banana Bread

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Pasta.

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My itty portion.

  • Tuesday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 8:30 am: 2 cups water
    • 9:00 – pancake (1.5 eggs, 6 tbsp oats, 3 tbsp nonfat Greek yogurt, 1.5 cups flower sprouts [like kale]). 2 cups water
      • 10: stroller strides (interval full body workout) 2 cups water during workout
    • 11: 3/4 cup Greek yogurt with 1 tsp pb 3/4 apple and cinnamon
    • 11:30 – grande coffee w 1 oz milk
    • 1:00 pm – 2 cups water; 1 whole wheat pizza slice with broccoli and spinach topping
      • 2:45 – 2 cups water
      • 4:15 – 2 cups water
    • 5:15 – 1.5 clementine 10 raw almonds
    • 6:15 : 2 cups water, 3 bell pepper slices
    • 7:30 2 cups water. 2 (really big) glass red wine. 1/3 cup sprouted brown rice, 1/3 cup mushroom stroganoff, 1/2 cup roasted sugar snap peas in 1 tsp Evoo, 1 small bell pepper stuffed w 1/2 cup chickpeas w lemon zest and juice; 2 choc truffle
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Pancake with a hot sauce smile.

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Yogurt parfait.

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  • Wednesday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 9:15 am 2 cups water
    • 9:30 – smoothie (3/4 cup Greek yogurt, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1.5 cups broccoli, 1/4 cup oats, 1 tbsp pb, 1/2 cup water, vanilla and cinnamon)
      • 10:30 2 cups water
    • 11:15 cup of coffee w splash of milk
      • 11:40 2 cups water
    • 12:15 pm 1 cup coffee
      • 1:00 2 cups water
    • 1:15 leftover snap peas stroganoff and rice, kidney beans 1/2 cup each
    • 2:45 2 cups water. 1 oz sharp cheddar
    • 5:15 thin slice whole wheat banana bread
      • 6:30 2 cups water
    • 7:00 carrot ginger coconut soup (1 cup), sesame noodles (1/2 cup brown rice quinoa pasta with pb and sesame sauce (pb, molasses, sesame oil, ginger, garlic,etc), 2 cups water, 1 piece dark chocolate w raisins and pecans
      • 10:30 2 cups water
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Finished smoothie.

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Sautéing veggies for the soup.

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Soups on!

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Sesame noodles, with some modifications on this recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/cold-sesame-noodles-recipe2.html

  • Thursday
    • Water total: 14
      • 9:30 am 2 cups water
    • 10:00 1/2 cup oats, 6 oz baby spinach sautéd in 1 tsp Evoo and garlic, 2 scrambled eggs, 2 cups water
    • 10:45 2 cup coffee w splash milk
      • 12:30 pm 2 cups water
      • 1:30 2 cups water
    • 2:00 leftover carrot soup (1.5 cups) rice beans and mushroom (1/2 cup each;) 1 cup water
      • 3:00 1 cup water
      • 5:15 2 cups water
    • 6:15 2 cups water. 1 small sweet potato with skin and sprinkle cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup white beans cooked in sriracha sauce, 1 cup slaw (napa cabbage carrots onion pepper apple celery lemon juice avocado), 1 glass red wine
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Breakfast.

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Leftovers. Again.

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Slaw.

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BBQ(ish) Dinner.

  • Friday
    • Water total: 17 cups
      • 5:30-7am 3 cups water before/ during barre
    • 7:00 grande coffee with splash milk
    • 8:30 2 cups water. Miso soup (1 tbsp miso w 2 cups water) with 1/2 cup leftover sprouted brown rice, 3 cups flower sprouts, 2 poached eggs, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil and hot sauce
      • 9:30 2 cups water
      • 11:15 2 cups water
    • 12:15 2 cups water. 2 cups leftover slaw w 1/2 cup kidney beans, 1 small sweet potato w sprinkle cheddar
      • 4:00 2 cups water
    • 4:30 2 clementines 15 raw almonds
      • 530 1 cup water
    • 7:00 pm – FAMILY DINNER. 1 cup water. 1/4 cup guac w 10 scoops, 2-3 oz white fish, 1/2 cup black bean, 1/2 cup cabbage, 2 margaritas. 1 piece salted caramel dark chocolate, 1 scoop vanilla ice cream
      • 10:00 2 cups water
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Another take on Breakfast.

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  • Saturday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 9:45 am 2 cups water
    • 10:15 2 cups water. 1/2 cup oats cooked in water, 3 oz baby spinach in 1 tsp Evoo, 1/3 avocado, 1 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
      • 11:00 am – 1:00 pm 4 cups water before/during/after barre
    • 1:00 pm grande coffee splash of milk
    • 2:30 pm salad w romain eggplant roasted red pepper cucumber tomato chick peas fresh mozzarella 1 tbsp vinaigrette, 10 French fries, 5 bites broccoli cheddar omelet, 1 cup water
      • 7:00 pm 4 cups water
    • 8:30 VALENTINES. 2 glasses red wine, 5 slices baguette 1/2 inch thick,  5 crackers, cheese (3ish oz), cherry jam, 10 olives, 2 cups water
      • 1 cup water before bed
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More savory oats.

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VDay with my love.

  • Sunday (Busy day, no photos)
    • Water total: 12
      • 9:30 am 2 cups water
    • 10:30 am 16 oz americano w steamed milk (1/2 cup?), 1 slice whole wheat banana bread, 1 cup water
    • 12:30 pm BIRTHDAY BRUNCH PART 1. 3 cups water, 1/2 cup brown rice 1 cup sauted Chinese broccoli,  2 bites tapioca custard, 2 bites dessert bun
    • 3:30 BIRTHDAY BRUNCH PART 2.  1 cup water, 2 poached eggs, 1/2 biscuit, 1/2 cup sauted kale, 1 cup mixed green side salad, 1/2 Bloody Mary
    • 6:30. BIG FAMILY DINNER.  3 cups water, 2 glasses red wine, 1/2 cup mixed greens, 1/2 slice fresh mozzarella, 1 bite bread w butter, 1 cup whole wheat pasta w arabiata sauce, 1/2 cup green beans, 1/4 cup sauted spinach, small piece eggplant parm (3 bites), 3 bites sole oreganata
      • 9:00 pm. 2 cups water

To answer my initial question, what does all of this mean? After this experiment, I think I can say that I am consistent with adhering to the healthy habits I’ve developed over the years, all while spicing things up with twists and changes.  And even if I do indulge a smidge, I don’t have to worry about hiding it from anyone, because I don’t consider it something off limits.  How else do you expect me to muster up the energy to cook (or chase a toddler) without a glass or two of wine?

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And if you’d like to see any of the recipes from this week, comment and let me know.  They could be included in a future post.

Slow as Molasses

In American, Breakfast, Fruit, Nuts, Oats, Saving Money, Vegan on April 12, 2013 at 2:55 pm

When I posted last time about all my new recipes, I emptily promised to reveal and detail the winner the following week.  Well, let’s just say a week is apparently equal to nearly 2 months in the energy level of a pregnant lady.  It takes me a lot longer to do simple tasks, such as walk to the subway or go grocery shopping, so please bare with me.

The recipe with the highest votes was unsurprisingly the truffled mac ‘n cheese.  I have to say I am slightly disappointed, only because that is the least wholesome dish I offered in the poll.  Regardless, I will at least give you a snapshot of the story behind the glory.

Maybe 5 or so years ago, I was watching Barefoot Contessa, which you may or may not know features Ina Garten, the poster child for Hamptons culinary indulgences.  Don’t believe me?  She is basically the Yankee version of Paul Dean.  I’m surprised she hasn’t announced any critical medical problems herself.  Anyway, on that particular episode she had whipped up some of said truffled mac ‘n cheese.  I was mesmerized, and of course made it for my hubby (then bf).  It was a winner.  Since then, I only make it for special occasions.  Most recently, this included a potluck Superbowl party.  I’m not going to go into too many details, so here’s a link to the recipe.  I followed it to a T.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/truffled-mac-and-cheese-recipe/index.html

Here are some pictures.

Shredded Cheddar and Gruyer

Shredded Cheddar and Gruyer

Sauteed Mushrooms

Sauteed Mushrooms

Truffle Butter

Truffle Butter

Bechamel

Bechamel

Pasta, Sauce, Cheese, and Mushrooms

Pasta, Sauce, Cheese, and Mushrooms

Breadcrumb ingredients

Breadcrumb ingredients

Assembled

Assembled

In other news, I’ve been refining my diet even more since switching from an OB to a Birthing Center midwifery practice.  The former gave me no nutritional information other than avoiding undercooked animal products.  The latter sat with me for 30 minutes reviewing my diet, and suggesting what nutrients to increase.  The biggie was iron.  There’s a big misconception that as a vegetarian you are at an iron disadvantage.  When we went over a list of foods to eat, I would say 90% on the print out were plant based.  These foods include leafy greens, whole grains, legumes (beans, lentils), nuts, dried fruits, and blackstrap molasses.  She said that molasses is great to use in baking instead of brown sugar (which I’ve done in the past), but also to add to cereal, yogurt, beans, you name it.  One tbsp has 20% daily value of both iron and calcium.  Mind you, pregnant women need double the iron, but still.  Even 10% from switching a tbsp of sweetener for the molasses goes a long way.

There was one recipe I had in my archives that I found a few years ago on a blog for granola bars.  Oats, dried fruit, almond butter, almonds, seeds.  All tons of iron.  I decided to swap out the brown sugar and replace it with molasses to boost the iron factor even more.  I had intended on making these for 2 straight weeks, but I either was missing an ingredient, or once I bought it was too tired to assemble and prepare.  Let me tell you, once I finally got my act together I was happy to have them lying around when I was in a pinch for a snack.

Almond Fig Granola Bars
Adapted from In Praise of Leftovers

1 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 c. chopped raw almonds
1/4 c. raw sunflower seeds
1 Tb. flaxseeds
1 Tb. sesame seeds
1 c. unsweetened crisped brown rice cereal
1/3 c. dried tart cherries
2/3 c. dried figs, coarsely chopped
1/4 c. creamy almond butter
1/4 c. blackstrap molasses
3 Tb. brown rice syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt

I followed the directions accordingly, just with my substitutions: brown rice cereal instead of kashi, cherries instead of cranberries, blackstrap molasses for brown sugar, and brown rice syrup for honey.  The last bit makes this recipe vegan, for all my vegan friends.

Oven preheating to 350, I spread the oats, almonds, and all the seeds on a tray for toasting for 8 minutes.

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While toasting, I combined the rice cereal in fruits in a bowl.

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Once the toasting items were done, I combined all the dry ingredients and prepped wet to simmer in a saucepan for 5 minutes: almond butter, molasses, brown rice syrup, vanilla, and salt.

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Then when the goop was done, I poured it over all the dry ingredients, and pressed the mixture into a pan.

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After 30ish minutes in the fridge, I cut mixture into 12 bars, and placed each one into an individual ziplock.  Those packages were placed in an airtight container.

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And voila!  Protein, fiber, calcium, and iron.  I may be slow as molasses, but my metabolism sure isn’t thanks to these bars.

Oat Say-What-A?

In American, Breakfast, Fruit, Oats, Saving Money, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 23, 2012 at 6:37 pm

I have oats for breakfast at least 5 times a week (hopefully 7 if I’m a good girl).  Whether it’s a quick bowl of rolled oats, muesli with yogurt, or the slow cooked steel cut variety, my days always go way better when I start off with these grains.  Paired with some eggs [whites] or milk, the complex carb/protein combo keeps me fullest the longest without feeling sickly stuffed or greasy (as I would with an egg/cheese sammie or breakfast burrito).  When I’m in a real pinch for time, I’ll blend some oats with egg whites, Greek yogurt, vanilla, and cinnamon, and make some pancakes.  However, I ideally like to eat the grain as minimally processed as possible.  Hence, the oat frittata.

That’s right, a frittata.  You know, the omelet’s fancy cousin.  I first saw this idea on a daytime talk show, and I’ve been hooked since.  The basic recipe is 1/2 cup oats, 2-4 egg whites, 1/2 cup berries.  This is exactly what I had been eating, only it required one pan and 1 plate.  Genius.

Berry Oat Frittata

Serves 1

1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
3 egg whites
2 tbsp unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup blueberries OR 1 cup strawberries, OR  half and half

I use a nonstick pan and nonstick canola oil spray, but you could use a griddle if you have one.  I combine all the ingredients in a bowl just to mix everything together, and then pour everything into the pan on medium high heat.

I cover the pan with a lid so that the steam can cook through the mixture.  After about 2 minutes, I flip it over to cook on the other side.

Just another minute, and this baby is done.  How simple is that?  It’s also extremely nutritious, and a great way to introduce oats into your diet if you fear the usual goopy suspect served to you as a child.  If you can tolerate more sugar in the morning, top with some maple syrup or jam, but you don’t really need it.  If I’m really craving a little extra kick, I spread a teaspoon of raw almond butter on top.  Yum.  But the fun doesn’t end there.

Did you know oats can be prepared and enjoyed with savory flavors instead of sweet?  Take the basic oat frittata recipe I just explained for example.  Egg frittatas are generally filled with veggies, cheeses, and savory meats, so why not translate those flavors to the oat version?

Cumin Spiced Kale, Zucchini, and Oat Frittata

Serves 1

2-3 kale leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup zucchini, chopped
2 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
Non-stick olive oil spray
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
3 egg whites
2 tbsp 1% milk
Cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper to taste

First, chop up all those veggies so you can begin to sauté them with the nonstick spray.

While they sauté, combine all the other ingredients in a bowl.

After the veggies have cooked for about 2 minutes, top them off with a couple more sprays and then the egg/oat mixture.

The rest of the process is the same as the berry version.  I actually made this for lunch last week and topped it with salsa.  It was super good.

You could add any fillings you like really!  Let’s say you want an Italian version – tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella would be perfect!  Go Greek with Feta, dill, and sun dried tomato.  Or make it American with bacon and American cheese[like product].  Any way you serve it, you’re doing your body and heart good by increasing your oat consumption.  Who knows, the cholesterol lowering properties may even wipe out all that extra bacon and cheese.

Don’t Throw That Out!

In Beans, CSA, Flexitarian, Japanese, Meat and Pultry, Mexican, Rice, Saving Money, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables on July 17, 2012 at 12:08 pm

I hate to waste, especially with food.  Maybe it’s from years of hearing my Great-Depression era grandmother say “eat everything on your plate.”  Or perhaps it’s from watching the starving children in those commercials you can feed for 25 cents a day.  Along with  several other motivators,  I strive to use every inch of food I buy.  I’m not perfect, but I’ve definitely found some ways to get creative.  Especially with my CSA produce.  I was able to stretch out the “scraps” from three items this past week and turn them into delicious meals!  This includes pods from peas, stems from broccoli, and greens from beets.  Let’s take a look.

I got about a quart worth of peas in a pod last week.  One doesn’t normally find these too often.  Usually people use frozen or canned peas, but the fresh kind are the best!  You can eat them raw as a snack or in a salad.  After I spent a good 15 or so minutes shelling the peas, I reserved the pods to potentially use in a stir fry (like I would use snow peas).  When the day came that I planed to make said stir fry, I found out Nick had Thai food for lunch, so I wanted to make something completely different.  That’s how this recipe was invented.  It still has an East Asian flair, but it’s a soup instead of a stir fry.

Ginger Lime Pea Pod Soup

Makes about 8 cups (4-6 servings)

1 quart peas in pod, shelled and separated
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium or 1/2 large onion, chopped (reserve some for garnish)
2 tbsp minced ginger
2 tsp EVOO
3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
3 cups water
1 tbsp chickpea miso paste (or miso of your choice)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 lime, zest and fruit

I had shelled the peas in advance, so I was able to start chopping the pods right away.  I also chopped the celery, onion, and ginger.

In a large pot, I added the EVOO and chopped veggies, allowing them to saute for 3 or 4 minutes just to get a little bit of the raw bite out of them.

I added the broth and water, and brought to a boil.  Then I added the chickpeas.  I combined 2 tbsp of the hot broth with the miso paste so that I could easily incorporate the latter.  I also added the sea salt.

I lowered the soup to medium-low to simmer for 20 minutes.  Then I added the zest of the lime to the pot.  Then I peeled the skin so I could use the fruit.  I know that sounds weird, but trust me you get a lot of flavor that way.  Plus, you don’t have to juice several limes, which helps to stretch out what you have some more!

I added those wedges to the pot.

After cooking another 2 minutes, I turned off the heat so I could use my immersion blender.  Once everything was smooth and incorporated, I added the fresh peas to gently cook for 5 minutes.

Then it was time to serve!

The soup had a really nice bite to it!  Tart from the lime, spicy from the ginger, and crunchy from the peas.  It was great both hot and chilled.  I even added a dollop of soft goat cheese to it later on, which was an amazing addition.

Now let’s move on to the other ingredients I mentioned:  Broccoli stems and beet greens.  I’ve used the stems before in slaw, and the greens for a salad.  Both occurrences were raw, which render a truer taste and texture.  Nick isn’t a fan of certain tastes and textures.  This is when I have to get really creative (i.e. sneaky).  The best trick I’ve learned is to chop any less-desired veggies into tiny pieces and mix them with other veggies.  That way it’s really hard to pick out the ones you don’t like, and you end up eating everything.  Case in point, enchiladas.  I had leftover pumpkin seed mole sauce, so this was a perfect way to use up the leftovers.  You can refer back to the original enchilada post for details, but here are the ingredients I used:

Veggies:

1 cup zucchini
1 yellow pepper
1 small green pepper
1/2 large onion
Stems of 2 bunches broccoli, cut into match sticks
1/2 bunch beet greens (about 3 cups chopped)

Seasoning:

I didn’t measure them out, but I’d guess about 1/2 tsp of each (except Cayenne).

Cumin
Ancho chili powder
Oregano
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Coriander
Cayenne
Salt
Pepper

I sauteed all the veggies (except greens) for 5 minutes, and then added all the spices.  Then I folded in the greens.

I added about 1/2 a cup of vegetable broth to deglaze.  I used a similar method with chicken breast (to add to Nick’s enchiladas).

I rolled up the enchiladas, topped with mole and low fat cheddar, and baked for 20 minutes at 350.  I served the enchiladas with some black beans and leftover brown rice.  I try to make a bunch of rice at a time, and then stretch it out by reheating with some broth.  You can do the same with leftover rice from Chinese take-out.  Money and time saver!

I just had the veggies and beans with some mole sauce and a sprinkle of cheese.  Without the cheese, this is a really good vegan dish!  Look at how the stems from the beet greens turned the veggies a lovely ruby hue.

Not only was I able to use all the veggie scraps, I was also able to use up all the mole, rice, and a lot of the tortillas I had on hand.  Next time you think of throwing out any of those, don’t.  Make one of these recipes instead!

Give Beets a Chance

In Challenge, Rice, Salad, Saving Money, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 6, 2012 at 3:56 pm

I think beets are one of the most underrated vegetables.  That’s probably because people are reminded of the Del Monte canned variety, and shudder at its preservedness.  However, beets can not only be delicious, but also super good for you.  There’s a reason juice bars include beets as a main base in most juices.  Beets have an incredible detoxifying affect on both your liver and urinary tract.  But enough hippy hullabaloo, let’s move on to delishifying these babies.

There are many ways to prepare beats, but most people are familiar with the roasted version.  The flavor is sweet and concentrated this way, which pairs perfectly with goat cheese, nuts, and fruit in a salad.

Another common method is boiling.  I’ve never tried that myself, but if I were to make some borscht I’d certainly have to.

Perusing through other food blogs, I came across a post of mixed root vegetable chips that included beets.  I can’t seem to locate it now, but I thought that was an excellent beet preparation method!  Hey, they sell Kale chips for 8 bux a pop and I can make those at home, why not create my own beet chips?  I tried some out this week, and I think they came out pretty tasty (0r at least the ones that didn’t burn).

I think I need to invest in a mandolin to perfect these chips.  Here’s what I did….

Baked Curry Beet Chip

1 bunch red beets (about 5-6)
1 tbsp EVOO
1/2 tsp yellow curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt

I had to do this in batches.  My first batch I tried at 350º.  I sliced up the roots as uniformly as I could, but to no avail.  I added them to a resealable bag with the oil, and shook them up til all the chips were coated.  Then I lined a roasting tray with the chips.

I baked them for about 30 minutes until most of them were crispy.  While they baked I mixed the curry powder with the other spices.

This was the first batch outcome.

The more orangy colored ones are crispier.

I sprinkled them right away with the seasoning.

Then I transferred the chips to a paper towel lined plate to cool off.  Let’s say I ate only half of them.

Hard to tell, but that was one of the winners!

Some of the pieces were crispy; others were soft.  I decided to raise the temp to 400º and set my timer for 20 minutes.  At that point, they looked almost ready.  Five minutes later, they were burnt to a crisp.  No photo because I am so embarrassed :(.

The ones that were crispy and not burned were really tasty!  I great alternative to potato chips.

Surprisingly, my new favorite way to enjoy beets is raw in a slaw!  I’ve made one before, and I am constantly experimenting with new recipes.  On July 4th, I used half a bunch of raw beets, some broccoli stems, and red onion for a slaw.

I had a little bit of dill mayo left from making potato salad, so I added that plus some extra mustard and vinegar.  I served the slaw with some grilled zucchini blossoms, and copped out with a veggie burger and salad.

Raw zucchini blossoms cut in half lengthwise.

Grilled to perfection!

Slaw, grilled veggies, can’t go wrong.

I love using the left over slaw for breakfast!  I know that sounds weird, but it’s nice to have on the side with an omelet.  Plus, you get in an extra serving of veggies early in the AM.  Woot woot!

I’ve also mentioned before that beet leaves are edible.  Don’t throw them away!  I eat them raw in salad, but you can easily saute them with garlic and olive oil.

Beet greens with French radish, red onion, avocado, and orange. Paired with cheesy brown rice and leftover grilled squash blossoms.

Any of these ideas peak your interest?  I certainly hope so!  If not, I’ve seen baking with beets (think red velvet cupcakes).  Now that’s one I’ve never tried, but who am I to keep someone from enjoying beets anyway seen fit?

Two Farmer’s Markets, Two New Finds

In Challenge, CSA, Fruit, Salad, Saving Money, Shopping, Soup, Vegetables on June 20, 2012 at 11:10 am

Since I was such a good girl last week, using up everything from my first CSA distribution, I was left to brave the markets for an in between week.  At first, I was super excited because I could choose what I want, and in what quantity.  However, I have definitely taken for granted the no-fuss convenience of NOT having to decide!  Especially when the pickings are slim – such as they were this weekend.

It was really nice on Saturday, so I wanted to bike to the market (which also ensures I only buy what I can carry in my tote bag).  There are two options on Saturdays near me in Brooklyn – the Borough Hall Market in downtown Brooklyn, or Grand Army Plaza Market in Prospect Park.  I chose the former, because 1) it is closer, 2) there are fewer visitors, and 3) it is only a slight incline to bike there.  There’s a reason Park Slope warrants its name, and biking up that hill definitely proves it.

Unfortunately, the advantage of fewer shoppers at a markets leads to fewer farmers and varieties being present, and thus a vicious cycle of supply/demand.  I always remember there being so many vendors at Borough Hall, but for some reason this was not the case this time.  Maybe it was because I got there towards the end of the day?  There was one super huge farmer, one medium sized, and one small.  Plus the bakers, fish stand, cheese, flowers, etc.  I was really looking for some veggies and fruit, so the farmers were my target.  The larger farmer, as it turns out, is a conventional farmer that sprays the bejubus out of all of its crops.  Yet, they charge organic prices.  Why would I pay $5 for a pint of strawberries that are enriched with pesticides, or $3.50 for collards?  These are slightly more expensive than organic produce at the local grocery.  I know that you should support local farmers, and that the majority of produce in the stores is flown in, but really?  I decided to patronize the smallest farmer, who is not certified as organic, but uses all organic soil, no pesticides, no GMOs, etc, except for 2/3rds of their apple orchards.  I know this because I asked and they answered.  That larger farmer didn’t want to give me a straight answer!

There wasn’t much to choose from, but I got:

  • 1 bunch beets (plus the greens – which is a twofer)
  • 1 bunch rainbow swiss chard
  • 1 small Poc Choi – that’s the newbie!  It’s like Bok Choi, only it has some purple in it.
  • 2 quarts strawberries

I also went to the cheese stand and chose a pecorino infused with truffles, and a soft lightly smoked Gouda style cheese.  Needless to say, my bounty would not cover me for the week!  I cleaned everything up, and figured I’d pick up some stuff midweek if I found time.

Beet greens and stems, perfect for salad or saute.

Beautiful rainbow chard.

Chopped up Poc Choi, for Miso soup or stirfry.

Strawberries! Half cleaned and frozen for smoothies, the other half for oatmeal and snacking.

Packed and labeled!

On Monday, I found some time to make my way to the Union Square Market.  That is the premier NYC Greenmarket, for those who don’t know.  Go on a Saturday if you can, that’s when EVERYONE is there.  Mondays are slower, and fewer vendors.  I biked, again, over the meadow and through the woods.  AKA over the Manhattan Bridge and through China Town.  After surveying the options, I found there was one organic vegetable farmer, and one that used no spray, describing all of their methods on a sheet of paper.  I thought that was really nice, to educate the consumers about what your practices are.  I ended up choosing the organic farmer, and here’s what I got!  No photo of all the bounty because I was in a rush to get home for yoga.  I’ll be sure to include more photos when I write about the ingredients in future posts.

  • Tuscan Kale
  • Wild Purple Kale – newbie!!
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 2 small cucumbers (I think Persian, not kirby)
  • Purple scallions
  • 1 bunch dill
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 bag bargain lettuce (basically on its last limb, so it was only $1)

I also bought some hard pretzels from a market vendor – some regular, some whole wheat.  Grand total, excluding pretzels, was $21 on vegetables.  That’s a few dollars less than my CSA, so I figured I did good :).

So far, this is what I’ve used:

  • Half the wild kale for a smoothie
  • 3/4 of the berries for oatmeal and smoothies
  • Beets (and greens) for salad
  • Half the Poc Choi for udon soup
  • Rainbow chard (recipe to be posted)
  • 1 zucchini and 1 yellow squash in the chard dish
  • Half the purple scallions (for almost everything!)
  • All the lettuce for a salad
  • About 1/3 of the dill (recipes to be posted)

Stay tuned for all the recipes!

End of Week Recap, Ruby Rhubarb Relish, and What NOT to do with an Avocado

In Breakfast, Challenge, Chinese, CSA, Fruit, Italian, Nuts, Pasta, Quick Meal, Rice, Salad, Saving Money, Seitan on June 19, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Oh, rhubarb…that reddish celery looking crop that pops up in the late spring at farmer’s markets.  I don’t know about you, but the only time I’ve ever had rhubarb was combined with strawberries in a pie, a crisp, or over vanilla ice cream.  As a result, I never knew exactly HOW it tastes on its own.  I’m all for sweets and desserts, but I’d rather waste my calories on chocolate than a vegetable.  Hence, my mission to create a savory rhubarb recipe!  Knowing that rhubarb is biologically a vegetable, and that it is also very tart, wasn’t enough information for me, so last Thursday, I braced myself to taste some raw.  The best way to describe it: celery marinated in lemon/parsley juice.  I know that sounds so weird, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought.  I decided I’d make a relish/salsa kind of deal, since I had some tomatoes and onion.  My other plan was to make a chilled avocado soup as a base to be topped with the relish.  Let’s just say don’t try THAT at home.

Ruby Rhubarb Relish

2 stalks rhubarb, leaves and ends trimmed, diced
3/4-1 bunch radishes, diced
1/4-1/2 red onion, diced
1 pint grape tomatoes, diced
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

This was a great way to use up the rest of this week’s veggies.  I diced up all the veggies, the same way I’d do for a gazpacho.

Rhubarb

Radish

Red onion. Wow, a lot of red AND R words!

Tomatoes

After combining all the ingredients, I squeezed the citrus juices, and combined with salt and pepper.

Then I took half (about 1.5 cups) and blended in my Vitamix.

I combined the juice with the rest of the solid veggies, and let them chill overnight.

I tried to remember a recipe for chilled avocado soup, but my mind went blank.  Instead of looking one up, I experimented.  I combined 1 avocado with 1/2 cup each Greek yogurt,  1% milk, and water.  I also added the juice of one lime, some salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander.

It turned more into a mouse than a soup.

I let it also chill overnight, thinking maybe the consistency would change, but to no avail.  For some reason I thought adding more water would fix it, but that made it disgusting.  Next time I will actually use a recipe.

What the mixture was good for was as a dip for crackers or tortilla chips.  I also had a dollop on my omelet.  I used some of the radish greens, the avocado mouse, and the rhubarb relish.  It was tasty.

I’d definitely recommend making this relish.  If you have cilantro, it would make an excellent addition!

I am also happy to report I used EVERYTHING in my share this week!  Here’s a recap:

Veggies

Fruit

How About a Quickie…or Two

In Bread, CSA, Fruit, Italian, Nuts, Pasta, Quick Meal, Salad, Saving Money, Shopping, Vegetables on June 13, 2012 at 12:11 am

With the bounty of cleaned and prepped veggies from this week’s CSA share, I’ve had a lot of ideas for some new recipes.  Especially ones that are super quick.  Think half of a 30 Minute Meal.  Which reminds me , the inspiration for 2 recipes I’ve made thus far is the queen of quick meals, Rachael Ray.  Some people love her, others hate her.  I have to say I kind of hate that I kinda love her.  I must admit that her morning talk show is one of my guilty pleasures, and after I’ve managed to look past her kitschy jargon and painfully bright kitchenware items, I’ve learned a few things from the lady.  Although many of her recipes break my personal calorie/fat budget, and incorporate meat, meat-based stocks, and TONS of bacon, she does make whole and real foods accessible to the masses.  She also happens to love both Italian and Mexican foods, so that will always catch my attention.

A few weeks ago, I caught an episode of her morning show that featured a chef whose new book is all about cooking with super foods, or what he calls “Hero Foods”, as a means of healing his own personal health issues (RA in particular).  It was very interesting to see the correlation between diet and healing, but I’m sure this sentiment was lost on most of the audience.  Later on in the episode, Rachael used two super foods – kale and almonds – to create a caesar style kale pesto pasta.  I’m not a huge advocate of pestos in general, because they usually include a lot of oil, and more than the “in moderation” amount.  However, I liked the idea of pulsing leafy greens into a paste for pastas.  That way I can trick my hubby into eating more veggies, because all the volume is removed and each bite packs a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals.  And what better time than on a Sunday when he is busy doing housework and is starving for the first thing available for inhaling?

Whole Wheat Spaghetti; crushed red pepper; garlic scapes; parmesan cheese; broccoli rabe; raw almonds

Broccoli Rabe and Almond Pesto with Whole Wheat Spaghetti  Adapted from Rachael Ray

Serves 4

8 oz whole wheat spaghetti, or any pasta of your choice
1 bunch broccoli rabe, roughly chopped
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup raw almonds
2 garlic scapes, roughly chopped (or 2 cloves garlic)
1-2 teaspoons red chili flakes, depending on desired heat level
Juice of one lemon
1 cup reserved pasta water

I brought the water to a boil in a covered pot.  While waiting, I added all the other ingredients, except pasta, lemon juice and pasta water, to my food processor and let it run until it was all ground up.  I didn’t add any oil, figuring the fats from the nuts and cheese would suffice.

By the way, you could use any greens you have on hand for this recipe.  I picked broccoli rabe because it is the least “gross” green from the share that Nick will kind of eat.

Once the water is boiled, I added salt and the pasta, cooking for 7 minutes.  During that time, I transferred the ground green mixture to a skillet sans oil, and cooked over medium high heat.

A minute or so before the pasta was done, I squeezed some lemon juice to start deglazing the pan.

Once the pasta was ready, I turned off the flame, and added the pasta liquid to the pan to create a more saucy consistency.

After 30 seconds of mixing, I incorporated the pasta.

And then it was time to mangia!  Only 15 minutes after starting!

I thought it was freaking delicious.  Nick said it was prepared excellently, he just still couldn’t get over the actual taste of broccoli rabe.  He actually left some of it in his bowl, like the way a lady leaves something on the plate.  Probably because he was going to see Prometheus  and wanted to save room for butter laden popcorn.

The next day, I wanted to throw something quick together for dinner.  I was thinking of some sort of salad that incorporated the radishes from the share, but then couldn’t really figure out what to pair with it.  While brainstorming with Nick on the phone, I almost gave into buying a couple slices of pizza from the pizza shop!  However, I was a good girl and said I’d just make some pizza instead – only using really thin whole wheat pitas instead of dough.  Pitza is my new go-to for the hubby, being quick and delish!  Since I was going Italian again, I decided to grab an orange and red onion while at the store to add to the salad.  I actually got that idea from Ms. Ray, too.  Once episode she had the cheesemonger from Fairway on to pair cheeses with foods, and one such Italian cheese was added to an orange/red onion concoction.  Seriously, it’s a freaking amazing combo, and if I wasn’t eating cheese on pitza I’d have added cheese to this salad.  It’s also really easy to make and super refreshing.

Whole Wheat Pitza

Serves ones (just multiply for additional loaves – I eat one, and my hubby eats 2-3)

1 thin whole wheat pita (80-100 calorie size)
2 tbsp good marinara sauce
1 oz shredded fresh mozzarella
1.5 teaspoons grated parmesan cheese
veggies and/or meats of your choice (optional)

This is so simple, even a 10 year old could do it!  It’s kind of like english muffin pizzas, only better.  Turn the toaster oven on to 350° (or regular oven, but the toaster oven is way faster).

Spread sauce on pita.  I made 2 at a time.  Then sprinkle the cheeses on each one.

Bake 7-10 minutes, depending on your oven, until crispy brown on top.

Very simple and easy.  I made the salad while it was baking.

Radish, Red Onion, and Orange Salad with Lemon Dijon Dressing

Serves 2

Salad:

4 large or 8 small radishes, sliced thin
1/4 red onion, sliced in crescents
1 navel orange, peeled and sliced thin
1 garlic scape, thinly sliced (or 1 clove garlic, minced)
1 small bunch arugula
3-4 leaves red leafy lettuce

Dressing:

1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp agave nectar
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp EVOO
Salt and Pepper to taste

I sliced up all the salad ingredients.

Radishes.

Red Onion.

Orange.

Garlic Scapes.

Then I had to chop the greens.  My method of storing arugula wasn’t the best, as I forgot to actually store it in a bag or container, so I had to chop it up finely like an herb, and fill the rest of the bowl with some leafy lettuce.

Red Leafy Lettuce.

Spicy Arugula. Mmmmm.

In a separate bowl, I combined the dressing ingredients with a whisk, and then poured over the salad ingredients to be mixed.

Here’s everything plated up!

Doesn’t that look yummy?  A well balanced meal that only took 10 minutes!  I usually don’t have the pitza for dinner, but I splurged and had one.  They really aren’t so bad for you, only about 200 calories each, which is like half of a real slice of pizza.  As for the salad, super yummy and healthy!  Full of colors, textures, and with a light dressing that is only 35 calories a tbsp.  I swear, that is my last calorie calculation for this post!

There you have it!  Two recipes that take 15 minutes or less, both incorporating real foods like fresh veggies and whole grains.

Here’s a bonus recipe.  This one takes 2 minutes and 1 minute to cleanup.  I had this smoothie today as a pre-yoga snack to hold me over until dinner.

Protein-Packed Green Smoothie

6 oz nonfat Greek Yogurt
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen mango
1 tbsp natural peanut butter
2 large handfuls (about 3 cups) chopped kale

Add everything to a good blender (I have a Vitamix).  Blend it.  Pour it in a glass.  Drink it while you clean up.  Or shower. Or walk the dog.

Using white/yellow ingredients allows the greens to really show!

Now, I know that looks like split pea soup, but it’s freaking delicious.  You can’t even taste the kale, but it’s definitely in there.  I use any combo of fruit: blueberries, raspberries, peaches, apples, etc.  However, the more colorful the fruit, the less green/more brown it ends up looking.

Okay, I am finally done for this post!  It took me twice as long to write as it did to prepare everything AND clean up.  I guess that’s because I like to take my time to make everything looks so pretty.  So much for a quickie in the blogging department.

After the Warmest Winter Ever, It’s Summer CSA Time Again!

In Challenge, CSA, Fruit, Salad, Saving Money, Shopping, Vegetables on June 11, 2012 at 11:03 pm

I have to admit I had a hard time sleeping Friday night.  It may have been due to the couple of vodka sodas before dinner, the huge Indian all you can eat 3-course meal, or my husband’s snoring.    On any other weekend, any or all of those factors would probably be the culprit.  However, this particular insomnia felt more like the first day of school jitters.  I couldn’t believe it – Saturday was the first pick-up of the Summer CSA season, and I was too darn exciting to sleep.  Can you say NERD?

For those of you who don’t already know, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  I’ve written about my share in the past, and you can read more about it here.  I am a big advocate of this movement, and would highly encourage anyone looking to save money, eat organically/locally, increase their produce intake, and learn a thing or two about new veggie varieties to take advantage of a program in their area.  What I missed most about the CSA during the winter was that I actually had to figure out what produce to purchase.  I know basically what is in season, especially when shopping at the farmers’ market, but most of this winter I picked up veggies while shopping at the regular grocery store, providing more of a challenge when deciding what really IS my best option.

As I prepared for my sophomore year or membership, I gathered my reusable bags and headed towards the pickup location just a few minutes past 10:00 AM.  Last year I did a full share of just veggies, and I glared longingly at the fruit as my fellow shareholders got their fill of berries, mellon, and apples all season long.  Having a whole year of trial and error the year before, I opted to do a half share this year (every other week) of veggies and fruit, even though the full share is most economical.   It’s not so much using up all the items that proves difficult, but more the inconvenience of having to be home every Saturday morning to pick them up, or finding someone willing to pick up for you.  There were a few Saturdays last year that had my veggies make their way to the food bank, which makes me feel less guilty about the lost weeks.  However, the frequency made the full share not worth the investment, hence the switch this year.  Half shares also enable people to swap weeks, making it more likely to enjoy every week you’ve paid.

The Infamous White Board

This first week included basically everything I expected.  The veggie selection was very similar to last year’s, and this time I knew what to do with all of them!  Here they are, in order of longevity before being thrown in the garbage:

  • Two kinds of salad greens – used for salads
  • Kale – smoothies and lunches
  • Some other leafy green (broccoli rate) – sauté
  • Radishes – salads and roasting (and the leaves can also be used for sautéing)
  • Snow peas (unexpected) – stir fry
  • Garlic scapes – as you would use garlic

The fruit portions included strawberries (a measly 2 pints worth) and some rhubarb.  This is pretty typical for the opening week; as the weeks progress, pints turn into quarts and rhubarb isn’t used to fill the gaps.  Incidentally, did you know that rhubarb is biologically a vegetable, but classified as a fruit just because it is sweetened and used in pies?  What a croc of you-know-what!  My mission this week is to use this red-colored celery like item in something savory, and without using butter, flour, or cheese.  SO yeah, good luck to me on THAT.

Clockwise from top left: Red leafy lettuce, rhubarb, radishes, snow peas, kale, broccoli rabe, arugula, strawberries, garlic scapes

The most important lesson I learned last year was to be a good, diligent girl and wash/prep my veggies as soon as I got home.  That way, the veggies not only last longer, but I’m more likely to use them if they are cleaned, chopped, and ready to go.  I went over my methods previously, which include washing everything leafy first in bowls of water, drying them with large towels, and chopping up to be stored in plastic bags/containers with a lining of paper towel.  I took pictures again of the steps, thinking I’d detail them for this post, but then I realized explaining it again would be kind of boring.  Not just for you, but for me.  If you really want to read details, go back to this post.  What I will do is show you all the photos without a really complex explanation.

Top Row: Strawberries, radish, rhubarb
Middle Row: Broccoli rabe, snow peas, garlic scapes, arugula
Bottom Row: Kale, radish greens, leafy lettuce

Lettuce soaking in water.

Drying on a towel.

Neatly layered between paper towel in a reusable container.

Arugula after soaking in water, drying on a towel, and wrapped in paper towel for storage.

Arugula, broccoli rabe, and kale drying on a towel.

Chopped up kale, great for smoothies!

Here’s the broccoli rabe. I made sure to put the lil floret on top to distinguish between the other greens.

Radishes that soaked in a bowl of water, were scrubbed clean, and roots removed from leaves.

Curly garlic scapes, washed and stored for later.

Snow peas all cleaned up, ready to be stir-fried in a snap!

Strawberries are left unwashed – only wash berries right before you eat them, or else they spoil.

Seriously, how amazing do those berries look?  I had them in my oatmeal the next day, and I’m so sad I’ll only get 3-4 days worth from this week’s share.

Another thing I learned from last year was to use up what I already had before moving onto the newer items, so I paired my oatmeal and berries with an egg white omelet topped with salsa and avocado and a side of the chipotle lime slaw from last week.

The only item I had no idea how to store was the rhubarb, so I just put them on a shelf in the fridge.  Since then, I did a lil bit of Googling and found out you need to wrap them in plastic in the fridge up to a week.  I also searched some recipe ideas, and 99% required sugar, honey, fruit, or juice.  Looks like that will be my biggest challenge.  But I’m ready for it.  Every other ingredient will be gone in no time, and I’ll be forced to actually PICK MY OWN VEGGIES once the next weekend rolls around.

Winning! – A Week in Review

In American, Beans, Breakfast, Chinese, Fruit, Indian, Lentils, Mexican, Oats, Pasta, Pizza, Rice, Salad, Saving Money, Shopping, Uncategorized, Vegetables on May 29, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Last week (Saturday-Friday) was incredibly busy and successful.  I accomplished a lot on the road, in the field, at home, and in the kitchen.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

Saturday – Why I Love Brooklyn, Part I

Unfortunately one of the more photogenic race images. At least the Cyclone is in the background.

Starting near the Brooklyn Museum, circling through the familiar Prospect Park, and heading down Ocean Parkway to the Coney Island Boardwalk:  I dazed through my third half marathon.  The first one was so exciting because it was my first, whereas the second was an exciting opportunity to actually achieve a decent time.  This third one felt more like a chore than an achievement.  The first few miles were slow and steady.  I just wasn’t feeling like myself.  And the familiar routes gave me little site-seeing material.  However, the second half perked up!  We got to run down the usually bumper-to-bumper Ocean Parkway, only completely open for the weekend warriors.  The best part was around mile 11, when my hubby came to cheer me on and run with me for a block to push me to speed up for those last 2 awful miles.  I managed to not only finish, but beat my previous time by almost a minute!  Many people rewarded themselves with a Nathan’s hotdog, but I made the trip to Buschenschank for a mustardy bloody mary, some beet salad, and a pizza di verde, which was like a regular pizza topped with bruschetta tomatoes and pesto.  Hey, I deserved it after the extra 1300+ calories burned running through Brooklyn.  And then it was nap time.

Sunday – Why I love Brooklyn, Part II

Both Saturday and Sunday were extra special in my borough, not just for me but for the community at large.  Foodies and music lovers alike flocked to Prospect Park for The [Partially Not so] Great Googa Mooga.  Apparently, Saturday was a mess.  Luckily for me I had Sunday tickets, and I learned from the mistakes of Saturday’s Past.  Slathered in sunscreen, with blanket and water bottle in tow, I made sure to get to the park just after they opened at 11:00 AM.  My strategy was to a) avoid lines, b) find a spot to park and c) make sure I got my fill before my impending football playoffs.  I was pleasantly surprised to show up, enter without a bag check, and see so many food stands sans lines.

Calexico is one of my hubby’s favorites. Can you say Crack sauce?

I grabbed a beer, spread out my blanket and enjoyed some tunes while basking in all the googa glory.

Before heading out, I procured a mango chili popsicle, and watched an air guitar competition on the Hamagaddeon Stage.

Hamageddon, of course, was adjacent to BaconLand.

If only I consumed pork, I would be in heaven.

All in all, I personally had a great experience.  I really hope the festival becomes annual!

It was on to Fort Greene, to compete for the Zog 2-hand-touch coed football championship.  This meant wining the playoff game against Pink Socks, and immediately playing The Parents in the championship game.  Of course, we won, and we’re number one!

Go buttonholes! Not to be confused with button hooks.

We celebrated at a nearby bar called Hot Bird, which is next door to a super good bbq place.  They actually have several vegetarian/vegan dishes.  I got some mac, collard greens, and baked beans.  And beer.

Delicious food covered by even more delicious beer.

Such a great weekend!  Full of fun, food, and fantastic accomplishments.  And then there’s the workweek…

Monday – It’s “Business” Time

Luckily my schedule at work has been more flexible.  I can actually take Mondays off most of the time.  This makes for great chore-doing, grocery shopping scheduling.  Monday is not only laundry day, but it’s also supposed to be my blogging, recipe writing, and creative brainstorming day.  Unfortunately,  I haven’t had a real workspace of my own at home.  I usually work at the dining table, or sitting on the couch, which isn’t great for productivity.  Then this past Monday, between laundry and grocery shopping, I stopped at Ikea to pick out a small desk and chair.  Let me say, going to Ikea at 1:00 PM on a rainy Monday is the best time to go.  Nobody was there, and I could just navigate to the workspace station and try out the desks and chairs.  I picked out a fun black/white desk with a red swivel chair, brought it home, and even put the chair together myself!  The desk is conveniently placed near our “bar”.  How very Mad Men of me.

I love this chair!  It’s so bright and will hopefully pull me to the desk to write some more.

Dinner that night was my baked falafel with Israel salad, which was also lunch for Tueday.

Tuesday – Thursday – Back in the Groove

After a long weekend filled with events, it becomes really hard to feel rejuvenated for the week.  I often find that weekends like those lead to workweeks of takeout.  I was determined to complete the week with homemade breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, and coffee for myself and Nick.  My usual breakfast was my oatmeal/fruit combo and egg whites with spinach and salsa, whereas Nick preferred cereal with strawberry yogurt.  I tend to eat yogurt for my snack, whereas nick likes actual “snacks” of pretzels and the sort.  His lunches were egg salad, mine were leftovers from dinner.  Here’s what we ate each night:

Tuesday: Chili relleno, rice, and black beans


Wednesday: Cheddar and Broccoli brown rice macaroni and cheese with a slide of beet slaw

Thursday: Chicken and veggie “fried” brown rice.  I was pretty exhausted and didn’t eat any official “dinner”.  This is also due to gorging on Trader Joe’s triple cream brie with wild mushrooms on crackers.  OMG.  You must try this cheese.

A pretty good variety for the week.  Middle Eastern Monday, Mexican Tuesday, American Wednesday, and Chinese Thursday.  And not an extra penny spent, even on coffee!

Friday – Working for the Weekend

We continued to have some nutritious meals for most of Friday.  I worked so hard all week, in the office, at the gym, and in the kitchen, and I didn’t want to lose my momentum.  Since I hadn’t made myself any dinner the night before, I was left to MacGyver me some lunch.  I did have some leftover plain rice from the night before, so I put together my new favorite quick lunch!  It is kind of Indian inspired, and is quick, easy, delicious, and uber healthy!  It includes:

1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup lentils or chickpeas (I used lentils this time)
1.5-2 cups fresh chopped kale
1/2 bell pepper, diced
2 tbsp chopped red onion
1 plum or two campari tomatoes, diced
Fresh Cilantro or parsley
Sprinkle each of cumin, turmeric, coriander, cayenne, cinnamon, salt, and pepper

Combine everything in a microwaveable bowl or tupperware bottom.  Microwave on high for 2 minutes with the lid on top but not sealed (or you can use a paper towel).  Mix to combine, and enjoy!

 You can also add some raita or avocado after cooking for a yummy cooling affect.

Once the day was over, it was definitely time for some 3-day weekend Happy Hour fun!  A stein of beer was exactly what I needed to end this very successful week.  Hope you all enjoyed your holiday weekend, I know I surely did!