Saturday, October 30, 2010

New Experiences Part II

If you missed part one check it out!

So this week I have been a little low on groceries and time, so I have been digging to back of my cupboards to find canned/packaged foods that I bought randomly, didn't know how to cook, and thus are just waiting for me to cook them up! Most of them are "easy" foods I bought for weeks like this one (midterms, student teaching, and so much studio work).

On today's menu? Polenta and some Crispy Chickpea Bites from Oh She Glows.

I tossed the polenta (pre-spiced with garlic and basil) with some Olive Oil, onions, and rosemary and sauteed it on low.

At the end I added some lettuce to bulk up the polenta a bit. I think I cut my polenta chunks too small, and turned them over too many times. They turned into polenta mush instead of crispy polenta cakes like I wanted :( I will try again later this week! I still have 3/4 of a roll to eat.

The polenta crisped to the pan instead of to itself! Oops.

I put the polenta saute mix over some Spaghetti Squash topped with some Easy Spaghetti Sauce and some peas. I was all about bulking up this dish!

For college I think this is a gourmet lunch!

Now onto those Crispy Chickpea Bites from Oh She Glows.

I followed the recipe exactly but cut it in half to fit in my...

Mini food processor! But sadly this used gift from the BF didn't work :( So into the trash it went.

I used a potato masher and my own two hands instead. Low Impact! Who needs a food processor anyways...

I made a little mess but I still got them all mixed up.

Shaped them into little burger patties and then instead of waiting for 30-35 minutes for them to bake in the oven I just sizzled 'em up in a skillet with some olive oil.

Side note: why is my mint plant dying a slow miserable death? :(

Unlike the polenta these babies crisped up perfectly!

What lil' cuties.

I crumbled about 1.5 of them onto a wrap with some enchilada sauce, lettuce, and hummus. Yes I know it kind of defeats the purpose to make a veggie burger, only to crumble it but I didn't have any bread for veggie burgers!

I think for my first time making veggie burgers these turned out really well, next time I'm going to make some with a little more heft and flavor to them.

Happy Halloween! Hope you are celebrating, I'm going to a CD release show tonight with the BF, can't wait! I celebrated last night as well, I had a very low impact costume as well. I looked in my closet and found a collared pinstripe dress, paired it with black tights, red heels, and old Macy's name tag to make myself into a flight attendant. I also straightened my hair and pulled it back into a nice bouffant type style. I was super happy I had to spend absolutely NO money on this costume. Although I was a little jealous of my friends matching Teletubbies costumes, they all had on fun shiny leggings with a matching American Apparel zip-up, so cute!

How are you celebrating Halloween tonight? Or did you already celebrate/are not going to celebrate?

Real Simple

Does anyone else love the pictures in this magazine? I love the whole aesthetic of it, the muted tones, the cozy cottage/farm scenery, even the magazine itself has this great heft to it that makes it feel nice to hold. My love of this magazine is all my lingering graphic design nerd + emerging Martha Stewart personalities coming out.

Anywho I channeled Real Simple today for breakfast.

After testing out my old childhood favorite Quaker Oats instant oats packets and realizing they no longer taste good to me, I began craving a taste of my childhood. My other childhood favorite? Maple syrup and brown sugar Cream Of Wheat (or hot cereal or Malt-o-Meal whatever you call it).

Since I have no Cream of Wheat I made up some hearty groats and topped them simply with cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup, and brown sugar. Ok well I couldn't resist adding a big glob of PB on top!

This bowl of oats was perfection, just what I was looking for. I do love toppings, but sometimes it's nice to bring it back to the basics.

I also love how monochromatic and simple the oats looked in the pictures with the lovely backdrop of my Oncoming Winter Display, with an added pumpkin from my roommate. I love the idea of white pumpkins! Kind of sophisticates Halloween.

I'm off to procrastinate! After a really long week of tough days at the school I student teach at, midterms, and learning how to throw on the wheel in ceramics, I think I can take a break and watch some House Hunters for a bit. Hope you are enjoying a lovely lazy Saturday like me!

I Want.

Let's all remember back to the day when I started this blog, before I began reading numerous food blogs on a daily basis and learned what the heck a Vitamix is and the of many uses of a Rice cooker. Those were the wants were merely limited to any piece of clothing I could charge to my debit card. I had no idea about all the fabulous appliances I was missing out on in the kitchen. Remember I started this blog to go green, stay healthy, and reduce my spending? Well take a look at this...

My Christmas List. Yep. It is currently October 30th. Halloween let alone Thanksgiving have not passed by yet and I am already greedily thinking of all the wonderful gifts I will be tearing open on Christmas Day.

Ok, ok, so I get a little excited about Christmas! But seriously take a look at what I want.

Four books, one about the male brain, one about indoor container gardening, one about vegan cooking, and one about bread baking. Can you say nerd, nerd, foodie nerd, and foodie nerd?

The other two wants? A cheap blender/food processor(since I have none...I miss cheap homemade hummus!) and a mini slow cooker. Food nerd aaand food nerd, and frugal food nerd at that! (Notice how both of these are about the cheapest ones you can get.) But you know what else is weird? I really wanted to want more stuff. Yet I honestly couldn't think of anything else to put on my list (well besides a portfolio bag with a strap...and warm sweaters...those are practical!).

Last year I think my Christmas list included 25+ items. And many of the items on my list were electronics...which would have both a high impact on the environment and my (parent's) bank account. Reading books is a pretty low impact activity, and as for cooking gear- I think a blender is somewhat necessary...the slow cooker on the other hand... Well, anyways, I just wanted to prove that I have made SOME progress on my materialistic ways.

And after writing all of this I just convinced myself that I would never use a slow cooker. Honestly what was I thinking?! Those things are turned on all day- think of all the energy that would suck down! Besides why would I want a mini slow cooker anyways, when I just discovered the wonders of cooking in massive bulk amounts and freezing my food!

So even though I am already thinking about Christmas presents...I still think I am well on my way to becoming a true low impact healthy foodie fashionista. Besides there's nothing wrong with giving your parents a Christmas list early so they can share in your own joy of planning ahead, right? ;)

Have you set any goals for yourself this year? Have you made progress? Or do you remember your New Year's Resolution? Have you stuck with it?

When I told the BF about my goal to run the 5k Turkey Trot in under 24 minutes (by the way I have not run since Tuesday...I better get to work on that goal!!) He asked me if I would ever just run a race for fun.

Honestly, I think my answer is no.

I run everyday(read: whenever my lazy butt feels like it) for fun, but when someone else is watching AND timing me, I want to run fast. Or well what I consider a fast pace for me that is!

I blame it on all those years of varsity competition in high school. I can't let my competitive spirit go! I think of all the addictions to have an addiction to competitiveness is much better than addiction to shopping :)

Now how did that post start out with a Christmas list and end with goal setting? Haha sometimes I wonder about my rambling ways!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Quick Review

Last weekend while I was home I got a nice little surprise gift with the Sunday paper. A free sample of Quaker Oats!

I used to love these packets when I was little. After checking the ingredients list I decided that there weren't too many overly refined sugars or preservatives in them, and I saved it to test out later this week.

As you can see on the package it says these oats are "hearty".

Umm I can barely call this hearty. Looks runny and dismal huh? I had to zoom in so much to get a good shot of the oats you can't even see the rim of my bowl, not to mention the toppings were few and far between. Tasted just about like how it looks, dismal. I felt like I was eating sugar and air.

I added some PB, walnuts, craisins, and spices to try and pump up this breakfast. But it couldn't really be salvaged. I guess I'm just too used to eating hearty whole grain groats or steel cut oats and stuff like this just doesn't taste good to me anymore!

So long story short I will be sticking to hearty breakfasts of my own creation like these:

I'm glad I tested these oats out because now I know the little amount of time I take each week to boil up a huge pot of oats for the entire week is definitely well spent.


What are your plans for halloween? Are you dressing up? Have you carved a pumpkin yet?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Junk Food as Super Fuel

Here's a picture of my favorite running partner(my dad!) and I warming up for a 5k this summer.

But this is not the issue at hand...

I have a little rant.

It's time it should come out, it involves two loves of my life.

Running and Nutrition.

Now that being said I am a novice at both topics, being a wee little 20 year old who has never run a marathon(read failed at training for a marathon...) and is not a registered dietitian so what I say is purely opinion. Based on experiences and much thought, reading, learning and discussion (with credible sources that is). Without further ado let me begin my rant...

I often hear people try to excuse bad nutritional choices with the rational that "marathon runners (or just plain old runners) eat it, so it must be ok for me to eat it". Some examples:

"Marathon runners drink Cokes to fuel their long runs, so Coke can't be that bad"

"Runners drink whole fat chocolate milk and the experts say it's the best recovery drink, so it's good for me"

"Runners eat gummi bears and other candy during long runs, so the sugar in gummi bears is just as good for me as the sugar in fruit"

My question to these people is, how many miles did you run today?

Yes. I know. My dad, finisher of marathons, ultra marathons, 100 mile bike rides, and the man who works out in his death trap of a garage gym every day is known to drink a Coke. Every. Day.

But that does not mean that you, couch sitter, potato chip muncher, working towards a gut that is about to bust the button on your jeans should be known to drink a Coke. Every. Day.

Or even you moderately active, healthy eater, working towards making it to the gym 5 times a week should be know to drink a Coke every day.

Now, why is it that my dad, or athletes stretching their bodies to the limit consume crappy high in sugar/fat foods for fuel? Because they are stretching their bodies to the limit. I know from my limited long distance running experience that when you're on mile 11 and have been running off water and self will for the past hour you start to get a little loopy. Your muscles begin to fatigue and your body turns into a vicious carb cravin' monster. Your body screams for some fuel RIGHT NOW! When you push your body to the limit and ask it to do something amazing for you, you have to give it a little encouragement. High sugar drinks/foods are the absolute FASTEST way to replenish your body.


Glycemic Index. No I am not talking about the South Beach Diet, although the concepts I learned from going on that diet apply here. Crappy sugar floods your system FAST. Ever heard of sugar high? They increase your blood glucose levels and leave you feeling satisfied immediately, but the love affair is short.

That sugar high has an evil twin, it is called the sugar crash. Your body burns up that rush of sugar immediately and leaves you back where you started. Cravin' carbs hardcore.

Now remember that Whole Fat Chocolate Milk? Yes, it is one of the very best drinks for recovery after hard runs. This is because it provides your body with that quick rush of energy from the sugar, AND then gives your body lasting fuel from the high fat content. If you're out running 30-50 miles per week your body can handle the fat and sugar content in Whole Chocolate Milk.

So now back to the issue at hand, runners surviving off of Cokes and Gummi Bears during a marathon. They can eat these things for fuel because their body needs fuel instantly. My dad drinks a can of Coke after every speed workout because he has totally depleted his body and needs to refuel it fast. Now, until watching t.v. marathons becomes a extraordinary physical feat, I am sorry to say you cannot begin to justify unhealthy choices by saying "b-b-but marathon runners eat it!"

(Chattin' about the race afterwards...maybe chattin' about nutrition?)

Now after all that my rant is still incomplete. What do I think about runners eating Gummi Bears to fuel their runs? I think they would feel and perform better if they fueled their runs with whole wheat bagels with peanut butter and banana on top. These are real foods, foods that have no fake ingredients, preservatives, and other weird chemicals (well depending on what brands of PB and bagels you buy) that only serve to confuse your body and slow it down. Just because gummi bears work fast does not mean they work the best.

Also I'll have you know that my dad and I can argue about whether or not you're body processes high fructose corn syrup from a Coke the same as sugar from an apple for so long that it becomes an extraordinary physical feat. Then we need some fuel. He drinks a beer, and I eat an apple. (Beer = sugar + carbohydrates = quick energy. In the middle of my second half marathon I had the most intense craving for an ice cold Corona...I satiated it with a Gu packet instead ;)

So in the end I have to say that one of the many reasons I quit training for a marathon was because I wasn't eating a diet that was efficiently fueling my runs. I'm still figuring out what does. For me drinking a Coke doesn't work. I just feel gross. After a long run I'd much rather eat toast with PB and banana. Because this post run snack has sugar in the banana and carbs in the bread for a quick energy replenish. But the banana and bread also have fiber to keep me energized. Finally the Peanut Butter has protein and fat to fully replenish my energy stores for the long haul.

There is no way Coke can do all that.

So why am I writing this post now? When I haven't been a very successful runner lately? Mainly because I need to remind myself how to fuel for running since I just set a goal time for the 5k Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning in my hometown.


Goal Time: Under 24 minutes.

Now considering my current schedule (19 credits, 8 of which are studios, 2 jobs, 12+ hours per week of student teaching, and an attempt at a social life.) I do not have a lot of time to train. Thus I have decided to make every workout count, the Roger Bannister way. Which means short high intensity workouts. This also means I can't have an "off" day because I ate 10 too many handfuls of peanut M&Ms an hour before my workout.

Now am I confident in my self-will to choose the right fuel versus the candy fuel? Not really. Am I confident in my self-will to force myself to go do a track workout when I have a spare hour...that could be spent watching House Hunters on HGTV? Not Really.

But you know what I am confident in? My extremely competitive nature. I just publicly declared a goal (someone reads this blog right??). Now I feel obligated to meet it. I don't know if I can do it...but I will try. And if I fail, it won't matter because I will at least have done a month of speed workouts. Now that is something that my body will thank me for.

So here's to a better diet to accommodate training runs at any time during the day.

Well and to waking up at 5:45 am, when it's still dark out, to run a speed workout on a treadmill because it's unsafe to run outside, alone, in the dark, in a large city. (Learning to survive a workout on the treadmill is an entire different post...)

Some Good Post or Pre-Run snacks:

-Toast with any high protein/fat topping like peanut butter, avocado, hummus, etc.
-Any fruit with Peanut Butter or nuts
-Greek Yogurt (especially if you mix in flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds...)
-Whole Chocolate Milk
-Veggies and Hummus
-Bean Burrito (whole wheat tortilla)
-Anything with Chia Seeds
-Fruit Smoothie with PB or Greek Yogurt and Chia Seeds
-Taco Salad with beans, avocado and olive oil based dressing.(Or sour cream and salsa dressing)
-Oats with PB and Banana

The options are really limitless just remember this equation:

Sugar + Fiber + Protein/Fat = Good instant energy and fuel for the long haul as well.

Oh and don't forget the most important nutrient of all- WATER!

What do you eat to fuel your long day/runs/workouts?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Experiences

Yesterday I had zero time in between studying to make healthy meals...but somehow I ate really deliciously all day long! The first thing I made...

Spaghetti squash! I've never tried it before and oh. my. gosh. I am never eating spaghetti again! Spaghetti squash is great for you (whereas pasta is basically a paste that is just begging to constipate you). At only about 50 calories for a cup I could probably eat the whole entire squash and call it a meal!

All I did was cut the squash in half and lay it in a pan with a thin layer of water. Roasted it at 375 degrees for 40 minutes and that's it! This was great because I didn't have to check on the squash while it was baking or stir it like noodles. Which meant I got 40 minutes of studying in while I waited(ok I was probably reading other blogs or doing something equally unproductive...)

Once the squash is done just take a fork to it and clean out the innards. It's actually really fun and looks pretty neat too. Way more fun than chopping up raw squash for roasting- that kills my arms, and I've come pretty close to chopping off a finger...or my hand on several occasions. Ohh the things I do for my love of cooking delicious food.

Once you fork out the innards of the squash it is all ready to be topped with any traditional spaghetti sauce (or non-traditional if that floats your boat).

The spaghetti squash was a new experience...but eating my own food from the freezer was another. Wayyy long ago I made Easy Spaghetti Sauce and I made too much on accident. So I nervously decided to freeze about half of the sauce.

In my head I kept telling myself lots of people freeze food and un-freeze and it tastes just fine. But I kept imagining myself re-heating this sauce an it tasting bland and freezer burnt. Well luckily for my lunch it tasted amazing! It tasted like it was just made today. Aaahmazing.

I think I may begin cooking in major bulk for freezing. On days like today where I have no time to prepare anything labor intensive it would be so convenient. I'm thinking of starting my freezing frenzy with soups, it would be so nice to have a bunch of hearty soups on hand. (Since lately I have started thinking that no canned soups are even remotely good for you.)

Of course I had some veg on the side of my amazing spaghetti. Thankfully I never get sick of raw veggies!

Now onto dinner. I made a healthy vegan quesadilla! I didn't know such a thing could exist. Usually when I think of quesadillas I think of dripping greasy cheese and a tortilla, which means lots of calories and fat and just about zero nutrients. Well take a look at this beauty...

What's in that incredible quesadilla? I started with a great tortilla that I found at the grocery store that has only 50 calories and have a nice basil spice to it. Then I spread Holy Land Jalapeno Hummus and kidney beans on half the tortilla. Microwaved for a minute and a half. Then I topped it off with avocado, tomato, and salsa. Best quesadilla ever! It's more like a veggie wrap but heating the hummus and beans made it nice and warm and gooey, just like a quesadilla. It was very comforting after the cold rainy day I endured today.

Lovely lighting for these pictures huh? Of course this dinner was enjoyed under the glow of my computer screen and desk lamp. After my mid-term TODAY I will be freeeeee of my Ancient Art History flashcards! (Well until next class period when I start taking notes on new ones for the final...) I will be cramming for the rest of the day...but I'm sure I'll have time for some spaghetti squash leftovers, YUM gotta feed my brain right?

Wish me luck!

Is there anything you're looking forward to being DONE with this week?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Pumpkin Carved.

It all started with a nice lil' pumpkin.

Of course I reaped the benefits of it's innards. Making pumpkin seeds, perfectly spiced with about 2 tsp of Cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp ginger and 2 TBSP coconut oil.

I headed over to Martha Stewart for some advice and inspiration, and then I got to work.

Ten thousand hours later I was about half done... needless to say it took a bit longer than expected, and I wished for my carving tools from the ceramics studio. But I consoled myself with the thoughts "live and learn" and "there's always next year!"

I tried to take a photo of all my hard work but Sonic would have none of it. He wanted a photo opportunity first.

So I styled him next to my finished masterpiece, but still he was dissatisfied. He wanted to be the star of the show!

Scooter was content to watch the drama unfold from afar.

Finally I got Sonic to settle, after telling him his role in this play was as an extra, not the main character.

After his short performance was done Sonic exited from the show and decided the pressures of stardom were a bit much for him. He went on to do great things with his day though, including napping and begging for attention. The owl carved pumpkin had kept her cool throughout the entire dramatic display, and at last she got to take center stage. But it wasn't long before she felt the loneliness of that position.

It was for the better really, because then the lil' owl pumpkin could find her true soul mate! Now who knew this would end as love story? They lived happily ever after in mom's garden...

Have you carved your pumpkin yet?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Lasagna-Less Lasagna

As you probably know I have been sick lately. (I have made a full recovery! I was up bright and early to workout this morning.) As you also probably know I crave comfort foods on a daily basis. So being sick makes my craving of comfort foods sky rocket. And what is more comforting than a nice casserole?

Well a healthier version of it of course ;)

Yesterday I decided to make a lasagna-like dish- but without the noodles. Scroll to the bottom if you just want the recipe otherwise enjoy some of the "in the process" photos!

I have been cooking lots of vegan recipes, but I miss the look and feel of eggs! They really are beautiful...

Crust ingredients.

Mushrooms are such interesting little fungi's...

Sauteed onions, mushrooms, broccoli and spices layer.

Tomato layer.

Cottage cheese + spinach + spices layer.

Inspired by The Front Burner's Easy as (Tomato) Pie and my love of lasagna and casseroles.

Lasagna-Less Lasagna

Quinoa Crust
-3 cups cooked Quinoa
-3 Eggs
-3 TBSP Parmesan Cheese
-1 tsp Thyme
-1 tsp Garlic Powder (or 1-2 cloves garlic)
-1/2 tsp Greek Oregano
-1/2 tsp Paprika

Veggie Layers

-3-4 TBSP Olive Oil
-2 cups sliced mushrooms
-1 large onion
-Thyme, Garlic Powder, Greek Oregano, and Paprika to taste (enough to cover a skillet pan of veggies with a thin layer of each spice)
-1/2 cup broccoli
-6-8 sliced Roma Tomatoes (or about 2-3 large tomatoes)

Cheese Layers
-1 package spinach, thawed and drained
-2 cups cottage cheese
-Thyme, garlic powder, Greek oregano, and paprika to taste (about 1/2 to 1 tsp each)
-1-1.5 cups shredded mozzarella (I used Swiss cheese because it was all I had but I think mozzarella would work better.


1. Mix all the Quinoa crust ingredients together in medium sized bowl. Then press the Quinoa mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
2. While the crust is baking saute the mushrooms, onions, and spices in about 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet.
3. When mushrooms and onions are done cooking remove them from the large skillet and set aside in a bowl. Add some more olive oil to the skillet and saute broccoli until it is just beginning to get soft.
4. Layer half of the onion/mushroom mixture and all of the broccoli on top of the finished baked Quinoa crust.
5. Layer one layer of sliced tomatoes.
6. Mix together Cottage Cheese, drained spinach, and spices. Taste test the mixture to decided how much or how little spice to add. I added lots! Layer this cottage cheese mixture on top of the sliced tomatoes.
7. Layer the rest of the sauteed mushroom/onions. Make another layer of sliced tomatoes.
8. Sprinkle the top of the lasagna evenly with the shredded mozzarella cheese.
9. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cover the pan with aluminum foil about halfway through baking to prevent the cheese topping from burning.

It worked! I am now fully recovered.

Fun-Fact about me and Campbell's Canned Soups:
I also crave veggie soups from the can when I'm sick/want comfort. But the last time I looked at a Campbell's Vegetable Soup nutrition label(this weekend when I was about to consume one) I discovered that one serving (the can has 2.5) has 790mg of salt. I always eat the whole can. That amount of sodium is not going to heal any sickness, rather it will cause plenty! I decided it wouldn't be that much more work to whip up a hearty casserole with lots of fresh, nutrient rich ingredients, that would both help me on my way to recovery and comfort me.

What comfort foods do you crave when you're sick?