In other news

February 21, 2013

It’s been one of those weeks, where I had a big presentation on Monday, and instead of having that exhale moment where I go home, have a cup of tea and relax, I stay at work late, can’t sleep and generally don’t relax. I have upped my mug of tea quota though.  So at least there’s that. 

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In other news: this justins chocolate almond butter needs to simultaneously get in my belly and out of my drawer at work, because it is delicious and very hard to not eat.  I had some on a banana this afternoon for a snack, but eventually cut out the middleman and knife fed it to myself.  I managed to stop before things got bad.  Thank goodness.

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Dinners have been a bit meh this week.  But last night it was nice to finish off the last of our asparagus with this fun new salad recipe from an old vegetarian cookbook.  Steamed asparagus, grape tomatoes and orange sections on a bed of spinach with a whip it up quick citrus vinaigrette.  Easy, quick and a refreshing change from the heavy winter foods as of late.

And finally

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Fear the purr.

Xo

Currently reading…

January 31, 2013

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After truly enjoying Michael Poblano’s Omnivores Dilemma, and in the spirit of.new year resolutions I’m squeezing some time in each day to flip through another of his, In Defense of food. I’m not too far in, but it’s already promising to be as mentally provocative a read as my first read. If I’m open minded about it, Michael’s writing brings up points that are worth more than a few seconds of consideration. This morning I read a quote that really resonated with me: “[If] foods are understood only in terms of the various quantities of nutriebnts they contain…even processed foods may be considered to be ‘healthier’ for you than whole foods if they contain the appropriate quantities of some nutrients.” Gyorgy Scrinis, quoted from In Defense of Food. As a healthy eater, who LOVES food, it really made me sit back and think if I cooked meals and food for the sake of their nutrients or not. And I think something like this rings particularly true for Vegans and/or vegetarians. When we exclude foods from our diet, a lot of time the focus is on what nutrients have we lost (not a lot, turns out) and how can we replace them. What turns most people off is the idea that vegans and vegetarians have to replace those nutrients with something fake (fake meat, cheese, etc). And to be perfectly honest, not all of them taste too terribly good. This past year, I’ve worked hard to limit my use of processed food as a crutch for the change in diet. The result has vbeen a massive increase in flavors that I try, can physically taste now and enjoy. I’m far more adventurous in the kitchen and very rarely ask if I’m getting all of my nutrients. By eating “whole foods” instead of processed nutrient counterparts, the hubs and I are getting a great variety of what we need. At least, thats been our take on things so far. But as always, being forced to reevaluate, like this quote did for me, is helpful to look at places that could use improvement. Interesting though, I know there are plenty of people, like my husband used to be (and sometimes still is), who eat only because it’s necessary for survival. Brandon used to claim that if they made a pill to provide everything that food did, then he’d take it. The process of cooking and creating a dish, then enjoying it slowly afterwards hold little romance for him. Whereas it’s one of life’s greatest pleasures for me. Which side so you sit on? Whew. Did that jumble of words even make sense? And just think, all of this from the first few pages… Hope everyone enjoyed their warm spell and are staying warm with winter’s revenge. Xo

Junk

October 15, 2012

Our weekend was truly a wonderful weekend.  We took a day trip up home to see my parents and help out around the house and I was reminded how grateful I am to have a husband who loves my family as much as I do.  And yesterday, we relaxed inside, watched some football AND got out to enjoy some of the beautiful weather we were having.

And I say we had a truly wonderful weekend, because in the long run, it wasn’t a bad weekend.  But there were little things a long the way, mostly on Sunday that had me feeling pretty crummy about myself.  Since I’ve been focusing a lot on what’s going into my body lately and the way my body reacts, I realized that after a week of eating ultra clean and healthy, I did nothing but feed my body with junk for the first part of the weekend.  So the good thing about the weekend, is that I was able to look back and identify where I had made some less than stellar decisions along the way.  Here’s what I learned:

1.  On Saturday, I relied a lot on baked goods (mostly mine, and mostly healthy, but lets be real here…) and some convenience foods (sorry Sheetz MTO, but you and I are over.)

2.  On Sunday, I had a cup of real coffee – mistake.  I was jittery, my chest was tight and there was a definite strong reaction to the caffeine, even after only not having it for ~2 weeks.  The minute I made myself a cup of tea, I felt 10x better, but was on edge and irritable for the rest of the day. 

3.  I started off pretty good with what I was eating, but ended up snacking on very salty foods.  Eating without ever really being satisfied

So how did I fix things? 

Well first and foremeost, I made the committment to seriously cut back on the caffeine.  I do truly enjoy the taste of coffee, so I’m going to stick with decaf when I really want the richness of coffee, but for the most part bring on the herbal teas!  Celestial seasons just came back out with my favorite holiday tea, Candy Cane Lane. 

And for more immediate relief, I took a nap.  A rareity for me, but totally worth it.  Dozed off for about 15-20 minutes and woke up with the idea of “starting my day over”.  How’d I do it? 

1.  We got outside  There’s a trail that we discovered last weekend that’s not too far from where we live, so we went out for a short (1.5 hr) walk.  Neither of us wanted to get into bed at the end of the day and think “did we even DO anything today?”.  Not only was it a great way to get in some execise and QT together, we got to see people smiling and dogs that were outrageously happy to be outside.  I love when i’m reminded how easy it is to be happy.  Being outside cleared my head and helped my get back in a great mindset.

2.  We ditched the menu

For dinner last night I had big plans for some vegan mac & cheeze.  Something comfy and cozy for the end of the weekend right?  In theory, it would’ve been great.  But in actuality, its the lat thing either of us wanted.  If I refer back to what I’m reading about macrobiotics, all of the food I’d been eating this weekend had been very constricting and salty and to balance that out I was craving a lite meal, with lots of veggies that were more expanding (think, veggies that grow UP, rather than down, like a potato or root veggie).  So we ditched the menu plan and zoned in on the veggies.  If it was green,  I NEEDED it.  I had a big plate of steamed baby bok choy (LOVE), kale, zucchini and yellow squash and some cremini mushrooms.  All drizzled with some Ume Plum vinegar (or hot sauce on the kale, i’m obsessed, what can I say).   It was still the perfect way to end our weekend and ended up being more satisfying and cozy than the mac & cheeze would’ve been. 

I’m maintaining my trend with an early morning Body Pump sesh, a lunch bag full of oats, veggies and grains and DECAF.  I’m still recovering a bit from all the sludge I put into my body this weekend, but I feel pretty good about stopping the cycle the best way I knew how and learning its ok to simply start over sometimes. 

How was your weekend friends?  Ever take a close look at how what you’re eating really makes you feel?  For the first time ever, the veggie wrap at Sheetz made me feel awful and really made it hit home how much better I feel after just a week of greens, grains and healthy eating. 

xo

I made another round of roasted cauliflower this weekend.  I chose to spare you the details :)

 

 

I also made homemade peanut butter cups.

 

Yes.  I know you can buy them.  

But I just wouldn’t be me if I didn’t  do things like this :).

These are adapted from yet another recipe from The Kind Diet, by Alicia Silverstone.  I’m not quite satisfied with them yet, but they’re still a tasty little indulgence sitting in my freezer.

 

Marathon Mondays

With all of the food posts lately, ya’ll are going to think the only thing I do anymore is eat :)  But I’ve been getting myself back into the routine of working out again, slowly.   Last week, I got in 3 of my shorter training runs, my yoga and both days of lifting.  I did a run/weights set on Saturday, which is unfortunate in that the only thing I wanted to do on Sunday then was enjoy the gray morning with some coffee, enjoy the afternoon watching some TV with my husband and avoid the humidity in the evening.  But I did all of this, with the little sneaky thought in the back of my mind that come today, I’d get my long run in.  Did I? Didn’t I?  You’ll have to wait until next Marathon Monday to find out :-O

Food wise, you’ve noticed I’ve been focusing a lot on some simple lunches filled with veggies and my dinners have been summer influenced dishes.  Lots of corn on the cob and salsa, plus a self-indulgent night of easy peasy pasta with some veggie- meatballs.   I’ve been pretty boring in the kitchen lately, but I find a lot of times in the summer, that happens with me.  I’m not in the mood to cook or be creative, to turn on my oven and bake something fun.  Right now its all about lite and fresh and SIMPLE, which is pretty healthy too, as it turns out.  We’ve been starting to get antsy though with our menu planning, so I feel a cooking change coming on soon.

What about ya’ll?  What do you do to get out of a cooking rut? 

Round two

July 19, 2012

So, i’m still on this roasted cauliflower kick.

Yesterday I served it as a topping for a vegan ceasar salad and loved the pairing.  Today, with some leftover noodles from last night’s dinner, I opted for a pasta salad of sorts.

I wanted to keep it really simple, so I paired the noodles and roasted cauliflower with some red kidney beans and a whipped up easy sesame vinaigrette.  The result was a lite tasting, but delicious pasta salad that had some protein and veggies, and was perfect for a summer afternoon lunch.

The sesame dressing was simple combination of sesame and olive oil, rice wine vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste and was a great compliment to the whole thing.  I almost think its a salad worth serving at a picnic!

Short and sweet today! Hope everyone’s week is going well :)

xo

It was definitely a “for me” kind of weekend, I got a hair cut, indulged in some retail therapy, took advantage of a networking opportunity (super outside my comfort zone) and here’s what else.

As for my Marathon Monday updates, I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things (which is scary to me, because I don’t have much time to do things slowly if I want to run this Marathon).  I’m going to train for it to the best of my ability, but be smart about it too, if I’m physically not ready to run the race, I have to be mentally ready to admit that.  It doesn’t mean I’ll give up on the goal, its been made public as a point on my bucket list.  But for now, I’ll do my best to continue training.

Workouts:  For the past week, I’ve been battling what I think is a mild case of Bells Palsy.  Its a scary phrase to say partial paralysis of the face.  I woke up Monday morning last week and suddenly only half of my smile worked and I couldn’t close my eye fully.  This results in a sore jaw (if I try to talk a lot), sloppy eating (corn on the cob becomes dinner and a show for B) and a dry eye from time to time.  Add to all of this a frustrating inability to fall asleep and then STAY asleep, last week was rough, on both the psyche and the workout plan.  The good news is that first and foremost, it will get better and it IS getting better.  I still feel like a jerk that I can’t smile when I go out in public and its also kind of embarrassing, and even though I can close my eye, I can’t do it fully yet. So its really just a waiting game.  My friend said “when someone up there decides its time for you to slow down for a bit, they make sure you do”.  And that’s really what i’m taking this experience as.  Trying to rest a little more than usual and let my body heal.  BUT, that’s not to say I haven’t tried to stay healthy.  Although I haven’t made it to the gym for my body pump or yoga sessions (hoping to change that this week!), I lifted at home and did some yoga at home each day.  I also made it to the gym for some cardio, since running outside isn’t too smart, given my eye (the breeze dries it out and if something gets in my eye, I can’t blink it out).  I got in a good elliptical and treadmill workout.  Despite not being my favorite piece of equipment for distance runs, the treadmill does help with speed intervals .

Food:  I made a conscious effort this week to try and sneak in veggies for lunch and dinner and to snack on fresh fruit when I do snack.  I’ve also been drinking a lot of water lately and am glad to be back on my water weekdays kick.  Even though I’ve been skipping out on the salads these days, I’m still getting a ton of veggies in through simple veggie sautes for lunch and sneaking them in at dinner.

 

And that’s about it!  How was your weekend??

xo

 

ps – for those of you keeping track of my Katie Learns to Cook series, I know I skipped yesterday, even though I had the chapter fully read (bad me!).   With the mindset of the weekend, it just felt better not having that as something I had to do.  I’ll have it up this week though and fully plan on staying on track as we continue!

Happy Monday everyone!  I usually like to take today to recap my weekend and talk about my marathon training (or lack thereof).  And while I do have fun things to tell you about my weekend, will you forgive me if I push that off for just a day and introduce something new?

I’ve mentioned once or twice that I’d really like to learn more about cooking and while I don’t have the time or funds to ship off to culinary school, I do have other resources available to me.  I’ve started to work my way through that cooking textbook I borrowed from my brother and thought it’d be fun if I shared some of the things I learn along the way with you guys!  Ideally, I’d like to post this column of sorts once a week so we can work through the chapters at a decent pace and I was thinking Sundays would be a great day to do it.  Ideally, I’d also post the first post on a Sunday, but the first day of class is always a bit kooky, right? :)  Right!  And as an FYI – i’m planning putting together a page specifically for the posts on this column, so they can be easily accessed in the future.  So look for that over here —->

So today is the first installment of it, but pretend it came yesterday.   I don’t want to give anyone the idea that I am certified to or pretending to teach a class on Culinary arts, rather just hoping to share what I learn along the way!  Conversation, suggestions, questions, tips on any of the stuff I bring up would be a lot of fun, for readers, writers and commenters, so chat away down there :)

Rather than go through every single thing I’ve learned in each chapter, I think I’ll spend more time highlighting the things that were most interesting to me.  The first chapter, as usual is a lot of background information, setting you up for the things you’ll be learning in the subsequent chapters.  For this “course”, it means learning some culinary history, some vocab and getting a general idea of how a kitchen works.  So here goes!

The chapter focused on some of the main players in the development of restaurants and cuisines.  For instance – did you know that the first restaurant, was sort’ve scandalous?  Until then, guilds would specialize in one particular item (be it baking, soups/stocks, pastries, etc) and that was that.  Until along came a guy named Boulanger, who was the first to open up a restaurant that served a variety of foods that were made on the premises.  The restaurant industry, so to speak, was significantly helped along by the French Revolution, of all things.  That’s because the revolution abolished what was left of the monopolies that the guilds had over cooking and allowed the common folk access to chefs that used to work for the now downsized aristocracy.

Now, we have a whole slew of restaurants that can range from simple eats to grande, classic, nouvelle, new American and even fusion cuisine.   It seems that cuisines started out being pretty intricate and fancy, focusing on the hows and whys of cooking and refined presentations.  With the development of new cuisines such as nouvelle and new American, there started to be more emphasis on the simplicity, freshness of flavors and use of fresh, local produce.  I think one of the most interesting developments is the creation of fusion cuisine, where there’s a combination of ingredients or preparation of a meal from two separate ethnic or regional cuisines.  While I can appreciate all the different types of cuisines, I think I fall under the category of the new cuisines, I like when my meals have simple but delicious flavors, that are created from local ingredients.  And some of my favorite restaurants are Spanish Fusion restaurants.  Yum!

One of my favorite parts about this chapter, was the section that listed all of the different jobs of chefs (aka a brigade) that go into the preparation of our meals, as well as the serving of our meals.  Even though it was fun to learn the French names of chefs who specialize in all of the different components for a meal, I was even more interested in the job titles for those who work in the dining room.  Here’s a list:

The Dining Room Manager – also known as the maitre’d.  This guy/gal we’re all pretty familiar with.  They seat us and at the fancier restaurants, help to develop a menu, train the staff and creates the seating charts.  They’re an “overseer” of sorts.

Wine Steward/Sommelier – if you go to a nicer restaurant, these folks will help you pick out a nice bottle of wine to go along with your meal!

Now here is where it starts to get a little more involved than what I ever thought:

Head waiter – I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen one in action, but these guys are responsible for service in the entire dining room.  In actuality, American service tends to not utilize these, so its pretty rare that we’d see one.

Captains – these guys are responsible for taking your order and doing any on-site prep beside the table.  So if you order a Steak Diane, a homemade ceasar salad or a whole fish, or anything that involves “a production” beside your table, the captain is who you’ll see!

Front Waiters – responsible for serving the food and making sure your table is set for the appropriate course.  I think a combination of the captain and the front waiters are what most folks these days are used to seeing.

Finally, the back waiters – aka the busperson.  Charged with clearing the tables and keeping the water glasses full!

So the next time you go out to eat, keep in mind all the things that people are doing and see if you can pick the different jobs out as they happen!

It was a typical first chapter, but an interesting and enlightening one.  Its amazing to think of all the different jobs that go on behind the scenes.  Even crazier?  To think that we perform almost all of these jobs ourselves in our own kitchen each day! Yikes!

I’ll end with a quote that I thought was particularly relevant to something I was struggling with a few weeks ago.

“A chef should not be inventive, simply for the sake of invention”. 

xo

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