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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thursday Thoughts

I am so tired, but it's something I'm trying not to think about. I just want to push through and keep on truckin' until I drop!

Not really, but I really could use a break right now. The fact that I know I have less than a week until classes just makes it worse. That's when the real fun starts. Classes, homework, work, cooking, working out. Blogging? Sleeping? Hopefully.

Clearly, my posts have becoming more sporadic, it's just hard to cook during the day and work nights and make time for the gym AND find time to blog about what I've been eating. So, I think I'm just going to try to give quick overviews of my days as far as food goes. Recipes will be rarer, but hopefully seeing what I'm eating will inspire you to try a variation of what you see here. Just try and bare with me over the next few months, I'm sure the adventure will be interesting and telling.

It's only quarter to ten on a Thursday night and I'm already ready to hit the hay. And I'm going to do just that!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Work, Work, Work

I'm really happy that work has consumed my weekend, and I'm not being sarcastic at all. Being that this weekend I would have been moving back into college, I have a lot on my mind. It's better to keep myself busy right now. 

And with many hours of work comes many packed meals! 

Yesterday I had lots of snacks that included almonds, pecans, carrots, cucumber, and a Kashi chewy granola bar. And for dinner, I made a quinoa bowl before leaving my house. 

Taken with Instagram

With my quinoa I had shrimp, broccoli, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes. Even though I had to eat it cold, it totally hit the spot last night. The protein from the shrimp kept me satisfied for the rest of the night shift. I will definitely be making this again!

Today I had a peanut butter sandwich on a deli flat, made with PB2, almonds, carrots, and peppers for lunch, and a Kashi bar for a snack. But what I was looking forward to the entire night was the dish I made this morning for dinner. 

Just looks like a bunch of chopped veggies, right? Well, there's actually an entire can of sardines mixed in too! This sardine and veggie mix has chopped cucumbers, carrots, peppers, onions, radishes, grape tomatoes, and green pigeon peas and alfalfa sprouts tossed in. All of this was combined with veganaise,  spicy brown mustard, lemon juice, and fresh ground pepper. And let me tell you, it was delicious! Now, if you're totally apposed to the thought of eating sardines, you can easily make this with canned salmon or tuna (salmon has way less mercury, so try that first). 

This salad is more of a typical lunch for me, but I wanted to have a higher protein meal for the end of the day (eliminates late-night snacking). 

See? It is totally possible to eat healthy with a busy work schedule. The key is planning. Yes, it takes some time, and preparing all of your meals takes more effort than running to Subway on your lunch break, and I promise you, it will keep you fuller longer. Not only is it beneficial to plan your meals when you're busy, but also making sure than you have healthy snacks with you throughout the day will keep hunger pangs at bay. Even if you're going out to run some errands, take a handful of nuts or a granola bar with you, this way you won't be tempted to go through the drive-thru for that greasy bag of french fries. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Rant About Vegetarianism

Can I just get something off my chest? Thanks.

It really bothers me when people assume the reason I lost weight was because I became a vegetarian. Yes, vegetarianism cut-out a lot of unhealthy foods from my diet, like Big Macs and deep-fried chicken tenders, but there are still a lot of unhealthy foods that don't include meat. Things like chips, fettucini alfredo, and Nutella are all fine in moderation, but when you have no control over your portions and eat junk until your stomach is about to regurgitate, it doesn't matter if you're a vegan or a carnivore, you will not lose weight.

Yes, becoming a vegetarian helped open my eyes to healthier options, but it didn't stop me from eating a pint of Ben and Jerry's in one sitting. There has to be a moment in your life, a turning point, when you look yourself in the mirror and say, "I need to get healthy," and then you need to focus on doing just that.

I thought I had that moment many times in my life. I can't tell you how many times I started a "new" diet throughout my short lifetime. But there was a moment, back in November of 2011, that changed my life forever.

I was sitting in my college dorm room with my roommate and it was around 11:30, 12 at night. We were watching SNL and talking about food, when my roommate looked at me and said, "Ya know what I could go for right now? Ice-cream." I agreed, having ice-cream always sounded like a good idea to me, it was my favorite food. After gushing about all the delicious ice-cream we could be eating, I looked at my roommate with this crazy grin on my face and asked, "Wanna go to Quick Chek?" And with that, we were off, no hesitation necessary.

Because I was obviously thinking about my health that night (ha-ha), I opted for Ben and Jerry's Half Baked FroYo. I'll spare you the gory details of how I devoured the entire pint like I was going to the electric chair, but like a drug addict, I forced myself to finish the entire pint, even when I started to feel full. Mind you, there are four servings in a pint of ice-cream. Immediately after, I went to bed. With an entire pint of frozen yogurt sloshing around in my stomach.

The next morning I felt like I had been hit by an eighteen-wheeler. I looked in the mirror and I hated who I saw staring back at me. This was not the person I wanted to be, I didn't even know her. That was the moment I knew I needed to change. For good.

Looking back, I don't regret that night because it showed me that I had hit rock bottom. Climbing out of that hole I had dug for myself over the years was no easy task, but it was definitely worth it. I learned so much about myself, fitness, and nutrition throughout the journey, and today, I can proudly say that that sad girl who glared back at me with tears in her eyes is no longer lurking behind my mirrors.

The reason for this long rant is to remind everyone that trying a new fad diet, cutting out carbs, or becoming a vegetarian will not solve your weight loss problems. Moderation, portion control, and exercise will, and if you don't want to put in the effort to get to your goal, then you haven't reached rock bottom. It's not about going on a quick-fix diet. It's about changing your life forever, and you need to be ready to take on that task.

So if weight loss, or getting healthy is something that you've struggled with, I ask you to look at yourself in the mirror, right now, and ask yourself if that person is the who you want to live with for the rest of your life. If not, then it may be time for you to re-evaluate your lifestyle. I can tell you from experience, it will be the greatest thing you ever do for yourself.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

McDonald's Anyone?

Pssh! Why buy the grease from McDonald's when you can make something a lot healthier at home? I will never understand why our nation relies on fast food so much. Yes, it is convenient, and yes, it is cheap, but even with a hectic schedule and a budget, you can still eat healthy and nutritious foods. Eating well should be a priority in people's lives and it saddens me to think about all the people that are so apathetic about what they put into their bodies.

I have been striving to make healthy eating easy and accessible for even the most stubborn of eaters, and I think I may have finally bridged the gap. Introducing: the McDonald's Snack Wrap- Vegetarian Edition!

Boca Burger (cut in thirds), multi-grain wrap, guacamole, red onion, tomato, and sprouts, all rolled up burrito-style. In total, I think this lunch took me about 5-10 minutes to assemble and a lot less to devour it. 

I used a Boca Original Vegan burger, but you could use any kind of meatless burger (like black bean) when creating your own. If you eat fish, you could easily cook up a salmon burger, it would just take you longer. And if you're a carnivore, I would recommend a chicken or turkey burger if the thought of a veggie burger makes you a little nervous. 

My Snack Wrap was pretty unconventional by McDonalds' standards, so if you wanted something a little more traditional, fill your wrap with whatever you would normally put on a burger.

Easy, accessible, fast, and familiar. Now you really don't have an excuse for going through the drive-through when you can make something healthier in the comfort of your own home!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wrap It Up

With being so busy from my new job (manager at a frozen yogurt shop), I've had to make a great effort to make sure I'm still eating right when I'm on the-go.

I got this idea for a snack when I was in need of some food before work.

Veggie Lettuce Wrap

I simply took two big leaves of romaine lettuce (I only used the dark, leafy green parts), spread two tablespoons of hummus in the center of them, and filled the wrap with tomatoes, peppers, onions, broccoli, and alfalfa sprouts. Then all I did was fold it up burrito style and chow down. 

I had lunch earlier than usual, so this was the perfect snack to hold me over until my snack at work (a Kashi bar), and then I would finally eat dinner when I got home around 7:30. 

This snack wrap would also be good with some avocado slices, or some guacamole. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Absolutely Exhausted

I have completely neglected my pretty, little blog these past few days. It's just that I've been so tired that whenever I get free time, I just want to lay around and watch TV. Today is no exception. 

Don't get me wrong, I haven't just been laying around in my pajamas, eating bon-bons, watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians, I've been busy. Today, I thought was going to be a more relaxing, re-charge kind of day, but it has not turned out that way. 

I woke up totally energized, ate some dry cereal and the best peach I've had all summer, and headed out to the gym. My spirits were so high this morning that I knew I wanted to have a decent run today. I've been cutting back on my running because my knee that bothered me when I was overweight had been acting up. But today I had a nice run during my workout, and even though I really pushed myself, I still had a lot of energy. 

Like I said, I wanted to re-charge today, but after I had my breakfast, a delicious bowl of oatmeal (of course), I realized that I had a project that I needed to get a move on. My mission this summer has been to paint my bedroom furniture that I've had for about 15 years. It use be my mother's from when she was a child, so the set is about 50 years old. I did the night stand about two weeks ago, and today I did the tall chest of drawers. Emptying, cleaning, sanding, painting = exhaustion. My legs are very angry at me for running and then doing physical labor on top of it. Needless to say, I will sleep well tonight. 

But enough about me, this is a healthy living blog! 

Need some ideas for a quick lunch? Well I have two that I made this week that can easily be customized to suit your taste. 

A Taco Salad is always my go-to lunch when I want to get a filing meal in one bowl. 

A salad like this for me usually always includes romaine lettuce (One small head), brown rice (1/4 c. dry), black beans (1/3-1/2 c.), chopped peppers and onions, salsa, guacamole, shredded cheddar (very rarely), cilantro and hot sauce. This salad has so many toppings, there is no need for a dressing, but you could always drizzle it with a little lime juice to moisten it. It's just like getting a burrito bowl at Chipotle (minus all the extra sodium and grease). 

If you're not in the mood for a salad, or you're just a lunch-time sandwich eater, I made a Quick Shrimp Sandwich

This simple and fast sandwich is only 4 cooked shrimp (tails removed), 100 calorie deli flat, guacamole (as a condiment), red onion, tomato, romaine, and crushed red pepper flakes. Including the time it took for me to boil the frozen, raw shrimp, this sandwich took less than 10 minutes to assemble. And the lean protein will keep you satisfied until your afternoon snack or dinner. When I ate this, I also had fresh veggies, a small sweet potato, and a small handful of cherries for dessert. Totally stuffed. 

Something to think about: Do you make sure to get a healthy lunch when you're busy or in a hurry?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Pleasantly Surprised

My post-work out breakfast is always oatmeal, but today I decided to switch things up...kind of. 

Last night, I was browsing through Kath's blog (one of my favorites) and I stumbled across a recipe of hers, the Dough Boy Smoothie, and as soon as I stopped drooling, I headed to the kitchen to prepare it. The breakfast is a cross between overnight oats and a smoothie, so I was still going to get my oatmeal fix after the gym. 

Apparently, I was so excited to make the recipe that I misread the instructions. The recipe says to stick all the ingredients in the blender and let it sit in the fridge overnight, to thicken, then blend in the morning. I blended everything the night before, then put the mixture in a bowl in the fridge. Whoopsie! 

I realized this soon after I finished, but I definitely was not going to waste everything to make it again. So I went to bed last night a little nervous because I didn't know what I was going to find the next morning. 

To my surprise, everything in the bowl still thickened like it was suppose to! I was definitely thanking my lucky stars as I headed to the gym. 

When I got home, I emptied the mixture into a microwave-safe bowl and boy, it sure was thick. I live for super thick oatmeal so I was on cloud nine scooping out this new creation. The original recipe says to add more milk in the morning, blend, and serve cold. But I figured, since I already made the recipe my own from the start, I might as well just keep on following my crazy ideas. 

So, I popped my oatmeal in the microwave. And as I heated and stirred, and heated and stirred, I realized that a cake-like texture was beginning to form. This was the final result...

My oatmeal had blueberries and a half of a banana, hence the color. It definitely was no longer a smoothie, but it also wasn't a traditional oatmeal. Therefore, I introduce to you, the delectable, the delicious, the decadent, the Overnight Oatmeal Cake!

I loaded this "cake" up with sweet, salty, and savory toppings, as you can see. By the first bite, I had died and gone to heaven. Toppings include: walnuts, broken-up Kashi dark mocha almond chewy bar, PB2 (with extra water to make it running for drizzling on top), and puffed kamut cereal. Like I said, I'm currently sitting on an oatmeal cloud, blogging this from nirvana. The topping superstars were definitely the Kashi bar, with it's chocolatey goodness, and the slightly salty and melting PB2. I gave myself a pat on the back for that combo. 

Now, if you're on a diet, you may not want to add as many topping as I did because my bowl was a whopping 630 calories (oatmeal cake by itself is 345 calories). But I love having a hearty and filling breakfast that will fuel me for the rest of my day, so if you're just managing your weight like I am, go right ahead and fill-up your bowl. 

Overnight Oatmeal Cake
Adapted from Kath Eats Real Food
  • 1/2 c. Rolled oats, dry
  • 1/3 c. Plain low-fat yogurt
  • 3/4 c. Milk (I use plain, un-sweetend almond milk)
  • 1/2 Banana
  • 1/3-1/2 c. Fruit of choice, or other half of banana 
  • 1 T. Chia seeds, or ground flax seeds (essential for a more cake-like texture)
1. Add all ingredients in a blender, mix, then store overnight in a bowl so it can thicken.
2. The next day, heat the thickened mixture in a bowl until hot.
3. Add toppings and enjoy!

The texture of the oatmeal is a cross between a cooked cake and cake batter. It's not in any way runny like batter, but it also isn't light and fluffy like a cake. This recipe make a very dense, very moist cake. I cannot wait to make this again.

Something to think about: Have you ever made a mistake in the kitchen that turned out to be a miracle?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Experimenting In The Kitchen

When I'm not in a hurry to make a meal, and I have time to plan it out, I usually take more risks and try new combinations.

Yesterday I had to make my dinner in the afternoon so I could re-heat it for later because I was going to be out and wouldn't have time to make my meal later. I knew I wanted to make quinoa with some vegetables, but instead of the same old dinner that I had been making as of late, I wanted to jazz it up a little

TA-DA! Okay, so it just looks like your average bowl of quinoa and vegetables, but there is a teeny-tiny secret ingredient lurking amongst the fluffy quinoa. What is it, you ask? Chia seeds! I usually always add chia to my oatmeal because it gives it more volume, so I feel like I'm eating more without stuffing my face with carbs. 

I cooked the quinoa like I normally do, and then added the soaked chia seeds (1 T chia + 5-6 T water, stirred until gel forms), a few more drops of water, and let that simmer in a pot while I finished cooking the veggies. 

Lemon Chick Pea Quinoa Bowl
  • 1/4 c. Quinoa, dry
  • 1 T. Chia seeds
  • 1/3 c. Chick peas
  • 2 c. Spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 c. Grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 c. Yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 T. Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Lemon, juice of
  • 2 t. EVVO, separated
  • Italian seasoning, to taste
  • Crushed red pepper, to taste (optional)

Once your vegetables and chick peas are cooked and seasoned, toss in the quinoa/chia mixture and stir everything together. Add the lemon juice and the remaining teaspoon of olive oil (the other is used for sautéing) and make sure the ingredients have all married together before serving.

Nutrition (makes one serving): Calories: 390, Total fat: 14g, Sat. fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 144mg, Total carbs: 56g, Fiber: 14g, Sugars: 3g, Protein: 15g

I was so looking forward to eating this when I got home yesterday, and I have to say, it was really nice to know that dinner was already made when I walked in the door. The chia seeds definitely did their job because I was already getting that full-feeling even before I finished my bowl! The lemon added a nice light flavor, and I highly recommend adding the crushed red pepper because it added just enough zing. I can't wait to add chia seeds to my quinoa all the time now! Seriously, if you've never had them, do yourself a favor a buy a bag off of amazon. You can thank me later.

Something to think about: How often do you switch up your "staple" meals?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Throwin' Hummus, Hummus

No, this dish does not involve throwing hummus, but it does involve eating it!

All summer I have been having an affair with portobello mushrooms. I can be seen sautéing them, steaming, or, my personal favorite, stuffing them. 

Portobellos are one of my new favorite foods because they can be used in a side, or as the entree; they can be cooked quickly if you're in a hurry, or nursed if you have plenty of time on your hands. 

Fast Greek Stuffed Portobellos
Serves two
  • 2 Portobello mushroom caps, stems and some of the innards removed
  • 1/4 c. Hummus (I used Sabra Tuscan Herb)
  • 1/2 c. Chick peas
  • 1 oz. Crumbled feta
  • 2 T. Sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (optional)
  • Basil 
1. In a microwave safe dish, heat the mushrooms for about two minutes, or until enough water has been released. 
2. In a small bowl, mash the chick peas and add the hummus and sun-dried tomatoes. Mix until preferred consistency.
3. Remove mushrooms from the microwave and pat them dry. Divide hummus mixture between the portobellos, top with feta cheese and a pinch of basil. 
4. Heat the finished product in the microwave to warm the hummus and cheese. It should take about 30-45 seconds. Serve when heated to preference. 
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Total: < 10 minutes

Note: This recipe can also be done completely in the oven at 450 degrees, but it will take much longer.

Nutrition: (One portobello): Calories: 210, Total fat: 8g, Sat. fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 10mg, Sodium: 323mg, Total carbs: 24g, Fiber: 9g, Sugars: 4g, Protein: 12g

Just looking at this makes me hungry! I think it's time for a snack now...

Something to think about: What's your favorite type of cuisine?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Little Bit of Old & Little Bit of New

Today was a pretty busy day for me. This morning I got up early and went shopping at Brave New World for their 50% off sale with my mom and brother. I was a little weary about going because when I was heavier, I always had a hard time finding clothes that could fit me there and that kind of shopping experience left a bad taste in my mouth for a long time. I always felt out of place whenever I went inside.

Nevertheless, I went because I desperately need clothes, still. Long story short, I found some great clothes! Even two pairs of jeans, which was a shock because finding jeans that could fit both my waist and my thighs and hips is still a problem I have. And I have to say, it was one of the greatest feelings in the world to button those jeans and have them fit like they were made for my body. Never before have a smiled so widely in a dressing room.

In the afternoon I went out to lunch with my friends Regina and Jesse for some much needed catching up. We went to The Beanery, and because I'm a creature of habit (and it was calling my name), I got the same veggie sandwich I got last time. Once again, my tastebuds sang with pleasure!

This talk about my lunch today brings me to the heart of this post—yesterday's lunch.

Now before I tell you what it was, do me a favor and keep an open mind before you read on. If you asked me last year to eat this, I'd probably make a yucky noise and tell you to take a hike. So what changed my mind? After learning about the health benefits of this food, and being in search of something new to try, I knew I just had to try...sardines. Yes, the little fishes that come in a can. And guess what! They were absolutely delicious, and have easily made the list of my favorite healthy foods. I was so nervous that they were going to taste too fishy, or too salty, but I thought they were perfect.

These small fish have an extreme nutritional density. Sardines pack in more healthy fatty acids per ounce than salmon, they're a good source of calcium, are low in mercury, and, like all fish, are a great source of protein.

For those of you that still think I'm crazy: all I'm going to say is, don't knock it until you've tried it.

I used a can of Bumble Bee sardines packed in water for my lunch. And after reading some recipes online, I decided my best bet was to keep it classic and make a sandwich.

Don't let the skin scare you! Sardines are so tender that you can't even tell the difference between the flesh and the skin (they have a texture similar to flounder and tilapia). And the bones that are inside are so small and mushy, it's just like eating the flesh. There's no need to buy boneless and skinless sardines because it's completely safe to eat them, and a lot of the calcium from the sardines comes from those very sources. 

As you can see, I kept my sardines whole, but you can certainly mash them just as if you were making tuna salad. 

My sandwich was open-faced with two slices of Ezekiel bread, one can of sardines packed in water (water must be drained out), spring mix, red onion, mustard, and veganaise. 

My mother thought I was going to hate them, but it was quite the opposite—I am madly in love with sardines. I was actually shocked by how much I enjoyed them. I highly recommend them to anyone. My sandwich was great, but I think next time I'm going to try them in a pasta dish! 

Something to think about: What was the most adventurous thing you've ever eaten?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Cup of Yum

Okay, so it's 3:30 and the hunger pangs have set in. You've already had lunch, and dinner time is hours a way. There can only be only solution: an afternoon snack. I adore a good snack that can keep hunger at bay without making you feel like you've stuffed your face.

Cue the yogurt parfait. Parfaits are fun because you can add whatever you want and you don't feel like you're eating a plain-boring bowl of yogurt. 

The Perfect Parfait
  • 1 c. Plain yogurt (Greek is optional)
  • 1/2 c. Fruit
  • 1/4-1/2 c. Crunchy topping, like granola (I used 1/2 c. puffed wheat)
  • 0.5 oz. Nut topping, optional (I used raw sunflower seeds) 
1. Layer ingredients however you like and dig in!
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Total: 2 minutes

This snack can easily be packed in you're own the-go. But if you find yourself like me (salivating over pictures of food on Pintrest), this is the perfect afternoon or morning snack when you're at home. 

Something to think about: What's your go-to snack during the day, or at night?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Vegan Dinner Party

Last night I hosted a small dinner party for my two friends, Liz and Alex, who have been wanting to taste my food for quite some time. None of us are vegan, but Alex is also a vegetarian. The menu turned out to be vegan unintentionally, but it was definitely a well-embraced accident. Unfortunately, I did not have time to take pictures of the dishes because I was too focused on cooking, but I will still share the menu and recipes!

Savory Summer Veggies with Chick Peas
Pasta Salad with Roasted Broccoli and Oven-dried Tomatoes
Mixed Green Salad

Mixed Berry Clafoutis

The veggie and chick pea dish was a little different from the recipe I posted here, and I have to say, I really enjoyed the changes. I omitted the tomatoes and added eggplant, peeled and cubed, and homemade marinara sauce. The marinara sauce made the dish even more savory than the original, and the eggplant soaked up a lot of the sauce, making them super tender. It was a nice contrast between the slight crunch of the zucchini and firmness of the chick peas. If you want to make this version, add as much marinara sauce as you like to keep the dish moist, you don't want to add too much that it becomes a stew.

I made the pasta salad the day before. First I started with the oven-dried tomatoes. I halved grape tomatoes, slightly salted them, and then let them sit on paper towel (halved side down), so they could dry out a little. Then I placed them on a baking sheet and popped them in the oven at 300 degrees for about 30-60 minutes. The time varies so much because some of the tomatoes were rather small and dried much faster than others. You just have to keep an eye on them, but you will appreciate it in the long run because they are so sweet! You'll want to remove them from the oven before they get too brown and become crunchy. I roasted the broccoli next, and all I did was chop some raw flowerets into bite-size pieces, place them on a baking sheet, lightly spray with Pam, and cooked in a 425 degree oven for about 10-15minutes. Again, you just have to keep an eye on them because you want them to start to brown, but not burn. I combined the vegetables with whole-grain penne, tossed with a little olive oil, vinegar, and italian seasoning before I put it in my fridge. The next day, I added a little more olive oil (pasta absorbs condiments when left sitting for hours, especially in a fridge) and a few squeezes of lemon juice to add some brightness.

The salad was a mixture of spinach, spring mix, and romaine lettuce. I also added sliced red onion, mushrooms, radishes, cucumbers, and tomato.

The dessert caused me great distress because the original recipe that I got from Skinny Taste was not vegan. I decided to experiment and make it vegan when I saw that instead of using sugar or honey as a sweetener, the recipe called for agave nectar. So, I said to myself, "Well then why not just substitute the eggs and milk and have everything I make vegan?" And that's just want I did. I used unsweetened, plain almond milk and flax eggs instead. I'm not sure if the recipe is impossible to transpose into a vegan version, but the outcome was definitely not what I intended to make. A clafoutis is French dessert that is basically a shallow cake, baked with fruit. Mine was definitely not a cake. I'm not sure if the flax was not enough of a binder, or if the almond milk was too thin, but dessert turned out to be more of a custard/creamy, crustless tart. I was definitely a whoopsie on my part, but it was still delicious! Liz went back for seconds and Alex went back for thirds. Alex also jumped at the chance to take the rest home, so even though it wasn't a true clafoutis, I still made a tasty vegan dessert. A simultaneous fail and win. But hey, I'm only human!

Overall, the night was a great success. Liz could not stop raving about the juicy tomatoes that were in the salad (they were from my local produce stand that the best tomatoes during summer), and Alex loved the oven-dried tomatoes and the eggplant in the veggie dish. I love cooking, but sharing the food I make with people I love is a great feeling. Especially when they leave the table with full bellies!

Hosting a dinner party is a great way to enjoy good food and good laughs with great friends.

Something to think about: What would you serve at a dinner party?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Daily Dose of Lycopene

If there's one thing I love about living in New Jersey it's the fact that we have the greatest tomatoes during the summer, and I just can't get enough of them! It's funny because when I was younger, and before I became a vegetarian, I hated eating tomatoes. I loved ketchup, but I couldn't stop the thought of just eating a slice of tomato. I was the cliché, sugar-loving, chubby kid who despised anything healthy.

What a difference in my tastebuds today.

The other day there were so many ripened tomatoes on my counter, I knew I had to gobble some up before they went bad. So, I figured, what better way to enjoy the flavors and juices of these tomatoes than with a simple tomato salad.

Tomato Salad
Serves 2-4
  • 2 Whole tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 1 T. Olive oil
  • 1/4 c. Red onion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Basil
1. Combine ingredients in a bowl and stir. Can be served room temperature or chilled.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Total: 5 minutes

I ate my tomato salad on top a bed of greens, but it can easily be eaten by itself as a side dish. It's perfect to make for a summer BBQ.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Change is Good

If there's one thing I love, it's brown rice. I can get my carb fix, but it's still full of vitamins and minerals. Brown rice is usually a staple for anyone on a diet, but last night I was looking to shake things up a bit. I decided to make my dinner with wild rice. It takes longer to cook and has a different texture, but it provides more protein and less carbohydrates than brown rice. Usually wild rice is served as a side dish with a combination of brown rice, but I wanted to just have the wild rice with my meal.

Simple Mushroom Shrimp with Wild Rice
  • 1/4c. Wild rice, dry
  • 3 oz. Shrimp, deveined, tails removed
  • 1/2-1c. Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 Medium slice of a yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 T. Garlic, minced
  • Cooking spray
  • Juice of one lemon wedge
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
1. Follow cooking instructions for wild rice. It usually takes about 40 minutes for it to finish cooking.
2. In a small sauce pan, lightly coated with cooking spray, over medium heat, add garlic and onions. Very lightly salt. Sauté until onions are translucent. 
3. Toss in mushrooms and shrimp and continue to stir frequently. Drizzle with lemon juice and season to taste. (If shrimp are uncooked, cook before hand and toss in with mushrooms so they don't over cooked)
4. Serve shrimp mixture over rice and enjoy!
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total: 50 minutes

Nutrition: (serves 1) Calories: 265, Total fat: 3g, Sat. fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 86mg, Sodium: 300mg, Total carbs: 38g, Fiber: 4g, Sugars: 3g, Protein: 24g

Of course if you don't have, or don't like wild rice, this dish can be easily served with brown rice. Not taking into account how long the rice takes, the recipe is done in a short amount of time. I had this with a big salad and was so full afterwards! I'm excited to experiment more with wild rice and see what I come up with.