The Rest Of The Weekend

Here is all the stuff that didn’t tie into yesterday’s book review…

Coffee break(fast) on Friday.

DSC06467One of the doctors brought us all in doughnuts but I stuck with my latte and coffee chia bar (even though this flavor ended up being gross).  Later I was laughing with Adam about how much much harder it is to pass things up now that I’ve gotten kind of fat.  Before it felt like “this is a time I’m not eating something yummy, but that’s ok because I look and feel my best because I occasionally don’t eat things that are yummy.”  Before I started my job I went a little crazy with the sitting on the couch and eating thing and now I’m trying to get back to my old, healthy self.  But now it’s like “I’m passing up on this doughnut but I still don’t look like I pass on doughnuts, I look like I rolled around in a pile of doughnuts like Scrooge McDuck and then just put my clothing on over the doughnuts that stuck!

<— anyone else get what I’m saying there?

Another Friday item, lunch.

DSC06456The last of the big grapes.

DSC06460And a salad of romaine with groats, edamame, peanuts, and peanut vinaigrette.

DSC06458It was so great having the pre-cooked edamame at the ready.  Thanks, Trader Joe’s.  And speaking of TJ’s…

We tried several tasty cheeses this weekend.

DSC06452DSC06473In grilled cheese!  On gingerbread swirl bread.

DSC06513We made one sandwich of each and then split them in half.  Chocolate cheddar cheese with Sriracha mayo and English cheddar with caramelized onions with dijon.

DSC06516So. Freaking. Good.  I don’t even plan on being a person who doesn’t cozy up with the husband in front of Gray’s with a plate of grilled cheese.  I just need to stop being the person who puts cheese on everrrrrrrrrything.

We cashed in a BOGO coupon at Starbucks and got turkey bacon, egg white, and cheddar sandwiches for breakfast before running errands.

DSC06469DSC06471This sandwich is one of the husband’s very favorite things but I ended up sharing the last 1/3 of mine with him.  I feel like there must be fake sugar in the English muffins; they have a strangely sweet aftertaste that throws off the whole sandwich.

I was supposed to do a review with Limoneira recently but things fell through at the last minute.  They felt bad and sweetly sent me a big box of lemons.

DSC06352Too exciting!  I had so much fun getting to experiment with the meyer lemons.  We made another batch of Dulce de Leche Lemon Popsicles, and did something really fun with the leftover “batter.”

DSC06475DSC06479Lemon egg creams!  Just popsicle mix (lemon juice, scm, and skim milk) with pink grapefruit seltzer.

We also made some lemon bars to bring to a holiday party we attended Saturday night.

DSC06505My mom always made these bars for me growing up but this was the first time Adam ever tried them and he adored them.  Not super Christmasy but they did have powdered sugar snow.

P.S. Don’t forget to enter the cookbook giveaways!

Around The Web

Things to Make You Think –

Due a lack of standard practice for labeling, some “Greek Yogurts” are thickened with additives instead of via the traditional straining process

A RD debunks some common myths about type II diabetes

The recent cuts to SNAP have put increased strain on local food banks

Schools in Utah try new methods of getting students to actually eat healthier cafeteria lunches

Things to Make You Giggle –

three writers walk into a bar...source

evidence based protestsource

are you human shapedsource

the plot thickenssource

I cannot even tell you, all four of my “giggles” made me laugh my head off!

Lobster, And Marrow, And Boba, Oh My!

The past three days were the best of 2013, and I have so much to say.  We ended every day so exhausted/satisfied/full and blogging just felt like an impossible feat.  But how can I not blog two of my favorite meals in Buffalo?  I may not get to say as much as I’d like, but at least this post will help put my memories all in one place.  If I had to state the theme of this post succinctly, it would be – I really, deeply, emphatically love good food.

This weekend we were lucky enough to have a visit from some of my Maryland family, my aunt and one cousin.  They are some of the best people I know and I loved getting to share and explore Buffalo with them.

On the way to the airport, I drank a Zico Chocolate Coconut Water,

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and split a Cascadian Farm Crunchy Oats & Honey Granola Bar with the husband.

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When we got home I put out a little meze spread for lunch.

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Cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber with pink salt, baby carrots, Wegman’s roasted garlic hummus, and tamari almonds.

My plate, x2:

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I also ate the bread ends off of a loaf I sliced up to make Adam a sandwich.

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I need to do raw veggie spreads more often; this was a very satisfying lunch.

We took a wander down Elmwood to show the fam where I work and play, and stopped at Ashker’s for wonderfully velvety espresso.

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With skim milk and sugar.

Then we were off to the falls!

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We lucked out with the perfect weather – cold enough to scare away the crowds but warm enough that you could really take your time to appreciate Mother Nature.

Speaking of Mothers, that’s where we had dinner!

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Mother’s restaurant is 10 steps from our old apartment but we never made it a priority because we thought it was steak house.  The menu was mostly meat, but that didn’t keep me from having an absolutely fantastic meal.

Bread with salted butter.

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Glass of wine, a Chablis that I enjoyed far more than I was expecting to.

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Salad.

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My picture quality went downhill at this point but the quality of food kept shooting up.

For an appetizer we all split the gnocchi.

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Potato gnocchi with portobello, lump crab, peas, and a white truffle sauce.

My portion, x2.

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All of those components are great on their own but together they became something amazing.  Best gnocchi I’ve ever had; it was pillowy beyond my wildest dreams.

For my entrée: “sautéed red snapper fillet with gulf shrimp, mushrooms, artichokes, scallions, lemon butter sauce, and microgreen salad.

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It also came with asparagus and perfectly roasted potatoes.

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The dish was wonderful and the portion was gigantic (Adam actually ate the other half of my fish for dinner tonight!).  Certainly a meal worth going back for.

But the best bites I took were actually from the husband’s dish.

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The black (squid ink) pasta I could live without, but the scallops – like the gnocchi – were the best I’ve ever had.  They were cooked to perfection, with a nice crust and creamy middle.  Adam must love me a whole lot to have given me as many bites as he did!

– . – . – I need to stop and do some foreshadowing here: the meal at Mother’s was not even the best meal of their visit!

Monday morning my aunt and I walked Webster to The Spot for some coffees.  The baristas gave me a gorgeous drink and were super sweet about the dog in my arms.

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Tall skim latte, to go.

Back at home, I had a big bowl of Cascadian Farms Berry Cobbler Granola with fresh blackberries and homemade vanilla cashew milk.

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While it clearly couldn’t compete with our dinners, this meal was pretty flipping good.  I’m thinking that the cashew milk may be worth the effort after all.

The weather had shifted back to winter by that point so we spent our afternoon walking around the mall.  My aunt bought me a couple of new work pieces at Old Navy – – can you believe I start school next week?!

You have to do self-serve froyo when you’re at the mall.  I did a small amount of plain tart and coconut yogurt, a medium amount of fresh fruit, and tons of popping boba.

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Is it sick that both bubble tea and self-serve froyo make an appearance on my “must have” list for next year’s move?

For dinner, we met the husband at Seabar.

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I could talk about how fun the decor is, but when the food is this awesome, who really cares?

I got a spicy bloody mary to drink.

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I know keep saying this, but seriously – best blood mary I’ve ever had!

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It came loaded with Tabasco, Franks, and Sriracha.

My impetus for dragging everyone to Seabar was simple – “Bourdain’s Last Meal.”

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Marrow, foie gras torchon, (and pork belly which I requested come on a separate plate), and toasted bread for spreading.

***This post is far too long already for me to go into my food philosophy.  In short – yes, I ate marrow and yes, I still won’t eat read meatIf you would like me to post more about it just ask and I gladly will. 

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Trying marrow has been on my life list for years and it was like nothing I’ve ever tasted before.  I totally concur with its description as “the world’s best butter.”  We all shared the appetizer but I will totally cop to eating a lion’s share of the marrow.  Also, I spread marrow between two toasts and ate it like a small, ridiculously decadent sandwich.

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And then I closed my eyes and swooned.

Actually, I spent most of the meal with my eyes closed tight, straining to help my taste buds make the most of every flavor.  I hate to knock my favorite place in Brooklyn off of the top, but this meal was the best I’ve ever eaten.

My family raved about their sushi – inventive combos composed of incredibly fresh fish – but my entrée was by far the best plate at the table.

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“Lobster  Ramen – Handmade Noodles, Lobster Broth Poached Egg, Shiitakes, Pickled Vegetable”

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None of us could get over the texture of the lobster and the noodles were out of this world.  Also, the pickled vegetables were nothing to frown at, but they were hard to focus on with poached lobster sitting at the table.  When I took my first bite of homemade noodle with egg yolk broken on top I was pretty sure I would die of happiness.

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And I haven’t even mentioned the broth yet.  I shared many bites and was more than generous with my lobster claws, all while threatening everyone not to spill a drop.  Then when all that was left was broth, I sucked it up with my straw!  I regret nothing.

I ate a dark chocolate peanut butter santa when we got home.

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And I collapsed into bed, basically drunk on marrow.

This morning we pulled ourselves out of our food comas and drove over to East Aurora.  I know I don’t actually live in EA, but I always want to bring visitors to Taste.

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I had the Santa’s Sleigh with skim milk.

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A peppermint tea latte with white chocolate and a hint of coconut.  It was delicious!

We were just admiring the cool industrial vibe when… I dropped my camera on the concrete floor.  Please note – I stayed amazing calm, but if my memory card had broken too and I’d lost the pictures for this post I definitely would have cried.

I’m going to end my blogging here, because I just can’t see tacking cell phone photos on the end of this lengthy post.

Broken cameras be damned, we had a nice day.  I managed to get buffalo wings into my aunt and cousin before they had to head to the airport.  I had a good day of work.  Adam and I shared a Dole Whip at the mall.  And many (many) hours later, I have a new camera.  So tomorrow, we can start all over again.

What/where was your best meal?  Have you ever tasted something so good you had to shut your eyes?

Cheesy Eggplant Bake With Salad

Nutrition (education, access, etc.) for underserved populations is topic that is important to me.  It’s the reason I quit my job as a teacher and the reason I’ll someday go back to teaching again, though my new lessons will be about healthy eating instead of English.  So, when Romano’s Macaroni Grill contacted me to see if I would write a post about their current partnership with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry, I jumped at the opportunity.

Disclaimer – I am not being personally compensated for this post, though they will make a donation as thanks for my participation.  This is just a subject to which I am glad to bring awareness.

Here’s how it works – Macaroni Grill is enlisting the food blogger community to help end childhood hunger with a single post. By simply tagging #macgrillgive to a recipe, message or photo of their favorite Italian meal on their blog, Macaroni Grill will donate $50 to connect a child to up to 500 meals.  Readers can go into the restaurant and donate $2, and get $5 off their next meal; OR – share an artist inspired image from our Mac Grill Give Facebook Gallery and we’ll help connect a kid with 1 meal.

Here are some facts from No Kid Hungry –

  • 48.8 million Americans—including 16.2 million children— live in households that lack the means to get enough nutritious food on a regular basis. As a result, they struggle with hunger at some time during the year.
  • Food insecurity—the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food— exists in 17.2 million households in America, 3.9 million of them with children.
  • Rates of food insecurity are substantially higher than the national average among households with incomes near or below the federal poverty line, among households with children headed by single parents (35.1% of female-headed households with children are food-insecure) and among Black and Hispanic households.
  • Food insecurity is most common in large cities but still exists in rural areas, suburbs and other outlying areas around large cities.  25 % of households with children living in large cities are food-insecure.

My favorite (homemade) Italian meal is my Cheesy Eggplant Bake

It is so cheesy, hearty, and filling; you would never guess that each serving has less than 200 calories.  Being cooked in the marinara sauce makes the eggplant extra creamy and delicious.

What goes better with rich, cheesy food than a nice green salad?

On the side, we had romaine topped with ground flax, buckwheat groats, and lite honey mustard dressing.

It was an easy, tasty, wholesome meal.

Cheesy Eggplant Bake, serves 4

  • 1 to 1.5 pounds thinly sliced eggplant (approx. .25 inch thick)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 6 slices 2% provolone
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Farenheit.
  2. Layer eggplant and tomato sauce into an 8×8 inch casserole dish; placing tomato sauce as the bottom and top layer.  You’ll most likely end up with three even layers of eggplant if your eggplant was sliced thinly enough.
  3. Bake 40 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven, top evenly with cheese, and return to oven for 10 additional minutes, until cheese is melted and beginning to brown.

Zombies Don’t Feel So Fresh

Hello, hello!  No post yesterday due technical difficulties.  P.S. “technical difficulties” is a fancy way of saying “I’m an idiot and when I plugged in my camera I somehow deleted all of my pictures.”

That wasn’t even the stupidest thing I did all afternoon.  We were eating M&M’s on the couch and I didn’t realize that I had spilled a handful until I saw the dog licking them.  I picked them up immediately (because chocolate and dogs don’t mix) but we have no idea what I did with them next.  We finally determined that I must have eaten them.  That’s right, I basically took food out of the dog’s mouth and ate it.  Yum.

Yesterday was a disaster any way.  We did not run.  We did eat nachos.  Like, ridiculous nachos; they were almost too cheesy.  Oh, and I fell asleep on the couch at 5pm again.  I don’t know what my deal is lately but I’m so tired I feel like a zombie!  I seem to be a little bit allergic to the dog but overall this has been my best summer ever as far as allergies go.  And while summer school is easy I don’t feel like I’m not doing enough and I’m certainly not doing too much.  I don’t know why I feel so tired all of the time.

For breakfast a Roasted Nut Roll Larabar Uber was packed.

The last of my Uber line samples, this flavor is my 2nd favorite after Bananas Foster.  The mix of nuts included almonds, pecans, peanuts and macadamia nuts.  It tasted almost like one of those pecan roll candies with the white stuff in the center!

I should mention that the husband was the one who sweetly did the breakfast packing.  Unfortunately I requested an apple to go with my bar and he provided a rock-hard nectarine instead.  No fruit for me.

Lunch was a very special feast.

One of our classmates owns the famous, local restaurant Romeo and Juliet’s Cafe and she brought us in a spread.

I had veggie pizza,

a stuffed pepper,

and salad.

And then I couldn’t help going back for a 2nd slice of pizza.

The stuff on the side is honey mustard dressing and house-made red pepper flake mayo.  I dipped my crust in the sauces and was in absolute heaven.

She brought in dessert too.

I finally ate my first cannoli!  Loved it!

I bought espresso to drink with my dessert like a real Italian.

A double shot with tons of skim milk and a few shakes of vanilla sugar.

Continuing the excitement, we watched a movie in class this afternoon (it was appropriate, it was a food movie!).  Fresh is a documentary that examines the pros and cons of organic versus factory farming and looks at our country’s food system as a whole.  A lot of cool people took part in it, including Michael Pollan and Joel Salatin.  We all really enjoyed the movie and I highly recommend that you check it out.  None of the information was really new to me but it was a great reminder that I need to do a better job of sticking with my principles when we go out to eat.  Adam and I only purchase humanely raised meat to cook at home and ideally that is the only type of meat I ever want to consume.

Even more exciting, we got the news that we are getting the day off tomorrow.  I am going to go to the mall with some friends and I couldn’t be more jazzed.  <– honestly, I clapped my hands and squealed when someone suggested it and I have no idea why because I’m not even going to be buying anything

I had big plans to make up yesterday’s run this afternoon and it just didn’t happen.  Actually, I got up and dressed in running clothes this morning (shoes, sports bra, everything) and made it as far as the couch.  I thought I would be able to redeem myself after class but I was dreading the run.  Every time I got up to go I just felt sad.  I need to do a better job of pushing through and working out more consistently (more in general!) but I love running so much that I hate to do it when I’m not going to enjoy it.

I did finally make that soup though.

Tex-Mex Chicken Soup from Cooking Light.  It was very good but not great.  I was mostly to blame for leaving out important ingredients.

my (mostly stupid) changes to the recipe

  • used 1/2 Tbsp less evoo
  • subbed green bell pepper instead of red (do you have any idea how expensive red pepper are?!)
  • subbed pickled jalapeño
  • skipped the cumin, cilantro, and queso (again, $)
  • skipped the tomato
  • used homemade shredded chicken and stock

I liked the spice level, especially with the pops of sweet corn.

I know this sounds strange, but I think I would have liked it better without the chicken!

Also this happened.

Yuck.

Finally, a product update – Smoke and Ashes from China Glaze’s Capitol Colours line (as seen in this post) has a great slate color but it chips like crazy.

Do not recommend.

Wow, that was a long post!

Have you seen “Fresh” yet?  What did you think?

Vegan Month Challenge

Ugh.  Today was day 3 of no diet soda and I’m seriously cranky.  Also, when I woke up there was no food in the house (vegan or otherwise) and I’ve been starving all day.  It was one of those situations where I waited so long to eat that I never got full, even now.  Oh, oh, oh!  And I’m annoyed because I have projects I want to start and we haven’t been given all of the information that we need yet.  Okay, I think that’s it for the complaints!

Breakfast was a smoothie.

I found this Vega Tropical Tango smoothie mix (HLS sample) in the cupboard and blended it with 1 cup of orange juice and 7 oz of frozen soursop pulp.

It tasted better than it looked.

My classes went well, though I was cranky the entire time.  Thinking about my newest reason to love Kristen Bell helped.  I made sure to run to Wegmans for an emergency grocery stock-up the minute class was over!

I ate this handful of peanuts x 3 when I got home.

Dinner was stir fry.

We stir fried a bunch of veggies – frozen brocoli/carrot/cauliflower mix, plus more frozen broccoli, plus canned stir fry mushrooms, and canned baby corn – with stir fry sauce and topped with a few toasted cashews.

Tasty, but it didn’t even make a dent in my hunger.

Next I had a huge (2 cups, aka 2 servings) bowl of Wegman’s Berry Corn Crunch Cereal with Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk.

And a huge spoonful of Dark Chocolate Dreams pb.

And now I’m going to go have some popcorn.  I swear that all of vegan month won’t be like this, it’s just that I waited to long to eat and I let my hunger get out of control!

February = Vegan Month Challenge

We’ve done this so many times now that this announcement feels like it doesn’t require much fanfare.

During February of 2012, Adam and I will be doing a 1-month vegan challenge.  No eggs, no dairy, no meat, no honey, and no products containing any of the aforementioned.  No, we didn’t choose February because it’s the shortest month.  Yes, we are excited.

Over the years I’ve done three different challenge introductions and three different challenge recaps (see the links above) on my blog and I feel like there’s no new way to explain why we are choosing to do this.  Basically –

While I think a vegan diet can be healthy for some individuals, I don’t think it is healthy long-term for everyone.
I think that everyone can be healthier if their diet includes more vegan meals and less meat.
Adam and I have both been in a healthy diet rut recently and a month of vegan meals will force us to spend some time with vegetables again.
1 month is a good way to remind myself that not every dish needs cheese.

Would any omnivores be interested in joining me for the month?

It’s About The Week

Since Tuesday was completely devoid of veggies I made sure to fit some into every single meal today!  My life is still so all over the place and some days I don’t even come close to eating the healthiest diet.  I try to make up for those days by getting in extra nutrients on the days where I can.  Healthy living is more how your week looks than any one day in isolation.

For breakfast I got in a massive dose of Potassium and Vitamin K, aka pumpkin.

Into the blender went:

  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup Plain Fat-free Stonyfield yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup

I ended up with a massive smoothie!

Lunch was all about Folate, or chick peas.

I topped a leftover half serving of channa marsala with some mango chutney.

I also snacked on this baggie of Combos during my last class.

I didn’t say every food choice was about nutrition, some things you eat just for fun!

Dinner was all about Lycopene (and some others), with baked eggplant in tomato sauce.

This dish was so darn good, even as leftovers!  A billion times better than it looks, that’s for sure.  I’m going to publish the recipe soon as part of a Foodbuzz sample post, it deserves some love.

The other half of dinner was mini rigatoni with sharp cheddar and evoo.

This bowl was delicious and I definitely went back for a full serving of seconds!  Plus a few big handfuls of unphotographed kettle chips; we had some reeeeeeally frustrating things happen at school today and I might have been stress nibbling a bit.

When you eat for health do you tend to look at things day by day or take more of a weekly approach?