lunch break.

You know what I love about lunch?

It gives me the chance to break away from the day’s routine.  No matter how dull, unorganized, crazy busy, boring, exciting, routine, ________ (fill in the blank) the day is, lunch is that pivotal point that can instantly turn the day around.

It takes just one hunk of dark chocolate.  Or a yogurt parfait.  Or a hunk of your favorite bread.

And there you go.  You’ve just turned the day around.

Just like a day old bologna sandwich with half melted cheese can ruin a perfectly fine day…

…a bowl of vegetable soup, a hunk of whole grain bread smeared in avocado, and freshly cracked black pepper (here, there, everywhere) can instantly put a smile on your face.

(FYI, I still have nightmares of that bologna sandwich from long ago…true story.)

I like to make lunch all about the vegetables.

So that at the end of the day, if there’s a sudden shift in plans (to the pizza barn we go!) or I randomly don’t feel like cooking (cold cereal!), I already have a nice big bundle of fiber-rich vegetables under my belt.  Already consumed.  Fueling me through the afternoon.  Filling me up with all kinds of nutrients.

It just feels good.

Sometimes (most times) that means a really large salad.  Never made the same way twice because there are so many options to be had!

Some days, this means a nice big bowl of leftover vegetable soup.

Or an open faced sandwich with hummus and plenty of shredded veggies on top.

Really.  However you look at it.  Lunch has the full potential to completely turn your day around.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Garden Minestrone Soup–slightly modified from the original version seen previously on The Flying Onion.

(serves 8)

Serve hot in the winter and chilled in the summer!

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tsp fresh oregano
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups chopped yellow squash
  • 3 cups chopped zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (or frozen)
  • 2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes with basil, oregano, garlic (or plain)
  • 3 (14 oz) cans vegetable broth
  • 2 (15.5 oz) can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (12oz) package frozen spinach
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add onion to pan; saute 3 minutes or until softened.  Add oregano and garlic, saute 1 minute.  Stir in squash, zucchini, carrot and corn; saute 5 minutes or until veggies are tender.
  2. Stir in tomatoes and broth; bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
  3. Add beans and spinach to pan.  Season with pepper and salt to taste.  Serve and enjoy!

 QUESTION: What are your favorite lunches for work/school or when you’re at home?

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Job Interview Snippets and Tips

I’ve applied to well over 20 jobs.

I’ve had a total of 5 interviews.

There’s no question that it’s a tough job market out there right now for almost everyone…in almost every field.

Obviously, I’m still looking for another part-time or full-time job in addition to my current part-time job.  And I wish I would have had someone share their job interview experience with me at the very beginning to save me a lot of mistakes and mishaps.  Which is why I decided to share my own personal experiences with all of you fellow job-seekers out there!

SARAH’S LIST OF INTERVIEW DO’S and DON’TS

1. Buy a nice suit.

Or at least a nice outfit, depending on how formal your job interview is expected to be.  This is for several reasons: (a) You want to walk in feeling confident and looking your best.  Feeling confident will show in your attitude, demeanor and voice.  Also, (b) if you’re neck and neck with a fellow contender, they’re going to choose the person who looked the part.  Lastly, (c) it’s always expected that you’re going to dress DOWN from the interview on.  So don’t show up in sloppy attire, because to them, that just means you’ll look really bad once you’re actually working. 😉

2. Print extra copies of your resume and reference letters.

After each and every interview, I’ve had someone ask me for an extra resume which they forgot to print.  One time, HR didn’t have a copy of my reference letters and asked for this as well.  You never want to show up looking unprepared!

3. Research the company.

First of all, I know how desperate the job hunt can be.  But you have to convince yourself not to take any job that you feel uncomfortable with.  Really.  You want to find out if you’ll fit in with the company’s policies, ideas, beliefs.  Is the company expanding?  Can you grow there?  Is there room for development and growth?  Look at the company website, facebook, news articles, etc.

And, of course, it’s good to know where the company is heading.  You want to show them that if they hire you, you can help them reach their goals!

4. Know thyself.

In other words, spend a day or two just going through your past experiences.  A former professor gave me this advice, and I can not express how important this is.

You’ll never know all the questions that will be asked on interview day.  But remembering that time when you had a conflict with a coworker and how you dealt with it, or that day when you had a super busy/stressful day and how you dealt with that, will serve you well.  You can bring in your personal experiences with most of the questions that will be asked.  And, you’ll feel prepared.

5. Have a strong resume.

Keep it organized and straightforward.  Read through it time and time again.  Have good, honest people look it over for you as well and ask them what they think (would they hire you?)

6. Be yourself.

The best interviews that I’ve had were the ones when I convinced myself to just relax and be myself.  These are the ones when I was told by the hiring managers that I was an extremely close contender.  Relax.  Breathe.  Don’t be afraid to show them your personality!

7. Think of something that makes you stand out.

Food blogger?  Active in the community?  Author of a newsletter?  Involved in leadership positions?  Active at your church?  Experience working with various age groups/personalities?

Think of the things that really make you pop out from other people so that they’ll remember you come decision day!

8. Don’t talk too much.

I have this problem.  Big time.  The worst interviews I’ve had have been the ones where I gab on and on about myself, only to realize that I’ve been side tracked from the original question (gulp!…never a good thing!)  People want straight forward answers.  Keep it simple and be specific!

9. Review popular questions.

Google “popular job interview questions” and spend some time thinking them over.  You’ll go to your interview feeling prepared.

10. Shake off excess energy.

I’m always a bundle of nerves before an interview.  Going for a run or a long walk beforehand really calms me down and brings everything into perspective.

11. Give yourself a pat on the back.

Give yourself a pat on the back for doing your best.

We all have good interview and bad interview experiences (trust me on that one!)  Give yourself permission to cry a little or to vent to a friend or to get upset for an hour or two.  But then pick yourself back up, shake off the dirt, and carry on.  It takes one YES to make this all worth it.  Keep plugging away.  Learn from your mistakes.

And then, move forward.


QUESTION: What are your top interview do’s and don’ts?

dressed up pollock.

I went for a nice long walk around the nearby lake today, and I experienced this vivid flashback of when I used to go fishing with my dad.

Floating on trusty ol’ Rita–our big green canoe–we would paddle our way to the middle of some lake and then we’d just sit there.  We’d sit there for hours and hours with our fishing rods, waiting patiently until we felt the gentle tug of a fish.

(or a floating piece of seaweedoops!)

We’d spend the day swatting at pesky mosquitoes and talking about nothing and everything all at once.  We’d watch dragon flies skim above the mirrored sheets of water, the sun reflecting colorful sparkles off of their shimmery wings.

As a 10 year old girl hanging out with her dad, I was convinced that each delicious moment was just a tiny speck of what heaven would someday feel like.  The perfect time of day.  Feeling nothing but happiness.  And, probably, spending time talking to God about nothing and everything all at once.

Heaven.

And really, at the end of the day, it didn’t really matter if dad and I went home with trout or without.  

It was the experience.

It was delicious.

And it had (absolutely) nothing to do with the fish.

Fast forward 14 years.  I became a dietitian, promoting fish and all of its health benefits and how delicious it can be and so on and so forth.

But, well, here’s the clinker…

I don’t really like fish very much.

Wild caught salmon, yes.  I could eat that every single day of my life and never grow tired of it.*

*this is not at all an exaggeration

But all the other fish, like halibut and haddock and cod and pollock?

Meh…

(unless it’s fried, but what *doesn’t* taste good when it’s been batter dipped and deep fried?  Honestly?)

Maybe you’re like me.  You could take fish or leave it, but you’d still like to make it a bigger part of your diet.

Or maybe you love all fish.  Any fish.

Whatever the case may be, let’s all admit that salsa makes everything better. 😉

You could just douse your fish in butter and breadcrumbs, but that sort of negates the whole “heart healthy” point of eating more fish.  Better saved for those special occasions, “once in a whiles,” or eating out.

Salsa and avocado, however, add flavor AND health benefits.  An easy way to sneak in that extra dose of veggies and some heart healthy fats.

I really do find most white fish to be lacking in flavor, which is just one of the reasons why I lean more towards cooking with salmon.

Add a zing of fresh salsa and avocado (and maybe a splash of lime!), however, and tada! 

Dinner becomes delicious.

Most grocery stores carry the fresh salsas like this one in the refrigerated cases of the produce department.  Nestled deep somewhere between the tofu and the alfalfa sprouts, and sometimes near the refrigerated salad dressings.

And since you can recreate almost any meal with nothing but a scoop of fresh salsa, I’d say it’s worth seeking out.

Salsa and Avocado 
(Serves 2) 

Pollock fillets were on sale this past week, and it just so happens that I had a tub of salsa to use up.  Perfecto!

This super simple salsa, however, also goes well on marinated tofu steaks, grilled chicken breasts and thin slices of lean steak.  Or, you could just serve it with some black beans and tortilla chips for a tasty afternoon snack.  Enjoy!

  • 1/3 cup fresh salsa
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • fresh lemon juice
  • black pepper
  • cilantro (optional)
  1. Combine ingredients together.  Serve immediately.
QUESTION: Do you eat much fish on a regular basis?  What are you favorite kinds/recipes?  I’m not a big fish person, but I do love fish tacos, wild caught salmon and manhattan styled fish chowders. 😀

A (non) made up post.

What would it mean for you NOT to apply any makeup tomorrow morning?

I don’t actually wear all that much makeup.  A little colored lip gloss.  Some rouge.  Eye liner and mascara.

But I do wear it.  Most of the time.

Except for this morning, when I decided that it was just plain ridiculous for me to waist 10 minutes of my life on primping before going to the grocery store for some yogurt.  To the grocery store!  I may be a single gal, but this is hardly a good enough reason to throw on some cover girl eye liner.  Really, now.

So, gulp, I went completely and utterly without.

My inspiration came from Caitlyn, as she’s currently not wearing any makeup at all for a set period of time, as a way for her to think about who she is without it and why she feels that she needs it.

The result?  Well.  I’d like to say that I walked through the grocery store with an air of unexpected confidence.  With an inner sense of peace.

More natural.  

More beautiful.

Truth is, I remembered (and remembered very well) that I had absolutely nothing on my face.  That my eyes felt lifeless without their usual dark coat of mascara.  That I probably looked as sickly as I was feeling yesterday.

Confidence?  What confidence?

After throwing my makeup on to go out for the rest of the day, however, I suddenly—magically!!  with some help from a masacara wand—felt better.

More beautiful.

More…natural?

Speaking from an honest heart, I absolutely hate that I felt this way!

The fact that a paint job made all the difference in my confidence level is just downright disturbing.

Not that I would never go to a job interview without wearing makeup.  And–c’mon!–holidays are practically made for smoky eyes.  I love trying new colors and practicing new techniques.  But I’m shocked and, quite frankly, ashamed by how much I felt the need to wear it.  To the grocery store.  To pick up a tub of yogurt.  

The point is, I think that a lot of these negative thoughts of how we see ourselves comes from us personally and not from others.

I’ve heard many girls exclaim that their boyfriend/husband likes them better natural or with very minimal makeup.  It’s true that we are our own biggest critics.  We notice our own flaws as if they’re so obvious, when really?  They’re not.

All of this kind of makes you wonder…

Why can’t we love ourselves for who we are in the same way that we love others for who they are (with or without makeup)?

What is it about a smear of liner or a shimmery eye shadow that makes us feel more special.  More desirable?

Why can’t we see ourselves the way that God sees us?  Beautiful, special, and absolutely wonderful.  

QUESTION: Do you wear makeup on a daily basis?  Do you feel or act differently when you aren’t wearing makeup versus when you do?

fighting the common cold.

It’s that time of year again…

I’m not actualy sick.  Yet.  But it’s happening.  I can feel it.

My eyes are starting to burn.  My throat feels like pea soup.  A 3-mile run left me beat.

Tonight, I didn’t even cook.

I just threw some Dr. Praegger’s veggie burgers on the pan along with some whole wheat hamburger buns.

Nothing pretty.  Nothing fancy.

Just simple and tasty.

With a little last-minute help from the broiler. 😉

With all these colds and flu’s floating around, I wanted to share some tips on how to stay healthy through the cold and flu season.

Of course, there’s no guarentee that these things will keep you from getting sick (cough, cough…obviously!…cough, cough,) but they sure do help.

Did you know that having just one mild vitamin deficiency can make all the difference in having a great versus a poor immune system?

While many people turn to supplements (or gallons and gallons of orange juice,) there’s no prescription quite like an overall healthy diet filled with plenty of whole grains, dark green veggies, legumes, fish, yellow fruits and veggies, etc.  Getting plenty of sleep, staying hydrated, and getting a daily dose of exercise are also key in keeping your body healthy and protected.  It won’t prevent you from ever getting sick, but it will provide defense and it will help you get better quicker.

In other words, don’t want until you get sick (or start popping those vitamin C pills!) to fight back.  Feed your body what it needs with real, nutrient dense foods and it will reward you with good health.

When you do get sick, continue eating well.  Take light walks as you’re able.  And forget those vitamin C pills!  Although this is an important vitamin in keeping a healthy immunity, there has been no proven benefit to overdosing on this vitamin; one orange will provide almost your entire day’s intake of vitamin C.

Feed your body well.  It knows how to take care of itself. 😉

QUESTION: How do you “fight back” when you get the cold/flu?  I try to stay well hydrated and well nourished.  I also absolutely crave oranges, tea and veggies when I’m sick.  And, unless I’m really sick, I find that small walks throughout the day make me feel eons better.  😀

Happy Valentines!

Another big, b-i-g, BIG interview this afternoon.

Another day of feeling utterly exhausted and spent afterwards (what IS it about interviews that does this to a person?)

Another 3 mile run to bring my mind back to planet earth.

Busy, busy, busy.

But!!

Never too busy to wish you all a very HAPPY Valentine’s Day and to say know how much I appreciate each and every one of you!!!  😀

HAPPY VALENTINES!!!

chocolate truffles.

You guys sure know your coconut!!!!

Coconut pancakes.

Coconut macaroons.

Coconut bread.

Coconut rice.

I’m going to be cooking with a lot of coconut this month. 😉

Many people wonder if coconut is okay to eat or not, so here’s my gist of it all…

More and more studies are showing that not all saturated fats are created equal, and when it comes to coconut, the fats appear to be on the good side.

Although the studies are still in their infancy stages, and although I would still recommend moderation when it comes to eating coconut, coconut is made up mostly of what’s called “medium chain fatty acids.”  That is, the fat is small enough that it can be absorbed directly into our body and it can be used as energy, without the need to be further broken down or carried through the lymphatic system in our bodies.

The theory, then, is that coconut is good for us in moderation, just like all fats.  Some studies have even shown a rise in women’s good cholesterol when they used coconut oil over sunflower oil.

That’s good news for us coconut lovers. 😉

When I asked what I should do with the big bag of coconut that’s fallen into my lap, someone mentioned that I should make coconut macaroons.

And.  Well.

That’s how this recipe started out.

But then the melted chocolate didn’t really melt all the way, and after my initial gruff reaction, this kind of left me excited.

Because there were big chunks of chocolate and I thought it might be good to just put the coconut on the outside as a garnish and leave the chocolaty chunks well enough alone.

This left me with two chocolate bites for after dinner tonight…

…a couple more frozen ones for tomorrow night…

…and lots (lots, lots, lots!!) of coconut left to play with for next week’s breakfasts and dinners and everything else in between.

Sigh.  Here’s to coconut and all its possibilities. 

Chocolate Truffles–idea from Cinch Diet Plan by Cynthia Sass, MPH, MA, RD, CSSD

These taste even better chilled/frozen!

I used salted almond butter, but if you have an unsalted variety, just add a pinch of sea salt if desired.  These are so rich that one or two will satisfy.  Save the leftovers for the next night (provided you manage to keep other family members away!) 😉

  • 1/4 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 3 tsp almond butter
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon + pinch of ginger if desired
  • shredded, unsweetened coconut
  1. Rinse a glass bowl with water and place on table without wiping dry.  Add chocolate chips and place in microwave for 15 seconds.  Stir and return for another 5-10 seconds if needed.
  2. Add oil, almond butter and spices, stirring well until smooth and it begins to form a ball.  Dough will be very soft!
  3. Scoop onto waxed paper, sprinkle with coconut and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.  Store on waxed paper in sealed container, in fridge or freezer.  Enjoy!

QUESTION: When it comes to chocolate, are you more attracted to dark and rich or milky and sweet?  I tend to mostly go for the dark, but occasionally I like a bit of something milky!