happy soup day.

This is Part 25 of the “31 Days of Healthy Living” series.

Wednesday may as well be the “official soup day” of the week.

I shop for groceries on a weekly basis.  Every Thursday.

So by the time Wednesday rolls around, the fridge is looking a little haphazard.  Like it’s faced some sort of major demolition project, with no hopes of recovering any time soon.

As luck would have it, there are usually still some vegetables that have gone untouched (or, at least, partially so.)

That’s why Wednesday is soup day.

Because I have lots of vegetables that need to be used.

Because I hate throwing things away.

Because simmering vegetables in big pots of steamy broth makes me happy like nothing else can.

Happy Soup Day!

The Easiest Vegetable Soup

This recipe isn’t really a recipe.  It’s more of a guideline.

Use whatever veggies you have on hand and follow this cooking method.  As long as you have a tasty vegetable stock and a variety of vegetables (the root veggies are especially nice!) you can’t go wrong.  Keep in mind that if you use a different green than spinach like kale or chard, you’ll need to prolong the cooking time just a bit.

Happy simmering!

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Combination of various vegetables, chopped (i.e., rutabaga, daikon, sweet potato, celery, carrot, parsnip, zucchini, etc.)
  • 5-8 cups unsalted vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • baby spinach
  • various canned beans, drained and rinsed (i.e., pinto, garbanzo, kidney, etc.)
  1. In a large pot, sautee onion in olive oil until translucent.  Add all of the chopped vegetables and enough broth to cover them with.  Dilute with a little water if you’d like.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for another 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add in several large handfuls of chopped spinach and beans.  Continue cooking for another 3-5 minutes or until spinach is wilted and soup is heated thorough.  Enjoy!

QUESTION: How often do you make trips to the grocery store?  I have one BIG weekly trip, and little things like fruit or eggs or milk require a couple more stops.

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Special Edition: “Breakfast Week” (continued)

“Join me as I eat my way through a week of new breakfasts.  Thanksgiving marks the finale, which means I have one full week to try a new breakfast each and every morning.  It could be delicious (it could be outrageous!)  But the whole idea is to just have fun.”

I had an interview at 11 this morning, which means I needed (a) a breakfast with complex carbs for lasting energy, (b) a bit of sweetness (since I always crave sweet when I’m anxious) and (c) a breakfast that wouldn’t take more than 20 minutes tops from start to finish.

Bulgur saved my day (well…at least my morning!)

Bulgur is a quick cooking, highly nutritious, high-fiber whole grain, and it can be used in place of rice or other grains in most dishes.  It also makes a delicious breakfast.  Much like oatmeal—only nuttier and chewier.

Sigh.  Bulgur and coconut make me very happy. 

After eating a hot bowl of Apple Spiced Bulgur, I headed off to the interview.

To say I was anxious would be an understatement.  I was literally shaking on the inside (not on the outside…thank goodness I’ve learned how to look cool as a cucumber despite what I’m feeling on the inside!)  😉

I just kept telling myself to remain confident.  Cool.  Collected.  And to breathe.  Don’t want to forget that one.

The interview itself went pretty good.  The Clinical Dietitian Manager was incredibly friendly and the position just sounds so, so, so absolutely perfect for me!

There are a lot of people applying for this position, so I won’t know if I’ve been picked for a second interview until next week.  Just gotta keep praying and trusting.  If this is the right job, it will all work out.  If not?  It won’t be the end of the world (although I may groan once or twice 😉 ).  As always, God knows what He’s doing.

Apple Spiced Bulgur Bowl

Using the microwave helps you pull breakfast together in no time.  Be sure to use a very large microwave dish so that you don’t have to worry about anything boiling over (THAT does not make for a very pleasant morning…been there, done that.)  Enjoy with a steamy cup of coffee or your favorite tea.

  • 1 cup vanilla soymilk (or low fat milk with a splash of vanilla + a little brown sugar)
  • 1/4 cup uncooked bulgur
  • 1 small apple, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. crushed flax seed
  • 2 Tbsp. raisins
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp walnuts
  • sweetened coconut
  1. In a very large, microwave safe bowl, combine soymilk, bulgur, apple, flax, raisins and salt.  Microwave on high for 8 minutes, stirring after every 2.  Some microwaves may require longer cooking time.
  2. Add walnuts and a sprinkle of coconut on top.  Enjoy!

QUESTION: Do you feel confident/good with interviews?

Kicking The Caffeine (once again)

“Day One” of cutting back on caffeine hasn’t been very kind to me.

It started out well enough.  I remembered all of the important things, such as breakfast and showering and brushing my teeth.  But then the afternoon came along and I realized that I really wanted a latte.  As in, right now—this very moment!  Make that a double shot espresso, please.

My head started to feel like a giant, over-sized lump.  And when it came time to sit down and study, I ended up sleeping for an hour on the couch instead.  Sad, but true.

You should know that this was not one of my proudest moments.  But in the end, this will all be well worth it (remind me of this fact tomorrow, okay?)  I treasure my weekend cups of coffee.  I do!  I refuse to ever give them up, as I don’t see the need.

But I absolutely detest that feeling of needing something every morning, regardless of whether or not my tastebuds agree.  And so, the caffeine is going to be out of my life for the next several days.  But back on Saturday.  Of course!  I can’t imagine doing the crosswords without a cup of coffee for company.  Can you?

Anyways.  Tonight, after my hour long study session snooze, I felt quite refreshed and ready for dinner.

On the menu: Sesame-Honey Tempeh Quinoa Bowl

This came together in under 30 minutes and required such little brain power that I wondered if I was still sleeping.  And the savory sauce made me want to curl up with the steamy white bowl and a pair of chopsticks and just call it a day.

“Day One” of kicking the caffeine was a little rough.  But it ended on a very nice, a very balanced note.  And on that note, I think it is time for bed.

(p.s. I may lean towards drinking less caffeine on a daily basis, but I shall never (ever!) give up my ice-cream!!  Especially if it involves a special homemade, local creamery, with fudge, glorious chunks of coconut and big hunks of chopped almonds.  Heaven. On. A. Spoon!)

Sesame-Honey Tempeh and Quinoa Bowl—slightly modified from the original version as seen on EatingWell.com

This recipe serves about 4 people.  Three, if you’re feeling especially hungry.  I recommend doubling up and serving out leftovers for lunch the following day!

QUINOA & CARROT SLAW

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed or toasted
  • 2 cups grated carrots (about 3 large)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

SESAME-HONEY TEMPEH

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 8-ounce packages tempeh, crumbled into bite-size pieces
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 scallions, sliced

PREPARATION

  1. To prepare quinoa: Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add quinoa and return to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer, cover and cook until the water is absorbed, 10 to 14 minutes. Uncover and let stand.
  2. To prepare carrot slaw: Meanwhile, combine carrots, rice vinegar, sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon soy sauce in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. To prepare tempeh: Heat 1 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add tempeh and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, 7 to 9 minutes.
  4. Combine honey, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add to the pan and cook, stirring, until the sauce has thickened and coats the tempeh, about 1 minute.
  5. Divide the quinoa among 4 bowls and top each with 1/2 cup carrot slaw and 3/4 cup tempeh mixture. Sprinkle with scallions.  ENJOY!

QUESTION: Do you drink caffeinated beverages on a daily basis?  As a special treat?  Are you addicted like me, and have you ever tried to quit or cut back?  

two cats and a game of hide and seek.

In a strange, familiar sort of way, today felt a little like vacation.

I’m babysitting Nicole’s cats while she’s away, and she left me with a ton of fruit, La Croix carbonated beverages, almonds, granola bars and other such goodies.

Oh.  Yes.  And two fur-babies.

Stitch and Highstreet were adopted three years ago as kittens.  Highstreet, the black one, got his name from the street where he was left, abandoned, with his brothers and sisters.  He was one snotty nosed, very sick kitty when Nicole took him in.  So was Stitch.  Both were scared and timid (especially Highstreet!)  Now they’re goof balls who will do anything for some love.

Or a game of hide and go seek, for that matter.

Stitch thought it would be fun to hide behind the grill.

We played for a good while until Stitch decided to break the rules by jumping up on the railing of the deck.  He knows this gives me a heart attack, but seemed quite pleased with himself nonetheless.

Once I placed him back down, he decided it would be fun to lean off the edge of the deck.  Again, giving me a heart attack.

So we came inside, where Stitch decided to play on top of the refrigerator, overseeing the activities of the house.

(Meanwhile, Highstreet was much too busy eating ants to take part in any silly games.)

Yes.  It certainly felt like vacation.  Walking around the house barefoot, playing with a couple of cats, not a care in the world.

But in all honesty, work had to get done!  I have an exam to study for.  Jobs to find!

Salads to eat!

  • spinach and romaine
  • garbanzo beans
  • feta cheese
  • olive oil
  • carrots and tomato
  • almonds

I figured with all the peace and quiet of having the house to myself, I’d get a lot done.

But then, Highstreet had other plans.

Stomping on the paper, nudging my head, drinking my water, and throwing my index cards off of the table.

Highstreet?

It’s a good thing I love you.  It’s a good thing you’re cute.

QUESTION: Are you an “animal person?”  What is your favorite?

a change of habits.

People say it all the time.  “I love vegetables but my family just won’t eat them.”

And so, the refrigerator stays empty for purely economic reasons.  What’s the sense in buying a purple globed eggplant if it’s only doomed to see the dark side of a trash can?

(Because, you know, the dog won’t touch that purple thing-y either.)

Each family—each individual—has a unique eating style, with very different eating dynamics & habits.  But that’s just it.  They’re habits.  And any habit can be changed over time.

I’ve told the story of my picketing tofu as a little girl.  Or how I ate three cheeseburgers, a large fry and a milk shake from McDonalds because the “food” never quite filled me up.  Or how I fought my brother for the end rinds of a pepperoni stick because this was the best part.

But then.  Things changed.

Slowly.  Not overnight.  Someone decided that whole wheat pasta might be a good idea.  This caused a minute stir with my household clan, but mixing half wheat and half white seemed to smooth things over just enough before we eventually able to progress towards all whole wheat.  Tastebuds adjusted.

And then we began experimenting with other things too.  Roasted vegetables vs. boiled.  Quinoa and millet and bulgur in place of white rice.  Beans, lentils and fish vs. always (always) having poultry or red meats.  I honestly can’t remember the last time Hamburger Helper has seen my house, but nobody seems to miss him much.  We do still enjoy our beef, especially the local, grass fed cuts.  But the shift has changed from a fast food kind of diet to one that’s more deliciously satisfying and plant based, with some meat thrown in on the side.  I finally feel full, content and energetic.

So yes.  Habits can change.  They can continue to change.  Slowly but surely.  It’s not an overnight thing.  But if you’re willing to encourage your family to just try a few bites of a new food, showing them that you yourself are enthralled with their freshness and flavor, things will change.  Or, at the very least, you yourself will be eating better.  Which is enough reason to buy that purple eggplant, or that big ol’ bag of walnuts, or that gorgeous piece of salmon that you’ve been eyeballing from the other isle.  Take care of you.  And in that way, you’ll be taking care of them.

No hungry dogs or deep, dark trash cans necessary.

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

Grilled BBQ Tofu Steaks

Aside from stir fries, this is one of my favorite ways to cook and eat tofu.  The freezing and pressing changes the texture of tofu from being soft to firm.  Since the tofu takes on the flavor of whatever you add to it, choose your favorite sauce.  Serve with grilled veggies, sauteed peppers and onions, roasted cauliflower and your favorite starchy side.  Enjoy! 😀

  • 1 package of extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 4 Tbsp. of BBQ sauce (I used Bone Suckin’ Sauce)
  1. Place tofu between two plates, and cover the top plate with a heavy jar in order to press out the liquid from the tofu.  Takes about 15-20 minutes.
  2. Slice the tofu in half lengthwise and place in plastic bag.  Freeze overnight or for at least several hours.  Remove from freezer and microwave to dethaw, when ready to use.
  3. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.  Spray two sheets of foil with cooking spray.  Set aside.
  4. Place tofu on a plate and smother with the BBQ sauce on each side.  Let sit for about 20 minutes, while letting the grill preheat.
  5. Place tofu on the prepared foil pieces and cook on the grill until beginning to brown on one side, about 5 minutes.  Flip and continue cooking until other side is browned as well.  Serve immediately or save for later as a sandwich topper and ENJOY!

birthdays, ice-cream and fuzzy heads.

Happy 28th Birthday, Nicole!

(Somehow, we girls all turned up to Nicole’s party wearing purple, purple and more purple.  This was not planned! :mrgreen: )

Such sillies!  I absolutely adore these gals!!

Know what else I love?

Well.  Ha!  Besides all this lovin’ going on?

Birthdays.

Yes.  I really do love everything about them.

And traditions.  Like having Swiss cheese burgers with sauteed mushrooms every (single) year, for as long as any of us can remember.

Yes.

And pasta salads.  Can’t forget that now, can we?

Okay.  But really, aside from all the food…

…I love the simple joy of celebrating another year of life.

Another day.  Another moment.  Another breath.

Yes, that’s just it.  I love the celebration of life.

…and fuzzy heads, too.  But that’s besides the point.

Oh.  And icecream.  Did I fail to mention that?

Yet another tradition is that we have icecream sundaes on Nicole’s birthday.  Every.  Single.  Year.

Are you seeing why I love traditions?

From coconut to coconut M&M’s to crushed sugar cones and beyond.

But, like I said.  It’s really not about that.  It’s about the celebration of life and family that I love so much.  Well.  And fuzzy heads.

The rest of it?  Well.  It’s just the cherry on the icecream.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NICOLE!!!

QUESTION: What is your most memorable birthday?

“Must Have Been Something I Ate:” Book Giveaway

I’ve never actually hosted a blogger giveaway before.  But Vega recently contacted me to see if I’d be willing to review Peggy Kotsopoulos’s new book, “Must Have Been Something I Ate,” while creating at least one recipe from it, and then (the best part!) offer a copy of the book to one lucky reader.

I said, “sure!”  Of course!!

Honestly, I haven’t read through the entirety of the book yet, but I can already tell you that I like it.  Peggy writes with a spunky personality.  I feel as if I’m talking with a close friend.  A close friend who just so happens to know all of the nitty gritty details about what’s in the food that I’m eating.

I don’t think the book offers a cure all for every single problem that you’ve ever had, nor do I think that it should be looked at in this way.  For example, spinach may be high in vitamin B, which is essential for balancing your mood.  But that doesn’t mean that by eating tons of spinach, you’ll be the happiest person in the world (obviously!)  However, Peggy offers a ton—a ton!—of useful information that’s presented in a way in which it’s easy to understand.  Who knew that sacha inchi seeds contain the highest amount of plant based omega 3 fatty acids?  The book will make you look at food in a whole new light.

Yes.  It’s a fun read.  With a ton of information.  With recipes.  😀

For dinner tonight, I made the Mediterranean Quinoa Salad.

Lots of chunkiness going on here!!   Tomatoes.  Bell peppers.  Cucumbers.  Feta.  Black olives.  

I’m not quite sure how many people this was meant to serve, but I turned it into a “two-some,” saving the leftovers for Monday’s lunch.

The recipe was really quite fabulous, coming together as quickly as the quinoa was cooked (15 minutes.)  It was light, bright and zingy, perfect for summer.  I ate it warm (since I was much too impatient to let it cool,) but I think it would make a great chilled salad addition to the family cookout.

Anyways.

Yes.

There is a book giveaway.  I’ll happily be sending this book to someone, based on a random drawing of numbers.  You have until Monday morning to enter, and then I’ll announce the winner.  Just leave a comment telling me your most memorable kitchen experience and I’ll enter your name in the drawing.  Easy peazy! 😀

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

(Served 2-3)

  • 2 cups cooked white quinoa
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 cup black olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Pinch fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Juice of 1/4 lemon
  1. Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix well.  Enjoy! 😀

QUESTION: What is your most memorable kitchen experience?