The problem with being sort of (kind of) semi-employed.

As soon as I graduated from college with a degree in nutrition, I entered right into a 10-month internship.  People wanted to know how much I was getting paid.  (Secretly, I kind of liked the shocked faces I received when people learned that I was the one doing the paying, not the other way around!)

And then I graduated from my internship.  And people immediately wanted to know if I had a job.  When (where?) was I going to move out of my parents’ house?  And what kind of job was I seeking out?  What did I want to see in my future?  Was I dating?  And, while I was at it, what is the purpose of life?

Honestly, these questions make me feel slightly uncomfortable.  Mostly because I just don’t know how to answer them.

First off.  Yes, I have a job.  But it’s not really a full-time job.  I’m getting paid for making research calls.  It goes something like this.  “Hi, my name is Sarah, and I’m calling from such and such a study.  How are you?  I’m just calling to collect some dietary information from yesterday.”  And then I walk them through the process of portion sizes and various brands, all while making sure I don’t give any biased information or recommendations.

And I kind of, in a geeky sort of way, enjoy it.

But usually when I explain this to people, they want more of an answer.  Okay, so I’m working part time making research calls.

What else? 

The truth is.  I’m still looking.  And as I’m sure many of you know and understand, job hunting is a job in and of itself..

As is cooking for the family.  Filling out resumes.  Making research calls.  Studying for the RD exam.

Not to mention, I have no idea what kind of job I would like to do at this point.  I’m pretty much set on taking any sort of clinical position, although in the long term, I’d like to have some variety and spice.  A little freelance writing, maybe.  Counseling.  Teaching a few gym classes.

Cooking would be nice.

Who knows?

All I know is that this whole indecisive, awkward, not really sure kind of answer is the problem with being sort of (kind of) semi-employed.

Yes.  This is the absolute problem of being busy, swamped, and crazy, without really knowing how to explain myself.

In the meantime, I’ll keep on job hunting.  And studying.  And working like crazy.

(And no, I’m not currently dating.  I’m in no huge rush to move out before finding a good, steady job.  And while I have some idea of the purpose in life, this would take more than one post to discuss.)

So, as always, I will continue to cook.  Because this is one thing that will always make complete sense.

Lemon-Garlic Shrimp and Vegetables as seen at EatingWell.com

(Serves 4)

Use this flavorful combination of shrimp and vegetables to top your linguine, brown rice, whole wheat couscous or quinoa.  And make a double batch if you’re planning on leftovers!

  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 large red bell peppers, diced
  • 2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound raw shrimp, (26-30 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
    1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers, asparagus, lemon zest and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to soften, about 6 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl; cover to keep warm.
    2. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add shrimp and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk broth and cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth and add to the pan along with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the sauce has thickened slightly and the shrimp are pink and just cooked through, about 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat. Stir in lemon juice and parsley. Serve the shrimp and sauce over the vegetables.
    QUESTION: What are you currently doing for a job?  Do you like it?
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a summer staple.

My heart, my home and my fridge have been taken over by the perky little grain called quinoa.

I eat it for breakfast.  I eat it for lunch.  It’s the side dish to my salmon.  The quick and easy main course when I’m too tired to think.  Yes.  Quinoa is my go-to staple.  Quicker than brown rice, more satisfying than couscous and chock full of protein to boot.

One of my favorite aspects of quinoa is the way it soaks up saucey things.

Inside the little hollows of their belly—in between those squirly little life rafts—they will eagerly grasp on to any rich or delicate sauce that they come in contact with.  And so, in that way, quinoa is the perfect vesicle for serving the summer stir fry.

Aside from chopping and dicing, this stir fry is as easy as they come.  So you can sit back on your porch with the sun on your face and a full day of work behind you.  Time to relax.  And breathe.  And enjoy the simpler things of summer.

Lemon Chicken Stir-Fry—adapted from the recipe as seen on EatingWell.com

Turn this summery fare into a vegetarian dish by replacing the chicken broth with veggie and either nixing the chicken or replacing it with tofu, tempeh and/or a sprinkle of peanuts.

I added extra veggies than what the recipe called for (i.e., summer squash!)  The vegetables can be changed to anything that you might have on hand.

  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 10 ounces mushrooms, halved or quartered
  • 1-2 medium summer squash and/or zucchini
  • 1 cup diagonally sliced carrots (about 1/4 inch thick)
  • 2 cups snow peas (6 oz), stems and strings removed
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces, white and green parts divided
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
  1. Grate 1 tsp lemon zest and set aside.  Juice the lemon and whisk 3 Tbsp. of the juice with broth, soy sauce, and cornstarch in a small bowl.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, 4-5 minutes.  Transfer to a plate with tongs.  Add mushrooms, summer squash/zucchini and carrots to the pan and cook until the carrots are just tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add snow peas, scallion whites, garlic and the reserved lemon zest.  Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds.  Whisk the broth mixture and add to the pan; cook, stirring, until thickened, 2-3 minutes.  Add scallion greens and the chicken and any accumulated juices; cook, stirring until heated through, 1-2 minutes.  Enjoy!
QUESTION: Have you ever tried quinoa?  What is your favorite way to eat it?

My Weekend Breakfast

Well.  As if Friday couldn’t get any sweeter, I went off and baked myself a batch of Date-Oat Breakfast Muffins.

Now, I’m not the type to demand or shout out orders, bossing you around.  Really.  I’m not.

But really.

You simply must bake yourself a batch of these irresistible muffins.  As soon as possible.

(I don’t know about you, but I find that taste testing the dates beforehand is a completely necessary step in baking a batch of muffins.  You just never know when you’ll get a bad batch of dates.  Yes.  Definitely an essential step.)

While I hold a special place in my heart for all of my muffin recipes, this one has quickly earned a welcomed spot on my Top Five Favorite Muffin List (doesn’t everybody have a Top Five Favorite Muffin List?) From a nutrition standpoint, they’re chock full of healthy omega-3’s, thanks to the walnuts and flaxseed, both of which help to reduce inflammation.  They’re also rich in fiber, leaving you full and satisfied all. morning. long.

Best of all, the list of wholesome ingredients enhances the rustic, sweet, almost candy-like flavor of the muffins.  The dates, of course, are responsible for keeping these muffins moist and sweet.  And (I promise!) they will leave your house smelling like the local bakery.

Saturday morning comes but once a week.

It’s important to make (and bake) the very most of it.

Date-Oat Breakfast Muffins–adapted from a recipe on EatingWell.com

Any leftovers can be frozen and used for a quick ‘n’ easy breakfast during the week.

  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1-3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup whole flaxseeds, ground
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (or milk with a little less than 1 Tbsp. lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup canola
  • zest from one medium orange
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chopped pitted dates
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.
  2. Spread 1 cup oats and the walnuts, if using, in 2 separate small baking pans.  Bake, stirring once or twice, until light golden and fragrant, 4-6 minutes for the nuts and 8-10 minutes for the oats.  Transfer to a plate to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk whole-wheat flour, flaxseeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. Whisk eggs and brown sugar in a medium bowl until smooth.  Whisk in buttermilk, orange juice, oil, orange zest and vanilla.  Add to the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula just until moistened.  Fold in dates, the toasted oats and nuts, if using.  Scoop batter into the prepared muffin cups (they’ll be quite full).  Sprinkle the tops with the remaining 2 Tbsp. oats.
  5. Bake the muffins until the tops are golden brown and spring back when touched lightly, 15-25 minutes.  Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes.  Loosen edges and turn muffins out onto wire rack to cool slightly before serving.  Muffins may be rewarmed in the oven or microwave before serving, if desired.  Enjoy! 😀
QUESTION: Do you make anything special for the weekends?