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!!! ¬†ūüėÄ

HAPPY VALENTINES!!!

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a bowl of bow-ties.

It’s a good thing that I’m not a politician.

Why?

Because I have that unattractive tendency of being a flip-flopper.

For example.

I’ve told you time and time again how much I strongly dislike pasta. ¬†Tonight, however, I found myself craving it. ¬†So I just went with it, and ended up declaring my newly discovered¬†love for farfalle pasta (aka, little bow-ties.)

Maybe this had something to do with my recent shopping finds at Trader Joe’s.

Maybe this had something to do with all the other delicious add-ins.

White Beans

Spinach

Garlic (lots of)

Fontina Cheese

One of the many things I love about Trader Joe’s is their very affordable gourmet cheese section. ¬†In my experience, usually things are cheap for a reason. ¬†Not so at Trader Joe’s. ¬†Their cheese is delicious and (very) friendly to the wallet.

I don’t know what else I’ll end up falling in love with during this flip flopping period in my life.

Maybe I’ll wake up one morning craving rib eye for breakfast (wouldn’t Dad be happy?) ¬†Maybe I’ll groan at the sight of oatmeal (really?) ¬†Maybe I’ll suddenly discover that I’m really not that big a fan of chocolate after all (ha!riiight.)

Or.

Maybe not.

Maybe this is just a one time occurrence.

Because we all reserve the right to change our minds now and then.

Because, in the end, who doesn’t love a bowl of cheesy bow-ties?

Spinach, White Bean and Fontina Pasta–modified from an Eating Well recipe
(Serves 4)

I like to use the Barilla Plus Farfalle for this recipe instead of whole wheat, because I think it blends better with the cheese. ¬†Thanks to the addition of things like legumes, oat fiber and flax, the pasta boasts a higher fiber and protein content than white pasta, but it doesn’t take on the hearty flavor of whole wheat. ¬†It’s the perfect “transition pasta” as I like to call it, for people still on the border about trying whole wheat pasta over white.

Serve with a side of steamed vegetables or a crisp salad for a contrast of texture. ¬†Any leftovers will heat up well for your next day’s lunch. ¬†Enjoy! ūüėÄ

  • 8¬†ounces¬†pasta (preferably¬†whole wheat)
  • 8¬†cups baby spinach
  • 1 1/2¬†cups vegetable broth
  • 1¬†tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 2¬†tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1¬†(19 ounce)¬†can white beans,¬†rinsed
  • 2¬†tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4¬†teaspoon salt
  • 1/4¬†teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 cup¬†shredded Fontina cheese
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, according to package directions. Stir in spinach during the last 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Drain.  Dry the pot.
  4. Whisk broth and flour in a small bowl until smooth.
  5. Heat oil in the pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  6. Add the broth mixture and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly, until it thickens, 5-7 minutes.
  7. Add beans, vinegar, salt and pepper and the pasta and spinach.
  8. Cook, stirring, until the mixture is heated through, about 1 minute.
  9. Remove from the heat; add cheese, stirring until it melts. Serve immediately and enjoy!
    QUESTION: What are some foods you now like that you never did before? ¬†Any foods that you’ve stopped liking that you used to like? ¬†I’ve never been very picky, but I like even more vegetables than I did when I was small. ¬†I stopped liking certain types of seafood like clams and scallops. ¬†Unless they’re deep fried. ūüėČ

5 Reasons Why…

…I’m ridiculously excited for the weekend…

1. Your comments convinced me to look on the bright side of things with this whole up and down job searching thing. ¬†I applied to another awesome sounding job today, and I know there will be others along the way. ¬†Frustration lasted but a second. ¬†I’m moving on. ¬†That makes me excited.

2. We’re putting up the Christmas tree SUNDAY and decorating it MONDAY. ¬†This means two days of listening to endless Christmas music, two days of sipping hot cocoa, and two days to make cookies or marshmallows or walnut raisin bread. ¬†Two days worth of Christmas excitement.

3. I finally have enough money saved for a miniature sized camera. ¬†I’ve been setting aside $5 here, $5 there. ¬†Just enough to get a little guy, which I can tote around when the Canon Rebel becomes too big to handle.

4. I’ll hopefully be completely finished with Christmas shopping by tomorrow afternoon. ¬†Two people left to buy for and I know exactly what I’m getting. ¬†Very excited.

5. I found a place where I want to volunteer in the new year, and I’ll be getting in touch with the woman who runs the program this weekend. ¬†I’ll share more details once it’s official!!

Spicy Breakfast Cookie (click for recipe) with a glass of vanilla soymilk

and an unpictured cup of starbucks coffee. 

Because it’s Friday. ¬†Almost the weekend.

Which makes me ridiculously excited.

QUESTION: What are you excited for this weekend?

Special Edition: “Breakfast Week” (continued)

‚ÄúJoin 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.‚ÄĚ

Butter rolls.

Pumpkin pie.

Cranberry breakfast scones.

Apple crisp.

Gingerbread cookies.

It was a busy day of baking.  So it made absolute sense that for breakfast, I craved simple.  Simply cereal.

The big issue that I have with cereal is that it tastes great but I end up starving not long after.

My solution is to fill the bowl with fiber-rich blueberries (frozen, since the fresh ones are so expensive right now!), walnuts and flax.  The fat, fiber and protein (from the milk) provides the perfect combination to keep me feeling full and happy.

Some of my favorite cold cereals:

1. Trader Joe’s High Fiber Cereal (this morning’s cereal of choice!)

2. Kashi Go Lean

3. Nature’s Path Heritage¬†

4. Barbara’s Shredded Spoonfuls

These are all high fiber cereals without tasting like cardboard. ¬†Don’t let the brown color fool you. ūüėČ

Fill-Me-Up Cereal Bowl

  • 1.5 cups high fiber cereal
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries (I like using Wyman’s, which are tiny and sweet)
  • 1 Tbsp. crushed flax
  • 2 Tbsp. walnut pieces
  • 1 cup vanilla soy milk
  1. Combine cereal with frozen blueberries and flax.  Add walnuts on top.  Pour on soy milk and enjoy your busy morning!

QUESTION: What is your favorite cold cereal?

QUESTION: What are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving?

I wish you all the Happiest of Thanksgivings!!!!!!!!!!!!

a bite of somethin’ special.

I baked some muffins.

They’re really nothing fancy.

I’m not going to stand here and brag and tell you that these are beyond superior to any other muffin that you will ever try.

You know.  These are really just your ordinary, every day kind of muffin.

These muffins won’t blow your socks off.

Nor will they suddenly convert you into becoming a bouncing, jumping bean of a morning person (unless, of course, you already are that person.)

But.

I still kind of think these muffins are somethin’ special. ¬†And I’m not just saying this because I’m hopelessly obsessed with walnuts and dates and pineapple. ¬†Or anything at all to do with breakfast, for that matter.

They’re just. ¬†You know. ¬†Somethin’ special.

Anyways,¬†I think after you take your very first bite, as they come all hot and steamy from the oven, you’ll completely understand.

Morning Glory Muffins–recipe modified from an original that was seen in Cooking Light

If you don’t have muffin cups, just spray the empty muffin pan with cooking spray (this works just as well.) ¬†I like to freeze at least half of these so that I can have breakfast in a cinch for the weeks to come. ¬†Enjoy!

  • 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup¬†regular oats
  • 1/4 cup¬†packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon¬†wheat bran
  • 2 teaspoons¬†baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon¬†salt
  • 1 cup¬†plain fat-free yogurt
  • 1 cup¬†mashed ripe banana (about 2)
  • 1¬†large egg
  • 1 cup¬†chopped pitted dates
  • 3/4 cup¬†chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup¬†chopped dried pineapple
  • 3 tablespoons¬†ground flaxseed

  1. Preheat oven to 350¬į.
  2. Place 18 muffin cups liners in muffin cups; coat liners with cooking spray.
  3. Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl; stir with a whisk.  Make a well in center of mixture.
  4. Combine yogurt, banana, and egg; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in dates, walnuts, and pineapple. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle evenly with flaxseed.
  5. Bake at 350¬į for 20 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove muffins from pans immediately; cool on a wire rack. ¬†Enjoy!

QUESTION: Are you a morning person?

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?

Canada: The Last 3 Days

At the risk of scaring you away with my sudden outburst of compiling all three (yes THREE!) of my last days spent in Canada into one (yes ONE!) post, here I go…

…it’s really for the best, in the long run, as I’m dying to share with you some of the other things that have been happening in life, along with some food too of course!

Speaking of food…

This was my breakfast for most every day of the week.  I found myself re-falling in love with cold cereal every morning, despite the chilly temps.

Kashi Go Lean with loads of blueberries, strawberries, almonds and soymilk.  Yum.

I also ate lots of vegetables in order to keep my body feeling as close to normal as possible throughout vacation and bread and cookies. ¬†Everyone else seemed in on the idea too. ūüėÄ

Ten years ago (the last time I was in Canada…*gasp!*) I can recall having a blast at my great uncle’s camp. ¬†He was more than okay with letting us each try out his four wheelers, and even my Memere joined in on the fun.

There are acres and acres of woods out here at his camp. ¬†It’s quite literally in the middle of nowhere.

Even still, I didn’t trust myself with driving the four wheeler, this time around. ¬†Either that or I just though riding on the back sounded more fun. ¬†So that’s what I did. ¬†And I left the learning and driving up to Matthew who did quite the fine job. ūüėČ

My great uncle also happens to be a great hunter, and there are signs of his hunting skills all around the camp.

Mom and Dad had fun with the four wheelers too. :mrgreen:

And then we went out on a trail to take a peek at some of my great uncle’s favorite hunting and fishing spots.

I don’t speak French, but this says something along the lines of…

To fully enjoy nature, one must stop and listen.  So true!

This is just one of the many hunting spots that he uses to hunt moose, bear and deer.

It was a very windy day, and the entire fort was shaking like under cooked pumpkin pie.

Matthew was brave and climbed up to the top.

I had no issues with the climbing up. ¬†It was coming down that freaked me out. ūüėČ

…Driving “Home”…

We finished off the busy, fun day with a friendly game of frisbee.

And then I ate more bread (there does seem to be a theme for this vacation!)

We finished the night off with many discussions centering on life, relationships, weather, Canada and food.

The following day, we found ourselves at the Dunes in Bouctouche!

The oceans look so different than the ones we have back at home.  More ferocious, somehow.  Wild and untamed.

Matthew braved the water (I was still freaked out by the jelly fish that stung me, and so I stayed safe on the shore. ūüėČ )

My favorite men! ūüėÄ

And then we freshened up and went to a wine tasting at one of the local vineyards.

The owner of the shop was incredibly knowledgeable about the grapes and her vineyards, and we all learned so much about the different crops that she was growing, as well as making smart choices for food pairings.

I loved all the wines, but my favorite was the blueberry and the strawberry, which was more of a dessert wine. ¬†We bought a bottle of each, along with a red wine. ¬†The blueberry was just faintly sweet and I’m already imagining how scrumptious it will be served with a salty feta cheese salad.

After walking along the beach and sipping on delicious wine, I was starving for some real food.

I think I was still on the “salty kick” after having filled my head with feta cheese, and a lobster roll with a side of coleslaw sounded exactly right. ¬†It was. ¬†Exactly right.

The last day in Canada went by in a flash.  Zwurp.  And it was gone.  Just like that.

Vacation has a way of doing this, doesn’t it?

At least we were able to fit in one good long kayaking trip on the water outside our cottage, now that the warmer weather decided to stick around!

Such fun! ūüėÄ

Oh, Canada, I will miss you.

This was the last day of our vacation, and then we packed up and came home.  It was sad to go.  I literally felt as if I was saying goodbye to my home, friends and family.  It was lovely being with relatives that I hardly ever see, and learning more about the place where my Pepere grew up.  Where my Dad spent many summers as a kid.  And where I myself have a plethora of memories from way back when.

Sigh.

Oh Canada. ¬†I will miss you. ¬†And hopefully I will return soon. ūüėÄ

QUESTION: Have you ever gone on a wine tasting?