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Slow Cooker Favorites

rustic chicken Happy Friday—you made it! This time of year can get pretty crazy as we jump into real life and hit the ground running at work or ramp up our social lives. It can be easy to let dinner fall off the radar. This is where a slow cooker becomes your magic kitchen elf. You go do all the things while it cooks your food and keeps it warm until you’re ready to eat.

Here are a few of my personal favorite slow cooker recipes:

And all else fails? How about just reheating some leftover veggies (or zapping some frozen ones in the microwave) and adding eggs? Voila—dinner is served.

What are some of your favorite no-fuss dinners? 

Thinking Out Loud: Cooking My Feelings

Happy Thursday! First week of February, how did we get here? I haven’t done a proper brain-dump thinking out loud post in a while, so here’s a small collection of random.

*We all have our ways of dealing with emotional situations. I’ve been cleaning a bunch and cooking my feelings lately (so what else is new?). Apparently my feelings are ancient grains and sautéed mushrooms & shallots. How did I manage to go so long without eating farro? Crispy chickpeas with greens and fried egg have also been on the menu.

And so. Much. Soup. gnocchi chicken soup

The other night I made a chickpea pancake and topped it with leftover greens, some avocado, and nutritional yeast. That was good too. Why don’t I do it more often?

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What I Ate Wednesday #252

I’ve been joking recently about descending into a life of workaholism. Since taking a legit day off is still a skill I’ve yet to master, as I was writing on here recently, I’ve taken to finding little ways to fit in “me” time, whether it’s a favorite workout or yoga class or even just cooking myself a nice meal. For this week’s What I Ate Wednesday, I thought I’d share a look at what I ate on a day I worked from home.  Read More »

On Vegganism

Eggs were a culinary game-changer for me. I still remember the time when, at the age of 21, I learned that if I scrambled an egg and wrapped it in a tortilla, I had a meal. Duh.
beans and greens with eggThey’ve been a kitchen staple for me ever since. The mix of protein and fat helps round out a humble plant-based meal, lending staying power (plus key vitamins and minerals) to salads, grain dishes, and dressing up vegetarian soups. There was only a brief time for me they were off the menu, which I wrote about in this Lady Project blog post on failing at vegetarianism and that time a carton of eggs was kind of the beginning of the end of a relationship.

I’m actually a big fan of plant-based diets, but some people can do really well including eggs as a source of protein and vitamins B12 and D, among other nutrients. The term I’ve heard floating around lately is “vegganism,” where you follow a vegan diet (so no animal products like meat, poultry, fish, dairy, honey, etc) except for eggs.  I was recently quoted in this Yahoo article on the topic. This approach can make a great transition or offer a plan that’s sustainable for the long term. There’s no one-size-fits-all diet out there, but it’s good to have options.

Do you like eggs? If you do, what’s your favorite way to eat them? Would you try vegganism? 

 

Easy Side Dish: Cruciferous Crunch

New Yorkers are kind of obsessed with Trader Joe’s. I think we love rolling our eyes over the long lines and sharing strategies for finding the best times to go and navigating the seas of hangry humanity if we happen to have a rush time as the only option. I’m always happy with the quality and consistency of their products. It’s also worth noting that in New York City, where it seems the cost of pretty much anything you could ever need is ridiculous (and what is up with that tampon tax business?), their prices seem dirt-cheap when compared to overpriced neighborhood markets, where a dusty jar of peanut butter can easily set you back a cool $13.

Cruciferous Crunch This recipe features one of my current favorite Trader Joe’s products. Their Cruciferous Crunch Collection is legit—I love this mix of kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, green cabbage, and red cabbage. It’s great as a salad or slaw base, but I think it’s best cooked. A quick sauté or steam is all you need to soften the veggies slightly but still allow them to retain their shape.

Calling this a recipe feels like cheating, so we’ll just call it a how-to. I love it as a side with baked fish, but it’s also great with potatoes and a fried egg (or with beans, like so). You could use it in a vegetarian dish as well—maybe pair with some tempeh, hemp seeds, and an avocado-based dressing? Read More »

Milkadamia

Hope you enjoyed my post on non-dairy calcium sources. There are so many things I talk about in my day-to-day work life, but it doesn’t always occur to me to share on here. I’m trying to be better about that…

Just because I can’t have nut milk (I wish my inner twelve-year-old would stop giggling so I can hear myself think) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try the new and interesting products on the market. I’ve got a neat one to share with you guys today.

from Milkadamia.com

Last fall, I had the chance to speak to some of the team behind Milkadamia* at the New York Coffee Festival. This macadamia-based milk was developed in coffee-loving Australia specifically with barista use in mind. It’s become popular for its mild taste and fuller body that foams well when compared to popular non-dairy products like soy, almond, and coconut milk.

Milkadamia is vegan, lactose-free, gluten-free, soy-free, and carrageenan-free. Also noteworthy: all ingredients are GMO-free, and the certification process is in motion so the company can eventually smack the non-GMO label on Milkadamia products.

One thing I found nifty was that the 4 grams of “vegetable protein” comes from pea protein.Pea protein is one of my favorite sources of plant-based protein powders because of its high tolerability, nutrient profile, and pleasant texture. I must have annoyed the crap out of the reps I spoke with, because I would not shut up about how they should show that off. Maybe it’s a weird American thing, but I feel like people here want to know exactly what’s in their food and might be turned off by a vague term like “vegetable protein.”

Like many non-dairy milk substitutes, Milkadamia is fortified with calcium. One thing I didn’t love was the 9 grams of sugar per 8-ounce serving, but the company has plans to introduce unsweetened varieties in the future.  If you want more details, you can get the full nutrition stats and ingredients list here.

Curious to try it yourself? Though Milkadamia has been primarily used in coffee shops, in late 2015, the product was introduced to the United States west coast market, with plans to expand to other regions and in retail stores from there.

What’s your favorite coffee drink? Favorite milk to use for said coffee drink? 

*I did not receive compensation for this post—I was simply curious about a cool new nut milk I can’t even drink, and the company was kind enough to arrange an interview with a dietitian who asks lots of annoying questions. 

Thinking Out Loud: Non-Dairy Calcium

Happy Thursday! How are we all feeling today?

I had the TV on while working the other day, and this commercial gave me an idea for a post. This one always cracks me up:

It’s the way the guy runs away after telling the cow what he wants to tell her. Love it.

Me and lactose are A-okay. If you’ve been reading my blog awhile, you’ve probably gathered that I’m a little obsessed with yogurt. It’s a weird day if I don’t end up having yogurt at some point. However, I know that this is not the case for everyone. In fact, one might argue that it’s downright weird for humans to drink cow’s milk. It’s kind of like when you say a word over and over until it starts to sound ridiculous. Once human babies are weaned off breast milk, they don’t tend to go back to it, and having never even been a member of the bovine species (at least not in this life, if past lives are a thing), what business do I have, really, for consuming something intended for baby cows?

desk snack yogurt with berries

Where the issue gets complicated (for me, anyway) is the deliciousness of yogurt. And cheese. And cappuccino. And my tree-nut allergy that takes vegan nut-based products off the menu. And the fact that a lot of these dairy-free products can be highly processed and may contain flavors and texturizing agents I’d really rather not consume. Making one’s own non-dairy milk is an option, of course, but this may not be realistic for everyone.

Nutrition is a factor too. Dairy is one of the top sources of dietary calcium, a mineral important for bone health as well as maintaining muscle and nerve function.  Read More »

WIAW #251: Snowzilla Day

Happy Wednesday. How’s your week going? A lot of us on the east coast are still like, “What the f*** was that!?” regarding Saturday’s snow storm. I can’t believe I’d rolled my eyes Friday when they were talking doom & gloom all over the news. I was just thankful I got to spend Saturday safely inside, especially because I knew I was expected at the hospital on Sunday. It gave me a chance to catch up on writing work and even—gasp—read for pleasure. Ruth Reichl’s new book, My Kitchen Year, is such a joy. And this is coming from someone who hardly ever says things like “such a joy!” IMG_5079

For this week’s What I Ate Wednesday, it seemed only fitting to share my snow-day eats. But first, I think I need to share a snapshot of what was going on at my parents’ house. Eli was napping comfortably against my mom’s leg until he realized she was taking pictures of him. Nap interrupted:Eli nap interrupted

Caption: “Hey—I’m sleepin’ here!” My mom joked that Eli has turned into a little Jersey boy. The idea of him with my homeland accent is hilarious.

Meanwhile, in NYC, I was making and eating things.  Read More »

6 Tips to Help You Hit Your Water Target

As Merry As I GetIn the wintertime, it can be hard to remember to drink up, but hydration is just as important this time of year as any! Helping thirsty cells do their job can help keep us focused and energized despite limited daylight, and since water helps keep digestion going, this supports proper immune system function and may also help manage the winter blahs, as production of mood-regulating serotonin happens in the gut.

As a dietitian, I know I can stand here all damn day and tell you that drinking water is good for you, but maybe you’d be, like, “Okay, that’s awesome, Jess. Whatever.” The reality is that we’re all busy, and sometimes that “8 glasses a day” business can seem arbitrary and confusing. Where does that number even come from? How the heck do I get myself to drink that much water, anyway? What if I hate water?

Fret not. Today I have some tips to help you hit your water target.  Read More »

White Bean Potato Soup (vegan)

So apparently there is a right way to lock the lid on a Vitamix so you don’t end up with a soup or smoothie explosion all over your counter. Totally winning at adulting over here. Anyway, with this newly acquired knowledge handy, I proceeded to make a blended white bean potato soup the other night. Success! And no mess to clean up. Win-win situation.

This makes a delicious (and super-easy) dinner on a cold evening and also happens to be vegan. You’ll get a hefty dose of fiber, protein, and potassium, plus some vitamin A. You can also make it gluten-free if you use a gluten-free broth.

White bean potato soup

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 cup cooked white beans
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan and add onion and garlic. Sautee until onion is translucent and garlic is fragrant. Add rosemary, potato, beans, and broth.
  2. Bring to a boil and then lower heat. Simmer until potato is soft.
  3. Allow soup to cool about 10 minutes and then blend either using a stick blender or by pouring in batches into a standing blender. Blend until smooth.
  4. Pour soup back into pot and heat until desired temperature or pour into a storage container and place in fridge for later use.
  5. To serve: pour over steamed kale, garnish with hemp seeds

(serves 2)

What’s your favorite cold-weather meal? 

 

 

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