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A Small Collection of Joyous Things: Late August

Happy Sunday! Welcome to another Small Collection, a series I started to help me focus on the things that bring me joy. 

pumpkin pancakes

Pumpkin pancakes with sliced plum & cinnamon ricotta

So wow—late August, hello. Who’s ready for this weeks’s descent into Pumpkin Spice Land?

1.) Though I’m not a huge fan of the syrupy sweet drinks that are about to start cropping up all over the place, I do love eating real pumpkin. Here are a few of my favorites:

My palms are turning orange just thinking about all that beta-carotene deliciousness…

2.) Just thinking about September and all the business ahead has me in my weird version of nesting mode. I was working from home Thursday and Friday/trying to pretend it was the weekend, as I was on the hospital schedule for the weekend, so in addition to cleaning, running errands, and doing laundry, I made my first batch of fall-ready soup. Freezer=stocked. I made something very similar to this (minus the pumpkin/squash), mostly so I could clear my freezer of frozen veggies. august soup

I also made black garlic pulled pork chili that did have pumpkin in it. And bourbon. Lots of bourbon. That went straight into the freezer too.

3.) For now, though, berries are still in season!ricotta with berries

4.) Unrelated: I made eggplant dip twice this past week. This is a super-simple version where you just slice an eggplant lengthwise and bake, cut side down, at 400 for 20-30 minutes or until soft. Then you scoop out the insides and blend in a food processor with some garlic and olive oil until smooth. You could also add tahini, paprika, lemon, and/or liquid smoke for something a little richer. I was just being lazy. eggplant dip

In non-food things that have made me happy this week, we have Eli, pondering the universe. Eli, universe

5.) I found out that the song I’ve been singing him to help him wind down is the same song my mom used to sing to me when I was in utero. I find this creepy, weird, and awesome all at the same time.

6.) I love the way Patrick Stewart handled the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

I try not to talk about my day to day work too much on the blog for confidentiality reasons, but I actually work with ALS patients one day a week in an outpatient setting. The same people wondering “how” and “why” I worked with HIV patients when I was a student are the same people asking me about my ALS work—those who know me well just know that when something feels right, I don’t shy away from it. For whatever reason, I always seem to find my way to working with individuals living with illnesses for which there is no known cure. It’s sort of related to what I was talking about last week, having a willingness to “go there” and feel the feelings. Though I wouldn’t say it’s all sunshine and rainbows, working with this population helps me tune in to the beautiful little things in life and appreciate what I have around me.

What’s brought you joy this week? 

 

Inviting Coconut Flour to the Breakfast Party

Coconut flour was one of those ingredients I saw floating around the blog world for ages before getting around to trying it. Aside from sounding delicious, the nutrition stats are pretty impressive: Each 2-tablespoon serving provides 60 calories, 2 grams of fat, 5 grams or fiber, and 2 grams of protein. Always looking for new and interesting ways to enhance flavor, texture, and nutrient content of my food, I finally bought a bag after about 6 months of dragging my feet and talking myself out of it.

I don’t know if I’ve ever talked about this on the blog, but whenever I try a new-to-me food or something I haven’t eaten in a few years, I am momentarily terrified of a freak allergic reaction after the first few bites. Reminding myself I have an epi pen close by is usually enough to get me to snap back to reality. In my early twenties, I struggled a lot with anxiety and hypochondriasis, and while those days seem like a weird memory or strange dream I had once, occasionally I still  have these little moments.

coconut flour overnight oatsCuriosity almost always wins, though. When I did finally give coconut flour a go, I started with about a teaspoon. Then it was, like, “OMG, I want to put this in all the things!” So, yeah. I’ve been playing mad scientist ever since. While there have been some epic fails (ugly, bland mug cakes, for example), I’ve found a few new favorites. Most recently, I learned that coconut flour is a great addition to overnight oats. This recipe, while ugly as hell, is delicious and filling.

Coconut Blueberry Overnight Oats

Ingredients: 

  • 1 c plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp ground flax meal
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp rolled or instant oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup blueberries

Directions: 

  1. Mix all ingredients expect blueberries until combined in a bowl or two-go container.
  2. Fold in berries.
  3. Cover bowl/container and allow to sit several hours or overnight, until oats and seeds have absorbed liquid.

Have you ever tried coconut flour? Do you ever get anxious about trying new foods? 

 

Thinking Out Loud

Welcome to another Running with Spoons Thinking Out Loud link party where stream-of-consciousness is the name of the game! Thanks to Amanda for hosting!
Thinking-Out-Loud2

My brain is basically iced coffee and puppies, but I promise there are a few other things kicking around in there!

The Luck Dragon is teething, so the days I work from home look a lot like this selfie-fail, which cracked me up the other day:

selfie fail with eli

But right, other things! Here are some random bits for today:

1.) First off, did you guys see Raechel’s awesome yoga playlist post on Monday? Love her taste in music.

2.) I love Food 52, and I love figs. This post is all the things.

3.) This post on ways to add veggies to breakfast.egg white scramble

4.) My submission to this laugh-out-loud Tumblr just got posted this week. Sorry I’m not sorry. I tried not to write about it much when I was going through it back in late 2011, but if at all possible, avoid living with an ex after you break up. Just so  many kinds of awkward.

5.) Leonard Cohen on creativity, hard work, and why you should never quit before you know what it is you’re quitting.

6.) Jenny Lewis has a new album!

7.) I will never master the art of omelet-making, and I guess that’s just gonna have to be ok. When I made this leftovers-with-egg-whites creation for breakfast the other morning, it totally fell apart when I was transferring it from the pan. Tasted great, though! brussels omelet fail

What’s on your mind today? What music are you loving lately? Any omelet secrets? 

 

 

Fit-Bottomed Summer Recipes

Hey guys! This morning I have another great post from the wonderful Jenn of Fit Bottomed Girls—enjoy! 

5 Recipes to Make This Summer

By Jennipher Walters, co-founder of FitBottomedEats.com

Happy Summer! And is there any other season that encourages healthy, fresh and clean eating like summer? We think not. So fire up the grill, bust out the fresh produce and get to trying these five summer recipes that make the most of the season!

1. Beer and Bratburger. Can’t decide between having a brat or a burger? Have BOTH with this recipe!

brat-burger

Get the recipe here.

2. Homemade Lemonade. Skip the premade powdered stuff and make your own lemonade from scratch! Flavorful and natural it’s delicious and perfect to wash down that Bratburger. (Plus, a little birdie tell us, it’s also good spiked with a little vodka or rum!)

lemonade

Get the recipe here.

3. Strawberry Pavlova. When it’s summer, you don’t want a dessert that’s heavy and rich. You want something light and airy! And this strawberry pavlova recipe is all of that, plus it makes the most of those in-season juicy strawberries. Perfection!

strawberry-recipe

Get the recipe here.

4. Grilled Watermelon. Ever thrown fruit on the grill? It may sound a little strange, but it’s amazing! A little savory, a little smoky and oh-so sweet, you’ll love it.

A stack of watermelon slices isolated on white

Get the recipe here.

5. Kale Salad With Orange Tahini Dressing. Don’t forget the kale salad! Yes, kale is in everything these days, but this kale salad is bright and pairs wonderfully with warm weather and sunshine!

kale-salad-recipe

Get the recipe here.

What are a few of your favorite summer recipes?

 

White Bean Rosemary Dip

Two recipes in one week—what’s happening to me? Of course, they both happen to be pretty easy ones….

This white bean dip was another contribution to the birthday potluck. At first I’d planned on making black bean dip, but then I started thinking about rosemary and olive oil and changed my mind completely. Unlike, say, chickpeas, I get burned out on black beans really easily for some reason. White beans, however, are a variety I forget about and then always try (and usually fail) to remind myself to make again soon.

This is great with raw veggies and crackers. You can also enjoy it warm with a piece of fish—pretend you’re at a fancy restaurant where they gently rest the filet atop of a pool of pureed potatoes. Add some grilled or roasted veggies and you’ve got a plate of good stuff going on.

white bean dip Ingredients

  • 1 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2-3 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Place ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until smooth.

Either serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge. This should keep about 3 days.

Dark Chocolate Coconut Chex Mix

I am not a dessert person—at least not when it comes to cooking. Ask me for a cake, and a few hours later I will present you with bastardized muffin-tart-pastry things that sort of allude to the idea of whatever cake was supposed to happen. Or you’ll get soup and an apology. Baking feels too much like chemistry class and therefore causes me serious anxiety, which inevitably needs to clumsiness and an inability to read and absorb instructions.

dark chocolate chef mixSnacks that happen to be sweet, however, are a different story. This Chex mix was perfect for a recent potluck celebration to celebrate a friend’s birthday. No fuss, but tons of flavor. It’s loosely based off my superfoood granola recipe, which uses coconut oil and a mix of dried fruit. This is a cinch to customize, though. A great addition, I think, would be shredded coconut.

Ingredients:

  • 9 cups chocolate Chex
  • 1 cup mix dried cherries, blueberries, and strawberries
  • pinch sea salt (optional)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. Mix cereal and dried fruit in a large bowl
  2. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and coconut on HIGH (about 1 minute). Stir and add vanilla. Microwave another 30 second if needed.
  3. Pour liquid over cereal and mix well.
  4. Cool on waxed paper. Store in an airtight container.

Are you a dessert person? 

A Small Collection of Joyous Things

Happy Sunday! Hope you’ve been enjoying a beautiful weekend!

Yesterday, I talked briefly about a desire to focus more on the positive, and the first day of a new month seemed like a great time introduce a new series I’ll be doing here on the blog.

I don’t know about you, but a lot of my least favorite feelings start with the letter  ”J”: judged, jaded, just so_____.

One J-word I am working to bring more of into my life, however, is joy.

I first got the idea while writing an article for a Chinese medicine newsletter about food for summer, when we take care to nurture the small intestine and the heart as we embrace the heat and the expansive energy of the season. In each season, there is also an association emotion to address the balance (or imbalance) of in our life. For the summertime, that emotion is joy.

Since it’s now safe to bust out the summer whites, every Sunday, I’ll be posting a weekly gratitude journal of sorts—a small collection of joyous things.

So, let’s get started:

1.) After seeing Amanda’s “Thinking Out Loud” post Thursday,  I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I let my toenails be naked. Seriously, maybe the last time I had no toenail polish on was…age 10 or something? Just wanted to see what it was like.

2.) The other day I mentioned I’ve been finding feathers everywhere again—heads-down pennies too. This morning, as I was walking down the street wondering who was sending me these things, I popped into a coffee shop just in time to hear the end of the White Stripes’ “Little Ghost.” Very funny.

What’s especially weird about it is that the day before, I’d posted on Facebook about a dream where my sister and I were coaxing ghosts out of mirrors in my childhood bedroom. She was sending them “into the light,” and I was letting them dance with me.

At times, I struggle with letting things go, so maybe that’s what I’m supposed to get out of it?

3.) On another note, this blueberry ginger jam from the farmers market is awesome! Anyone who gives me s*** about sugar/pectin/whatever, you’ve got bigger problems if you need to go out of your way to food-shame someone else.blueberry jam

4.) My Gemini spotify playlist and the transition of “Sparks” by the Who to Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now,” in particular. It just works.

5.) Renewing my membership with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and signing up only for the practice groups that made me excited and tingly-feeling instead of the ones I feel I “should” sign up for. I’ve been curious about the integrative & functional medicine nutrition group as well as the women’s health one for some time now, and I can’t wait to learn more this year.

6.) Hot yoga. I went three times in the past week—I didn’t even realize how much I’d missed it.

What’s brought you joy recently? 

Thinking Out Loud

Time for another random-awesome Running with Spoons Thinking Out Loud link party !
Thinking-Out-Loud2

 

1.) OMG: Somebody call the grain police—I’ve got carbs in my basket! I never noticed that “carbs” and “crabs” are dangerously similar. “Crabs in my basket” sounds like a euphemism. carbs in my basket

2.) I am proud of my Autocorrect for not recognizing ‘McNuggets” as a real word.

3.) My recyclables probably say a lot about me.

recyclables

4.) When I was a nutrition student, I thought I knew what I wanted my specialties to be. Then as an intern, I found that actually, maybe I wanted to focus on other areas. Then as a new RD, I thought for sure I was going to focus on diabetes and cardiovascular health above all else. Along the way I found that clinically speaking, I actually like pediatrics, tube feeds don’t scare me, and that hey—all this ortho stuff is pretty cool. Most importantly, however, has been seeing just how much my patients and clients’ needs compel me to study and revisit meaningful subjects that help me enhance the care I provide. To learn more about gastrointestinal health, I’ve been reading The Inside Tract by Gerard E. Mullin, MD and Kathie Madonna Swift, MS, RD, LDN. I bought a copy after hearing Swift speak at this year’s Integrative Healthcare Symposium, and it’s become one of my favorite resources for information on GI health—they explain some very complex stuff in language practically anyone can understand.

5.) Culinary Spring Cleaning featuring brown rice this week. I was also trying to work through a bag of the Trader Joe’s shredded cruciferous veggies blend along with some roasted asparagus and cauliflower.  The first night featured chickpeas, and an egg. The second night I nixed the chickpeas in favor of an extra egg white and some hemp seeds and avocado. Since my white miso and tahini were almost all gone, miso-tahini sauce was a no-brainer. File this under “Things I Would Never Make for Company.” Unless said company was of the crunchy-granola/culinary mad scientist persuasion.

brown rice bowl

6.) A friend recently pointed out to me that the word “avocado” can be traced back to words for “lawyer” and “testicle.” Great. 

avocado

7.) You Did Not Eat That. Hilarious.

What’s on your mind this Thursday?  

 

A Few Things for Friday

Happy Friday! Hope you’ve had a great week and are looking ahead to a fantastic weekend! Here are a few glimpses into my little corner of the blogesphere…

1.) In the name of research for an article I’m writing, we had an impromptu hemp milk taste test in the RD office the other day.  I can’t say there was even one person in the room who will be buying this in the near future, but it was fun to try something new.

hemp milk taste test

2.) I mentioned recently that sometimes I take a magnesium supplement—I finally restocked my favorite,  Natural Calm. This is great for dealing with headaches & pains around “that time of the month,” and also helps with sleep and stress-induced eye twitches. Since wedding season has officially kicked off in, well, all my social circles, I know I’m gonna need all the help I can get. Natural Calm

3.) On a similar note, I enjoyed a rocking steak salad for lunch the other day. The iron stores are happy. steak salad at work

4.) I have rekindled my love with Starbucks iced coffee. Ahhh, so dark & cold & bitter. Just like my heart ; )

My friend reminded me to add, “And RICH!” A woman’s heart is a deep ocean. Or something like that.

5.) A creepy yet supposedly “‘Attractive’ Gluten-Free Opportunity.” Um…

While we’re talking about gluten-free…don’t you just love guys who rhapsodize about the wonders of their gluten-free diet while they take a big swig of non-GF beer? Not like I’m jaded or drawing from experience or anything.

6.) This Anthropologie Hoodie.Anthro Shawl Moto Jacket

#RetailTherapy

7.) Oh, and the red lips in the photo above—I am obsessed with this Revlon  Colorburst Balm Stain in Provacateur. Love love love. I’ve been a red lipstick girl since No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” was on the radio every five minutes.  Who wants to feel old and do the math with me?

8.) Have you ever been so hungry you actually ate the weird microwave protein cake you improv-ed even though it kind of sucked?protein cake fail

Yeah, me neither ; )

At least it was the texture and not the taste that was off!

 What’s on your mind this Friday? What’s your favorite lipstick shade? 

April Cookbook Challenge: Done

I don’t know about anyone else, but April seemed to fly by.

broccoli raab with olivesTo be honest, I’m actually surprised I managed to make a new recipe each week, despite a packed schedule. Part of this is likely due to the fact that cooking is one of my favorite forms of therapy and procrastination. I also chose pretty user-friends recipes. Choosing vegetable side dishes also made it easy for me to use those foods into multiple dishes instead of having to eat the same meal every night. To recap, I also made:

Tuscan Chicken 

Zucchini Coins

Eggplant Caviar

Egg & Cheese Omelet

For my last April Cookbook Challenge dish, I went with something from the same book I used in week one, Mary Ann Esposito’s Ciao Italia: Five-Ingredient Favorites. I made the Rapini con Olive—broccoli raab with black olives, garlic, and red pepper flakes. I do have to admit that I used broccolini, as I couldn’t find broccoli raab at the store, but it was still wonderful!

The night I made it, I served it over red quinuoa with shrimp, roasted red pepper, green cauliflower, and  zucchini coins (also from this cookbook), and a little parm. It was so good—definitely making this again! A more obvious pairing choice would be pasta, but I was out.

broccoli raab with shrimp

Just a note: this also happens to be really good with a poached egg instead of shrimp for those of you (like me) who will put a poached egg on practically anything.

Have you ever done a cooking challenge? What were some of the best things you ate in April? 

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