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A Small Collection of Joyous Things

Happy Sunday! Hope you’ve been having a great week. Every Sunday, I like to take a second to hit the Pause button and take stock of the small good things from the past seven days.

Mercury retrograde, which is going to continue until October 25th, can be a real pain in the ass because it screws with communication, technology, and travel. You might find it hard to make—and-keep plans because things keep coming up you need to address or be flexible about. However, there can be an upside to this.  In fact, it’s actually worked in my favor a few times this week. For example:

*Wednesday night I was supposed to go to a cooking class with a colleague. It got canceled at the last minute, and all the participants were told we’d be getting a refund. A couple of us girls popped into a nearby cafe for a much-needed glass of wine. Taking a chance in the middle of the workweek to gab about work, boys, and the Future was exactly what I needed.

*Thursday night I went to a much-needed yoga class and ran into a friend there. It was so nice to see her!

A few non-Mercury-related highlights:

*First things first: There is nothing like a nice, warm bowl of oatmeal in the fall. This concoction had pumpkin, apple, egg whites, chia, and flax seeds cooked in, and then I topped with with some crunchy PB & flax and chia and a big spoonful for homemade cranberry sauce. It was such a treat to enjoy before diving into my Saturday morning. pumpkin apple oats

*Gorgeous weather on Friday. I took a nice walk on my lunch break. I also had a little spare time between my shift and the hospital and a meeting downtown, so I got to walk around the Union Square Farmers Market and stock up on plenty of gorgeous fall produce!

* Speaking of produce, Trader Joe’s finally has raw beets! It’s the little things…Trader Joe's Beets

*I have a fun video project in the works and I can’t wait to share it with you guys.

* On Saturday, I avoided the news in favor of another yoga class and a day spent reading and cooking (and maybe binge-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix—aka having it on in the background while I did stuff). I also made Chocolate Covered Katie’s Pumpkin Fudge Balls.

Today I’m participating in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk with my mom, sister, and aunt. It’s a little bit of an emotional event, as my grandmother battled breast and ovarian cancer for many years before succumbing to the latter in 1999 at the way-too-young age of 61. Sometimes I wonder what things would be like if she were still alive—What kind of relationship would we have? How would I be different as a person if I’d had her influence in my life as a teenager and twenty-something woman? What would be the same?

As I’ve written before, my grandmother’s medical issues were such a central part of my life as a child that it would have taken a lot for me not to go into some sort of “helping” profession. Even though I’m far from perfect, I like to hope my efforts make a small, positive difference to someone.

What are you grateful for this week?

PS: Have you entered my Maple Hill Creamery yogurt giveaway yet?

3 Things to Make This Weekend

Irving Farm cappucinoGood morning. Happy Friday! How’s your week been? If you haven’t entered my Maple Hill Creamery giveaway, leave a comment on yesterday’s post to be entered in the drawing!

I’m looking forward to an actual 2-day weekend. It’s been a while, and I’m looking forward to recharging (maybe some yoga, avoiding the news) and to joining my family in this year’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on Sunday. If you want to make a donation to my team, you can do so on the event homepage. We’re The Jeanne Team : )

Depending how I feel Saturday, I might even try a new recipe. Here are a few I saw this week that looked great!

What are you looking forward to this weekend? 

Why I Love Yogurt + A Giveaway!

This week’s Thinking Out Loud post is all about the number-one reason I will never be vegan:  For about as long as I can remember, yogurt has been one of my staple foods.

As a kid, I was all about the Yoplait Thick & Creamy French vanilla yogurt with the foil top. Then in the mid 1990′s after my grandmother ‘s cancer diagnosis, the fridge was stocked with the Stonyfield Farms fruit juice-sweetened stuff. Brown Cow’s whole-milk maple yogurt also made an appearance at times. I’m ashamed to admit I ate a lot of Yoplait Light & Fit in high school and even into college, but there was also some Fage plain Greek yogurt around, which eventually led me to abandon the sugar-free bullshit stuff entirely.

Here are some of the reasons I enjoy yogurt (and/or kefir) almost every day:

  • Protein: Yogurt is full of satiating protein. An 8-ounce cup of yogurt has 12 grams of protein. Greek yogurt packs even more, usually around 20 grams per cup. That “water” in the container is actually whey, so stir it in to get all that protein.
  • Probiotics: Many yogurts are made with “good” bacteria that fight the good fight in the GI tract to promote good digestion and immune system function.
  • Bone Health: Yogurt is a great source of calcium and vitamin D to help build and maintain strong, healthy bones. It also has a lot of magnesium, and potassium. The vitamin B-12 in yogurt is helpful for pretty much all the things so that’s another plus.
  • Convenience: You can find yogurt in pretty much any grocery or convenience store. Even some gas stations and drugstores stock it. It can be enjoyed plain, mixed with various toppings, or on top of foods like waffles, pancakes, or grilled fruit. It can also be cooked into all kinds of dishes, from sweet baked goods to savory soups and sauces.

A few things to keep in mind when choosing yogurt:

  • Stay away from excess sugar. Even better, go for plain and flavor it yourself.
  • Look for probiotics and active cultures.
  • Opt for organic whenever possible.

Maple Hill Creamery recently contacted me about trying some of their grass-fed yogurt products. The company makes their yogurt from a local supply of milk from 100% grass-fed certified organic small farms near Stuyvesant, NY. They don’t homogenize, strain, or skim their milk. They also keep the sweeteners natural and to a minimum: think fruit purees and scant amounts of real maple syrup, authentic extracts, and organic sugar. A slower culturing process allows them to do without thickeners, and they don’t add any colors or preservatives.

Their yogurt has a smooth, creamy texture and a tart, barely-sweet taste. For anyone freaking out about the fact that this is whole-milk yogurt, bear in mind that fact that we need some fat to absorb the vitamins A and D in milk. Additionally, the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio in milk from grass-fed cows is higher than in those from cows fed hay, grains, and corn, so it actually has a more heart-healthy fatty acid profile more beneficial to humans. Also of note: one 6-oz container of plain yogurt has 120 calories-hardly something to be “afraid” of. I also want to point out that fat is digested more slowly than other nutrients, so it helps you stay full for longer. Oh, and then there’s that thing called “mouth feel.” Bonus.  

Maple Hill Creamery wants to give you the chance to try their yogurt too! 4 readers will get a coupon for a free container of grass-fed yogurt. All you have to do to enter the giveaway is to leave a comment below. Next week I will randomly select and announce a winner, so stay tuned!  

Check out more random thoughts from other bloggers at the 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

5 Ways to Eat Kabocha Squash

In October of 2011, when I found myself single again after several years of cohabitation with another Sagittarius (one day I’ll learn…) cooking for one again was kind of challenging. I’d gotten used to making huge batches of stuff or at least not scrambling to come up with different ways to use up leftovers. Though I’d like to tell you I eventually changed my ways, I would be totally full of s*** if I said that. It’s hard to go back after living with a well-stocked fridge. Gone are the days of a fridge consisting only of cheese, white wine, and guava preserves (don’t ask).

One advantage to cooking for one is that it’s easier to anticipate how much you’ll need to buy, since you’re the only one who’s going to be eating xyz. There are some items that are easy to buy in smaller quantities, but for certain things like whole fruits and veggies or certain cuts of meal or fish, it’s not always doable. Take, for example, the much-loved kabocha squash. I like to think of kabocha as pumpkin’s sweet yet sassy little cousin. The Hip One at the (adult) Kids’ Tablee very Thanksgiving.

If pumpkin is

: )

Kabocha is

; )

kale saladAnyway. There’s really no getting around a whole squash. Sometimes a single gal will luck out and find a cute little one that’s good for a couple servings, but more often than not, when you buy one of these, you’re looking at a five-day commitment. And orange palms when it’s all over, thanks to the mega beta-carotene load. Some things are totally worth it, though, such as kabocha.

I like to start off with a simple steamed kabocha squash. I just prick the outside with a fork a few times and cook in the microwave for ~10 minutes at a time until it’s soft enough to slice open and scoop the seeds from. Then I just peel and cut the flesh (insides/squash-meat) into cubes for later use. You can totally do slices or chunks instead of cubes—I just hate the word “chunks.”

So now you’re got all this f***ing squash to use up. Awesome. Let’s chat on Day 3. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1.)  As is, with roasted Brussels sprouts & pork chops (or tofu or fish or whatever)

2.)  Cut up and tossed into salad. I highly recommend warm kale salad for this one, but it’s also fantastic with arugula and goat cheese.

3.) In a smoothie. Add pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, and a date or 1 tsp maple syrup to milk and yogurt. Blend with ice.

4.)  In risotto. The kabocha sort of melts in as you cook it—nice!

5.) In oatmeal. Similar to the risotto, the squash blends right in. Add some spices, top with your favorite nut butter, and you’re good to go!

 

How do you deal with leftovers? 

A Small Collection of Joyous Things

Happy Sunday, and welcome to my weekly gratitude list, a series I started to focus on the joyful things in my life.

It’s been a busy week, but full of lots of small, good things.

1.) I went to visit Eli and my parents Monday. The little guy finally got a haircut. I miss him so much, but he’s having a ball out in NJ right now, so I’m happy about that. Jess and Eli October 6

2.) Thursday I went on a “Cook’s Tour of Chinatown,” which I’d signed up for through the 92nd Street Y. I was the youngest one there by decades, but it was so cool to visit different markets and get the lowdown on what to buy where. Can’t wait to go back and buy some odd meats and vegetables to play with. Of course, the only food pic I managed to take was of this black chicken: black chicken

The “BIG SILKY” is a little disconcerting, though.

I took a picture of this place too: foot hheaven

3.) I actually had time to make oats on the stovetop one morning this week. It was glorious. pumpkin oats with figs

4.) I also made cranberry sauce. Finally used up that bag in the freezer. cranberry sauce

5.) I actually found the energy to (gasp) socialize with other humans two nights in a row this week—what a concept.

6.) Lots of interesting projects have me in a positive groove about work.

7.) I’m seeing my family today, including some cousins I haven’t seen since…? Can’t wait!

8.) I have a giveaway coming your way soon!

What’s brought you joy this week? 

3 Things to Make This Weekend

Jess & butternut squash Happy Friday! What are you getting into this weekend? I’m working at the hospital tomorrow and then doing brunch with the fam on Sunday. Not much time around these parts for recipe-testing, but if you’ve got cooking on the agenda, here are a few things that caught my eye:

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash from SkinnyTaste Hell yes.

Adorable Monster S’mores from Say Yes Too f**ing cute.

Ever wonder what would happen if you baked the cookie dough bits in that pint of Ben & Jerry’s? Me neither.

What’s on the menu this weekend? 

 

What I Ate Wednesday # 183

Welcome to yet another What I Ate Wednesday. For those new to the party, every week, I link up with a bunch of other bloggers to share a day of food. Here’s a look at what I enjoyed this past Sunday, which I spent working at the hospital.

Eli sleeping(Eli was at the beach with my family. Dude is living the life.) 

In general, working the weekend has some benefits in that it’s quieter and easy to get work done. Sometimes I even take my full lunch break. People tend to be more laid back so it’s a nice chance to chat a little more than you normally might. That said, sometimes it can be rough when your friends are posting pictures from brunch and you’re, like, “F*** you and your challah French toast.” Or, “Man, why I am I at work instead of brunching on breakfast tacos with my handsome (if imaginary) boyfriend?” Then I usually remind myself that I’m not exactly a taco enthusiast. I’m more of a shakshukah kinda gal when it comes to brunch. Move on.

I always try to pack myself things I like and enjoy eating to keep me energized, focused, and positive. Being hungry leads to a cranky weekend workday with “woe is me” undertones. Here’s what I packed on Sunday:

WIAW  sun oct 5

  • Breakfast: A Greek yogurt mess. I’ve transitioned to using frozen berries. Fall is here for real. 
  • Lunch: I warmed up some kale with lots of roasted veggies and chickpeas. I added hummus & goat cheese. 
  • Snack: This Kevita drink I’m loving lately and an apple. 

When I got home, I had a quick bowl of kefir and cereal before heading out on a walk. The ol’ horoscope said that single folks should be out and about, and since I was having one of those “I like my outfit” days, enjoying what was left of the crisp, fall afternoon sounded exactly right. My knee-jerk thought had been to park myself in front of a glass of wine, but I wasn’t in the mood to play “totally not awkward” in a bar by myself when the weather was so gorgeous. It was nice to spend some time outside—great way to unwind after being inside most of the day. kefir and cereal

While I was out, I stopped and grabbed a cup of my favorite tea from Alice’s. I love that it’s hot tea weather again.

Dinner was just leftovers from Saturday night:

pumpkin ravioli

I’m totally digging this Trader Joe’s pumpkin ravioli—great with shredded brussel sprouts and a little bacon. It came together really quickly after yoga on Saturday night. Yes, I am totally that dietitian who eats bacon after yoga. Balance, right there. Hah.

Before bed Sunday night, I had a sliced banana with peanut butter. This seems to be an official food jag. I’m sure I’ll switch it up once given a reason. Can Trader Joe’s bring back their Chocolate cheddar, like, yesterday, please? Miss that.

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten recently? 

To see more WIAW from other bloggers, visit founder Jenn’s blog Peas & Crayons.

Uncomplicated Apple Pie

My dad, sister, and I all have fall birthdays, so growing up, apple pie was often on the celebratory dessert menu. My mom’s uncomplicated apple pie recipe has always been my favorite-using just some maple syrup as a sweetener, the fruit flavor really shines through, and the light touch of cinnamon offers just the right amount of spice.

Though her traditional version calls for two whole pie crusts-one on bottom, one on top-I’ve taken to topping mine with a simple oat crumble. Lining up the edges of the two crusts is just way too complicated for me. You should have seen me in the Organic Chem lab back in the day, but that is neither here nor there…Not only is this pretty, tasty, and easy-it also happens to shave off a few calories and grams of saturated fat. All the more room for  a glass of port…

Photo by Katarina Burton

 

Ingredients:

 

For the Pie:

  • 5-6 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1-2 tablespoon flour
  • 1 homemade or frozen pie crust

For the Crumble:

  • ½ cup flour (whole wheat, oat, spelt, etc)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil or butter, melted

 

Directions: 

1.     Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2.     Toss apple pieces with cinnamon until well mixed. Add maple syrup.

3.     Add flour as needed to thicken. Mix well.

4.     Pour apple mixture into crust. If you want to, you can arrange the apples in a pretty pattern. Or not.

5.     For the crumble, mix flour, rolled aots, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Mix in melted coconut oil until a crumble begins to form.

6.     Pour crumble mixture over apples.

7.     Bake until golden brown, about 1 hour. If edge of crust begins to burn, cover with foil.

 

Enjoy warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.

What’s your favorite fall dessert? 

3 Things to Make this Weekend

sliced appleHappy Friday! First off, I want to wish a very happy birthday to my younger sister! I’m lucky to have her in my life—she’s an inspiration to me in so many ways, from her style to her patience to her ability to call it like she sees it…To borrow one from my dad’s book of Awkward Things Uttered at Inappropriate Moments: Thanks for making us?

On a completely different note, here are some recipes & things that caught my eye this week. I’ll be working at the hospital all weekend, but you should cook this stuff so I can live vicariously:

Apple Pie. Here are the best apples to use.

ABC Kitchen’s Butternut Squash on Toast.

Gimme Some Oven’s Coconut Oil Pumpkin Bread.

And as a little bonus…I could have used this a few weeks ago: 10 Smart Ways to Use Leftover Pumpkin Puree from the Kitchn.

 What are you up to this weekend? 

Pumpkin Turkey Meatloaf (Gluten-Free)

turkey meatloafSometimes I post a recipe just so I can remember how the hell I made something. This pumpkin meatloaf is an example of exactly that. It was inspired by a recipe I saw on The Coconut Diaries last year after a lot of clicking around the interwebs, but I had some issues with the cooking time. I wanted to make sure I didn’t forget again!

A note on the gluten-free-ness of this recipe: In a perfect world, all oats would be guaranteed gluten-free, as they’re supposed to exist in nature, but for this recipe, I used some Chex gluten-free oats. You can use whatever rolled or instant oats you have. Hell, I’m sure you could use steel-cut oats and end up with something interesting, but I can’t say I’ve tried it.

Enjoy!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb raw lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup (gluten-free) oats
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
  • ½ cup liquid egg whites
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a bread loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
  2. Mix ingredients together in a bowl, and then place inside the loaf pan.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for ~60 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Cover with foil and bake another 15 minutes if needed to reach 165 degrees.
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