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Simply Beyond Herb Sprays

Happy Friday! I thought it might be fun to close out the week with a product review in case you have any kitchen experimentation plans for the weekend ahead.

simply beyond herb

Food should taste good and provide nourishment. Using herbs and spices elevates even the most everyday dishes and makes it possible to get away with cutting back on salt for flavor. Unfortunately, many of us leave fresh herbs off our shopping list, often because we’re not sure how to use them or worried they’ll lose their freshness before we get around to working with them. Read More »

Why—and How—to Rinse and Soak Quinoa

Happy Thursday! Since this day usually is all about randomness, I thought it might be fun to share a little writer’s dirty secret: So much of my favorite (and often best) work has come about while I was trying or supposed to be doing something else. I get my best ideas on head-clearing walks or while folding laundry I do as a form of procrastination. I clean with a notebook nearby. I also get ideas for blog posts while working on work projects. I even have a whole bunch of poems comprised of random lines I scribble down throughout the day at work or while I’m running around town.

For example, I’ve been writing a course on ancient grains recently and getting reacquainted with some old, neglected favorites. I blame the 2014 Integrative Healthcare Symposium (hi, Dr. Perlmutter!*) for temporarily scaring me off the grain wagon, and even though I quickly realized that I’m someone who needs a little carbohydrate in my diet to keep me on an even keel (oats, beans, lentils, sprouted-grain bread, fruit, and starchy veggies are some of my staple sources), I never got back in the habit with certain foods I used to practically live off of. Quinoa is a great example. I’m sorry, quinoa—it’s not you, it’s me. I had some s*** I needed to figure out. Can we maybe try this again?

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What I Ate Wednesday #249

Happy  What I Ate Wednesday. Hope you’re having a great week so far. I can’t believe we’re already getting into mid-January. Like, what the what? I can’t even. Am I still allowed to say “I can’t even” in 2016? I really hope so.

Anyway, for this week’s food diary-style post, I thought I’d share what I ate  last Friday, when I spent a day off traveling to the suburbs to have lunch with my mom and get my hair done. Is it weird that I still like to go to the same person who did my hair when I was in high school? She also does my mom’s hair and my sister’s and I think one of my aunt’s? I’ve gone through phases with people closer to home, but sometimes that comfort level is important when so many other things in your life are in flux. Totally worth the trip.

Haha wow—did not expect to get all philosophical about hairstylings, but hey. How about we get to the food part of this post?  Read More »

What I Ate Wednesday #247: Christmas Re-Cap

Happy What I Ate Wednesday. I’m heading on a short trip with the fam today. It’s been a long time since I’ve done New Years Eve away from the city, so I’m curious to see if a change of scenery helps me hate it any less. Does anyone else share my view of New Years Eve? So much hype…

I know that the general accepted thing in the blog world is to be all, like, “Love and peace and I’m sooo happy and grateful alllll the time—oh and hey, look at my awesome clean eats,” and while I certainly feel lucky on a day-to-day basis just to be here, the phrase “home for the holidays” sometimes drives a stake of anxiety into my heart. In my real life, I’m a very calm, considerate person (don’t let that dry sense of humor fool you), but I have this annoying way of regressing into eye-rolling teenager ways when under my parents’ roof. It’s frustrating and embarrassing (I’m freaking 30 years old, for crying out loud!). Though I’ve certainly gotten better at managing it, I always approach holidays with some sense of trepidation, like, “Okay Jess, will you be able to be cool this time?”

Luckily, having a certain fluffy little someone around helps a lot. It is impossible to be in a bad mood around this dog. Eli and Jess, Christmas 2015

Anyway, let’s do the “what I ate” part of this post. Here’s a look at what I ate over the Christmas holiday. Read More »

Post-Christmas Catch-Up

Happy Sunday! Hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend. I’m still catching back up on life (and a shift at the hospital) after a short-and-sweet trip to visit the fam before it’s time to pack up and head on another mini-vacay over New Years. I’ll be back in a few days with a Christmas what-I-ate-type recap, but for now, hope you have a great day! Christmas 2015

Feeling like you could use some healthier eats after an indulgent holiday? Here are a few of my favorite recipes:

What did you do this weekend? What are your New Years plans? 

Sunflower Truffles

So I know I was recently talking about allergy-free cookies and in-moderation treats, but I thought I’d take advantage of it being December/sugar rush month and share another recipe for a sweet treat you can bring to your next holiday gathering.

sunflower truffles

These truffles feature a filling made of sunflower seeds and medjool dates, making them sweet but not overpowering—and safe for all my nut-free peeps out there. You can make these or as little as little as you like. Either way, I would recommend letting them cool before rolling in the melted chocolate to help them retain their ball-like shape. For the richest chocolate taste, I’d recommend at least 72% cocoa, but you can use whatever suits your preference.

Sunflower Truffles


  • 1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds
  • 5-6 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • a few teaspoons water, if needed
  • 1 bar dark chocolate
  1. In a food processor, pulse seeds, dates, spices, and vanilla until a sticky paste forms. Stop to scrape down the sides and prevent burning the food processor. Add water if needed to smooth out.
  2. Roll paste into balls and allow to cool on wax paper in the fridge.
  3. When balls are cool, melt chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Roll bowls in chocolate until coated.
  4. Cool truffles on wax paper in the fridge. Store for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

What’s your favorite truffle flavor? 


Holiday Baking and Healthy Swaps

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away

Holiday cookie-baking is a long-standing tradition in my family. Even in my early, feel-as-you-go days of functional adulthood (aka in my past life as a declawed housecat), I would partake in the ritual every year, making treats for family, friends, colleagues, classmates—anyone in my life, basically, to whom I wanted to show some holiday love on a very tiny grad-student budget.

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Kabocha Soup

And here we are in mid-December. If I were writing this post like a medical note, it would go something like this:

Pt is s/p Hanukkah celebrations, currently tolerating a high-salt, high-sugar diet with moderate alcohol intake. +flatus, some BMs, but pt c/o bloating, excessive thirst. Recommend increase fluids. Would also consider probiotic supplement to promote regularity. Pt encouraged to focus on lean protein sources and high-fiber foods in preparation for Christmas feast with in-laws later this month. Nutritional considerations for cocktail hour and setting attainable New Years goals were also discussed. Pt was receptive. Will continue to monitor. 

As Merry As I Get

Ready for a break from sugar? You’re in good company. This soup is a refreshing change of pace—perfect for a cold night in. Make with a stick blender or in a regular blender—just be careful not to overload the thing and then use too high a speed setting like I did. Unless, of course, you like orange explosions all over your countertops.

I like to serve this with a little green on the bottom, such as steamed kale or shredded sautéed brussels sprouts or cabbage (yes, really). You can top with a fried egg, a garnish of pumpkin seeds, and goat cheese like I did here, but it’s also delicious with a roast pork mixed in. For a vegan take, sprinkle a tablespoon of hemp seeds on top for an extra protein boost. I used powdered ginger in this recipe, but feel free to use fresh instead—just mince finely and add with the garlic.

kabocha soup with egg


  • 1 small kabocha squash, cut in half with seeds scooped out
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garum masala
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 2 cups vegetable broth


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Fill a baking pan with water and place squash, cut side down. Bake until flesh is soft. Allow to cool and then scoop squash outside of the peel.
  2. Meanwhile, heat coconut oil in a stock pot or large saucepan. Add onion and cover. Cook on low until soft. Uncover and add garlic. Saute another minute and add spices.
  3. Add broth and squash. Stir well to mix.
  4. Blend soup, either using a stick blender or by pouring the soup in small amounts to a blender.


What’s your favorite soup? 

Joyous Things: Babies, swear words, and cephalopods

Good morning and happy Sunday. Hope you’re having a great weekend. I’m going to keep things short because I’m away with my family. Two of my cousins welcomed babies this last year, and one of them is having a christening this weekend. I haven’t seen some of my relatives in a few years, and it’s crazy to think how much has changed. I mean, babies, for one. Or two. Anyway.

Here are a few small good things from the week:  Read More »

What to make this weekend: Family Food Traditions

In my family, the Friday after Thanksgiving is a cooking day. The women on my mom’s side of the family get together every year and make Christmas cookies and other family favorites. Though we’ve introduced lots of new stuff into the repertoire over the years, it’s nice to have those old recipes written in longhand alongside the computer printouts and iPads.

pierogies recipe

This year, we decided to go a more savory route and make pierogies from scratch using my great aunt’s recipe. pierogies 1

We made two batches: one filled with potato and cheese, and another filled with sauerkraut & mushrooms. Given me mushroom tooth, I had an obvious favorite, but they were both great. I’ve been enjoying the leftovers a little at a time. The other night, I had one of each flavor with some leftover cabbage, mushrooms, and chicken sausage. pierogies

It’s the dietitian in me—I can’t help piling on the veggies. Try it—I swear it’s delicious!

What are some of your family’s food traditions? 

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