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Fall Inspiration

Know that feeling when you have been pushing yourself in a particular part of your life for a while and then all you want to do is enjoy the fruits of your labor? That’s kind of how it’s been for me with food in the last few weeks. I spent a lot of time earlier this year discovering and making new recipes, so now I just kind of have my routine of making my favorites every week and don’t look for new ones very often at all…

This has been going along with a general absence of running in my life, picking sand volleyball, tennis, and hiking over logging lonesome miles this summer. I will have to change that tendency rather quickly because Dave and I have agreed to participate in a relay race in late October- the Tussey Mountainback! We’ll have a team of 7 or 8, but I’m not sure yet what leg(s) we’ll each be running. But regardless, training must begin now. I’m excited to be doing something new and to enjoy this event with friends. And I think I’m scared of it enough to actually get moving again.

As far as new recipes go, I’ve found a few and am committing to making them all sometime in the next few weeks. That should give me some fresh stuff to blog about as well. Because really, who wants to read about me eating quinoa stuffed peppers for the umpteenth time? I know I don’t.

So here is some inspiration —

Poblano White Chili
Eggplant Parmesan
Falafel with a Twist
Creamy Avocado Spaghetti Squash
Peppered Pumpkin and Potato Ragout

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September 10, 2013 · 10:54 pm

Goodbye Chores, Hello Tastiness

I’ve been thinking lately about what a waste of time stress is and how worrying about mundane to-do lists can take so much joy out of my daily life. It’s scary because I’m not even prone to being anxious or to easily stress about things. I think as a child and teenager, I easily classified as the “not a worry on the mind” type, living for the moment and always happy to experience something new. I’m not saying that was always a good thing – I often lost stuff, failed math tests, and never thought about saving up for college, etc. – but having that as part of my identity makes me uncomfortable when I do feel anxious about getting stuff done now that I’m an “adult.”

Yesterday, a friend posted this quote on Facebook: “Stress is basically a disconnection from the earth, a forgetting of the breath. Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important. Just lie down.” I couldn’t agree more.

So today, I decided most of the things on my weekend chore list are not that important.

Dave and I hit the gym at around 8 and then had what’s becoming our staple Saturday breakfast – sweet potato pancakes.

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There is currently nothing more delicious to me than this creation. The almond butter and maple syrup on top paired with the taste of pancakes and coffee are unbeatable. I devoured my serving and regretted I didn’t make twice as many.

After reading on the balcony and drinking more coffee, I needed a smoothie made from frozen berries, coconut milk, and Amazing Grass powder to counter the caffeine overdose.

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A little later, we headed out for lunch at our favorite Thai restaurant.

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We sat outside because it was 65 degrees and sunny. I ordered the red curry with shrimp as usual. I have documented my obsession with this dish several times before.

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Next, we went to Webster’s, a coffee shop in downtown State College, so Dave could work on end-of-semester papers and I could drink an almond milk decaf latte and read. If you have read Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), you will know what a good time I had. She’s hilarious and inspiring.

Around 5 pm. we went to Trader Joe’s to get groceries and then headed back home for a relaxed evening in.

I was still feeling a little out of it from my caffeine overdose, so I had Synergy Kombucha. It was my first bottle ever. I picked it up a few days ago to try it. It’s really good. It will take restraint not to make it a regular habit, which would be an expensive one.

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Feeling refreshed, I put on The Office (inspired by Mindy) and put the groceries away before making the most random of random dinner creations I’ve ever put together.

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Red Quinoa, sweet potatoes, a zucchini, and kale all in a casserole dish…

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…before adding vegetable broth, salsa, cashews, pinto beans, salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt and then topping it with Daiya Cheeze.

30 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees and voila

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A pseudo casserole that turned out more like a warm salad. It was actually surprisingly good.It could have done with less vegetable broth and the sweet potatoes may have still been a little too crunchy for some (so 35 minutes in the oven might be a better cooking time). But other than that: really good. Bonus points for me for using zucchini because I never buy or eat zucchini. I only bought some today because I need them for a recipe later this week.

We finally have chocolate coconut milk ice cream again, so I had some of that and watched about half a season of The Office. Mission postponing weekend chores complete.

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April 27, 2013 · 8:37 pm

“What in the World Are You Eating?”

I ventured into the world of quinoa for breakfast this morning. That was mainly because I had leftover quinoa from last night’s dinner, which was this:

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Looks appetizing, right? It was quinoa, kale, and sauerkraut with a sauce made out of sunflower seed butter, red pepper, almond milk, and nutritional yeast. I liked it, but Dave thought it was absolutely disgusting due to the nutritional yeast. He hates nutritional yeast and I knew this, but chose to ignore it. He has now officially requested never to have to eat it again, so I will begrudgingly enjoy it by my lonesome in the future.

That said, the dish really must look disgusting because when I was eating it for lunch today, the VP in charge of our department walked by and asked “What in the world are you eating?” in bewilderment. “Ummmm, sauerkraut, kale and”… was my response, and then “it’s very healthy.” Not sure the man has ever heard of half of the ingredients, so I chose to spare him the details.

Anyways, back to today’s breakfast.

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My usual oatmeal combo with quinoa instead: quinoa, a fried egg, avocado, and nutritional yeast. Got my brain going for our daily morning German lesson. I also love grapefruit for breakfast, but haven’t had it much at all recently. Today I did, obviously.

My lunch run was so fun because the weather was amazing and perfect and all the glorious adjectives you want to use for 60 degrees and sunny when it’s April and everything is blossoming. I did intervals and listened to Turkish music.

When I got home, I was starving, but we wanted to play tennis before it got dark out. There was not enough time to make the Daiya casserole I wanted to make, so Dave creatively saved us and made a citrus salad.

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It had lettuce, avocado, grapefruit, and a dressing made from olive oil, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. It was perfect because it kept my stomach from eating itself but wasn’t to heavy to play tennis right after eating it.

The score of tonight’s game is so embarrassing, but I’ll share it anyway: 15:2 for Dave. There were a lot of sad spins around myself without actually hitting the ball, so Dave had plenty of opportunity to ridicule me. Now I am eager to start weekly Sunday volleyball with our friends because that’ll be his payback 🙂

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April 26, 2013 · 9:09 pm

Salmon, Sweet Potato & Quinoa Cakes

Tonight’s dinner was made out of so many of my favorites, I must immediately declare it a new staple dish!

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Salmon, sweet potato, quinoa, scallion, and onion burgers. Can you say yum?

I got the recipe from my co-worker, but then I modified it a little because I forgot to add eggs when mixing everything together to make these balls of deliciousness.

Once I realized that the eggs were missing, I was rather surprised that everything was sticking together so well. But I won’t ask questions.

Oh! Also, I was supposed to use corn meal, but I didn’t have any. Instead of bullying Dave and sending him on an impromptu trip to the grocery store, I looked up corn meal alternatives. Did you know you can toast a slice of bread and then grind it to get a substitute? I sure didn’t. But then again, I’m sooo still a beginner.

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Here is what I did about the egg thing…. Brilliant, huh? This actually gave me the idea of adding hollandaise sauce as well for a fun twist on Eggs Benedict, but who wants to get that crazy – or eat all that dairy?

Sweet Potato, Quinoa and Salmon Burgers 

Ingredients:

– 2 eggs
– 1 large sweet potato, – peeled, cooked, and mashed
– 1/2 cup quinoa – cooked
– some scallions and about half a large onion, chopped
– salt and pepper to taste
– 2 tbsp. cornmeal

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.

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I ended up using my hands because the wooden spoon wasn’t thorough enough for me.

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Then form six cakes out of the doughy mass.

Heat olive or coconut oil in a pan (probs not hard to guess which I used) and cook them on medium heat for 3-5 minutes per side.

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Kind of surprising that it went this well without the eggs, right?!

I made these last night, so they were all ready for us to eat when I got home today after a networking coffee at Starbucks (wisely, I ordered a DECAF soy misto to avoid a sleepless night).

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Seriously, make this.

I actually liked the fried egg on top. It was more fun to look at and I am a sucker for the runny yolk – so delicious.

I also had another small slice of daiya pizza and then followed it up with a glass of coconut milk because I burned my lips with the hot sauce. Some lip icing may also have occurred. Oh life.

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April 2, 2013 · 8:39 pm

An Extra Helping of Time, Please.

I’m in major time-is-flying-by awareness mode. Like, to the point where I feel like people who drag out words and take long pauses in meetings are draining the productivity out of my day.

Not to sound too ridiculous, but we literally had a two-hour meeting this morning that added zero value to anyone’s life. And beyond that, I feel weeknights (and weekends, for that matter) never allow me to do everything I want to do. Like, consume half a day’s worth of “Teen Mom 2,” run, cook, sleep A LOT, and then work on top of all those clearly honorable pursuits.

Who am I to whine, though? This is 21st century America after all. We’re all in the same boat.

Good thing my last two days have been filled with amazing eats, and I’m about to show them to you.

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Sunday night dinner and Monday lunch: Vegan curried tempeh and mango salad in pita halves. Here is the recipe I used.

So nutritious, so tasty! A win all around.

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This week’s breakfast: quinoa granola, as invented by Elise from Hungry Hungry Hippie. 

I added banana chips and dark chocolate to the mix. I agree with Elise, there is nothing better than the smell of melted coconut oil. Or maybe, coconut oil in general. I use it as face lotion before bed, as a hair care product, as an addition to my morning smoothie, eat it raw as a snack, and basically never go without it for a day.

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And another HHH recipe, this time a repeat. Daiya pizza. I actually made the beer-dough the day before this time, and it made a huge difference in the thickness of the pizza.

So insanely good. We had it for dinner last night and again as a packed lunch today. I added oregano and hot sauce to the lunch slices. The bomb.

Weeknight cooking marathons are my fave right now. I love making two or three dishes at once to free up time for running and Dave.

Also, while I cook, I now often indulge in my newest trashy TV obsession: Felicity. Everyone who knows me won’t have a hard time understanding why: 90’s shows are my calling, especially if they are full of pseudo-meaningful one-liners about the purpose of life and feature Dawson’s Creek actors.

In fact, I may give morning runs another try soon to make more room for the 90s in my life.

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April 2, 2013 · 3:32 pm

5 am Madness

Okay, I think my half marathon training is turning me into a crazy person slowly but surely. Usually, no matter how naively I announce that I’ll get up in the morning to run or do any other thing beyond shower, have breakfast, and stumble out the door, I fail. My alarm rings at some ungodly hour, I have a brief negotiation with myself (brain: “get up, you said you’d go run.” Subconscious: ” F off, you’re crazy.” Brain: “Ok, good night.”), and I snooze until the very last possible minute (or often also until an impossible minute).

Today, none of that happened. My alarm rang at 4:30 a.m. Yes. Half past four. I sat up in bed, checked my email (my usual dysfunctional wake-up ritual), washed my face, brushed my teeth, changed into running clothes, and headed out the door straight to the work-out room and the treadmill…. where I then spent the next hour running five miles on an empty stomach, which was much harder than running at night after a full day of hydrating and calorie-infusions.

Make of this what you will. Maybe you think, “What’s the big deal, I do that all the time.” In which case, please tell me it gets easier.

All I can make of it is: I’ve lost my mind.

I was sleepy all day, but also weirded out by myself and a little proud at the same time.

After work, I went to girl’s night at an amazing one-stop-shop Asian buffet.

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I swear, they had everything. From soup to salad to habachi to meat and poatoes to every imaginable sushi roll on the planet.

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Mango rolls. So delicious. I had to skip desert only because I was too full. I should have planned better for this event!

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After dinner, my friend and I met Dave and her husband at our neighborhood bar. I had cabernet.

When we got home around 9:45 p.m., I was ready to pass out. I wonder when I’ll be crazy enough to run at 5 in the morning next. Definitely not in the foreseeable future.

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March 20, 2013 · 11:17 pm

Asian (In)Fusion

So, this weekend turned into a little bit of an eating-out marathon. When we moved to State College last July, I was worried that we wouldn’t have as many ethnic food options as we did in Milwaukee. But strangely enough, it feels like we have more, and they’re all so affordable. So weekends often turn into feasts of Indian, Japanese, Thai, or Greek cuisine. We also have lots of New England type taverns here, but this weekend was strictly devoted to Asian deliciousness.

My day started with a small miracle: I actually got up when my alarm clock rang at 7. I had to finish my run from yesterday, and I guess I was just eager to get it done. The thing that actually got me up though was my plan to do this 15-minute yoga video before I left. I have done it three times now and absolutely love it. After I was done, I had a package of Gu (I didn’t want to spoil the run with more digestive problems), and I packed another one to have 45 minutes in.

The run was hard because I was still tired from yesterday and it was super windy. I ended up doing 6.71 miles, which brought my mileage for the weekend up to 9.71. I guess I’m happy with that, considering I was only going to do 8 had I not had to split it up.

When I got home, Dave made me breakfast while I iced my knees and stretched.

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He is just so much more talented at making eggs look pretty than I am. Oatmeal with a fried egg, nutritional yeast, and avocado. I also had almond milk with Amazing Grass powder and lots of water.

Then we went to the UUFCC and straight to lunch afterwards. There is this amazing Indian restaurant in State College – seriously the best Indian food I’ve ever had, and they have a lunch buffet every day that I will never be able to get enough of. I figured going after a long run was ideal because I wouldn’t get full as fast as usual.

I stuck to vegetarian options. It’s becoming easier and easier for me to just leave meat out completely, to the point where I’m almost ready to declare myself a pescetarian, which makes me happy because it shows my plan to ease myself into eventual veganism of some sort is working.

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Spinach Saag, vegetarian yogurt balls, and a curry veggie mix.

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A piece of naan topped with the spinach saag. I want to take a bath in this stuff! I used to get it with lamb, but actually think it’s just as good without meat.

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I indulged a bit for desert, and definitely didn’t say no to the dairy. Chai tea, sweet rice pudding, and a milk ball in sugar syrup. When else if not after a run, right?

Then I took a pretty long afternoon nap during a 4-episode Gilmore Girls DVD while Dave worked on school stuff. When I woke up, it was time for weekend chores, laundry, grocery list making and a trip to Trader Joe’s. No time for making dinner, so we decided to splurge and order from our favorite Thai restaurant, My Thai.

I am beyond obsessed with their red curry. I have eaten there at least 15 times and have never ordered anything else. But tonight, I finally made the switch from chicken to the shrimp version.

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This dish is so amazingly good. The bamboo and spinach in the creamy coconut milk curry never get old. Brown rice on the side. Only downside to getting the shrimp version is that they leave the tails on, so I had to eat the shrimp by themselves after biting the tail off.

Can’t wait to have this again for lunch at work tomorrow. Although… our new boss has his first day tomorrow, so we may go out to lunch, in which case, this will just have to be my afternoon snack 😀

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February 24, 2013 · 10:20 pm