Healthy Living.

Healthy living means never eating fast food.  Never!  Not even subways.

Healthy living means skipping a meal now and then.  Especially if you “overdid it” the day before.

Healthy living means never eating fatty foods like olive oil.  Or avocado…

…or nut butters, for that matter.  Fat = fattening.  Avoid it!

Healthy living means learning how to take control of yourself and never—ever!—eating your favorite foods, ever again.  Just say no.

Healthy living means choking down a ton of tasteless, colorless veggies.

Healthy living means never taking another bite of anything with carbohydrates.  They’re bad for you.  Horrible.  In fact, they will instantly add weight to your thighs and butt, making you feel tired and sluggish.

You need to also look out for things like apples, carrots, and sugar beets.  Keep an eye out for these top three danger foods, which are sometimes seen at your local farmers market.

Healthy living means exercising for hours and hours…

…and hating every second of it.

Obviously.

Oh, and since we’re on the topic?

No.

Walking around and exploring a new city does not count as exercise.  I’m surprised you even asked.

Healthy living means never being satisfied with your body.  There’s always something that could use improving, and it’s your job to figure out what that something is!

Healthy living means packing yourself boring lunches that taste like cardboard.  Because it’s healthy and that’s what healthy people do.

As you can see, healthy living is pretty miserable stuff.  But a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. ;)

TODAY’s CHALLENGE: Find a way to be more active aside from “exercising.”  Take two 10 minute walking breaks during the day.  Park your car in the furthest parking spot.  Take the stairs.  Walk around the mall two times before actually shopping.  Walk to the furthest bathroom at work.  Most importantly, have FUN with it! :D

dancing the night away.

What pulled me through yesterday’s 12 mile run:

  • Your comments!  Talk about some serious motivation.
  • Mind tricks.  I pretended that I had a rope tied around my waist and that my dad was pulling me.  This didn’t work so well when he disappeared from view, but the visual cue was still there.  It worked!
  • Bottling some energy for the last 2-mile stretch.  Another mind trick.  I didn’t “open” that bottle of energy until I needed it the most.
  • Praying!  Random people popped into my head during the run.  Twelve miles offers a lot of time to think and pray. :D
Everything ached by the end of the run, but I was incredibly ecstatic all at the same time.  I’ve never run this far before and I never thought I could do this.  THANK YOU for all of the motivation and inspiration! :D
And then I partied the night away at my cousin’s wedding. :D
AJ and Stacey’s Wedding: A Photo Montage

(p.s. The secret to wearing heels when you’ve never been a “heel wearer” is to invest in a pair of comfortable wedges.  The front of these shoes was a good 1 inch or so off the ground, so even though it was giving me height, there were no weird angles!)

There’s never a normal picture with my brother and I.  Somehow we always feel the need to make funny faces. ;)

Reusable place setting tags…LOVE it!

Love.

I. Heart. Wedding. Cake.  :mrgreen:

Congratulations, Stacey and AJ!!  The wedding was absolutely beautiful and everyone had such a blast!

QUESTION: What is your favorite thing about weddings (besides the food! ;) )

my recent breakfast kick.

I have been on a French toast kick lately.

I think this is due in part to all of my frantic running around.  Not ever really knowing if I’m coming or going.

I mean, it’s one thing to wake up and forget what day it is.  It’s another thing entirely, to have my calendar virtually tied to my waist so that I will never forget where I’m supposed to be or where I’m supposed to go.

Yes.  This is exactly why I have been on a French toast kick lately.

Because there’s something—something—comforting about having a few spare moments in the morning to just…mmm…breathe.  I even read the newspaper(!!)

I can’t quite place my finger on it, but French toast, to me, signifies the very thought of slowing down.  It’s relaxed and easy.  Not at all fussy or needy.

Yes.  I have been on a French toast kick lately.  And I really don’t think I’ll be stopping any time soon.

French Toast

Serves 1

Everyone has a favorite French toast recipe.  This one is my favorite, go-to breakfast recipe for during the week.  It feels special.  It’s healthy.  And it’s as simple as they come.  Enjoy this breakfast with your favorite combination of fruit and nut butters.  Blueberries and strawberries would be a wonderful touch, as would a thick and creamy Greek yogurt.  Just have fun with it!

  • 2 whole eggs (or 1 whole egg + 2 egg whites)
  • splash of milk
  • cinnamon
  • splash of vanilla
  • dash of sea salt
  • 2 slices Ezekiel bread (or your favorite whole wheat bread)
  • 1 banana, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 Tbsp. almond butter
  • sprinkle of coconut
  1. Heat nonstick pan over medium heat.  Spray with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together eggs, milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and sea salt.  Dunk in bread slices, flip to coat other side, and place on heated pan.  Place bananas in pan alongside french toast.  Let french toast cook until underside has browned.  Flip and continue cooking until desired doneness.  Bananas may be flipped at any time, as they begin to brown.
  3. Place french toast on plate, smash banana on top, and drizzle almond butter over the top.  Sprinkle with coconut and ENJOY! :D
QUESTION: What is your current favorite breakfast?

the start of a good day

 I ran my heart out this morning.

 

I ran in the dark.  I ran in the cold.  I ran with nothing but a flashlight.

I watched the sun rise from over the trees.  Gentle light.  Nature’s promise of warmth.

I watched the neighborhood wake up.  Lights flicking on.  The smell of sweet pancakes and warm maple syrup floating through the air. 

I was chased by a spunky black pug with an attitude.

I watched my breath float up and into the sky.  A wisp of smoke.

I ran my heart out this morning and then I realized that today was going to be a very good day.

 

I came home, showered, went to work, came home, went for a walk.

And then—at the end of the day—I baked sixty-five crackers. 

Yes.  Crackers.

Honestly, if you would have told me five years ago that I’d be baking my own crackers, I would have quite literally rolled on the floor laughing.  Even today, as I was poking little breathing holes into a bite sized cracker, I felt just a little silly.

Family members wanted to know “What’s cookin’?”  “Oh…well, crackers.”  With the lift of an eyebrow and the sweep of a grin, they reminded me that the store down the street is still selling crackers, as far as they knew.

But I was as determined as ever.  Determined to find a cracker that—much like yesterday’s plate of fettucine—wouldn’t need a plethora of toppings, just to make its point.  I wanted a cracker to be crunchy, flaky and just a little bit salty.  I wanted a cracker that could hold its own. 

I think I may have found that cracker.  Well, not exactly.  Not quite.  But almost.

This recipe still needs a little tweaking and some TLC.  So maybe I should have waited before running out and sharing it with all of you.  But I can’t, really.  Patience has never been one of my strong suits.

Besides, it’s pretty close to perfect.  And if I know you readers like I think I do, most of you like to play around with a basic recipe, transforming it into something new and exciting.  You like to take a recipe and go wild with it.  And these crackers are practically begging you to do just that.  Get creative.  Branch out.  Throw in your favorite flavors and make it your own.  Be daring with cinnamon.  Go bold with cayenne.  Simplify with specks of sea salt. 

And, as Julia Childs would say, “most of all, have fun!”

Whole Wheat Crackers—a basil and garlic variation

Be sure to roll the dough out very thin.  Otherwise you’ll end up with a thick, chewy cracker.  CRUNCH is what you’re after.  That being said, however, my dad actually preferred it a little on the soft side with crispy edges.  So—as always—go with what you like! :D

I made this batch with garlic and basil, but you could nix that and go for a sweet flavor (chocolate? cinnamon?) or spice things up with cayenne.  The possibilities are endless. :D

  • 3-1/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 T. basil

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Stir together flour, seasonings of choice and salt.  Pour in vegetable oil and water.  Mix until blended.

3. Roll dough as thin as possible (no more than 1/8 inch) on a lightly floured surface.  Place dough on ungreased baking sheet (may need to use two separate cooking sheets) and mark squares with a knife, but don’t cut through.  Prick each cracker with a fork a few times.

4. Bake for 15-20 minutes in oven or until crisp and light brown (avoid undercooking).  Baking time varies depending on thickness of cracker.  When cool, remove from baking sheet and separate into individual crackers.

Question: What is your favorite kind of cracker?  I’ve always been a Kashi fan, but I also *love* Dr. Kracker’s Seeded Spelt.

stuffed to the gills.

Sometimes—when I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed, tired, or downright cranky—it feels good to chop an onion.

A lot has been happening these past few weeks.  Nothing really, really bad.  And nothing too crazy either.  Just—a lot.  I’m realizing that the weekends aren’t enough to bring me back to normal, and so I’ve been relying on my sharpest kitchen knives and a few good recipes, as my greatest form of stress management. ;)

Tonight I felt like making stuffed vegetarian peppers.

I’ve been wanting to make stuffed peppers for some time now.  Hesitation is what has held me back for so long.  Thoughts of my mom’s famous hamburg stuffed peppers, lingering in the back of my mind.  Memories of a recipe that was handed down from my mom’s mom’s mom, to my mom’s mom, and then to my mom (and eventually to me.)  That’s kind of a lot of pressure to put on a girl.

But I decided, after all, that I still wanted a vegetarian stuffed pepper to call my own.  And if I found a recipe that was unique enough, it could become a new recipe to add to my collection.  Not a replacement.  Never a replacement.  I’m sure the long line of French Canadian women wouldn’t mind hearing that I experimented in the kitchen (although there may be a few eyebrows raised at the idea of having a meatless meal!)  ;)

To find a well deserving recipe, I pulled out my stack of magazines.  That’s when I stumbled across a Vegetarian Times Magazine, which proudly boasted pictures of stuffed peppers, smothered in a rich cheddar cheese.  I had all the ingredients on hand to make such a pepper.  It was obviously meant to be.

Recipe? Found.  Cooking utensils? Ready.  Apron? On.  Stress Management Class may now commence.

By this point in the recipe, you’ll have an onion and two stalks of celery simmering in a bit of olive oil on the stove.  For about 5 minutes or so.  The cumin and garlic are then added for a minute more of cooking (thanks to an informative reader for letting me know that this short duration of heat upon spice really does intensify the flavors…)

Moving on.  Drain the juice from 2 cans of diced tomatoes, but save it for later.  You’ll see why, later on in the recipe.

Add the diced tomatoes and 10-oz. of dethawed & drained frozen spinach to your onion mixture.

(I probably failed to mention this earlier, but you’ll also want to have a pot of brown rice going at this time, unless you’re taking the quinoa route (see recipe below for the details!) 

Meanwhile, grate 3 large carrots.  If you’re like me, you’ll want to peel an extra one for munching. ;)

Mix all ingredients together.

(All Ingredients = Cooked brown rice.  Spinach.  Tomatoes.  Black beans.  Carrots.  Cheese.)

Stir, Stir, Stir.

I’m pretty sure that any leftover filling (because this recipe does make extra filling) will find its way into a tortilla wrap or atop a salad.  The flavor is superb.

But a wrap or a salad was not meant for tonight.  Tonight, I forged ahead and decided to stick completely to the written recipe, halving and coring the freshest bell peppers that I could find, and stuffing them to the gills. 

After the procedure of stuffing the peppers was finished, I covered them with a tight seal of foil, popped them in a 350 degree oven, turned the timer to an hour and then I did something that I never do.

I left my mess behind.

Washing dishes is a little like brushing my teeth.  I can’t not do it immediately after a meal. 

But I came to the conclusion that the dishes could wait.  The sunshine could not.  So with an hours worth of time, I went for a walk.  And I’d recommend you do the same if you have a spare 30 minutes or so before your next meal.  It felt absolutely luxurious. :D

When I strolled back in, there was a good 15 minutes left on the timer. 

Just enough time to melt a bit of cheddar cheese on top of the peppers.  Just enough time to braise some brussels sprouts.  Just enough time to get those dishes done and out of the way. :D

The meal was fabulous and earned tablewide compliments.  The flavors were very complex and came together beautifully.  Next time I may try adding some salsa to the mix, or a jalapeno for some x-tra spice. 

Needless to say, I’ll be making these again. 

(Especially since they pack up nicely for next-day-lunches!)

Stuffed Peppers
Vegetarian Times, February 2009—plus some minor tweaking

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 celery stalks, finely choped
  • 1 T. cround cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1, 10-oz. package frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2-15 oz. cans diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1-15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 c. quinoa (OR, cook 1 c. dry rice as directed on package)
  • 3 large carrots, grated
  • 1-1/2 c. grated, reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 4 large red, green or yellow bell peppers, halved lengthwise, ribs removed

1. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and celery, cook 5 minutes or until soft.  Add cumin and garlic, saute 1 minute.  Stir in spinach and drained tomatoes.  Cook 5 minutes, or until most of liquid has evaporated.

2. If using quinoa: Stir in black beans, quinoa, carrots, and 2 c. water.  Cover, bring to a boil for 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes or until quinoa is tender.  Stir in 1 c. cheese.  Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
If using rice: Stir in black beans, cooked rice, and carrots.  Stir, reduce heat to low and stir in cheese.  Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

3. Preheat oven to 350F.  Pour liquid from tomatoes in bottom of baking dish.

4. Fill each bell pepper half with heaping 3/4-cup quinoa or rice mixture, and place in baking dish.  Cover with foil, and bake 1 hour.  Uncover, and sprinkle each pepper with 1 T. remaining cheese.  Bake 15 minutes more, or until tops of stuffed peppers are browned.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Transfer stuffed peppers to serving plates, and drizzle each with pan juices before serving.

Today’s Challenge: Do something that you really love and enjoy, as a form of “stress management.”  Go for a walk.  Brush your cat.  Paint your nails.  Bake some muffins.  Look through old pictures.  Make a cup of tea and do absolutely nothing for 15 minutes…(what is your favorite stress buster?)

Weekend Highlights

SATURDAY

Some weekends are made for relaxing and doing absolutely nothing at all.

Some weekends are made for going out with friends and family and just having fun. 

Some weekends happen to include the best of both worlds. :D

Matthew and Kelsey came down for the weekend, so we (Nicole, Nate and I) went to meet up for drinks and appetizers on Saturday night.  

Nicole and I split the Mediterranean Hummus Plate.  It was filled with feta cheese, kalamata olives, and fresh veggies.  The grilled pita chips were so perfect; flaky on the surface but warm and doughy on first bite.  Perfect.

We ended up talking most of the night away.  I can’t remember the last time that I went to bed so late, but it actually felt really good.  Especially since I’ll have available catch-up time on Monday morning (not that our bodies can truly, honestly, ever “catch up” according to the sleep experts, but I gave a big *harumph* to that idea for this weekend! ;)

SUNDAY

I’m pretty sure God knew what He was doing when He decided to give us Sunday as a day of rest.  We all deserve the break, really, and it felt wonderful to have nothing on the ol’ to-do list.  

Nothing.

Nothing but a nice long walk with the family.  

Have I ever mentioned how in love I am with the fall?  I wish it would never end. :D

We ran across a big black cow on our walk, and he (she?) was the sweetest thing ever.  I was hoping it would follow us home, but to no avail.  I guess he must have decided that the grass was much greener on his own side of the fence. ;)

Dad treated us to dinner from our family favorite pizza shop, and we all crowded around the table to indulge in a veggie pizza.  The perfect ending for the weekend, if I do say so myself. :D

I love busy, fun-filled Saturdays.

I love, love, love lazy Sundays.

Love. :D

Question: What made you *smile* this weekend? 

produce of fall

Today was filled to the brim with all things fall.

I drank a soy misto with a pump of toffee mocha.

I sampled hot, local apple cider from whole foods.

I wore a plaid, flannel shirt.  ;)

I picked the last of the season produce from our vegetable garden.

I’m convinced that cold weather tomatoes are some of the most flavorful.  It’s as if they make up for their lack of good looks with a bright personality. 

And then I roasted an acorn squash. 

My Pepere habitually drives out to local farms every week, in search of the freshest produce.  He returns with potatoes, still clinging to the dirt from which they were plucked.  Bags and bags of onions that instantly bring on visions of fried potatoes and onion soups.

Best of all, he brings home squash.  Lots and lots of squash.

After throwing the seeds into the yard’s compost pile, I sliced this baby up and threw it onto a sprayed baking sheet.  Twenty minutes in a 425 degree oven (with a gentle flip half way through) turned this humble acorn squash into a thing of beauty.  Those crispy, caramelized bites get me every time. 

A drizzle of olive oil enhances the flavors of a simple salad.  In the same way, the sweetness from fresh maple syrup serves to further enhance the natural sweetness of an acorn squash.  A little goes a long way. 

I love soy mistos with toffee mocha.

I love late summer produce and hot apple cider.

I love wearing plaid.

And I really, really, really love roasted acorn squash.

Roasted Maple Acorn Squash

  • 1 acorn squash, deseeded and sliced about 1/2 inch thick
  • sea salt
  • fresh (real) maple syrup
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Add squash to sheet in a single layer, sprinkle with sea salt and bake for 10 minutes. 
  3. Flip squash over and continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes. Drizzle with maple syrup.

Question: What is your favorite thing about the fall?

’3′ vs. ’6′

My alarm clock seemed extra loud this morning.  Loud and extra, extra, extra obnoxious.

It woke me with a jolt, as I literally made a flying leap through the air in order to shut the alarm off.  Somehow I even managed to hit the off button while air-borne.  I thought this was pretty cool until I realized that I had flung myself further than I actually needed to, resulting in a loud thud as my head hit the wall.  Whomp.

Apparently, it’s Thursday, because after my initial daze, I simply laughed.  :mrgreen:  If it was Monday, there may have been (very) different consequences. ;)

Thursdays are usually my strength training slash yoga day.  But a walk sounded so appealing, that I just ate my breakfast and went.  I think it’s the unusual warm weather that’s making me want to spend extra time outdoors.  It is the official first full day of fall, after all.  The chilly weather will be permanently here before we know it.

Breakfast: whole wheat bagel with almond butter and a banana

A big ol’ fresh salad for lunch!  Complete with all my favorite mix-ins…

  • mesculin greens
  • cucumbers
  • tomatoes
  • garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas)
  • black olives, sliced
  • olive oil
  • feta cheese

Yogurt In A Jar!

I layered some orange slices on the bottom, plopped on some plain yogurt, and sandwiched the yogurt in with a sliced kiwi.  The fruit juices dispersed throughout the yogurt, creating a naturally sweetened morning snack.

There was also an apple and some whole wheat bunny crackers to accompany the salad. :D

There was a recent research article done, looking at whether “grazing” throughout the day (in this case, referring to 6 mini meals) or eating 3 square meals a day was more beneficial in controlling appetite.  The study revealed that the 3 square meals was actually more beneficial in the long run than the grazing method. 

However, that being said, I would have to look at more of the details in the study.  Personally, I find that having a morning and an afternoon snack keeps hunger at bay and prevents any gorging at the next meal.  Especially when the snacks involve a good source of protein and some fiber.  And flavor.  Which is equally important. ;)

But really, keeping blood sugar levels stable can make all the difference in how you feel by the end of the day.  Eating every 3-4 hrs. is an important aspect of any healthy diet.  

Afternoon Snack: Raisin bran with milk

I’ve been making a lot of appetizers these past few days.

There’s something about having a lil’ something to tease the palate before the main meal.

Tonight I had a ramekin filled with homemade Onion Soup (recipe to follow.)  The onions cook down, down, down.  Into a state of absolute, caramelized bliss.  It’s a beautiful thing.  It also makes the perfect appetizer soup.

But before you think I’m getting too snooty or that I might possibly have too much time on my hands, you should know that Onion Soup is possibly the easiest soup you will ever make.  You should also know that my main entree did not revolve around filet mignon or leg of lamb. ;)

Yes.  It is totally okay to precede your dinner with a bowl of Onion Soup, winning you looks of admiration across the table.  (Nobody has to know that it took you a mere 30 minutes from start to finish.)

And it’s totally okay to call a bowl of “un”overnight oats your dinner.   Absolutely a-okay.

“Un”overnight Oats:

  • 1/2 c. uncooked oatmeal
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 6-oz. plain yogurt
  • cinnamon, nutmeg
  • mixed, lightly salted nuts

I added in a side of steamed broccoli to squeak in some greens as well. ;)

I can’t believe that I actually have a day off tomorrow!  It’s been go, go, go lately.  Constantly.  I am so looking forward to having a day to just catch up.  Especially since I have a busy (but fun!) weekend planned.

Question: Do you tend to eat 3 square meals a day or do you aim for more of a 6 meal a day approach?  What works better for you and why?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Onion Soup
taken from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbok (and tweaked just a lil’)

  • 2 T. butter
  • 4 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/8 tsp thyme
  • 4 c. hot water
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • black pepper
  1. Melt butter in a kettle or Dutch oven.  Add onions and salt and cook over medium heat about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add mustard and thyme; stir and cover.  Cook on low for about 15 more minutes.
  3. Add hot water, soy sauce and pepper.  Simmer at least 10 more minutes.
  4. ENJOY! :D

in the early morning

I have always been a morning runner.

There have been different reasons for this over the course of my life.  Originally—back when running a mile felt like absolute torture—I hated running.  My morning runs happened only because it was the thing to do.  A means to losing those freshman 15.  I wanted my runs to be in the morning and out of the way so I that could enjoy the rest of my day in peace.  Harumph.

And then—gradually, not overnight—I fell in love with running.  A morning run became my sense of peace.  An accomplishment.  My alone time.  The perfect way to start my day.

Now—as a busy Dietetic Intern—I literally have to run in the morning, if I want to run at all.  It doesn’t matter if the temperature is frigid.  Or if it’s too dark to even be considered the morning.  It doesn’t matter.  My schedule demands a morning run.  And since I’ve fallen so in love with running—it’s still my sense of sanity and peace!—I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to get me out of bed and on the road.  In the early morning.

First things first.  Breakfast.

There’s no such thing as a good run without the proper fuel to keep you going.

For some people, this means a quick snack and a “regular” breakfast upon return.  For others—that’s me!—only a big ol’ breakfast will do.  Do what works for you!  Just remember that our brains and muscles need the energy for every day living and for your running regimen.  Fuel up!

Secondly, let someone know when and where you’re going.

This is especially true if you’re a female runner (not that it’s not also important for the guy runners out there to practice safety too ;) ).  Just give a heads up to someone that you plan on heading out. 

Third, bring a flashlight.

I don’t like carrying extra stuff on my runs.  But when I’m running in the early morning, a light source is a *must.*  Keep it small, and you won’t even realize that you’re carrying it.

Fourth thing, don’t run at the same time every morning on the same route.

This is just a safety precaution.  Don’t be paranoid but don’t be ignorant either.  Change up your routes or times to play it safe, never letting yourself become predictable.

Fifth point, carry a set of house keys.

This will ensure that you can get in your house safely.  You never know when a family member will accidentally lock you out.  On a cold winters’ day.  After an 11 mile run.  I’m not mentioning any names. :mrgreen:

Here’s an extra safety bonus: keys can be used as a weapon as necessary.  Just sayin’. ;)

LAST point.  Bring kleenex! 

I know some runners who have learned to blow their nose without kleenex, but I believe that is meant solely for the hardcore runner who doesn’t want to mess with carrying kleenex.  I’ll opt for toting along a couple tissues. ;)

And there you have it.  Running in the morning (or late at night) is totally doable with a few easy steps.  If you’re lucky enough to have a running partner who can join you on such a time, that’s great too.  Just be safe, stay cautious, and enjoy those gorgeous, early morning sunrises too!  Morning runs have soooo much to offer.  :D

Question: If you’re a morning/evening runner, what would you add to this list? 

orange you glad?

Prepare yourselves.  This post is about to explain to you why my hands are orange. ;)

Reason #1: It all started with a humble carrot.

Carrots never crossed my mind as a kid.  I ate them, yes.  But they were nothing special.  And then my tastebuds discovered carrot cake, which is when I realized that carrots were God’s gift to man.  And then—then!—a whole new world of flavor opened up, and I realized that carrots were not meant solely for cakes (although some might argue this fact.)  I ate them roasted.  Honey glazed.  Plain.  Raw.  With dip.  Grated in oatmeal.  Dunked in peanut butter. 

Yes.  I ate carrots.  Lots and lots of carrots.

Reason #2: After my newfound love for the carrot, I discovered canned pumpkin. 

I grew up hating pumpkin pie.  Absolute hatred!!  To this day, I can not eat it.  Which is such a shame, because I’m convinced that aside from a roasted turkey, pumpkin pie is the heart and sole of Thanksgiving. 

However, once I discovered that it was just pumpkin pie that I didn’t like, and not so much the actual pumpkin, a whole new world opened up.  Pumpkin bread.  Pumpkin lattes.  Pumpkin muffins.  And now that I’ve fully stocked up on Libby’s canned pumpkin, I’m including pumpkin in my breakfasts as well.

Breakfast Pumpkin Cookie—(the texture of this “cookie” most closely resembles that of “overnight oats”)

  • 1/2 c. uncooked oatmeal
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1/2 c. canned pumpkin
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 T. peanut butter
  • 2 T. cranberries (I use ‘Craisins’)
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl, mashing well with a fork.
  2. Spread evenly across a plate.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. ENJOY! :D

Reason #4: Lastly, I am obsessed with the sweet potato, which destroys any hopes of my hands ever returning to normal.

Tonight I opened up my Moosewood Cookbook and pulled out a recipe for Samosas.  Sticking mostly to the recipe, I did make some substitutions.  Like using all whole wheat flour in place of the white.

I also turned up my nose to the white potatoes and subbed in 1 large sweet potato instead.  I’m sure you would agree that the sweet potato makes for a much more colorful, tasty filling.  :D

The dough to these Samosas was so fun to work with.  It was super stretchy and flexible.  I pulled it, smashed it, rolled it, and stretched it. 

And then I preceded to fill, fill, fill these babies up.

I may have overstuffed these guys just a little, but the dough was very forgiving.

The results were worth the 2 hours of prepping and baking time.  So, so, so worth it!

It was love, my friends.  Love at first bite.

Reason #5: Eaten with herbed carrot soup.  Of course. ;)

So there you have it.  I have an obsession with all things orange, and there’s just no stopping me.

Samosa Recipe—from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook, as seen on the Food Network website

The Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups flour (used whole wheat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk or yogurt
  • Extra flour as needed

The Filling:

  • 2 large potatoes (the size of a large person’s fist)–used sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup finely minced onion
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried coriander (if available)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked green peas (frozen, thawed=fine)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Cayenne, to taste

Directions

Dough 1) Place the flour in a medium-sized bowl. Mix in the salt. 2) Make a well in the center, and add the buttermilk or yogurt. Mix first with a spoon and then with your hand, to make a smooth dough. 3) Add extra flour, as needed, to keep the dough from being sticky. The dough will be quite soft. knead in the bowl for about 5 minutes. Cover tightly and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the pastries.

Filling: 1) Peel the potatoes and chop them into 1-inch pieces. Place in a saucepan, cover with water, and boil until very soft. Drain and transfer to a medium-sized bowl. Mash and set aside. 2)Melt the butter in a heavy skillet. Add onion, garlic, ginger, mustard seeds, coriander, and salt. Saute over medium heat about 8 to 10 minutes, or until onions are quite soft. Add this to the mashed potatoes, along with the remaining ingredients. Mix well, but try not to smash the peas. Cool for at least 15 minutes before filling the pastries.

To Assemble and Bake: 1) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Generously oil a baking sheet. 2) Keep a small container of flour, a fork, a small bowl of water, and a pastry brush close at hand. Flour a clean surface, and, one by one, roll 1-inch balls of dough into 5-inch circles, using a rolling pin. 3) Place approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons filling in the center of each circle, and fold over, just like a turnover. Brush the inside edges of each circle with a little water, and fold the edges together to make a small hem. Crimp the edges firmly with a fork. Note: If you are storing the samosas to bake later on, place them on a heavily floured plate or tray, dust the tops with more flour, and cover tightly. Store in the refrigerator or freezer until baking time. 4) To bake: Place the samosas on the oiled baking sheet. Brush the tops with oil. Bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees F., then reduce heat to 375 degrees F. and bake for 10 minutes more. For maximum crispness, turn the samosas over when you turn the oven down. 5) Serve within 5 minutes of baking, with Dipping Sauce. A nice way to serve the sauce is in individual saucers or tiny bowls, so each person can hold both samosa and sauce directly under his or her face while eating, and the sauce bowl can catch the drips. (It does drip, but that’s one of the charms of this ritual.)

The Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt

1) Place all ingredients in a small saucepan. Stir until the sugar dissolves. 2) Heat to boiling, then let simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes. it will reduce slightly. 3) Serve warm or at room temperature with hot samosas.

Question: If you turned the color of what you eat the most, what color would you be?