a leafy tale

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Sarah.

Sarah loved the outdoors.  She loved to walk.  She loved to run.  She even loved to rake. 

One day, Sarah decided to join the “no-makeup” bandwagon for the day.  Instead of gussying up and going to the mall—as might be expected on a typical Saturday afternoon—Sarah threw on a big ol’, cozy sweatshirt and headed outside.  Rake in hand.

The entire family joined in on the autumn experience.  Hours upon hours flew by, with everyone hard at work. 

(my arms will be very, very sore tomorrow, FYI!!!)

But then, despite the beautiful day, the array of autumn’s colors & smells, and the boundless energy that everyone seemed to have at the very beginning, people began to grow very, very tired.

Sometimes—most times—growing tired is equivalent with being silly.  It kind of just happens.

 

(Let it be known that dad started it.)

Tackle #1

Tackle #2

Leaf jumping.  Leaf catching.  Leaf tackling.  All three are absolutely necessary when raking a yard. 

After raking the yard and countless numbers of tackles, it was time to go in and eat.  Which, by the way, was also absolutely necessary.

Roasted chicken legs.  Brown rice ‘n’ peas.  Heaps upon heaps of roasted butternut squash.  The entire family agreed that this was the perfect meal to refuel on.

Energy input = complete.

The.  End.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Who doesn’t love a hot side of roasted veggies?  The preparation is super simple, and the flavor is sweet and intense.  I always seem to err on the side of being a purist when it comes to roasting veggies, but you could also add in cinnamon and nutmeg, which I think would go lovely with the butternut squash.  This is an easy vegetable side to add with any meal. 😀

  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and seeds removed
  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Dice the squash into bite sized pieces and place on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Pop in oven for 10 minutes.  Flip with a spatula.  Continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes or until soft, tender and browned.
  3. ENJOY! 😀

Question: Do you regularly do yard work?  What is your favorite/least favorite? 

Tomorrow is *Day 2* of the Breakfast Bonanza.  If you haven’t started yet, that’s okay!  You can jump in any time.  Just let me know what breakfast(s!) you want to include on the breakfast post for next week.

OH, and even trying ONE new breakfast overall is great too.  Just have fun with it! 😀

a perfectly rainy, fall day

I love rainy fall days.

I love the intoxicating smells of wet leaves on the grass.

I love running in the rain.  In my shorts.  In 60 degree weather. 

I

I love rainy fall days.

I love feeling water pour through my sneakers.

I do realize, FYI, that this isn’t exactly normal.  But somehow this sensation brings me back to being a little 7 year old, running through puddles and dancing in my bathing suit with my older brother and sister.  I guess that little girl never left me.

But perhaps best of all, I love to come home.  Dry up.  Throw on some comfy clothes.  Blare the country music station. 

Throw on my apron and make dinner happen.

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I see a recipe once on a food blog, I usually make a mental note of it.

When I spot that same recipe twice, I save it to my favorites. 

 But when I see the recipe three (or four!?!) times, I throw up my hands in surrender and I make it. 

While there seems to be a lot of steps to making Channa Masala, it’s actually quite easy to make.  This dish came together in 30 minutes, start to finish.  The rice–which took 40 minutes–was the most time consuming part of the entire meal.  😉

Here are a few things to keep in mind while making it…

(1) Despite what people tell you, you can use dry ginger in place of the fresh.

If you have the fresh stuff, use it.  You’ll notice a difference.  But if you’re like me and don’t happen to have any fresh ginger in supply, this will work out just fine.

(2) Always test your jalapeno peppers before using them.

A wise person once told me that not all jalapenos are made equal.  Some will be ‘burn-your-mouth’ hot, and others will be as mild as a sweet bell.  You really have to taste a small peice to see what you’ve got. 

Today, mine was x-tra spicy, so I deseeded and only used half. 

…oh yeah, and always cut the spicy jalapenos small.  Especially if you’re sensitive to heat like me. 😉

(3) Know when to use real butter.

There are times when olive oil makes a wonderful substitute.  Most times, actually.  But then there are times when only real butter will do.  This was one of those times.

(4) Learn patience.

I have a hard time with this one.  I would cook onions in a minute if I could.  But you’ll get the sweetest, most mouth watering onions, when you practice your patience and let them cook.  Slowly.

(5) Measure out your ingredients ahead of time.

This saves you the stress of trying to throw random spices in at a minutes notice. 

(6) Have fun!

I consider this to be the most important step.  Never overlook it. 😉

I served the Masala over brown rice and topped it with the squeeze of a fresh lemon.

A side of kale chips was set out in the middle of the table.  Completely up for grabs by any and all.

Today really was such a perfectly rainy, fall day. 😀

Channa Masala—(serves 4)
as seen on Eat, Live, Run

  • 2 15 ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 inch knob ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 2 tbsp butter

In a large cast iron skillet, heat the butter. Once melted, add the onions and cook for about 15 minutes on medium low heat, or until golden brown.

Once the onions have caramelized, add the garlic, ginger and jalapeno and stir well. Cook for about two minutes or until it starts to smell like heaven on earth.

Add the tomato paste and pince, using above photos as an example. This is very important and if you don’t do it right your dish is pretty much doomed. No pressure.

Add the coriander, cumin, cayenne and tumeric and stir well. Then add the diced tomatoes, chickpeas and garam masala.

Cook for about five minutes or until the chickpeas have heated through. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and top with plain yogurt and cilantro if desired! 

Question: Rainy fall days—yay or nay?

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. 😀

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. 😀

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. 😀

I love busy, fun-filled Saturdays.

I love, love, love lazy Sundays.

Love. 😀

Question: What made you *smile* this weekend? 

so long sorry

I’m not rude.  I don’t block the grocery isles with my shopping cart so that nobody else can walk through.  I don’t cut people off on the highway or honk my horn because you didn’t go through the green light fast enough.  I don’t snub people–ever–even when I’m being treated rude in return.

So why am I constantly saying “sorry”?

As my sister and meandered through Barnes and Noble, we found ourselves saying the “s”orry word at least a dozen times.  It’s the way we were raised.  Always be polite.  This thought process has traveled with me even into adulthood, where I find myself sheepishly saying “sorry” for everything.  Sorry for the inconvenience in asking you to move so that I can gently squeeze through the grocery isle.  Sorry that it took me just a little too long to move forward in the service line at the book store.  Sorry that I’m confusing you on my coffee order even though you’re being overtly rude to me.  Sorry.

Sorry. 

Here and now, I am setting a pact.  I refuse to be sorry.

Wait.  That sounds a little silly. 

I don’t mind being sorry.  Really, I don’t.  I’ll be the first to jump up and apologize if I’m truly in the wrong.  But I’m realizing more and more, the importance of standing up for yourself.  Because the instant that you say that you’re sorry, you’re also saying “I’m in the wrong.”  This opens up not only a feeling of disrepect for yourself, but also an opening for people to walk all over you.

In other words, I’m saying “so long to sorry” when it’s unnecessary and wrong.  I choose to respect myself enough to stand up for the fact that I’m not always the one who should be apologizing. 

So long “sorry!” 😀

Pumpkin “Un”Overnight Oats

Pumpkin is one of my favorite oat mix-ins, especially now that the fall weather is officially here to stay.

Summer and fall collided this morning, as I mixed together a sliced, frozen banana into a bowl of “un”overnight, pumpkin oats.  The combination was delightful, and I plan on doing it again tomorrow.  Sorry to be so repetitive (pun intended.) 😉  

  • 1/2 c. uncooked oatmeal
  • cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger
  • 6-oz. plain, nonfat yogurt
  • 1 banana, frozen and sliced
  • toppings: 2 T. walnuts, sweetened & dried coconut, Trader Joe’s apple cranberry butter

Today’s Challenge: Respect yourself!  Don’t be afraid to say “I’m sorry”, but also don’t be afraid to realize that you’re not always the one in the wrong.  Stand up for yourself, respect yourself, and don’t let people walk all over you.  You truly do deserve better, and don’t ever let anyone tell you differently!

ode to fall…continued

This morning I wanted pancakes, and only pancakes would do.

Puffy, fluffy, pumpkin pancakes. 

I’ve been dreaming of making pumpkin pancakes ever since I spotted a can of Libby pumpkin sitting on the grocery shelves.  It’s the fall weather that finally convinced me to do so.

This recipe (go way, way, way down to the bottom of this post to view it) is one of my all time favorites.  Not too sweet but filled with everything you want in a pumpkin pancake.  It’s light, fluffy, and fragrant with autumn spices.  I would have used white flour if I thought it would have produced better results; after all, a girl has only so many pumpkin pancakes in her life.  But in all honesty (and this is not just my nutrition side speaking,) the whole wheat flour does wonders for this recipe.  It’s all hearty and rustic without being dense.  You’ll love it.

They’re versatile too.  I served scrambled eggs, oranges and maple syrup for my parents…

…and slathered mine with almond butter and sliced bananas because it just seemed oh so right.

My craving for making (and eating) a plate of pumpkin pancakes = fulfilled.

The leftover pancakes (because this recipe makes at least 18 good sized pancakes) can be cooled on a wire rack, much in the same way you might cool a muffin or a batch of fresh cookies.  You’ll avoid soggy bottoms, and then you can pop them in a freezer bag for an easy weekday breakfast throughout the week.

With a belly full of deliciously energizing carbs, it was time to walk.

I have been absolutely and completely absorbed with fall lately.  The fresh and crispy air.  Colorful New England leaves.  Warm, cozy sweatshirts.  Comfy weekend jeans.  Spicy, pumpkin flavors.  Mmm…I think I want fall to stay around forever.  Do you think winter would oblige?

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes
As seen on AllRecipes by Ruth, with minor tweaks here and there
Serves 6

  • 2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 3 T. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • dash of cloves
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 c. milk
  • 1 c. pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T. canola oil
  • 2 T. vinegar

In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar.  Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.  Stir into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine (do not over mix.)

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat.  Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 c. for each pancake.  Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Question: What is your favorite thing to serve ON THE SIDE or ON TOP OF of your pancakes?  As you can see, I am totally obsessed with all things fall and all things pancake lately.  Please forgive me.  :mrgreen:

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?

chilly days

Brrr…take out your boots, hats, gloves.  I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but it was well under 60 degrees when I went out for my morning walk.

(FYI, I refuse to wear winter boots before November…call it my feeble attempt to hold on to that last bit of summer :mrgreen: )

Despite the chilly, breezy, thick-sock-only kind of weather, I bowled up some cold “un”overnight oats (see breakfast page for recipe.)  A frozen banana and some almond butter made this extra creamy.  Extra delicious. 😀

I was pretty excited going into the highschool today (just finished my second week there! time flies!)  The regional registered dietitian was coming in to do an audit on the menus’, making sure that they were all up to the government’s expectations, ensuring that all the meals being served were of good quality, and seeing if my preceptor (the food service director) had any issues, questions, concerns.

The RD was super nice, and I like the way she managed to stick to her nutrition roots and beliefs, while still listening to the food service director.  She understood the business side of things and was open for conversation.  And she was very much for promoting whole, natural foods rather then focusing solely on the nutrition label (i.e., just because something is high in fat, doesn’t necessarily make it a bad choice.)  I really enjoyed talking with her and seeing what her job was all about. 

Twas a good day. 😀

Last night, I doubled up on my salad that I had for dinner, and used it as today’s lunch.  Easy peazy. 

  • mixed red and green leaf lettuce
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 small tomato
  • black olives, sliced
  • 1/4 avocado
  • olive oil + sea salt

And some kashi crackers + an apple.  I’m working at finishing up these pink ladies before diving into the new bag of local macs.

I also packed…

…drum roll please…

The new Larabar flavor for a morning snack!!  Okay, okay.  Maybe this isn’t *new* new, but it certainly is to me. 😀

The price was a bit steep and the calorie count was a bit high for such a small snack.  I could have easily eaten two of these things and still been hungry. 😉  But the flavor was delicious, and it was studded with rich, chocolate chips.  I’m totally glad I tried it this once, but I don’t know that I would actually buy it again.  Well.  Maybe for a special treat now and then when my wallet allows it. 😉

All together now!

Afternoon Snack: whipped 1% cottage cheese and Natures Path Heritage Flakes

I really like this cereal.  The first ingredient is Kamut Wheat Flour, and there’s organic wheat bran, barley, millet and quinoa following not far after.  It’s nice and crunchy too. 😀

Beans are fabulous in so many dishes.

From salads, to hummus or bean dips, to chilis, to taco fillings.  Anywhere meat belongs, beans can usually follow suit.  And they don’t necessarily need to be a replacement, but they can definitely enhance your meal with flavor and nutrients and fiber. 

One of my favorite ways to use up some nutrient rich beans: Homemade Black Bean Burgers!  Served on a whole wheat bun with some tomato, lettuce and ketchup.

By the way, I love that one can of black beans makes four burgers.  There were three people eating tonight which—of course—means (did you guess??) my lunch is made for tomorrow.  Gotta love it. 😀

A side salad with Newmans Own Balsamic Viniagrette Dressing.

And chilled grapes for an antioxidant rich dessert. 😀

Normally I have Fridays off, but tomorrow I have a seminar to meet up with my fellow dietetic interns and dietetic director.  I have to give a short blurp on whether non-food related rewards work well for long term weight loss.  According to studies and research done, they don’t.  But honestly, I think it depends on the person.  I know for me, personally, a little reward like taking a bubble bath or splurging on a good magazine/book would be a fun reward.  It wouldn’t necessarily aid in the weight loss per say, but it could definitely add to the motivation in keeping me going.  Especially if there are other motivational factors besides.

I don’t know.  What do you think?

transition phase

Yesterday was all about fall.  And—if this is at all possible—I’ve become even more excited about its upcoming appearance, after reading all of your ‘fall-filled’ comments.  Beautiful.  Absolutely beautiful.  Bring on that cool, hoodie & jeans styled weather! 😀

But around here, we’re still in that silent transition phase.  That point where you’re not really sure if fall is just a tease, or if summer truly is on its last running stretch.  Days that offer a little bit of summer, a little bit of fall.  I like to think that this phase gives us the best of both seasons, all in one day.

With today being Labor Day and all, my family needed to celebrate.  Outdoor style.   

Any good celebration includes (1) a picnic table (or anything that allows you to eat outdoors, really…a picnic blanket would do just fine 😀 ).

(2) A grill to cook off of.  And hopefully someone who knows how to cook on one.  Let me tell you right now, I am hands off when it comes to the grill.  Too little temperature control, too much a mind of its own.   Scariness!

But then again, maybe I should add ‘master the grill’ to my bucket list?

Lastly, any good celebration involves (3) family.  The more, the merrier.  My Pepere and Nicole came to join us for good food and fun conversation. 

Mom and Nicole

One of my favorite things about cookout fare in the late summer/early fall is that it’s absolutely a-okay to grill up the meats, veggies, corn, etc. on the grill, while simultaneously turning on the indoor oven. 

These babies were baked in the oven (325 to 400—temperature was increased for timing reasons 😉 ) for a good 2 hrs.  Roasty.  Crispy.  Perfect. 

I went for a sweet potato version which went through this whole ooey, gooey, caramelization phase.  It was lovely. 😀

Let’s talk corn.

For the full experience of enjoying corn on the cob, corn must be grilled in its husk at least a few times a year.  Yes, you can boil it for decent results.  But for that really sweet, “I can’t resist your love” type of feeling, you simply need to grill it.  Just soak the corn in the husk for about 15 minutes to prevent scorching and then throw them on the grill, rotating every so often.  It takes about 15 minutes (longer or shorter depending on your desired results.)

I chose tempeh for my protein of choice today.  I’ve never been a steak girl (I know, I know…many grill masters would cry over this fact—sorry!), but tempeh and tofu are extra nice when grilled.  Using weber’s tofu method for grilling (spray a sheet of foil, plop the tofu or tempeh on the sprayed sheet, and grill for about 10 minutes, flipping once), I first basted 1/2 the block of tempeh in some Bone Suckin’ Sauce.  The sugars in the sauce helped contribute to those nice, golden markings and rich, smoky flavor.

Delicious.

And, really, no celebration is complete without my sister’s focaccia bread.  It’s quickly becoming that secret recipe which everyone begs for at every. single. family. gathering.  Summer, fall, winter, spring.  It really doesn’t matter what the season, somehow this bread always works.  Always.

The meal was considered complete when this local, last-of-the-season watermelon was brought out for dessert. 

Sweet perfection. 😀

I love the seasons’ transition phases. 

Enjoying the foods of both summer and fall.  Taking in the warmth that the summer sun still has to offer.  Enjoying a cool breeze.  Wearing a hoodie and a pair of flip flops.

*Sigh*

Life is good. 😀

Time to get organized for tomorrow’s busy day at the school!! 😀

Question: Did you celebrate Labor Day?

Hello, Fall.

Hello, Fall.

Hello, cozy mornings, hot cups of coffee, and warm fuzzy socks.

Hello, hot bowls of oatbran, sprinkled with granola, and topped with melty pb&jam. 

Hello, Fall.

Hello to those long morning walks, in my jeans and a warm, fuzzy hoodie.

Hello, big black lab with your thick winter coat.  Hello, big black lab with your endless energy and enthusiasm—your happiness with life itself.  Hello.

Hello, warm morning sun, with your lingering reminder of a summer past.  Hello, warm morning sun, with your gentle, glowing kiss.  Hello.

Hello, Fall.

Hello, fresh local vegetables.  Hello to your crops of squash, cabbages, pumpkins.  Hello to your deliciously abundant, end-of-the-season zucchini.

Hello, roasted brussels sprouts.  I’ve missed you.

Hello, Fall.

Hello, apple farms.  Hello, homemade cider donuts, “pick your own” apples, and freshly made apple cider.

Hello, hayrides.  Hello to the intoxicating smells of fresh hay, sweet apples and fallen leaves.  Hello.

Hello, Fall.

Hello to walking through petting zoo’s while at the apple farm.  Hello to my not-so-mild obsession with little black goats…

…warm fuzzy noses…

…and squiqqly little tails. 

Hello, Fall.

Hello, Fall.

Hello, afternoon snack, picked right from the tree.  Crisp.  Cold.  Fresh.

Hello, afternoon snacks of the week.  Week(s)??

Hello, Fall.

Hello, Fall.

Hello, Starbucks.  Hello to your warm pumpkin spice lattes.  Hello to your promise of upcoming gingerbread lattes too.

Hello to driving home with the windows down, a chilly breeze against my face, a fuzzy hoodie, and a cup of warmth in my hands.  Hello.

Hello, Fall.

Hello, visions of apple crisps, applesauce, apple pan dowdy, and apple spice muffins. 

Hello to actually wanting to heat up the kitchen again. 😉

Apple Sauce

cored apples (about 10)

sliced apple wedges + a bit of water (less than a cup)

brought to a boil and simmered (for about 10-15 minutes)

brought to a soft, mooshy state

blended and mixed with 2-3 T. brown sugar + cinnamon and nutmeg as desired (blending not necessary if you peel the apples, but I like to leave the fiber and nutrients completely intact 😀 )

and stored (in the fridge, up to one week)

for the full experience, be sure and serve this stuff h-o-t!  And preferrably with homemade bran muffins. 😀

Question: What is one thing that you look forward to in the fall?