keep on cooking.

 

Everyone needs a good support system.  Someone who cheers you on through life.  A friend.  A coworker.  A spouse. 

Parents who see you through the good.  The bad.  The downright ugly.

 

 

My parents have seen me through a lot.

They’ve seen me through my choice to become a vegetarian (although now that I think of it, dad did seem to grill a lot of my favorite salmon dishes during this time…hrmmm…)

They’ve seen me inhale a plate of baby back ribs, a bowl of caramelized onions and a (literal) half of a chicken, all in one meal.  No comments.

 

 

My parents have seen me through heartaches and tears, hugging me through the toughest of college friend breakups. 

They’ve cheered me on in my proudest of moments.  Watching my service dog puppy graduate.  Watching ME graduate.

And, really, they have put up with a lot.  Especially in the kitchen.

(in case you were wondering, they did *not* like the kombucha, but I honestly think it’s an aquired taste!)

 

 

They’ve tasted and sampled their way through countless flops and failures.

Breads that didn’t rise.

Cakes that didn’t release their death grips from the pans (I still haven’t quite gotten over this one!)

Cookies that turned into complete, unfixable, inedible wafers (dad said he still thought they tasted good, but in a fit of frustration, I just had to dump them!!)

 

 

And yet, they still urge me on.  They always ask me, “what’s for dinner?” with a spirit of unwaning enthusiasm.  And they continue to offer me the luxurious freedom of being able to cook up whatever catches my fancy.

 

 

And so, I’ve decided, that as long as they keep on tasting—as long as they keep on cheering—I’ll keep on cooking.

Through life’s major disasters.  Life’s ups and downs.  Through broken dishes, serious imperfections, and flying mushrooms. 

Keep on cooking.

 

Roasted Vegetables Over Rice

Serves 3-4

Thankfully, there’s not much to mess up about this one bowl meal (unless, of course, you drop the bowl…oops!)  You could also double the veggies and save the leftovers for another meal.  They will go lovely with omelettes, over quinoa, or as a filling in your favorite wrap.

The vegetables in this meal are as versatile as the grain on which you serve them.  Use quinoa, brown rice, couscous, et cetera.  For the veggies, use red bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini, turnips…Just have fun with it.  Enjoy it.  And keep on cooking.

  • 1 lb. of brussel sprouts, cut in half
  • 1 lb. mushrooms, sliced thick
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • pepper
  • balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup dry brown rice, cooked
  • 1 15oz. can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • garlic powder
  • chopped avocado, garbanzo bean salad, and/or feta cheese (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
  2. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray.  Place veggies on sheet and top with olive oil and pepper.  Place in oven for 10 minutes.  Stir, drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and return to oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until browned and cooked to desired doneness.
  3. Meanwhile, mix the cooked rice with the can of drained diced tomatoes.  Liberally sprinkle garlic powder into mixture.  Stir. 
  4. In individual bowls, place rice on the bottom, top with roasted vegetables, and finish with your favorite toppings (chopped avocado, garbanzo bean salad, feta cheese, et cetera.)  ENJOY! 😀

Question: Who do you most love to cook/bake for?  I absolutely love cooking for family and friends, but I also enjoy cooking just for me. 😀

the return of the boxed lunch

Vacation sure was nice while it lasted. 

Honestly—aside from writing an abstract on hypertension—I didn’t accomplish a whole lot during vacation, and that is just fine by me.  My brain feels well rested.  Ready to think and be used once again.

That being said, the first day back always feels a little rough.  Especially since I was starting my clinical rotation at the hospital for the first time today.  Obviously, I needed a fun lunch to feel excited about.  Something to  make getting up at 5:00am just a little bit easier. 😉

Last night, I made chef salads for the family and topped each one off with a few scoops of roasted veggies that had been drizzled and deeply caramelized with a splash of balsamic vinegar.  Sweet onions, peppers, carrots, and baby portobello mushrooms. 

I forgot how much I love this simple flavor combination.

One of the (many) things that I love about roasting vegetables, is that any extras can be incorporated into the following day’s lunches and dinners.  Breakfast, even! 

And so, roasted vegetables became my very special lunch for today.  I reheated the veggies in the cafe’s microwave, scooped them onto a whole wheat wrap from home, and finished it all off with a salty bite of feta cheese.

(p.s. As much as I love roasted veggies, the feta definitely made this meal! )

The first day back can be terribly unsettling.

What time will I eat?  Will I have the time to eat?

Where do I go?  What was that persons’ name again?  And the worst: I think I’m lost.

 But…

Yes, I had time to eat.  I’ll learn peoples’ names eventually.  And it’s impossible to get completely lost, even in an unknown hospital, because there’s always somebody around to redirect me if I look worried enough…ha! 😉 

A fun group of snacks and a tasty lunch didn’t hurt either.

Snacks included:

  • Chocolate Chip Z-Bar
  • Apple
  • Almonds mixed with fancy raisins
  • Sliced papaya

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

Roasted Veggie Wrap
Serves 1-2

Roasted veggies make for a fine lunch-to-go.  Make extra during the weekend to carry you through at least the beginning of the week.  For easy lunch options, you could easily mix the veggies with brown rice and baked tofu or chicken for a complete meal.  Or serve them alongside a piece of grilled fish.  Or simple eat as-is, with roasted garbanzo beans and a dollop of gaucamole.  

Or, roll the veggies into a whole wheat wrap and top with feta cheese. 

Whichever way you serve them, roasted veggies offer you a whole lot of nutrition and a whole lot of flavor.  Enjoy! 😀

  • Mixture of your favorite vegetables, sliced to desired thickness (the thicker pieces will require longer cooking time)
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper
  • whole wheat wrap
  • feta cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. 
  2. On a rimmed cookie sheet, toss vegetables with oil, salt and pepper.  Place in preheated oven for 10 minutes.  Stir around.  Return to oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked as desired (browning is recommended! 😀 ).
  3. Place on a whole wheat wrap, top with feta cheese and enjoy! 😀

Question: What do you do for work (or as a student)?  Do you enjoy it?

a greedy indulgence

Guess what I was busy peeling and washing, in anticipation for tonight’s dinner?

Beets.  Lots and lots of beets.  Enough to feed a family of five.  Or, in my case, a family of three.  We like our produce.

I could have canned them.  Really…I should have canned them.  When will I learn to preserve summer’s crops? 

I have received so many useful tips on preserving the produce.  “Freeze your pesto!”  “Bottle your beets!”  Friends have shared with me, all of the genius ways in which they ensure they’ll be eating from-the-garden tomatoes, all year round (salsas, sauces, and soups, oh my!) 

Unfortunetly, I’ve never listened.  Instead, I greedily eat summer’s produce, all at once.  Aside from a handful or two of frozen basil leaves, there’s not an inkling or trace of what once was.  Summer becomes a thing of the past, as I move forward into the months of autumn.  Arms (and mouth) open wide, ready for squash and cabbage and things like kale.

When I see a bunch of basil, I see a toasted, basil hummus sandwich for lunch.   And when I see beets, I see a salad piled high with those beautiful red, roasted roots.  I can’t resist.  I do realize that this is a shame.  A fault, even.  I would love to have produce all winter long.  I would!  I would love to pull out a bottle of zingy tomato salsa, smack dab in the middle of January.  I would love to pull out a batch of pesto in the dead of winter, just as a reminder of what summer tastes like. 

 But tonight, that didn’t really matter.  I savored each bite of the earthy, sweet beets, towering high on a bed of greens.  Dressed in nothing but olive oil.  I know this is a greedy indulgence.  But I just couldn’t help myself. 

As a side note, I am completely addicted to the peanut hummus.  Age really does do wonders for this tangy spread!

As a note to self: “Next summer? Grow a bigger garden.”

Roasted Beets

  • 1 large bunch of fresh beets, trimmed and peeled of any lingering roots or tough exterior
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Chop beets into bite sized peices, and place in single layer on a well sprayed cookie sheet.  Roast for 10 minutes, flip once, and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes.
  3. ENJOY! 😀

Question: Do you preserve summer’s produce, or do you eat it right away?  What is your favorite way of preserving the produce?  One of these years, I would like to plant enough tomatoes to make a fresh tomato salsa.  And then open and eat it on the coldest day of the year. 😀

going green

Eating outdoors pretty much rocked my morning.  I love summer. 😀

 

 Into this bowl, went:

  • 1/2 c. raw, uncooked oats
  • 6-oz. yogurt mixed with 2 T. crushed flax
  • 1 orange, peeled and diced
  • small handful of raisins
  • cinnamon & nutmeg

I never would have thought of adding oranges and raisins to my “un”overnight oats.  But since it was the very last fruit in the fruit bowl, I decided to throw it in. 

It was good!!

 

 Morning Snack: Slice of homemade whole wheat banana bread and a cup of milk

 

 I pumped out 4 miles of running today.  I felt really good, and that’s partially due to the fact that I took yesterday as an “off” day.  Yes, I still did some yoga.  But I left my running sneakers (and bike) alone.  Rest days are a big part of staying healthy, injury free, and strong, despite being one of the more overlooked components to training!!

Lunch

There was a packet of this sitting in the back of my pantry…

Front:

Back:

 

 I’ve had mixed emotions about Amazing Grass.  Some of their products have left me wanting more, while others have made my mouth feel like a big peice of chalk.  But this one in particular, I kind of liked (although not as much as the original blend, surprisingly.)  If you really want to try them out, I’d recommend you pick up a couple of different flavors and see which one you like.  That being said, I still feel that eating the real food is always your best bet, for both nutrition and flavor.  😉

Into the blender:

  • 1 c. frozen blueberries
  • 2 c. beet greens (from the garden!!)
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 packet of Amazing Grass
  • 2 prunes
  • toppings: 1/2 c. raw oatmeal, dollop of almond butter (kind of similair to breakfast, no?)

The prune didn’t blend in with everything else, and I was surprised with two chewy prunes at the bottom. :mrgreen: 

I’d say, if you’re used to eating green smoothies, try beet greens!!  But if you’re a newbie, just wanting to test the waters, spinach is probably still your best bet.  You can taste the beets in this. 😉

 

 Afternoon Snack: kashi heart to heart, raisins, coconut, milk

 

 Dinner

I don’t know what came over me.  What is it that possessed me to turn on the oven in the summer?  I’ll tell you what.  It was the thought of a roasted, caramelized tomato soaked in balsamic vinegar.  Brussels sprouts, roasted until golden and crisp.  Mushrooms, all wrinkled, shriveled, and puckered up.

It’s enough to make a girl swoon.

If you think I’m getting a little carried away, you’re probably right.  But I’ve been deprived from roasted vegetables for a while now, and this is the result.  I needed to have my fill.  And that is why I turned the oven on.  In the middle of summer. 

Totally necessary!

 

 Into a 425 degree oven (this was all split between two people) for 10 minutes:

  • 1 package of brussels sprouts, halved and tough stem removed
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Once the 10 minutes was up, I added the following to the same cookie sheet and cooked for 10 more minutes:

  • 4 mushrooms, sliced thickly
  • 1/2 green pepper, sliced thin
  • handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 c. kidney beans
  • drizzle of balsamic vinegar

And topped with feta.  Voila.  Dinner was on!

The lettuce got all wilty from the hot vegetables which I loved!!  But if you’re not really into that kind of thing, the roasted veggies taste amazing chilled as well.  Heat up some extra and you’ll have lunch for the next day as well (this is great on top of rice, quinoa, flat wraps, etc.)

Dessert: cherries and strawberries

Off to chillax with a new book: Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult

I finished The Story of Edgar Sawtelle last week.  Even though I loved the journey through the book, I was so, so, so disappointed by the ending.  Seriously.  I almost threw the book across the room in frustration.  If you read it, you probably know what I’m talking about. 😉  I’m hoping Vanishing Acts has a slightly better ending to it, but Jodi Picoult definitely knows how to spring surprises on her readers as well.

Question: Have you ever tried adding greens to your smoothie?  What kind?  Did you like it?