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Archive for the ‘Almond Butter’ Category

Last night I decided that it would be an excellent idea to bake. I have been looking for a new “pre-workout” food to tide me over between lunch and dinner, and Dreena’s Super-Charge Me Cookies sounded ideal. I didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand (i.e maple syrup) so I made a few substitutions. Let’s just say they didn’t turn out as well as I would have hoped but the main reason for this was probably my stellar oven.

Looking delicious in the mixing bowl.

Yummy on the cookie sheet

My high tech oven.

Re: My high tech oven.

The aftermath.

Fail.

While the oven was heating, the temperature of my apartment rose to match it. AWFUL, AWFUL, AWFUL idea! I here by vow to NEVER turn that oven on for the rest of the summer 😦 .

The cookies were a little on the “crisp” side but I’ll love these little disasters all the same (I’m not one to waste). I’m going home for my mom’s birthday this Sunday, so I will be taking full advantage of her convection oven and getting a little baking-crazy. My life is exciting… clearly.

Baking Dreams,

Nora

Have you ever had a major kitchen failure?

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My internet is up and I’m officially back to blogging :)!


I’m a planner and an organizer. After a few days at my internship, I have come to the conclusion that the 8am-5pm life was meant for me. Gone are the days of staying up until 3am for no reason, wearing the same sweatpants everyday, showering twice a week and living off of a Starbucks heavy diet. That’s right college is over….good riddance.

I’m not necessarily saying that I need a strict schedule but it is nice to have a semi-consistent set of obligations and goals. I like waking up early, working all day and relaxing in the evenings. Looking back at my college years, I’m not sure how I functioned. Sometimes I would finish my day at noon, or start my day at 2pm. I was constantly doing work into the early morning hours and was always awake by 9am because I am incapable of sleeping in. (Did I ever sleep???) Over the past few days I’ve been waking up at 6am, leaving by 7:30am, working until 5pm, going to the gym, arriving home by 7pm and in bed by 10:30pm. An hour and a half is exactly what I need to get ready and have breakfast before heading into work, however; it also requires a bit of planning.

Last night before I went to bed I prepared breakfast and lunch, cleaned my apartment (I hate coming home after a long day and having to do dishes etc) and got my bag ready for work. Doing these little things the night before saves time and frustration, allowing me to enjoy the peacefulness of the morning.

This morning I had a breakfast cookie inspired by Gina and topped it with plain low-fat yogurt (I love Greek yogurt but I was out and this is the next best thing. Low-fat yogurts are creamy and filling. I tend to pick them over nonfat varieties.), strawberries and cinnamon. The night before I combined 1/3 cup rolled oats, 1 TBS crunchy almond butter, 1/2 scoop chocolate whey protein powder, 2 TBS vanilla soy milk, 1/2 of a banana (mashed) and cinnamon and placed it on a plate in the fridge over night. This was so easy and completely held me over through the morning. I will be repeating this in the future!

Shortly after breakfast I was craving juice. I didn’t have any in my fridge but remembered that I purchased a Red Rhapsody Odwalla a few weeks ago. I’M IN LOVE! This was so refreshing and a nice combination of flavors. It is the perfect drink to blend with yogurt and ice for a smoothie on a hot summer day.

It has been an EXTREMELY hot week, and I have been craving cool and crisp vegetables. For lunch I made a semi-Greek salad with 1/2 of a romaine heart, 1 large shredded carrot, 1/4 cup of garbanzo beans, 1-2 inches of cucumber, 1/4 of a red bell pepper, a handful of grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta cheese and cracked black pepper. Along side I packed a homemade dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and dried parsley flakes and had a serving of Dr. Krackers and a Jonagold apple.

I wanted something chocolate for my mid-day snack and reached into the bottom of my bag to retrieve the other half of my petrified Chocolate Almond Fudge Clif Bar.

The cable company gave me a time frame between 4pm-7pm for their arrival, so I came home immediately after work. They arrived when I was turning onto my road (!!!) and I was relieved that I would not have to sit in my sweltering apartment and wait. I debated going to the gym or going for a run, but it was FAR too hot outside today. I’m planning on catching up on some busy work, making dinner and heading to bed early tonight because tomorrow is jam packed with meetings and events. I am loving my internship and feel so lucky that I have FINALLY found something that I can dedicate myself to and enjoy!

Blogging,

Nora


Are you a planner or a “go with the flow” type?

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Happy Mother’s Day!!!!

Mom: I have to wish you an extra Happy Mother’s Day since I am unable to be with you today:(. This is the first Mother’s Day that I have not been home for, and it makes me sad that I am unable to spend this special day with the most amazing woman I know! Thank you so much for all of your advice and guidance over the years. I feel so blessed to have you in my life!

This picture is from a family trip to Toronto in January 2009. I wish more than anything that I could be home celebrating my mom and eating good food. Since I am still at school, I am unable to physically be with my mom but she will be in my thoughts all day. I actually called her this morning at 9am and woke her up to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day! Sorry about that Mom! I love you!

Breakfast today was ‘Mom-inspired’ with a bowl of strawberries and cream oats.My mom loves strawberries. She also has a beautiful garden at home filled with an assortment of fresh vegetables and berries that she grows in the summer, so fresh summer produce always makes me think of her.

Sunday breakfast has always been a special meal for me. I remember growing up that my dad would make AMAZING Belgian Waffles on Sunday and my mom and I would always top ours with strawberries and whipped cream. Although this is not exactly the same, I thought of my mom as I was preparing my oats this morning, wishing that I was with her sipping coffee, sharing a conversation and diving into some sweet strawberries and cream waffles!

I’m off to yoga and more apartment hunting!

Love and Appreciation,

Nora

How do you celebrate Mother’s Day?

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Did I really just complete my undergraduate college education? Ladies and gentleman, at 4pm this afternoon I emerged from the confines of my minuscule apartment looking half-human and walked to campus to hand in my last college paper ever. It still hasn’t hit me yet. Do I really not have any readings to do? Tests to study for? Papers to write? As I sit in my room and type this I am in disbelief  that the past four years have finally come to an end.  It has been an interesting ride to say the least. The knowledge I have gained at this institution expands far beyond the classroom. I have learned a lot about myself and have grown tremendously. I have to take a moment here to pause and thank my parents.

Mom and Dad- Thank you so much for every opportunity you have provided me with. I am so grateful to have your love and support in my life. The road hasn’t always been easy, but you never stopped having faith in me and I appreciate that more than you will ever know. Thank you for never doubting me and encouraging me to pursue my interests. You are my best friends and every day I truly feel lucky to have you in my life. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!

On to my day:

Today was such a scramble. I’m always such a mess during finals week between little sleep, weird eating and stressful studying. I’m glad that this marks the end of it! I started today around 7am and was under lock and key paper writing in my apartment until 3:30pm. I literally moved from my floor (everything was spread out on my floor…I couldn’t sit at my desk anymore!) to the kitchen all day long and finally sat in bed for some final editing and to provide relief to my numb “bottom” that suffered from my harsh floor all day. Yeah, it wasn’t a fun time.

Breakfast was exactly what I was craving: Berry Oats. Last night for dessert I had some luscious local strawberries with MaraNatha Dark Chocolate Almond Spread.

I knew that I needed to have these again for breakfast, so I made a big bowl of oats for breakfast with strawberries and blackberries.Into my bowl:

Base: 1/4 cup oat bran, 1/8 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup vanilla almond milk, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 sliced banana, 2 tsp chia seeds, cinnamon, vanilla extract.

Toppings: ~1/4 cup Chobani Greek yogurt (last of it!), 3 strawberries, handful of blackberries and almond butter.

This was SO delicious. I really liked the melted Greek yogurt on top. It made my bowl so creamy and I loved the sour contrast with the berries. When I get more yogurt, I’m going to incorporate it into my warm oats more often!

This is the only meal that I was 100% certain of all day. As I got into paper writing the rest of my food was completely random and consisted of “I can’t focus, go make food” dishes. They were all consumed sporadically between the hours of 10am and 3pm. I really hate mindlessly eating, I never feel wonderful when I do and today was no exception. My stomach was…let’s just say a bit bubbly, but it got me through the day. I’ll try to categorize as best I can the randomness of food:

Morning Snack: Jonagold Apple with Almond Butter.

“Lunch”:

Lunch was a compilation of everything in my room/fridge/freezer that I could think to put together. I’m not sure what time this all actually took place, but I think it was a few hours after breakfast when I was getting into the really tedious part of my paper. I spotted a Luna Cookie Dough Protein Bar and decided I needed a little cookie dough to chug through more work. I ate half of it before lunch and the other half later in the day. Shortly after I decided that I needed to refocus and make myself a snack. I went back into my kitchen and prepared a plate of watermelon and pineapple. I wasn’t full and it was almost lunch time so after maybe 30 minutes I went back into the kitchen to make some real food. Remember that Multigrain bread I picked up at the bakery a while ago? Well it also comes in a Multigrain Currant variety(be still my heart, I’m in love with this bread), and I happened to have a few pieces in my freezer from a long, long time ago 🙂 . The pictures above are a before and after shot. I topped my toast with some natural crunchy peanut butter. After I made my toast, I thought to myself, “Nora, you can not live on nut butters, fruit and carbs alone.” And decided to make a plate of sautéed spinach topped with a runny fried egg, extra sharp cheddar cheese and hot sauce. Maybe I should just call this breakfast number two! It was so delicious, and held me nicely through the majority of my paper writing! I really love the combination of egg yolk and extra sharp cheddar cheese, it is so creamy and flavorful!

I finally completed the bulk of my writing around 2pm and determined I needed some editing food.I needed some greens so I made a mini “sludge” monster with 1/2 cup vanilla soy milk, 5 ice cubes, 1/2 frozen banana, 1 scoop Amazing Grass GREEN Superfood, 1 heaping TBS Hershey’s Unsweetened Cocoa, and a big bunch of spinach. It looks like sludge, and wasn’t as good as my protein packed monsters, but it was still refreshing. After this freezing beverage I needed something warm so I microwaved a Medjool date with almond butter and cinnamon. I microwaved another unpictured date with just cinnamon after this. Still not satisfied, and now wanting chocolate, I used a random (embarrassing purchase… my campus store sells them so I picked up a bag a while ago.) rice cake as a vessel for MaraNatha Dark Chocolate Almond Spread and Raspberry Jam.

Today was a whirlwind, and I had a bunch more “finger swipes” of almond butter, some raw almonds, another apple and a big carrot somewhere in between. I think it’s safe to say: my paper was a nut butter fueled production.

It was a bit cool out when I finally left my apartment, but the walk was welcome. I was in need of a good leg stretch, and it settled the random bites of my day. I was fortunate to get to the Political Science Department mere MOMENTS before they locked the doors. My professor told us that the paper was due at 5pm, and the department locks  down at 4:30pm! I don’t know what I would have done if I left my apartment 5 minutes later.

I haven’t had time this week to exercise so I did a light 50 minutes on the Pre-core machine before heading home. I was planning to run but was felling a little “blah” when I finally got to the gym. I’ll tell you, paper writing + sitting + eating = exhaustion.

I wasn’t particularly in the mood for anything fancy for dinner, and wanted to continue my fridge cleaning so I used the remainder of my Bush’s Baked Beans for another Baked Beans and Sweet Potato dish. I served it with a fresh green salad and the last of my watermelon. I decided to cook my sweet potato in the microwave for the sake of time, and it wasn’t very photogenic. I ended up mashing it and topping it with cinnamon and Crofter’s North American Superfruit Spread (cranberry/blueberry mix) before adding my baked beans, which was delicious :).

For dessert I had a few squares of Green and Black’s Mint Dark Chocolate and a cup of Decaf Constant Comment Bigelow Tea. I needed something a little cozy to curl up in bed with because The Notebook was on and I had some blogging to catch up on :).

Hopefully, normalcy will resume tomorrow. I still think it is SO strange that I do not have anymore school work to accomplish. I have some personal projects and fun books to read, so I’m sure I’ll find a way to stay occupied. I think the most exciting part about finishing is that I now have time to do the things that I really like. I’m all for academics, but when it is a struggle to love and appreciate the material you are learning the work is tedious and stressful. I’m really looking forward to reading for fun and continuing my food/wine aspirations.

I have MANY more thoughts, but until I gather them I’m going to leave this rather long post be. I have one more week on campus for  “Senior Week”, which is filled with senior class functions (Finger Lakes Wine tour Monday…stay tuned!). I’m officially out of here after our graduation ceremony next Sunday. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Surreal Life,

Nora

Have you ever had a moment or experienced an event that seemed unbelievable?

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It’s almost the weekend! Which means…ONE. MORE. PAPER!

Before I become deeply immersed in the “academic paper writing world”, I wanted to briefly post a few thoughts.

Last night when I got back from work I started to clean my room. It was getting a bit out of control with PILES of papers, plates and coffee cups galore. After tidying up a bit I decided to go through some books, binders and notebooks from the past two semesters to see what I needed to keep and what I could discard. I hate throwing things away. It seems like such a waste to take copious notes and work hard on projects just to find them in an untouched pile later on. As I was sorting I realized something: my book shelf was HARDLY empty after going through all of my academic papers.

Over the past year or so I have accumulated quite the collection of food/wine magazines, cookbooks, books about cheese, books about wine and various “fun reads” that I have yet to get to (I can’t wait to read for fun again!). If you can tell what a person is like by the contents of their room, then you would realize that I am a foodie. Rediscovering all of those magazines meant a lot to me. I have read most yet I can’t part with them like I can with my school books.

I have a binder that I started last summer containing recipes and “food facts” that I had discovered through reading/studying the industry. Post graduation, I plan to finally sort through my collection and add to my binder. This is sure to be a tedious task, however; this is what I love, this is who I am and who I hope to continue to be long after my college days have passed.

Now on to the food. For breakfast I woke up and NEEDED (yes, there was no question in my choice) oatmeal. I had a bunch of organizing to do before I could actually attempt breakfast, and contemplated settling for something simple like a protein bar or toast and fruit, but I didn’t want to settle. In general, life is too short to settle for anything less than what you are aiming for (I’m getting pretty philosophical in my day’s leading up to graduation). I had breakfast nearly an hour after rising, but it was worth the wait.

Into my bowl: 1/4 cup oat bran, 1/8 cup rolled oats, 1/3 cup + 2 TBS almond milk, 1/3 cup water, 1/2 banana, 2 tsp chia seeds (running low!), vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Topped with crunchy almond butter, Crofter’s Asia Superfruit Spread (one of my favorites), blackberries and more cinnamon.

I added a splash more almond milk today and it made a world of difference. This bowl was creamy, fluffy, and in my opinion, the perfect consistency. To add more substance to my bowl, I determined that I prefer using chia seeds to ground flax. Chia seeds really add a lot in terms of taste, texture and consistency. They make my oatmeal extremely thick and provide a nice little crunch to every bite. I don’t really notice a big flavor or texture change with the flax. In sum, I never wanted this bowl to end.

Lastly, before I become an introverted book-worm for the day, I have one more item that I want to share. Mid-morning yesterday I was having a bit of a snack craving and came across an old favorite as I searched through my never ending snack bar pile. KIND Snacks are at the top of my favorite snack bar list. I often choose their Fruit and Nut Delight but cannot forget about my other favorite Walnut and Date.I always feel like I’m eating dessert when I have this bar. The dates are luxurious and provide a wonderful natural sweetness. The walnuts are buttery and flavorful, contrasting the dates perfectly. It is the best snack bar along side a cup of coffee.

One More Day,

Nora

What cooking methods/ingredients do you use for your oats?

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Happy Cinco de Mayo!

I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m READY! I’m ready to take MY LAST TEST and ready to be DONE WITH COLLEGE! I started today feeling quite prepared. Last night as I was waiting for my artichoke to cook, I assembled both breakfast and lunch. I knew I wasn’t going to have much time before my exam, and hate feeling rushed so this was an excellent decision. For breakfast I had overnight oats.

This happy crab bowl contains: 1/4 cup oat bran, 2 TBS rolled oats, 1 tsp chia seeds, 1 tsp ground flax, cinnamon, 1/2 a banana, 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk. I added 1/3 cup Chobani Non-fat Plain Greek Yogurt, crunchy almond butter, Crofter’s Asia Superfruit Spread, blackberries, more cinnamon and a splash of almond milk in the morning.

I’m debating my overnight oats method. I think next time I’m going to add more liquid and chia seeds. I like using oat bran for warm oats because it adds so much volume, but I think for cold oatmeal it just gives it a pasty consistency. I really liked the roasted/salted almond butter in my oats! I thought it was too salty alone but when you add it to oatmeal it gives the perfect amount of flavor. I’m also starting to rekindle my love for Crofter’s in my oats. The Asia Superfruit Spread is one of my favorites, containing whole pieces of raspberries and yumberries. I really liked the tartness in conjunction with the sweet banana and full-flavored almond butter. I need to get over my green monster streak and get back on the oats band wagon!! In all honesty, I love green monsters and they really hit the spot when I’m in the mood but NOTHING fills me the way oats do.

For lunch today I’m having yet another monster sandwich. I went a little festive, and added avocado for the holiday! Plus I love avocado. I will be packing some variation of sides to enjoy with my sandwich that are yet to be determined, but I’m thinking apple slices, celery and carrot sticks with almond butter for dipping! I like that idea…so be it. This sandwich was made with two slices of whole grain Ezekiel bread, 1/4 of an avocado, hot sauce, 1/4 red bell pepper, 1/2 Roma Tomato, sprouts and turkey. I know I say this everyday, but I am quite pleased with my fridge cleaning abilities!

My exam is probably going to take me the entire three hours, so snacks will be necessary. I stuck a few “emergency” bars from my stash into my bag last night. See how prepared I am? I’m working at the bakery tonight, which I am SO excited for because it is the perfect way to spend some down time before finishing up my paper for Friday. Dinner will be a random lunch box throw together with some Cinco de Mayo flare. Perhaps a sweet potato and black bean burrito? The world may never know.

Happy Hump Day,

Nora

Do you own a lunch box? What do you usually pack in it?

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After I packed up my lunch it began to thunder-storm! Go figure. I decided to make camp in my apartment and study while it passed. After a little while I determined that it was time to take a study break and stir my new almond butter jar. I figured I was going to want almond butter in the next few days anyways, so I had to try. I got this jar for $5 (usually about $9) and the ingredients list is roasted almonds and sea salt. Check out the oil! Naturally after I licked the knife clean, I had to sample. I had two of these babies, and I couldn’t imagine a more perfect way to sample almond butter than stuffed in a date ;). It was a little bit too salty for my liking but the roasted almond flavor is amazingly intense!

The sky finally cleared and before I left my apartment I did a last-minute lunch box grab and added some Nature’s Path Vanilla Almond Flax Granola for my yogurt. I wasn’t sure how long my exam would take and wanted to be full and focused. With my breakfast, snacks and lunch this was NOT a problem. I think it was a bit too filling because my stomach was feeling bubbly. It fueled me through last-minute studying and my exam, so no complaints here. Also, MY SANDWICH WAS AMAZING. Seriously goat cheese + cucumber+ cinnamon raisin toast= LOVEEEEE. I made this sandwich all the time over the summer with fresh basil on my bakery’s Pecan Raisin Sourdough. Can summer please come sooner? I want that again!Last weekend when I was working at the grocery store the produce department had cooking demonstrations of artichokes, and I knew it was time to conquer my fear and prepare one. I also had a little inspiration from Allie! It was simple and filling, I’m so happy that I finally made it.

I served my artichoke with a side of warm spicy cottage cheese dip which consisted of 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 2 tsp Dijon, 1 tsp whole grain Dijon, few dashes of hot sauce, cracked black pepper, spinach chiffanode, 1/4 chopped red bell pepper. It was so much fun to eat (although a bit time-consuming) and the flesh was succulent. I loved it with this dip, the Dijon was the perfect pair for the artichoke. When I finally got through all of the leaves and dip, I found that the best was yet to come: the artichoke heart.I scraped away the prickly, hairy filaments and dug in. Did I die and go to heaven? I never wanted this to end. It was buttery and sweet. I love saving the best for last.

To round my day out, I turned to the freezer for dessert: Mint Cookies and Cream with Frozen Raspberries. I finished the last of my raspberries and the mint ice cream’s days are numbered!

I have one exam tomorrow at 12:30pm, a paper due 5pm Friday and then I’m done with my undergraduate career!!! Since I’m going to have to be up early and won’t really have time for a sit down lunch, I prepared my breakfast/lunch as my dinner was cooking. Multitasking folks, multitasking.

Don’t Stop Believing,

Nora

What is one food that you’ve always wanted to prepare but were intimidated by?

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