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Archive for the ‘Produce’ Category

Is it just me or does today feel like a Monday? The holiday weekend threw me for a loop and I found myself running around my apartment this morning remembering the 10 billion things I had to do before I went into my internship at 8am. This time crunch left me little time to prepare breakfast and lunch so I went with a couple of easy go-to solutions.

For breakfast I had the heartiest portable breakfast that I know: A Green Monster Protein Smoothie. I use: 1 large frozen banana, 1 TBS crunchy natural peanut butter, 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder, cinnamon, 1 cup vanilla soy milk, 5 ice cubes and ~2 cups of organic baby spinach. I know that this isn’t the prettiest looking thing, but these smoothies are delicious and satisfying. To be perfectly honest, it is basically a peanut butter, banana and chocolate smoothie that I add spinach to. The spinach is oddly refreshing and it never hurts to get some energizing greens in!My lunch was a bit lackluster, but it works. Usually my wraps are so large that I have trouble closing them, this one was a little…well, flat and crumbly. I packed a sprouted grain wrap with hummus, spinach, alfalfa sprouts and grape tomatoes, an Empire apple and an AllieBar.
I like the Ezekiel sprouted grain products, but these wraps do not hold up as well as other whole wheat varieties that I have tried. In an effort to use what I have and save money, I want to finish the bread/wraps in my freezer before making my next purchase.

In other news, I have a confession. Yesterday afternoon I dusted off an old friend:This little beauty has been hanging in the rafters of my garage for about 2 years now. I was a competitive swimmer for my entire life (I stopped after my sophomore year of college) and took up running after I retired from my swimming career. I entered several running competitions, including a half-marathon in the Fall of 2008. I had ambitions of entering a triathlon and received a road bike for my birthday. I rode it a handful of times but alas, my life went in another direction and storage/time to ride became complications that prevented me from training.

My dad helped me fill the tires and she’s good to go! I’m not making any commitments just yet, but I am debating entering a triathlon. I need to make sure that I train properly and learn proper nutrition for the training/competition. I did not prepare properly for my half-marathon a few years back, and it definitely took a toll on my body. That experience taught me the importance of proper training and listening to your body.

On The Go,

Nora

Have you ever trained for a competition? What advice/training did you follow?

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Happy Memorial Day!!

I hope everyone is taking advantage of this beautiful weather and enjoying the company of family and friends! I also hope that everyone takes a moment to pause and remember the meaning of this holiday. I want to send a big THANK YOU to our troops and all of those who have devoted their lives to our country. You are constantly in my thoughts, and I am so grateful for your commitment.

Today has been a patriotic day for my food. One of the reasons why I love coming home is to use my mom’s dinnerware. I swear she has plates, cups and place mats themed for every major holiday. The summer months are all about the stars and stripes!I woke up this morning around 7:30am, and geared up to go for on a “Memorial Day Run” with my dad. Before heading out the door I had a light breakfast that consisted of 1/2 of a large banana, strawberries, sunflower seed butter and coffee (in my themed mug!) while reading my horoscope and completing the easy Monday sudoku puzzle in our local paper. Fun fact: I’m obsessed with sudoku. Every time I am home I retrieve the newspaper from our mailbox as soon as I wake up so that I can do the puzzle while watching the news and having breakfast.

My dad and I ran a surprising 5.5 miles (it has been an EXTREMELY long time since I have done this distance, 3 is usually my max.). The sun was hot during our run and we were BEAT by the time we returned home. My dad, aka The Breakfast Man, whipped up some omelets for brunch. My omelet was made with  Swiss cheese, basil, mixed cherry tomato and broccoli with a glass of orange juice and a large carrot on the side (don’t ask, I was craving a crunchy vegetable haha). We had brunch outside on our patio and it was fantastic!  I don’t want to be repetitive, but I LOVE COMING HOME! There is something distinctly  special about family time and good food.The run took a lot out of me, and I decided that I needed a bit more protein. I extended this brunch with a 1/2 cup of Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt, strawberries, a handful of roasted almonds and cinnamon.The sun was out in full force today, thus the shadows in many of these pictures.

I’m off to do a few tasks before heading back to school my apartment later today. WHOA! I actually typed school and it took me a minute before I realized that I just completed college and now am in the working world. So the song goes, times are a changin’. I think we will have an early Memorial Day barbecue before I head back. I have to take advantage of our charcoal grill while I can because it’s back to a cast iron grill pan when I return to my mini apartment!

Always Remembering,

Nora

What are your plans for Memorial Day?

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I love to cook but at the end of a long day I want a meal that is easy to put together. When I am pressed for time I often resort to throwing whatever vegetables, proteins and grains I have on hand into a bowl and call it a ‘big salad’. These dinners are okay once in a while, but they are boring and not something I consider a “real meal”. I have had a few of these throw together dinners this week and decided it was time to reconnect with my inner chef and get in the kitchen.

For dinner tonight I made Pan-seared Tilapia in a Lemon-Dill Butter Sauce and  Crunchy Broccoli Salad with Orange-Curry Yogurt Dressing.

When pan-searing, it is important to have everything together before you cook the protein: “mise en place”. Before heating the pan for my fish I assembled the broccoli salad, prepared the fish and set out the lemon-dill butter and herbed olive oil for the finishing sauce.

For crunchy broccoli salad I combined about 3 TBS- 1/4 cup of plain low fat yogurt, the juice and a few segments of 1/4 of a navel orange, curry and cinnamon to taste. I added a large bunch of chopped broccoli, celery, dried cranberries and roasted almonds to the the sauce and placed the mixture in the fridge to chill while I cooked the Tilapia.

To prepare the Tilapia, I lightly dusted both sides of the fish with a pan-searing flour and cracked black pepper. I added about 1-2 tsp of olive oil to a sautee pan over a medium heat until a faint smoke appeared around the edges of the pan (You want to maintain a light smoke around the edges of the pan. If it becomes too smokey, adjust heat!). I placed the Tilapia in the pan for about 3-4 minutes per side until it was slightly golden and crispy. When the fish was finished I turned the heat off and added 1 tsp of an herbed oil and 1 tps of a lemon-dill finishing butter to deglaze the pan and create a butter sauce to spoon over the fish. This method generates a moist fish with tons of flavor!

It was a simple, elegant and refreshing dinner to have at the end of a long (and hot!) day. It was exactly what I was craving. Speaking of cravings, on the way back from my from my work trip we stopped off for soft serve!! Ice cream is my all time favorite food, and in the summer my ice cream of choice is soft serve chocolate-vanilla twist. Naturally, I always have to add rainbow sprinkles to make it a true summer treat! I was a very happy girl. Loving Summer,

Nora

What are your favorite Summer foods?

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Saturday was my last day working at the bakery. This job has been one of the best experiences of my life and has influenced me to pursue a career in the food industry. Working in the customer service bakery of a large grocery store has taught me the importance of consumer relations and shown me the dynamics of a large business. I am always incredibly inspired by the creativity and excitement that goes on in the store.

My last shift was all I could have asked for. I was on the schedule from 9:30am-6pm to do “demo” aka providing samples to customers. The employee who typically provides demonstrations had another obligation and was unable to sell on this day. I give her so much credit because it is NOT an easy task to be on your feet talking to people and selling products for 8.5 hours 5 days a week! I prepared for my last shift with the world’s greatest breakfast: oatmeal. (I was thrifty and used my microwave to minimize my gas bill!)

In the mix: 1/4 cup oat bran, 1/8 cup rolled oats, half of a banana (sliced and microwaved separately for 30 seconds, then added to my oats 1/2 way through cooking.), 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1/2 cup water, cinnamon, vanilla extract and 1 TBS ground flax.

Topped with: 2 large strawberries, Crofter’s South America Superfruit Spread, 2 chopped Brazil nuts and coconut butter.

I was sampling our Pecan Raisin Sourdough and Kerrygold Butter. This is such a special bread that our bakers make from scratch on the weekends. I remember last summer when they were perfecting the recipe and I got to bring some home to sample. It is sweet satisfaction to see this bread come full circle. I’m not a huge butter on my bread person (something about disliking it as a child) but I absolutely love Kerrygold. It is so rich and brings out the best flavors in the bread; a perfect combination.

When I got home I had a pre-planned Cold Peanut Noodle Salad for dinner (practicing already!). I knew I was going to be tired after work and want to shower, so the night before I cooked soba noodles, chopped veggies and created a peanut sauce. All I had to do when I got home was assemble, pour a glass of Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay and enjoy! Easy as pie.In my bowl: 1/2 chopped romaine heart, 1/2 bundle of soba noodles, 1 medium carrot, 1/4 red bell pepper, 1 inch of cucumber, 1/2 stalk of celery, 1 small bunch of broccoli. Topped with a peanut sauce: ~1-2 TBS crunchy natural peanut butter, juice of 1/2 a lime, pinch of red pepper flakes and 1 TBS low sodium soy sauce.

This was an amazing meal! I love how well the noodles took to the sauce, and the raw vegetables were so refreshing. It was a large bowl of food that required just a splash more chardonnay to complete it ;).

For dessert I had the last of my Mint Cookies and Cream frozen yogurt ~3/4 cup with fresh strawberries. Shortly after dessert I fell asleep on my new futon at the early hour of 9:30pm while watching the movie Maid of Honor. It was a long day.

I woke up at 7am this morning and knew it was another great day for a run. I stumbled into the kitchen for a quick pre-run meal of a Lemon Zest Luna Bar and Jonagold Apple, and returned to bed to read my book for a few hours. I MISS READING FOR FUN!!!

After my run I had a late “brunch” (11am?) of another thick green monster smoothie ( 1 large frozen banana, 5 ice cubes, 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder, cinnamon, 1 TBS crunchy peanut butter, a bunch of baby spinach and 1 cup vanilla soy milk. I forgot the Amazing Grass GREEN Superfood today and my smoothie ended up taking on a mint-ting-a-ling color) and a slice of Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin Bread with Coconut Butter and Cinnamon.

I did not have any obligations today, therefore; I was on a mission to find a decent Wi-Fi signal so that I could FINALLY upload my pictures and blog! I can’t believe I have been internet-less for an entire week! It is sad how dependent I am on technology, but hey, it’s my life. I spent a few hours at a local bookstore while my pictures slowly uploaded. I was successful but it was an extremely time consuming process. While I was there I snacked on a Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar and Iced Coffee that I brought from home. No more $4 lattes for this girl! (I had a gift card to Starbucks thus why I had a few purchases earlier in the week.)

Now that we are all caught up I’m off to make an early dinner and get to bed before my first day at my internship! I’m beyond excited to start and have been waiting for this day to come for so long! I feel like a little kid on Christmas Eve, I hope that I am able to sleep tonight.  I’m going to try my hardest to post tomorrow. I can’t wait to officially have internet in my apartment on Wednesday.

The Future Awaits,

Nora

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Appetizer

1st course

Main

Dessert (what was left of it when I remembered to snag a picture)

The boys did a GREAT job with dinner last night. They slaved over this meal all day, and all we had to do was show up! How lucky are we? When we arrived we were welcomed into their main foyer with cheese and crackers. After mingling for a while we were directed downstairs, where they had a long table set up with the “proper” plate and utensil arrangements and dinner was served….on paper plates with plastic forks and knives. Let me tell you it was SO difficult to cut that chicken in a graceful manner. It was such a thick piece of meat, I almost broke my knife and my fork pierced through my plate. So much for etiquette, but I think I probably ruined that when I took my phone out for pictures :). I didn’t really learn much about proper dining but it was fun to meet new people!

For an appetizer they had shrimp cocktail. There were a few plates like this on the table to share along with cocktail sauce. We were then given a first course of Caesar salad. The salad was extremely petite and a bit over dressed. I was having so much fun talking to my “date” that I only ended up having a few bites of this before the main course was served. For our main course we had chicken Marsala, roasted potatoes and steamed asparagus. This was the real selling point and “effort” of the meal and it was AMAZING. It was a huge piece of chicken but  well-cooked, and the potatoes were so flavorful. For dessert we were all given full pieces of strawberry cheesecake. I forgot to take a picture so this is only my last bite’s worth of dessert. Needless to say I was excited about cheesecake and devoured the entire thing. I was a classy date.

For breakfast today I was inches away from making a green monster and granola bowl but decided that blender clean up was not worth it. I went back to something I haven’t had in a while: Kashi Go Lean Crunch, Soy Milk, Banana, Berries, Flax and Cinnamon. I use to eat this almost every day, especially in the summer months. You know what? It wasn’t as good as I remember it being, I’m disappointed in my breakfast choice today (hate that feeling!). I also had a big Fuji apple on the side, which I think made my stomach a bit upset! I’m having a rough start to my day.

I’m off to work, and couldn’t be happier because it is a rainy day. The bakery should be pretty busy this afternoon, and I can’t wait to have a little change of pace from school. I only have a week and a half left and I’m so excited to finally be finished.

Fine Dining,

Nora

What do you eat when you can’t decide what you are in the mood for? (For any meal/snack.)

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When it comes to making sandwiches and wraps, I am full of issues. I want to add so many topping that I can hardly close them and eat them in a civilized manner. Some examples of this are:

This is BARELY closed.

I will never learn... Could not get it closed.

How many things can I put between two slices of bread?

Today, I didn’t even try. It was one of my rare days where I had time to make lunch at home and I wanted to take advantage of my warm toasted bread. As soon as the bread popped out of the toaster I slathered Cedar’s Original Hummus on both sides and added slices of Swiss cheese to melt on top. I added my other toppings: turkey breast, spinach, mushrooms, Roma tomato, sprouts and cucumber and ate it as is. I decided that it would be much more enjoyable to eat it like this rather than trying to push it down and wrap my mouth around it. I ended up cutting each slice in half to reduce the mess-factor and happily ate my “sandwich” (can you still call it that if it isn’t actually sandwiched together?). This was to die for. I LOVE (strong emphasis) toasted bread. It brings out all of the flavors in the nutty grains and has the best texture, that is sturdy enough to hold all of my toppings. I also think there is nothing like warm hummus and melted cheese. It is so…cozy, I only wish I had some cool avocado to lay on top of it, then it would have been the ultimate sandwich. I had some green grapes and a big carrot on the side. It was such a relaxing and delightful lunch.

In fact I was so relaxed that I ended up having a piece of chocolate and a cup of tea right after then promptly took a nap! I NEVER take naps, but it was just one of those days. I’m getting ready to go to the etiquette dinner this evening, which should be entertaining. To be honest, I’ve never really learned what all of those forks and spoons are for. I’m sure my bad table manners don’t stop there either. In fact I know they don’t. If you were sitting with me eating that sandwich today you would have probably been repulsed by my messiness, as my toppings were falling EVERYWHERE!

Living and Learning,

Nora

Have you ever learned proper dining etiquette?

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I had every intention on making a big beautiful bowl of oatmeal this morning but I was craving a green monster. When I woke up I felt extremely tired and my head was slightly pounding. I needed something that required minimal effort and that was cool and energizing to get me going. I decided to mix up my ingredients a bit and I’m so glad I did. This bowl was thicker and more flavorful! I loved it.

Into the blender:

1 large frozen banana

3 frozen strawberries

3 ice cubes

1/3 can pumpkin

1 scoop GREEN Amazing Grass Superfood

1/2 scoop Chocolate Whey Protein

~3/4 TBS Peanut Butter

Cinnamon (SO KEY!)

1/2 cup Almond Milk

1/2 Cup Water

2 handfuls of spinach

I really need a better blender. I find myself constantly shaking the blender and pushing everything down through the process. It takes me way longer to blend the ingredients than it should. I topped it with some Galaxy Vanilla Almond and had a big Jonagold on the side. I’m not sure if I actually wanted that apple but I wanted more crunch after I finished the bowl! The one downside about making smoothies for breakfast is that I always want something solid to go along with it, where as oatmeal fulfills  all of my meal texture/flavor requirements. Hopefully I’ll get back to the world’s greatest breakfast tomorrow!

My roommate and I are having a special dinner tonight and I can not wait. Hopefully I’ll be able to sneak a few photos!!

Green Machine,

Nora

Do you like certain foods when you aren’t feeling up to par (headache/illness/lethargic etc)?

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