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Archive for the ‘Side Dishes’ Category

Dinner last night was simple and satisfying. For some reason warm weather always makes me crave grilled items and fresh produce. I marinated a chicken breast in barbecue sauce and grilled it on my cast iron skillet. I wish I had access to a real grill but my make shift grill pan over an open flame is the next best thing! My chicken was perfectly moist and delicious. On the side I had a rather big salad of mixed greens, alfalfa sprouts, button mushrooms, garbanzo beans, red bell pepper, grape tomatoes and feta cheese. I dressed this salad in a homemade mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and cracked black pepper. This dressing was so good that it caused an epiphany: If you have the time, MAKE YOUR OWN SALAD DRESSING! My dressing was the simple and the perfect consistency, really highlighting the crisp vegetables.

Once again, I had strawberries on my mind for dessert. I found a Jell-O pudding in the back of my fridge that I’m pretty sure was expired (gross, I know) but it looked okay so I decided to eat it anyways. I topped it with strawberries and whipped cream. NOTE TO SELF: BUY ICE CREAM ASAP!

I woke up this morning with an odd craving for cold cereal. I assembled a bowl of 1/2 cup Go Lean Crunch, 1/2 Cup Heart to Heart, 1 sliced banana, sliced strawberries, 1 TBS ground flax, cinnamon and 1 cup vanilla soy milk.
It was my first day at my internship so I was rather excited this morning. I debated bringing lunch because of my financial situation, however; because it was my first day I wanted to scope out the scene and try the cafeteria. I had a turkey, lettuce, red pepper and mayo sandwich on a whole wheat pita, a side salad with raspberry vinaigrette and an apple. It was pretty good and only set me back about $4 but I’ll probably pack a lunch from now on. It was another intern’s last day with the company and the department had a send-off for him after lunch. I was really excited because it was complete with CAKE! I had a small piece of dense yellow cake with white frosting (I made sure to get an edge piece for the extra frosting 🙂 )

After work I went to the gym. I knew that I wouldn’t be getting home for dinner until about 7pm, so I planned a head and packed a pre-gym snack and an easy dinner. I had a Tropical Fruit Tart Larabar around 4pm. It was such a nice treat for a hot summer afternoon and fueled my workout. I did about 40 minutes on the precor machine followed by crunches and arm weights. I always thought that I preferred morning workouts, but I really liked how it broke up my day. It was relaxing, and having dinner already prepared was KEY!

When I got home dinner was waiting for me. Last night I realized that I had a portabello mushroom cap to use so I created a stuffed portabello mushroom with couscous, spinach and feta cheese topped with grape tomatoes and more feta as the main component of my meal (I’m planning on some simple sides to accompany this dish but took this picture last night.). To prepare, I cleaned the exterior of the mushroom with a dry cloth (aka paper towel), discarded the stem and gills of the mushroom and brushed the outside with a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dried basil and cracked black pepper. I then placed the mushroom cap side down on my cast iron grill pan, added the remaining vinaigrette mixture evenly into the belly, grilled it until tender and let it rest on a plate before adding the filling.

For the couscous, I placed 1/4 cup dry whole-wheat couscous in a bowl, added 1/2 cup of boiling water and let it sit about 5 minutes before fluffing and allowing it to cool. I added a handful of freshly chopped baby spinach, about 2 heaping TBS feta cheese and cracked black pepper into the couscous and mixed to combine. I placed this mixture in the mushroom cap and finished it with grape tomatoes and more feta cheese.

My internship is absolutely amazing! I feel so lucky to have found a position in the food industry incorporating aspects of social media and marketing. I am extremely passionate about food, family, healthy living and social media (obviously!) and can’t believe that I was able to find an involved internship composed of all these elements and more. I don’t want to go into details but today I was able to learn about and work on projects that dealt with iPhone apps, Twitter and blogging. Seriously, someone pinch me!

Working Girl,

Nora

What tips do you have for balancing work, exercising and healthy eating?

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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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Today is going to be the LONGEST day of my life. I have been up since 6:45am and have my hardest final at 4pm. I have been studying for the past few hours, so thought a quick post was in order before making my way to the library. Yes, that’s right, no coffee shop for me today! I want to stay on campus studying until 3:50pm then casually make my way over to the exam room.

Today I woke up and needed an energy boost. I decided on a Loaded Green Monster for breakfast.I almost couldn’t fit the whole thing in my big wine glass! It was so refreshing and thick because I added some extra ice and frozen blueberries to the mix today. I’m doing extremely well with the whole “clean out my refrigerator/freezer” initiative. I just keep throwing random bits and pieces here and there, so I think I should be successful by the end of next week when I officially move out. Scary to think that one week from Sunday I will be out of here!

In my monster: 5 ice cubes, 1 large frozen banana, 1/4 cup frozen blueberries, 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder, 1 scoop Green Amazing Grass Superfood, cinnamon, 1 TBS crunchy natural peanut butter, 2/3 cup vanilla almond milk, 1/3 cup water and 2 big handfuls of spinach.

It was so thick that I ended up eating it with a spoon. I should have added granola to it because shortly after I wanted something crunchy and had a Kashi Pumpkin Pie Bar with a cup of coffee.  I love pumpkin, and went through a serious pumpkin phase this fall where everything I ate had this flavor. I had pumpkin coffee, muffins, bread, yogurt, pie, ice cream, granola bars, custard…the list goes on, it was intense. I had two of these just sitting in my overflowing pantry and thought it would be a nice treat before starting some major studying.Lunch today will be out of my lunch box. First up, Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin Sandwich with goat cheese, cinnamon (seriously, I put cinnamon on EVERYTHING!), Crofter’s North America Superfruit Spread, spinach, cucumber and turkey. As I said before, I’m doing extremely well with the whole fridge cleaning thing!Next up a variety of sides: Apple, Chobani with cinnamon and blackberries, almonds, 1 large carrot and 2 stalks of celery.I can already tell you that my apple will be devoured before lunch time. I get nervous when I am “crunch time” studying and apples are the perfect way to keep me focused. I ate a few extra almonds out of my jar while packing…what can I say, I need brain food :)!

I already have a little something-something planned for dinner after my exam. I planned it knowing that it would be a long and tedious day and wanted to come back to something exciting before I start studying for my second exam, which is tomorrow at 12:30pm. Looks like it’s going to be a long day and night :/ . Such is the life of a college student. 3. More. Days.

Working Bee,

Nora

What are your favorite work snacks?

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Hey everyone! I hope you all survived this Manic Monday! What makes Monday such a crazy day anyways? I swear I always feel like I’m being pulled in 7 directions, running around like a chicken with my head cut off (what a bizarre phrase.). I have lots of studying to get done this evening but wanted to post some of the foods that really hit the spot today. I love when I eat something and it is EXACTLY what I wanted.

“Breakfast” (I have to put this in quotes because this is not something I would typically consider breakfast.):

For once in my life I didn’t feel like making breakfast and I was in a rush to study. Good thing I have an ample bar supply! I know I said before that I wasn’t fond of these Chocolate Cherry Almond Luna Protein Bars but I think they are growing on me. When I went to my stash I was thinking Chocolate Peanut Butter Luna but this little guy just jumped out at me. It  COMPLETELY hit the spot and this mini meal held me over for a few hours!

Lunch:I’m still working on cleaning out my fridge  and I was craving some hummus and cheese on toast so lunch today was a monster sandwich. This monster contained: 2 slices of Ezekiel Bread, Cedar’s Original Hummus, Swiss Cheese, spicy brown mustard, spinach, cucumber, sprouts, Roma tomato and turkey breast. On the side I had watermelon and a Honeynana Chobani Champions with blackberries and 1 TBS walnuts.

Lunch was also supposed to have this beet, carrot, celery and ginger juice, but I think the beet was a little overripe (bad part of cleaning the fridge…things you forgot you had gone to waste 😦 ) and it tasted a little off.

After lunch I went to Barnes and Noble to study and of course I got a Grande Non-Fat Cinnamon Dolce Latte.I think I have it set in my head that I need a warm, sweet, foamy latte in my hands in order to focus on tedious material. I also had a bite of a Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Factory Cupcake that they had for sampling! SCORE! Only 4 more days!

Dinner:

Brace yourself…

All day long at the Barnes and Noble cafe I kept smelling coffee, peanut butter (they have amazing peanut butter cup cookies that they heat up!) and maple. I was also FREEZING thanks to their work conducive temperatures so I wanted something cozy for dinner. I saw this sweet potato and baked beans concoction on Caitlin’s blog, and knew I had to try it. I picked up some Bush’s Original Baked Beans (has bacon, not the vegetarian!) a while ago anticipating the day when I would make this. I roasted the potato in the oven at 450 for about 40 minutes. I almost cooked the sweet potato in the microwave but I LOVE eating the skin, and it gets crispy and caramelized when you roast it in the oven 🙂 . I cut the sweet potato open, sprinkled it with cinnamon and topped it with baked beans. HOLY COW! Caitlin, you are a genius! This is the most surprisingly fantastic thing I’ve ever consumed. I swear I would be a very happy girl if I had this every night for the rest of my life. On the side I had some roasted broccoli, carrot fries and dill pickles. Everything was dipped in ketchup, even the sweet potato.

Dessert:

I was feeling a bit “All-American-Cookout” after dinner and decided to continue this theme for dessert.I give you: Vanilla Bean Frozen Yogurt topped with cinnamon, chunky natural apple sauce, a chopped Medjool Date and Kopali Dark Chocolate Covered Cacao Nibs. This tasted like a wholesome apple crumble. The date pieces give a nice maple flavor, and harden for an extra chewy texture. It was only missing one thing: Peanut Butter. I dove back into my freezer candy stash after the photo for a miniature Reese Peanut Butter Cup. Perfection.

Now I am full and satisfied and ready to get back to work. I find it makes SUCH a difference when I study with a full and happy belly. I am a million times more focused and productive. Although, I do start day dreaming about all of the things I want to make post-graduation after a few hours of reading Freud.

Studying Hard,

Nora

What is your favorite simple and satisfying meal?

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If I have learned one thing in college it is that Two Finals + One Paper + Sore Throat = miserable finals week.

I really wanted to make something fun for breakfast this morning like pancakes or a big omelet but my body felt like it was in the early stages of a cold.  I’m rarely sick but when I am, I am unproductive….NOT a good state to be in during finals week. I knew that I needed something cool, substantial, refreshing and healthy for breakfast to counteract my pre-cold symptoms. My solution: loaded green monster in a wine glass (to keep it classy 🙂 )

Into my blender: 4 ice cubes, 1 frozen banana, 1 scoop GREEN Amazing Grass Superfood, 1 scoop Chocolate Whey Protein, 2 tsp Hershey’s Unsweetened Natural Cocoa, cinnamon, 1 TBS natural crunchy peanut butter, 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 bag of spinach.

It was extremely soothing and filling. I am never completely satisfied when I “drink” my breakfast so I usually top it with granola and eat it cereal-style, but this mix did the trick this morning. I had an apple shortly after, but I think adding the peanut butter made my smoothie more substantial and satisfying. I’m feeling energized and ready to tackle some major studying and this cold!

During finals week our school library is constantly packed with students. (Although, I’m pretty sure that this week is the first time that many of them have actually seen the library.) I won’t be able to find a space/computer outlet if I try to go, and I know that I can’t be as productive as I would like to be in the small confinement of my apartment so I’m off to a local book store. I have found the book store to be a great environment for me to do work with little distractions.

I’m being slightly frugal and packed a lunch to bring with me. I know that they don’t typically like you to bring food but hey, I’m a poor college kid and if I buy an over priced latte while I’m there that counts right? I call my lunch “cleaning out my fridge”. I packed a whole wheat and flax wrap (my last one!) with Cedar’s Original Hummus, turkey, Swiss cheese, spinach, sprouts, Roma tomato and cucumber with a side of watermelon and pineapple. I almost got the wrap closed this time! MY SKILLS ARE IMPROVING!

Getting The Study Party Started,

Nora

What types of food do you eat to help ward off a cold?

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When I woke up this morning my sweet tooth was non-existent. In fact, it was slightly aching from some late night Easter candy AND  ice cream. Around 11pm last night I felt like I wanted dessert but couldn’t decided between candy and ice cream. I went with candy and had a bit of Easter Bunny and a frozen mini Mr. Goodbar. After finishing that I wanted ice cream (go figure) so I had a double scoop of Mint Cookies and Cream and Vanilla topped with fresh sliced strawberries. I curbed my cravings but it might not have been the best “pre-bed” snack. I quickly ruled out cereal and even the notion of nut-butter and banana oats seemed TOO sweet. I decided that a runny egg was the only thing that would satisfy.

For breakfast I had Cinnamon Raisin Toast with Pumpkin Butter and Extra Cinnamon, Fried Egg, Strawberries and a Valencia Orange. I finished it all off with a cup of  Black Tea. This was a delicious combination. I love fried eggs with something sweet, and the pumpkin butter had just enough sweetness without overwhelming my throbbing sweet tooth.

Fun fact: I actually BURNED my first piece of toast this morning. I started laughing, because a) I can’t remember the last time I completely burned a piece of toast and b) toast is the easiest thing to make and I cook WAY more complex things. EH, such is life. I also discovered that my pumpkin butter was on its last legs :(. I literally scraped the jar for my toast, but I decided to keep the jar as a yogurt vessel to REALLY scrape it clean. I do not waste a drop!

Breakfast Special Wednesday,

Nora

What is your favorite egg dish?

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It has been quite a hectic day FILLED with food. I didn’t end up finishing my paper last night and went to sleep around 3am! This meant I had to wake up and finish it this morning. I HATE procrastinating. I usually keep a calendar and schedule when I know I have projects due so I don’t feel rushed and anxious. Quite frankly, when I try to do things last-minute I know they wont be my best effort, and I always want to be proud of my work. Recently my mind has been elsewhere trying to dream up my life after college. I want to contribute and dedicate myself to healthy living, food and wine on a much larger scale than I do now. I am searching for a career and a purpose.

When I do “crunch time” work, I get really antsy. I feel like I’m moving 100 miles a minute and am never focused. I fall into snacking habits to keep me calm. I’m not sure why, but I have it set in my head that I need snacks to complete my task. Every time I finish one, I have to run to get something else. I found that I had only written a few pages after breakfast (another green monster and granola bowl with an Amazing Grass Wheatgrass packet added today…interesting texture and made me feel energized!) before I ran back into the kitchen to grab a Jonagold. As soon as I finished my apple I ran back to the kitchen and had to make toast. Okay you get the picture. Basically write/read 1-2 pages grab a snack is my pattern. I literally sat in bed with my laptop from 8:30 am-1pm paper writing and snacking. A few snack highlights: 2 slices of multigrain bread (the dense bread from my bakery!) with cinnamon, almond butter, organic raspberry jam and more cinnamon on top. As soon as the bread popped out of the toaster I sprinkled it with cinnamon. I couldn’t decide if I should top my almond butter with jam or pumpkin butter, so why not both? I finished it with more cinnamon and I kid you not, the second I finished one slice I needed another it was THAT good.I also tried the Kardea Lemon-Ginger Bar. The texture/visual appearance reminds me of oatmeal cookie dough batter! I smelled lemon when I opened the package so I was pretty excited. Unfortunately, I couldn’t taste the ginger and the lemon flavor was pretty mild. For a while I was in a Lemon Zest Luna Bar phase (It is such a refreshing flavor!) and I love the potent flavor of those, so I do have a slight bias. I also loved the Kardea Banana Nut Bar so much that the others I have tried are hard to live up to it.

I’m not complaining, the food was good and I got my paper done but I was still in my pjs at 1pm with a belly full of food. I handed in my paper and needed fresh air! I decided to go for a run and soak up the blue sky and sunshine. It was exactly what I needed. As I walked back to my apartment I had a heartfelt phone call with my mom about life and what I’m going to be doing next year. I feel so fortunate to be able to talk to my parents about anything. They are my allies and my best friends.

When I got back, it was highly apparent that I had been cooped up in my room paper writing for two days. There were piles of clothes, scattered papers and books, and plates everywhere. I needed to clean. I restored my room to normal order and took a relaxing shower to refresh myself. For dinner I decided to continue with the “clean” theme and made Pan-seared Lemon-Thyme Tilapia with Asparagus and a Berry Salad. So light and refreshing after a day of snacks! I love adding berries, light green veggies (cucumbers and celery), feta cheese and nuts to spicy arugula. It is so light and packs a punch of flavor!

While waiting for my laundry to dry(when I clean…I CLEAN!), I had some dessert. I was going to go for more Chocolate Bunny for dessert but decided to keep it classy with mint cookies and cream with a frozen cherry on top  in a wine glass. Everything is more fun to eat when you serve it in a wine glass! I felt elegant ;).

Job Searching,

Nora

What are little things you do to “treat” yourself? (**If I’m having a bad day I always make myself something really nice and plate it up using fancy dishes. I love sharing my cooking with others but sometimes it’s fun cooking for one!**)

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