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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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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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Ina Garten, aka my kitchen hero, charmingly states “What could be bad?” as she incorporates decadent and simple ingredients into her divine creations. This morning with each heavily bite of my oats in a jar, I started to channel Ina and kept thinking “What could be bad?” Answer: absolutely nothing. Putting warm oatmeal in an almost empty nut butter jar is such a simple pleasure. I started making mental notes about how amazing this breakfast is:

1. I get satisfaction knowing that I successfully ate ever molecule in my expensive nut butter jar.

2. One less dish that I have to do, saving time and WATER! GO GREEN!

3. It is amazing when you get to the bottom only to discover a chunk of almond butter coating your spoon.

4. Melted almond butter is delicious.

5. Let’s face it, eating out of a jar is fun.

6. If I really wanted to I could put the lid on and have an easy portable breakfast.

7. I get to open another jar soon!

8.  Oatmeal in a jar is one of the most comforting and satisfying breakfasts I can think of, and easy to take back to bed with a cup of coffee!

In to my almond butter jar went: 1/4 cup oat bran, 2 TBS rolled oats, 1/3 cup almond milk, 1/3 cup water, 1/2 thinly sliced banana, 1.5 tsp chia seeds, 1 tsp ground flax, cinnamon, and vanilla extract topped with blackberries and raspberry preserves.

I know I’ve said it before, but I really enjoy the combination of rolled oats and oat bran. I like the texture of rolled oats alone but they do not generate a fluffy volume. I get the best of both worlds when I combine rolled oats and oat bran to create a fluffy/chewy bowl of perfection.

I’m off to the bakery for the day, where I will be dreaming up my next creation. I have a little something in mind for dinner this evening so stay tuned!

Goodness,

Nora

What are your favorite simple yet satisfying meals?

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Oatmeal and fuzzy slippers are my motivation to rise from my cozy bed and warm sheets each and every morning. I love these slippers. They are the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever owned and never fail to provide my feet with warmth.  As I ritually slid them on today I became a bit sentimental. It finally hit me–I am done with my undergraduate career. I purchased these slippers the summer before I began college and they have served me well.   I am uncertain what is going to come next (hopefully a career in food/wine/health!) but these shoes will remain with me as I take my next steps.

I was freezing when I woke up this morning, so I appreciated my slippers and oatmeal even more. I wanted something comforting and hearty. I thought about making something like my fruit cake oats, but as soon as I opened the refrigerator to grab my almond butter I spotted a can of fresh cleaned peaches. I am in the process of cleaning out my fridge before graduation (2 weeks from Sunday!!) and these looked like they would make a nice addition to my oats. I was also under the mentality that I might be able to channel the warm weather back by adding peaches to my breakfast…let’s hope this works :).

In the mix: 1/4 cup oat bran, 2 TBS rolled oats, 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1/3 cup water, 1/2 sliced banana, 1.5 tsp chia seeds, 1.5 tsp ground flax, cinnamon, vanilla extract. Topped with clean peaches, blackberries, almond butter and cinnamon.

This was obviously “the best bowl of oatmeal I’ve ever made”–I always think that oatmeal is fantastic:)! I was a little heavy-handed with the almond milk today and added a few extra splashes as I measured out the 1/3 cup. This was certainly for the better because my oats were MUCH creamier and fluffier than usual. I basically scraped my almond butter jar for the last chunk so oats in a jar are coming soon! This is also exciting because I love opening a new jar of almond butter almost as much as I love licking them clean! I’m off for a day of review sessions, studying and day dreaming about new kitchen creations for “study breaks”. Two finals and one paper left until I’m out in the real world!

Happy Almost Weekend,

Nora

Are you a morning person?

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Every bowl of oats that I make is slightly different, but they never fail to satisfy my mood. I am constantly thinking, “This is the best bowl I have ever made”, and I truly feel like that at the time because each bowl has an impact on my day. Today I woke up to a cold and drizzly morning. I knew it was an oatmeal day, and slowly came to my topping decisions as I slowly got out of bed. It was one of those mornings where it took a little “self-talk” and thoughts of a lovely breakfast to leave the comfort of my cozy sheets.

Lately I haven’t been able to get enough blackberries. I love, love LOVE this berry. They are sweet, tangy and crunchy–the perfect combination to top oatmeal, or anything for that matter. I was craving some good old almond butter and raspberry jam melted on top of my warm oats, and so was the inspiration for this bowl.

In the mix:

Base: 1/4 cup oat bran, 2 TBS rolled oats, 1/3 cup vanilla soy milk, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 sliced banana, 1/2 TBS chia seeds, 1/2 TBS ground flax, cinnamon.

Toppings: Raspberry jam, blackberries, almond butter, coconut butter.

This bowl rocked my world this morning, and I love how the flakes of coconut butter melt when they hit the warm bowl. I think the coconut butter may have been the star companion to my blackberries and raspberry preserves. This breakfast was indeed, “The best bowl I’ve ever made”….well at least for today. I’m off to brave the cold, miserable weather with a smile in my heart and love in my belly! Happy Tuesday!

Cozy Breakfast Bowls,

Nora

What are your favorite toppings?

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