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Posts Tagged ‘Medjool Dates’

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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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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I wasn’t planning on writing another post today, but I ate some food that HAD to be written about. First up Dr. Kracker Klassic 3 Seed Snackers. I mean, just look at them. These satisfied every crunchy,  carby, nutty craving I was having. Where have these been my whole life? I had a serving of these babies with dinner tonight (dinner was too messy to be picture worthy but was a big HUGE salad with a base of mixed greens and spinach, sliced button mushrooms, 1 large carrot shredded, 1/2 a medium roasted beet, 1 golden beet, 1/3 block tempeh, cucumber, clover sprouts, and asparagus dressed with a red wine vinaigrette if you were wondering) and I think they were the highlight of my meal! I loved the sesame and sunflower seeds that are fused on top, they give the cracker amazing flavor. Honestly, these are so decadent that I think I would prefer these crackers naked. No cheese, no hummus, just the good old cracker. Wait…I take it back, I bet jam would be AMAZING on these!

Next my dessert. What is this monstrosity you ask?  I call this dish “Hot Mess”, which would be ~3/4 cup chunky natural apple sauce mixed with cinnamon, 1 chopped medjool date, ~1 TBS Maranatha Dark Chocolate Almond Spread, and a Big Scoop of Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt. I heated everything together, and finished it with the cool and creamy yogurt. I didn’t really need dessert but I was cold, and this just sounded amazing. I love warm apple sauce and the date gets extremely soft, “melt in your mouth” if you will, and sweet. The Greek yogurt played with the sweet flavors and warmth perfectly. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t go back for a tad more before settling down for the night ;).  Simple throw togethers like this make me happy.

Fun Life Facts: Because I am a loser, I tend to eat dinner at my desk. Not the most ideal setting but it meant that I was able to catch up with my mom via Facebook Chat. Yes, ladies and gentleman, my mom has a Facebook page. And, I happen to LOVE IT!  Technology is an amazing tool to stay connected. The other day was my cat’s (Rose) birthday. Naturally she created an album complete with 5 whole pictures to document the occasion filled with captions such as, and I quote: “Ah, you feed me too well. Just look at my tummy. People are beginning to mistake me for Garfield!” I love my mom! Things like this really make me miss home. Good thing she is just a phone call, or Facebook chat away!

Stolen from my mom's Facebook. THANKS MOM!

Staying Connected,

Nora

What types of technology do you mainly use to stay in touch and connect with people?

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Apparently I have an over packing problem.  I struggle to close sandwiches, wraps and omelets in the same way that I struggle with my suit case every time I travel.

This morning I woke up and decided it was an egg day. The sky was dark and a misty rain was present in the cold air. I thought about oatmeal and pancakes but knew I needed something a bit more savory. My solution: egg-white omelet with spinach, broccoli, mushroom, tomato, vegetarian sausage (I crumbled up a Yves and heated it with my veggies) and feta cheese, a side of whole wheat toast with raspberry jam, coffee and orange juice. I do not make omelets for breakfast often (they are more of a dinner dish for me) because I have an extreme “sweet breakfast” complex, so when I do I tend to go a little overboard. I somehow managed to get it on my plate in a presentable manner, and topped it with Sriracha hot sauce and cracked black pepper. It was the perfect breakfast for this cold morning, and filled me well.

After breakfast I went to a Vinyasa yoga class.  Let me tell you there is nothing better than doing relaxing yoga in a warm room when it is miserable outside. It brings out a whole new uplifting mood! When the class was finished the clouds parted, the sun was shining and the sky was a brilliant shade of blue. Although the temperature was still in the upper 40’s it was an amazingly beautiful day! After class I stopped by the grocery store to visit my co-workers and pick up some produce. I think that my 10am yoga class followed by grocery shopping is becoming my Sunday routine. I picked up some goodies for dinner and headed home for lunch.

I was parched after yoga and shopping so I wanted something refreshing for lunch aka a green monster, granola and raw almonds bowl, apple, carrot, green grapes and Medjool dates with almond butter. I mixed up my green monster a bit, my combination was: 1 large frozen banana, 3 large fresh strawberries, 1 scoop chocolate whey protein, 2 big handfuls of spinach, 1 cup unsweetened original almond milk, cinnamon, cacao and vanilla extract. The strawberries gave it a darker color so it looked like sludge. Since it wasn’t an exciting lunch I neglected pictures but it looked something like this (didn’t I have the same thing last Sunday haha…yep!) with about a cup of big green grapes and a large carrot.Miss Congeniality is on TV and I have a bunch of work to do so it is going to be a stay-in day. I have something nice planned for an early dinner before going to a 7pm meeting.  I love having relaxing Sundays. When I was younger my family would attend church together, have a great brunch, do yard/house/school work all day and gather for a thoughtful and comforting dinner. It was the perfect way to end a hectic week, and refresh ourselves for the week to come. I now see why Sunday is meant to  be a day of rest.

Peace and Love,

Nora

Do you usually do something special on Sunday?

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BREAKING NEWS: OATS ARE OFFICIALLY BACK IN MY LIFE!

I was starting to get nervous that my ugly green monster/granola bowls were becoming my new breakfast of choice. I have been choosing alternative breakfast options for nearly a week, but alas, loaded oatmeal always wins. I even pumped it up a bit more with ground flax in the base. Before I get into the contents of this bowl I must profess my love for Medjool Dates. They are so soft and sweet. I like eating them plain with a bit of almond butter, however; they take on a whole new meaning when they are warm. They melt in the warm oats and are the perfect pair with banana and almond butter. When I am done with school, I am foresee some MAJOR baking using these flavor combination.

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

Toppings: ~1/4 cup Greek yogurt,1 chopped Medjool Date, black berries, strawberries and 1 TBS crunchy almond butter.

I like adding the Greek yogurt because it makes the mix extremely creamy and tames some of the sweet flavors. To my surprise, it was not enough to thin my oats today. After letting it sit I wound up with a rather thick bowl. I did not want to add water and reheat because I find that when you heat a bowl that has yogurt it tends to get…well…clumpy. I resolved my issue by adding a bit of my hot coffee into the bowl. Did the trick!

Before leaving my apartment I had another Jonagold apple. I think I need to calm down my apple consumption. I’m getting into the mentality that, “my meal isn’t complete until I have an apple.”. There could be worse things but it is sad seeing my apple supply diminish so quickly!

Happy Almost Weekend!

Nora

Do you ever get into food habits? Repeating meals, snacks, etc?

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Today was a day filled with inspiration. At yoga, the instructor’s mother recently passed away and she spent the class reflecting on the way she reacts to difficult situations. She recognized that during tough times she has certain habits that she falls into, and she is able to recognize them and let them be. She noted a moment when she visited  Uganda a few years back. She planned the trip, arrived there but didn’t really experience the trip until the group she was with visited a local orphanage. That moment rocked her world, and as her partners were getting ready to go to the next agenda item she knew she had to stay behind. She did all of the things that made her feel grounded: called home to talked with loved ones, ordered room service and a glass of wine, and ordered more room service for chocolate ice cream. She joked that she tends to turn to chocolate, and realized this as she was on her 8th chocolate chip cookie yesterday. She stressed that we all go to different places when our worlds are altered but the important thing is that we recognize our reactions and let it be.  Towards the end of class she played a song that a family friend recorded for her to, “Alleluia” after hearing of her mom’s passing. It was the most beautiful rendition I have ever heard, I started to tear up. It took me to such an emotional place. Her words and attitude were so motivating, it was what I needed to hear.

After yoga I went to the grocery store. I saw some of my co-workers and purchased a few items. When I walked by the golden beets yesterday at work, I knew I had to make a roasted beet salad. I happened to have a  loaf of Twisted Root Bread (dark German malted barley) find it’s way into my cart when I dropped by the bakery. We seriously have the best bakers and the most amazing bread where I work. This bread is made from scratch every day and has the most wonderful malt flavor. It is one of my favorite breads that we carry. Because it is made from scratch everyday, it always looks a bit different depending on who makes it. It looked absolutely perfect today and I knew I had to get it to accompany my salad.

I was pretty hungry on my way home and snacked on a big Jonagold Apple. When I got home I was craving  a smoothie in a bowl for lunch. This bowl has: 1 large frozen banana, 5 frozen strawberries, 1 heaping scoop of chocolate whey protein, 1 cup vanilla almond milk, 2 handfuls of spinach and topped with Galaxy Vanilla Almond Granola and extra Almonds. I needed some study snacks so I heated Medjool Dates with Peanut Butter and Almond Butter. Why have I never tried this? I almost died and went to heaven! The almond butter was my favorite and I may have gone back for more :). I have a snacking problem when I have lots of work to do. I acknowledge this, but it helps me focus. I had another plate of strawberries, frozen bananas and frozen cherries with almond butter. There were definitely more snacks in there but nothing picture worthy.

When dinner time crept up (seriously where did my day go?), I decided to start on my creation: Roasted Beet and Arugula Salad with Chevre Goat Cheese, Toasted Hazelnuts and Twisted Root Bread with a Lemon-Basil vinaigrette. I used 1 medium beet and 1 medium golden beet. ~ 1 TBS chopped toasted hazelnuts, ~1 oz Chevre Goat Cheese, and dressed the salad and bread with a mixture of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and ciffonade of basil leaves. Magical things happened when I added the homemade dressing. It was light but made the beets even more buttery and the toasted bread the perfect texture. I had a tiny glass of paper writing inspiration Spanish Quarter Cabernet Sauvignon with my meal. DELICIOUS. Reason number 1 why I am not a typical college student: I dream of/eat things like this and cherish a good glass of wine to match my food. But hey I AM TOTALLY fine with that!!

Dessert: ACTTACK OF CHOCOLATE EATER BUNNY NUMBER 2 (finished Mr. Chocolate Almond Bunny)

Before

After

I’m cruel, what can I say? I still have to finish my paper but it is shaping up! I just grabbed a few more of those dates to help me get through it :).  For once in my life I am excited for Monday to come. New week….bring it on!

New Beginnings,

Nora

What is your favorite “simple but elegant” meal?

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Good Morning!! I’m in WAY too good of a mood for 8am on a mid-week day. I woke up today completely refreshed with nothing but oats on my mind! I’m seriously contemplating starting a club dedicated to oats. They are hearty, delicious, HEALTHY and so versatile. It is the one breakfast that I know will satisfy me and send me off with high spirits for the day. Today was no exception, and this bowl of Pumpkin oats was scrumptious. Yes, my word of choice today is scrumptious, because no other word seems to fit the sheer enjoyment contained in this bowl.

In the mix: 1/3 cup water, 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1/2 sliced banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, vanilla extract, 1/4 cup rolled oats, 2 TBS oat bran, 1/2 TBS chia seeds,  1/4 cup canned pumpkin (stirred in at the end).

Toppings: 1 Chopped Medjool date, the last of my Plain Chobani container ~1/4 cup, 1 TBS almond butter, and a big spoonful of Crofter’s Europe Superfruit Spread (black currants and pomegranate!).

The “brag” factors in this bowl were: Medjool Dates, Crofters and Oat Bran. I love the soft consistency of the dates, and the sweet “melt-in-your-mouth” feel they provide. They are such a nice pair with pumpkin and almond butter; something I have to remember next time I make pumpkin bread! The tart Crofter’s gave this bowl a little somethin’-somethin’. It  mixed so well with the Greek yogurt and provided a nice contrast between the sweet and spicy elements in the base of the bowl. Lastly, I am officially a fan of mixing oats. The rolled oats provide a slight chew factor and the oat bran leaves it nice and creamy; the perfect consistency for me :).

Back At It,

Nora

What is your “happy food”? Something that you can rely on to always treat you well?

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