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Posts Tagged ‘Spinach’

I live by the motto “never judge a book by its cover”; some of the best things in life come in unexpected forms. I always try to keep an open mind and will try anything once (within reason). It is with this mentality that I have discovered my love for things like escargot and raw fish. I was hesitant to try these things at first, but I’m so glad that I did.

For breakfast this morning I had a bowl of unconventional oats. I used 1/2 cup raw rolled oats, 1/3 cup Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt, 1/3 cup pumpkin, 1/2 of a large banana, ground flax, honey and cinnamon. With inspiration from Catlin, raw oatmeal is quickly becoming one of my favorite breakfast dishes. I did not think it sounded appealing at first, but after trying it I immediately fell in love. It has a better consistency than overnight oats and is far more substantive than granola or cereal. It keeps me full, satisfied and happy all morning long.

Lunch today is also “off the beaten path” so to speak. I packed my lunchbox with a sunflower seed butter, spinach and red bell pepper sandwich on whole wheat with two large carrots, an Empire apple and a super-charge me cookie. Allie sent me my very first jar of sunflower seed butter a few weeks ago and I have been dipping into it non-stop. I have added sunflower seed butter to everything from bread to yogurt, and found that some of my favorite surfaces have been vegetables. In fact, I think the best combination I tried was raw broccoli dipped in sunflower seed butter. Sounds odd, but it was so good. Remember my motto?

Hopefully my day will be as interesting as my food!

Happy Monday,

Nora

What is the best “odd” combination you have tried?

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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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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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Lack of internet + no time= my demise. Although I have been completely disconnected for the past few days, I did not forget about my dear blog. My internet is not going to be installed until Wednesday, so I am EXTREMELY grateful right now for free Wi-Fi at coffee shops….I’m also extremely grateful for my parents. They have been my “knights in shining armor” through the insanity of the past week. I can’t believe how much has happened in such a short period of time. To recap:

  1. I graduated college on Sunday May 16.
  2. Immediately after my diploma ceremony I went on a packing rampage and shoved the contents of my college apartment into trash bags and boxes as quickly as possible.
  3. My parents helped me move all of my crazily packed belongings into my apartment and I headed home for a few days.
  4. Early Tuesday morning I left home to get started on apartment unpacking.
  5. Wednesday-Thursday my parents returned to help me clean/unpack/organize my apartment. All day Wednesday was spent cleaning. I had work at the bakery on Thursday and my parents stayed to complete the apartment transformation without me! I came back after work to a beautiful, organized and clean home. I’m not sure what I would have done without them because they completely transformed my hole-in-the-wall into a cozy abode.

When I got back from the bakery Thursday night my body was screaming “GIVE ME VEGGIES! GIVE ME VEGGIES!” The past few days haven’t exactly been produce heavy, and I was dying for some clean eats! It was nearly 8:30pm when I got back to my apartment, so I complied a salad in my new PERFECT SALAD BOWL (This bowl is is deep and has high sides so the contents of my typically gigantic salads mix well and do not fly all over. I’ve always used plates for my salad constructions and they can be messy. I’m very excited about this purchase. Thanks Mom and Dad!) with about 2 cups of mixed greens, 1/2 head of romaine, 1/4 cup garbanzo beans, handful of alfalfa sprouts, 1 stalk of celery, 1/3 of a large cucumber, 3 big and beautiful strawberries, 1/2 of a navel orange, 1/3 block of 5 grain tempeh and feta cheese topped with balsamic. This beautiful large salad was enjoyed on the floor of my new living room while watching Julie and Julia on my tiny TV. After dinner I enjoyed an ice cream sandwich for something sweet and cool.

Previous Eats:

On Monday I ate the contents of my parents fridge which includes but is not limited to the following:

Later that night I shared crackers, cheese and a martini with my dad before dinner. My mom prepared a fantastic grilled chicken breast, blue cheese wedge salad with a tarragon vinaigrette and herbed basmati rice. We enjoyed this meal with a cool and crisp Simi Chardonnay.

With a little help from my friends Betty Crocker and butter, I assembled Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (extra chocolate chips added) for dessert. I had four of these while watching TV with my parents. It was the perfect way to relax before returning to my cluttered apartment.

Running out the door on Tuesday morning I grabbed a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Luna Protein Bar (as if I didn’t get my cookie fix the night before) and headed back. When I got to my apartment I snacked on almonds and dried apricots before assembling my first apartment meal. For lunch I made a simple salad with a slice of leftover pizza. I had an apple and dark chocolate shortly after.

Dinner was a complete disgrace so pictures were not taken. I had a meeting from 5-9 so I decided to fill up with granola, cereal, museli, a frozen banana, vanilla soy milk, and Greek Yogurt. A few bowls later and I was  extraordinarily stuffed. When I got to the meeting the smell of pizza filled the air. The temptation was too much and I had a slice of cheese and a slice of pepperoni. After the meeting I had a dark chocolate almond and a dark chocolate cashew cluster before calling it a night.

Wednesday morning I had an 8am class to learn how to use my new MacBook. I wanted oatmeal for breakfast, but it was out of the question. The gas for my oven was not turned on and my microwave aka the number one cooking device used during my freshman-junior years of college remained in storage at my house. I made a portable breakfast for the drive:

This monster was composed of 1 large frozen banana, 2 large handfuls of spinach, 1/2 scoop chocolate whey protein, 1 scoop GREEN Superfood, cinnamon, 1 cup vanilla soy milk, 1 TBS crunchy PB and 5 ice cubes.

After the appointment I went to Starbucks for a Grande Soy Misto and a KIND Cashew and Almond Bar.

I had a late lunch and my parents finally arrived, ready to get down to apartment furnishing business. I have the world’s greatest parents, I can’t believe how much they have helped me with over the past two days. I’m pretty sure that if I did not have their assistance I would have just lived in a dirty, half-unpacked apartment for the next three months. It was a long day of cleaning that ended in Dinosaur BBQ for dinner. I started with a Middle Ages IPA beer and for my meal I had a chicken platter with BBQ chicken breast and wing, baked beans (so tasty and cooked with pulled pork!), corn bread, and a marinated cucumber and tomato salad. You better believe I demolished the entire plate!

This overdue entry is a bit lengthy, so I’m going to stop here. I have been reflecting over the past few days and have some thoughts for my blog that I want to share. I’m also exceptionally excited about my internship that starts MONDAY! I’ll be back later today (if I have the opportunity to obtain internet!) so stay tuned for more trials and tribulations.

Growing Up,

Nora

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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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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 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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