Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Strawberry Grape Balsamic Sauce

Exciting news...I bought my own domain name today! Granted it was 4 dollars and I have no idea what to do with it yet, but it is still progress! And I had popcorn with pineapple salsa as a snack after dinner, so overall successful day. That and an efficient gym trip which consisted of running, a burpee, squat, and medicine ball skater circuit, some hang snatches and RDLs, and some abs. I came home and had my cabbage and meatball leftovers and some roasted eggplant, but I still have a recipe from the other week that I want to share. Plus I have a bunch of fruit that I am going to roast tomorrow because I am dumb and let it get singed on top of our toaster oven and now it is going bad, which means I might make this recipe again to go along with it. Let me know what you think, this recipe is once again very easy, healthy, and versatile!

Strawberry Grape Balsamic Sauce

Ingredients:
1 cup green grapes
1 cup strawberries
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp almond butter (or nut butter of choice)

Puree all ingredients in a blender or magic bullet, and serve as a dip, drizzle, dressing, marinade, or just chill and eat it plain! (guilty)

Some serving suggestions:


Strawberry Grape Balsamic Sauce
A topping for roasted fruit
Strawberry Grape Balsamic Sauce
A chilled dip for basically anything
Strawberry Grape Balsamic Sauce

Monday, July 29, 2013

Sundried Tomato Parmesan Burgers

What a busy yet relaxing and successful and fun weekend it was...went to Union Square market, Trader Joe's, did a bunch of grilling, went to Bareburger, got frozen yogurt aka pistachio coconut pineapple tart yogurt, went to our school's cafeteria for their (in)famous oatmeal and egg brunch, hung out with old and new friends...and wait did I mention Bareburger??? Since pictures speak a thousand words, and I couldn't resist taking a photo shoot of the absolute best burger I've ever had, please let me share:

     
That would be ostrich, avocado, portobello mushroom, fried egg, turkey bacon, ketchup, apple baked onion, roasted peppers, tomato, smoked mozzarella, pineapple...and I'm most likely still forgetting something. I wonder if they do multiple patties because one day I would really like to go back and order an ostrich, elk, bison, and wild boar burger...I wouldn't get judged for that right?

Anyways, moving on from my free advertising for Bareburger, on Friday I also ended up making some pretty great burgers, if I do say so myself. All thanks to the fact that our old roommate left a jar of sundried tomatoes in our fridge when he moved out. Just kidding, but not that much, since I do hate wasting food...they're really beautiful and easy, and good for you, as always:





Sundried Tomato Parmesan Burgers

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs ground turkey or beef (approx.)
1 cup sundried tomatoes, drained if necessary
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp dried basil or a handful of fresh basil, chopped
2 tsp marjoram (optional)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Directions:
Combine ground meat, onion, tomatoes, and Parmesan in a bowl, and if you have time, cover and let marinade together in the refrigerator for at least half an hour. Remove and form patties of desired size. Place on a grill on high heat for about 15 minutes, or until cooked throughout (or to your liking). You could also bake in a (toaster) oven, which may take a little longer, around 25-30 minutes. Optional: top with additional Parmesan and/ or other toppings to serve. For added flavor, try mixing in some of the drained olive oil from the sundried tomatoes. This may require a little extra Parmesan and will make the mixture a little more moist, but it should all still hold together well. That's it! How easy is that?

 

You can also make these into amazing meatballs, which I did with the leftover meat I had from the barbecue! So many possibilities...


Also posted to the Tasty Thursdays Roundup, go check it out :-)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Weekly Oats Roundup

I wanted to share that we had our company picnic today, and not only was it a lot of fun to see everyone outside of the office, but they also had catered barbecue with the most delicious pulled pork I've ever had...and grilled veggies...and grilled chicken...and corn...I ate my bodyweight in food and could go on about it and probably will not be eating for like a week. Except for that is a lie and I will most likely be eating leftovers in about an hour. But that is surprisingly not the point of this post!

I had an idea earlier this week, so I want to try it out and see how long I can keep it up. Since I like to make oatmeal for breakfast during the week, I thought that it would be fun to share the variations I make through a weekly post with pictures of these beautiful oats! So here goes:

Let me know how you like to make your oats in the morning or send me pictures and I can include them with a credit in my next oats roundup!!

Week 1 Oats Roundup

Pineapple Coconut Greek Yogurt Oatmeal
Pineapple Coconut Greek Yogurt Oatmeal!
Strawberry Apple Butter Greek Yogurt Oatmeal
Strawberry Apple Butter Greek Yogurt Oatmeal!
Apple Cinnamon Greek Yogurt Oatmeal
Apple Cinnamon Greek Yogurt Oatmeal!
I also want it to be known that I am going to Bareburger for the first time tomorrow....Expect an update on my experience which I am sure will be worthwhile as we have a Groupon for any type of meat (Elk or Bison???) and unlimited toppings, which apparently include onions and Portobello mushrooms and poached eggs! Has anyone else had a Bareburger experience they would like to share with me before I go?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Roasted Kabocha, Mushroom, Cabbage and Yam Noodle Stir Fry Salad

I've been pretty out of it for the past few days, with a really stiff neck, sore body, and a terrible headache. I have no idea what's going on, but aside from that, the important thing is that I still managed to snag some really cheap vegetables at my favorite Bronx fruit stand :-) I have been craving cabbage (no judgement please haha) and they had some for $1.50 so I went for it and haven't looked back since...then I discovered that they also had kabocha squash for a dollar, and got some mushrooms and onions to go along with it for good measure. I hadn't really planned on making dinner with everything I bought, but really couldn't resist, so the following ended up happening...The name makes it sound kind of far out there but the end result is so worth it! If you're not familiar with Kabocha squash I highly recommend you try it! It is one of my favorites, mainly because my grandma plants huge ones in her garden and it reminds me of her.

I also just wanted to drop a note: and say that this blogging thing is turning out to be a lot of work, and definitely takes up a significant amount of time, but I love it, and the fact that I am sticking it out this time, which feels great. I am investing a lot into it, but at the same time feel like I am learning so much, especially as far as social media and about the blogging community. Thank you for the support so far! I look forward to the time I have to devote to this blog and interacting with others who have similar interests every day.

If you haven't already, please remember to like me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, thanks again!

Roasted Kabocha, Mushroom, Cabbage and Yam Noodle Stir Fry Salad

Roasted Kabocha, Mushroom, Cabbage and Yam Noodle Stir Fry Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 small head of cabbage, roughly shredded
  • 8 to 10 mushrooms of choice
  • 1/2 Kabocha squash
  • 1 12-ounce bag of yam noodles, rinsed and drained (they sell them at Asian and natural markets but you can omit if they freak you out...or make zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash, which might be a squash overkill unless you're obsessed with it like I am!)
  • 1 onion
  • 5-6 tbsp low sodium soy sauce (or more/less to taste)
  • Salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil for pan/wok, plus some to grease baking sheet

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
2. Take half of your Kabocha squash and cut it into strips, parallel with the flesh. This will make the roasting go faster, and make it easy to cut into the salad later on.
3. Grease your baking sheet (I use olive oil in a spray), place slices of squash along with mushrooms on it, sprinkle with salt, and roast for about 30 minutes, until the strips are soft and start to brown.
4. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a wok or a pan, and start to sautee your onions on medium heat, adding the cabbage once it has been cut or shredded into thin strips.
5. After draining and rinsing the yam noodles, add them in and cover the pan, allowing noodles to heat and the cabbage to steam a little for approximately 5-10 minutes, checking every now and then to make sure the ingredients are not sticking to the pan.
6. Uncover and continue to sautee, pouring in soy sauce and adding salt according to taste. The more soy sauce you add, the less salt you will most likely need.
7. Once most of the juice from the bottom of the pan has evaporated, remove from heat.
8. Remove the Kabocha and mushrooms from the oven, and cut into more manageable "salad pieces," or leave intact if you would just like to top the stir fry with them. I chose to incorporate them into the stiry fry, so I cut the Kabocha slices into thirds and the mushrooms in half.
9. Mix into to your stir-fry, and serve hot (or cold, which sounds weird but is also amazing).

One of my favorite things ever is eating stir fry from a bowl, not exactly sure why, but probably because it reminds me of when I was in high school and would make frozen chicken chow main from Trader Joe's for dinner and then eat it on the couch while watching Friends...haha. Anyways, whichever way you choose to eat it, I hope you enjoy!
Roasted Kabocha, Mushroom, Cabbage and Yam Noodle Stir Fry Salad

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Honey Paprika Cinnamon Chicken

Sounds weird right? Well it was impulse and I could not be happier with the way it turned out! I was making chicken for the week (more like a couple of days) and wanted to do something different with the marinade instead of just dumping my trusty no salt-seasoning from Costco on it. So I started with paprika and then saw the honey in my cupboard and thought it could make a nice glaze. This recipe can be used to marinade other types of meat as well, but chicken is great because it is so versatile. It's like a chameleon...or something. I had this for lunch with spinach and goat cheese and it was on point...I think that any vegetable/cheese combo would be a great way to balance the marinade on the chicken! Anyways, hope you are not too deterred by the sound of this recipe to give it a try!

Honey Paprika Cinnamon Chicken

Honey Paprika Cinnamon Chicken

Ingredients:
  • 2 large chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise (so...four?)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbs paprika, or enough to cover the chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • salt to cover
Directions: Place chicken breasts in a bowl and pour olive oil on top. Mix well and add salt and paprika. Rub mixture into the meat thoroughly, making sure that both sides are adequately covered. Next, add honey and cinnamon, also making sure that all breasts are evenly coated. If you have time, cover and let the marinade sit for a couple of hours. Otherwise, place breasts on a baking sheet, and pour leftover mixture from the bowl over the meat for added flavor. Bake for about half and hour on 350-400. Remove, and once again, pour the extra juice from the pan over your meat when serving (optional but delicious in my opinion). I'm sure this meat would also be delicious from the grill, but I will have to try that next time. 

Honey Paprika Cinnamon Chicken
Honey Paprika Cinnamon Chicken

Ps. The amounts for the spices are approximations, so feel free to tweak them according to your judgement. I just kind of eyeballed it and did what looked right.



Monday, July 22, 2013

Scrambled Egg, Spinach, and Garlic Sweet Potato Boats

and a Jamaican Jerk Experience

Yesterday my sister and I trekked to Jamaica, Queens, for the Jamaican Jerk festival. Not only were the atmosphere, music, and food awesome, but it was also a great cultural experience, which is something that I always look forward to. We had so much fun and got to try Ackee, a fish stew that is the national food of Jamaica, baked plantains and plaintain chips, coconut water, breadfruit (who knew that existed??), hard dough bread, festival (fried sweet bread), Jerk chicken, and Jerk ice cream (apparently in honor of national ice cream day which I didn't know existed until about 20 minutes ago). I even won a t-shirt in Air Jamaica's raffle! I also must've entered to win about ten trips to Jamaica, and am fully expecting that phone call...cross your fingers for me :)

Here are a couple of pictures from the day:


Tonight, I was looking to make a quick dinner because I got home from playing volleyball and lifting late (RDLs and hang cleans wooo) and took out some ingredients that I reaaally had to use because they were about to go bad (aka sweet potatoes)...well I started out thinking I was going to make a stir fry, but once again things escalated...I will keep this short and go straight to the recipe:
                                                   Spinach and Garlic Scramble Sweet Potato BoatsSpinach and Garlic Scramble Sweet Potato Boats

Scrambled Egg, Spinach, and Garlic Sweet Potato Boats

Ingredients:
  • 1 large sweet potato (mine may have been big enough...but no worries if you have leftover filling, it still tastes delicious by itself as a snack :-)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 cups fresh spinach, packed (eyeball based on size of potato)
  • 1 cup egg whites
  • Salt (approx. 1 tsp)
  • Dash of pepper to taste
  • Parmesan to top 
Directions: 

1. Microwave your sweet potato for about 3 to 4 minutes on high, with a little bit of water at the bottom if needed. You could also bake it until the inside is soft, but I definitely do not have time for that... :'(
2. Slice your potato in half lengthwise, and scoop out the insides (a spoon works great, especially when the potato is fully cooked). If the insides are still a little hard, chop or mash to bits with a knife.
3. Heat olive oil in a pan (I used a wok because I thought I was going to be stir frying, but whatever works) on medium heat, and when hot,  start sauteeing unions until they start to turn clear.
4. Add garlic, spinach, and sweet potatoes and continue to sautee until spinach is wilted, adding a little bit of water if the ingredients start to stick.
5. When heated throughly, pour in eggs whites and quickly scramble to combine all ingredients.
6. When the scramble starts to bronze, remove from heat and scoop into potato shells with a spoon.
7. Top with Parmesan if you want, and get after it :-)

I'm sure there are a bunch of recipes out there like this, but I pretty much used whatever I had and it came out pretty delicious. Add other vegetables to the sautee if you want/have them, i'm sure mushrooms would complement the recipe well too.


I'd love to hear about any cool festivals you've been to or interesting cultural experiences you've had lately...I feel like almost every day presents opportunities to experience something new around here! Just try taking the subway every morning and you will know what I mean :-)

Sweet Paprika Chili Flake Popcorn

I was told in an email yesterday that I am not a Paleo blogger...which I guess is absolutely true because I love oatmeal and hummus and peanut butter a little bit too much to ever give them up. I guess I will not be a part of that group, but I am working on a section in my about-me where I discuss my view on adhering to "diets," which I hope will be interesting to read. I'm not done yet, but in the meantime in order to celebrate nonconformity, not being "boxed-in," and avoiding a mentality of restriction, I'd like to share a nice and healthy non-paleo snack I made last night:

Sweet Paprika Chili Flake Popcorn
  • 4-5 cups plain popped popcorn
  • 1 tsp coconut/olive oil
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp sweet (Hungarian) paprika
  •  salt and pepper to taste
Directions: 
Drizzle oil over popcorn in the bowl, and then toss with chili flakes and spices. Savor the taste, because I guarantee you will want to make more once you finish :-)

Sweet Paprika Chili Flake Popcorn

I do, however, have to say that I went to this natural market in midtown yesterday and got coconut flour and arrowroot powder though and I can't wait to experiment! Also got chapstick and tea (caramel and peach!!) and coconut flakes among other things...Groupon well spent!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mango Meatballs

Didn't end up going out last night and did a workout that consisted of bleachers and a burpee, tuck jump and mountain climber circuit this morning...my legs are going to be dead but feeling great and the breeze is back for the first time in like a week :) We are off to a Jamaican Jerk Festival (not really sure what to expect) but I wanted to share this simple recipe I made a while back before leaving!

Mango Meatballs

Mango Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey (beef works too!)
  • 2 ripe/overripe champagne mangoes (or 1 large regular mango works as well)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • salt
  • pepper
Directions

1. Chop mangoes and onion into small pieces. This might get a little bit messy, but use a sharp knife and you should be fine! Don't worry if the pieces get a little mushy, they will still taste great.
2. Add to a bowl with your ground meat, and combine with all other ingredients.
3. Work to mesh ingredients, until the "dough"
4. Grease a muffin pan, and form mixture into balls, dropping one in each muffin space.
5. Bake for about 30 minutes on 350, or until the edges start to bronze nicely and the inside is brown throughout.

That's it! Eat by themselves or add to a salad, or over some spaghetti squash with tomato sauce :)

Have a great Sunday everyone!

Mango MeatballsMango Meatballs



Friday, July 19, 2013

Frozen Watermelon Cubes and A Great Start to the Weekend

I mentioned earlier that my sister is here for the weekend, but did I mention that she's also kind of a genius? This is proven by the fact that she came up with the idea to make frozen cubes of watermelon. I'm not sure if anyone's thought of this before, but it's actually perfect because they get cold but not ridiculously hard like ice cubes or other fruit. This makes them ideal to add to smoothies, make ice cream with, use to make infused ice water, or just eat by themselves...needless to say we tried all of those things and it was awesome. We also moved an entire lofted bed frame all the way uptown from the lower east side, just saying...that was a workout in itself, but we also squeezed in some cardio and RDLs this morning which was great because our workout got the day off to a great start and definitely justified us stopping by this Polish/Ukranian restaurant on the way back. It is one of my favorite places to get food (which doesn't happen that often!!!), and we both went for the classic combination platter with homemade kielbasa, pierogies, stuffed cabagge, mushroom sauce, sauerkraut...yeah that happened but it is so worth it every time :-)

Enjoy your weekends everyone, and let me know if you're cheating this weekend or have any groundbreaking frozen watermelon ideas! Also, please remember to follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/livehealtheasy and like me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Healtheasy/668192006543588, thanks for the support!

Frozen Watermelon CubesFrozen Watermelon Cubes

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Roasted Mushroom and Sweet Potato Goat Cheese Mash

It is incredibly hot here in the Bronx...like I don't even have to work out and I already sweat balls, but thankfully I got to the gym anyways for a lifting session and did hang snatches, bench press, and some plyos among other things. Granted I did feel like I was going to pass out afterwords, but still so worth it. I didn't even feel like eating a lot of food afterwards but had been craving a sweet potato (post weights clean carbs am I right?) mostly because I always crave them and honestly don't see the obsession ending anytime soon...but I'm not mad about it.

I also had some mushrooms that I wanted to use up before they went bad, so that is where my brainstorming process started. Wasting food is a huge pet peeve of mine, and I already had to throw away an eggplant because it didn't survive the heat :((( I figure you can't really go wrong with roasting things, so I decided to move from there. Have I mentioned by the way that having a toaster oven is one of the best things ever? It is so great for when I am lazy to use the oven or am not trying to make a lot of food. (Sidenote: when I was getting our apartment I was able to score a beautiful knife set, toaster oven, and coffee maker on Craigslist all for $25, one of my proudest moments ever...I will have to post pictures eventually).

Anyways, what ended up happening was this: a nice and light mix that you can have just by itself, as a snack with celery or any other vegetable, or as a side to some grilled meat or something. The great thing is, you do not even need a lot of the goat cheese to get the great taste, and the sweet potatoes easily play up the creamy texture.

Roasted Mushroom and Sweet Potato Goat Cheese Mash
Roasted Mushroom and Sweet Potato Goat Cheese Mash

Roasted Mushroom and Sweet Potato Goat Cheese Mash

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium to large sweet potato with skin, roughly chopped 
  • 10 Crimini (or any other kind) mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons herbed (or regular but herbed is amaze) goat cheese
  • 1 small onion, or a couple of pearl onions (optional, same directions as mushrooms)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • lemon pepper (regular would work too)

Directions: 

1. Grease a sheet with olive oil, and roast the chopped sweet potato in a (toaster) oven. This should go pretty quickly, but could depend on the strength of your oven as well as the size you cut your potatoes. I would say that around 20 minutes in the oven at 375 should do it.
2. After waiting about 10 minutes because they roast quicker, add the mushrooms to the sheet and sprinkle all vegetables with salt and ground lemon pepper.
3. When the sweet potatoes are soft, remove everything from the oven.
4. Transfer the sweet potatoes into a bowl, and mash them with a spatula or other effective utensil on hand until they reach your desired consistency. You can mash completely, or leave them a little rough like I did, because I like the chunks...
5. Finely chop your roasted mushrooms (I learned that a sharp knife makes this job a lot easier, and stir into sweet potato mixture.
6. Add in the 2 tbsp of goat cheese, and microwave to melt a little if necessary. When the goat cheese melts a little it becomes kind of translucent, so it isn't very noticeable, but the taste is definitely there!
7. Add more goat cheese/salt/pepper as you feel is necessary.

You're done, go eat!

Ps. Does anyone else have any obsessions to share so mine of sweet potatoes, goat cheese and toaster ovens don't feel so weird? (or feel even weirder, which is completely fine too). Feel free to share!


Country Roasted Veggie and Sausage Scramble

My sister is visiting for a couple of days! And we had a fine snacking session for dinner last night after our sprint workout and impromtu Squash session. This included celery, garlic hummus, Dukkah (a great Mediterranean mix of nuts and spices, and can be used on just about anything, and I just discovered it yesterday!), cream cheese, roast beef, the rest of some chicken I had made earlier in the week...it was awesome. I had also roasted some vegetables, and thought it would be a good idea, and actually had the self control to save some for lunch today. So this morning I took some initiative and decided to make the following:

Farmer's Roasted Veggie and Sausage Scramble

Country Roasted Veggie and Sausage Scramble

Ingredients
  • Roasted carrots, onions, mushrooms, etc. (whatever you have on hand)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup whites + 2 fresh eggs
  • 1 small, pre-cooked chicken sausage (mine was sweet apple)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:

Heat small pan on high with a teaspoon of olive or coconut oil. Reduce the heat and add cut up sausage, sauteeing until the edges are nice and bronzed. Throw in the spinach and vegetables, and continue to sautee for 1-2 minutes. Pour eggs over the mixture, liberally adding salt and pepper (my vegetables were already salty from being previously roasted, so I only used a little). At this point, start scrambling with a spatula and continue to mix until your eggs start to get toasted from the pan, or if you prefer, cover and make in omelette form until eggs set. Transfer to plate (or in my case tupperware) and you're done! You now have a high protein meal for the day ready in less than 10 minutes!

What did you guys bring to work for lunch today??

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Italian Style Omelette

The other night I was at a loss for something to eat for dinner and had a ton of eggs and egg whites left over but really wanted something with pasta sauce. So I decided to improvise and make something that would be the best of both worlds...and it really was!! The best part was I had half of it left over to bring with me for lunch. Except for the fact that I ended up finishing it off for breakfast the next day oops...

Italian Style OmeletteItalian Style Omelette
Italian Style OmeletteItalian Style Omelette

Italian Style Omelette

Ingredients:
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of egg whites
  • 1 tbsp milk of choice
  • 1 cup pearl onions (mine were defrosted and drained) or 1 chopped fresh onion
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli florets (again, mine were originally frozen but I am busy and poor)
  • Other vegetables of choice (sauteed mushrooms/peppers??)
  • 1 cup marinara sauce (homemade meat sauce would be amazing but I just used regular for the same reasons as listed above)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan
  • 1 tsp olive or coconut oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Italian seasoning
Directions:

1. Whisk together eggs and egg whites in a bowl, adding a dash of salt and a tbsp of milk, because according to my grandmother, that will result in a far superior omelette. (I ignore this step way too often and end up just pouring everything straight into the pan)
2. Heat oil in a pan over high heat, and spread around evenly until pan is adequately hot. Also preheat oven to about 375 degrees.
3. Pour in the egg mixture and turn down heat to medium. A shell should immediately begin to form around the edges of the omelette. 
4. Add in your vegetables, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cover and continue to cook until the top of the omelette begins to set. Covering your omelette will trap the heat and help distribute it, which is why this step is so important.
5. Remove from heat and spread marinara sauce on top of omelette, topping with Parmesan and Italian seasoning.
6. Stick in the oven and bake for about 5-10 minutes, or until the Parmesan starts to turn golden.
7. Remove from oven and wait a couple of minutes until the omelette sets, and then transfer onto a plate by sliding it from the pan with the help of a spatula, or whatever flat utensil you have on hand.

I love Italian food, and this recipe was the perfect way to get that familiar taste while keeping it light at the same time. Who would have thought that eggs and marinara sauce were such a killer combination? Hopefully I can make it to Italy someday and introduce this to the locals and see what they think. You could almost say this is some sort of a weird twist on pizza? Not sure if that would be very well received haha...but at least it makes for a fast and healthy dinner! 

Arrivederci for now everyone...

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

On Effective Communication and Presentation

(with an Almond Blueberry Vanilla Log attempt)


Today I had the opportunity to sit in on a presentation and personal development session at our office. I want to share my reactions to some interesting ideas that were brought up in the meeting, because I immediately connected the points that were made to my blogging efforts and think they are incredibly relevant. Here are a couple of thoughts/ lessons/ reminders I take with me from today:

  • With the development of technology has come evolution in communication as well- today, people are so concerned with the "now" and think with the mindset of "tweetable" statements. This therefore means that it is incredibly important to know how to retain the attention and interest of your audience/readers, because clearly we all have sadly short attention spans nowadays :-)
  • It is incredibly important to know who your target audience is and tailor to them...otherwise, why would people want to read your content? Having a clear focus seems to be clear here.
  • Be honest, open, and upfront, and people will appreciate you for your candidness. Authenticity is an incredibly magnetic personality trait. 
    • I think that this also ties into the importance of being able to admit your mistakes, and share them with others, because that way it can turn into a learning experience for everyone.
  • When working with others, having a constant open line of communication, and bouncing feedback and ideas off of one another is so important, because this eliminates any doubt as to whether or not everyone is on the same page and heading in the right direction.
    • This is why communicating goals is also an important aspect of working with others --> that way it is clear what needs to be accomplished, and people do not just work to serve their own self-interests.
  • The nature and attitude in which someone interacts makes a huge difference and impact on others! Never miss an opportunity to follow up or network, and make sure that the impression you are making is one that you would be proud to be known for. This is incredibly important, because so much can be achieved today just by having the right connections.
  • Along those lines, our speaker today made a joke in telling us to "be a crack dealer." When I thought about this more later, I realized that this metaphor was actually right on the money, especially in the blogging world. What I mean is that we should act, write, and interact in a way that will make people want to keep coming back to us for more, always leaving room for growth and development, and something to be desired. 
    • Another comparison I would have to this is to be contagious...make people want to keep reading, keep talking, and keep doing business because you are genuine, engaging, and offer something that others do not, whether it be superior blog content or products or services in a company.
So these are some of my reactions and takeaways from today. I know that I will definitely be trying to implement these personally, but also keep them in mind as I move forward and attempt to develop this blog. That is, I will focus on tailoring my content to be "tweetable" and up to speed, making sure I am authentic in my presentation, keeping my goals clear, acting in a way that has a positive effect on others, and fostering and maintaining great relationships.

What do you think are some of the most important considerations to remember when communicating and establishing relationships? Am I missing any key points? Let me know, I would love to hear what my list is lacking :-)

And speaking of making mistakes and admitting them....I made a first attempt at my brainchild of Almond Blueberry Vanilla Logs. For starters I ate a ton of batter which probably threw off my measurements...I was also lazy and decided not to blend my ingredients together. The bars didn't hold together as well as I had hoped, yet turned out a little dry. Hopefully round two will be an improvement and I will post the successful recipe when that happens. For now, take a look at my "fail." At least they look appealing, and I have to say the taste wasn't bad either, but still working out the logistics.


Ps. Should I include recipes for fails and works in progress in the future? What do you think?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Apricot Turkey Burgers

I used to just take pictures of food whenever I was proud of anything that I made, just to be able to look back on it later and remember what and how I made it. This was before I realized how great it could be to actually write some of this stuff down and potentially share it with people...genius right?? So anyways, I made these burgers on the Fourth of July but I can assure you (and hopefully some of my friends who tried them could too) that they would be just as delicious on any other day of the year! I am eyeballing the amounts for the recipe because I ended up splitting the ground turkey I had and making other burger variations, so when you are making these use your best judgement! I'm pretty sure you really can't go wrong either way.

Apricot Turkey Burgers

Apricot Turkey Burgers
Makes about 6 patties, depending on size preferred (I made mine smaller to share)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey or beef
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed or almond flour
  • 15-20 dried apricots, chopped to bits
  • 1 onion, finely chopped 
  • 2 tbsp Italian blend seasoning (or a mix of oregano and basil will do the trick)
  • 1 tbsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper or lemon pepper
  • Goat cheese or Parmesan cheese or any cheese to top (optional)

Directions

Combine everything in a bowl, working through the mixture with your hands to make sure that all ingredients bind together. Form patties of your choice and stick on a well heated grill. You probably know the rest, but just make sure the sides are brown and the patty is well cooked throughout before serving. With this particular recipe, the more grilled the burgers are, the sweeter and meltier and more pronounced the apricots get...absolutely amazing, but don't take my word for it! I prefer my burgers without a bun, and the taste of this patty by itself on a bed of spinach was enough for me, but I'm sure these would be delicious with anything. The next time I make these, I'm thinking I will try them with goat cheese!

Apricot Turkey Burgers
Apricot Turkey Burgers
Apricot Turkey Burgers

I invite you to take special note of the background on this last picture...kind of screams college, but I wouldn't have it any other way :-)

So, what did you guys have on the Fourth? Let's reminisce and let me know, I would love to hear it. Even if it was sinful because I know I just about drank my body weight in beer...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Roasted Cauliflower and Sun-dried Tomato Spread

I woke up at 12:30 pm today. Can't remember the last time that has happened but I used it as an excuse to stay in bed even longer and not do the laundry I was going to do. I realized that I haven't done laundry in over a month, and I can't decide which is sadder, that or the fact that I have so many clothes that I wasn't pressed to do it earlier. Definitely thinking that I will have to make some donations before I unpack everything into my craigslisted new drawers. This brings me to my next sad point, which is that I moved into my apartment over a month ago and I still haven't organized my room. I have a serious lack of storage so I am making a makeshift closet out of a niche in one side of my wall, and will try to make dip-dyed curtains for it...so that is also on the list and I will post the results if I ever follow through with it. Instead I spent my day learning about social media marketing, so I guess I was productive in a different way, I just have nothing to show for it. I finally got into the kitchen though and decided I needed to use up the cauliflower and sundried tomatoes I had taken (jk stolen in a tupperware container ahh) from my school's cafeteria. Going along with the pattern of laziness for the day, I just decided to combine the two and, as per usual, see what happens from there:

Roasted Cauliflower and Sun-dried Tomato Paste

Roasted Cauliflower and Sun-dried Tomato Spread

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup roasted cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (drained if from a jar)
  • 1 tbsp cream cheese (or greek yogurt for a tangier taste!)
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt/or to taste
Note: I made a small batch of this recipe, but feel free to increase the recipe proportionately. I would say following this recipe ended up making about 1.5 cups of spread.

Roasted Cauliflower and Sun-dried Tomato PasteRoasted Cauliflower and Sun-dried Tomato Spread

Directions: Place cut cauliflower on a greased baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Roast on 300 for about 30/45 minutes or until it is soft and starts to bronze. Another option is to soften the cauliflower first by boiling it, which really cuts down on the roasting time. After the cauliflower has cooled slightly, add all ingredients and half of the almond milk to a blender or magic bullet, and blend, gradually adding the rest of the almond milk until you are satisfied with the consistency. If you have a very powerful blender and prefer the spread to remain a little on the chunky side (like mine) you may just want to use the pulse setting. This spread can be eaten by itself (this is what I did oops) or as a dip with vegetables, etc. Tomorrow I will also try to use this as a filling when making chicken! I will keep you updated...

So that's it! I also experimented with making something akin to a coffee oat cake, but round one wasn't an entire success...they looked nice but need some work taste-wise, but here is a little preview ;)


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