Monday, October 28, 2013

Eggs-in-a-Squash

+ Action!

A lot of great things happened today, and I am so grateful for every one of them. Just a quick recap: aced a midterm, ran my first 5k in about a year in under 24 minutes (we had a day off from practice), did a squats circuit, participated in my first Twitter chat (Fitfluential and Kellogg's!), and baked a chocolate version of my Energy Bars! We also had a great discussion in my class tonight about taking action, and I think that this is one thing that holds true for me today, and most days: taking initiative is key! Seriously, if I want to get something done, I just need to make myself get in gear, and I always end up happy about it in retrospect.

One aspect in which I am really making progress is this blog! It is so motivating, almost addicting, to hear feedback from others on my work, some of which I share through Instagram and Facebook. My mission all along with this blog has been to share my ideas and creativity to make a positive impact, and I am so excited to be reaching out to more people every day, which makes me want to find new ways to take more action! In that spirit, one of my classic "I have leftovers what do I do" experiments from the weekend was pretty popular when I posted the results on Instagram and Twitter earlier, so I want to share the recipe with you tonight! Best of all, it's fun looking, nutritionally balanced, and really easy!

Eggs-in-a-Squash

Eggs in a Squash



Eggs-in-a-Squash

Ingredients
  • Bottom part of a Butternut Squash, cut into rings about 1/2 inch thick
  • As many eggs as you have rings
  • Salt, and herbs/spices (I used oregano and thyme)  
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to about 375 degrees
  2. Spray or grease a baking sheet with oil (I like to use olive)
  3. Place butternut squash rings on sheet, and sprinkle with salt and herbsEggs in a Squash
  4. Bake the butternut squash for about 15 minutes, or until the flesh starts to soften.
  5. Remove from oven, and crack an egg into each hole of the butternut squash.
  6. Bake for about another 10 minutes if you want the yolk to be almost set. If you prefer a runnier yolk, check at about 6-8 minutes and remove from the oven when the yolk reaches your desired consistency.
  7. Use a spatula to remove from the baking sheet and onto a plate to keep the dish intact.
  8. Enjoy, and dress it up by putting it on top of spinach, with guac (yeah I went there) or just by itself! Doesn't it look beautiful? :) 

As always, please remember to like and share!! Thanks for helping me spread the love :)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Almond and Parmesan Crusted Salmon

+ Thoughts On Keeping Doors Open:

I had an interview for a summer internship yesterday that I wasn't sure was going to be a great fit for me, because it is with a big corporation and I have really been into the whole start-up and fair trade thing lately. I was already also swamped with assignments and class, so I really didn't feel like putting in the effort. After a couple of good talks with friends and family though, I ended up going. Thinking about it now, I am so glad I made this decision, because I was able to meet some cool people, learn more about the company, and I am actually really excited about the possibility of getting it and seeing how I stack up compared to others who also interviewed for the same position.
I guess the lesson here is two-fold: The first is that talking things over with people you trust is always a great way to gain perspective. The other is that the comfortable route isn't always the right route. Even if we might not feel like doing something, it can turn out to be a blessing in disguise and be beneficial to us in the long run. I had doubts about this interview, but ultimately I was at least able to practice my interview skills, and know that I won't regret anything later because I kept all of my doors open. So, my reminder to myself, and to you, is to pursue any opportunities that have a chance of offering a positive outcome, because you never know where they might take you. Along with that thought, I am leaving you with a delicious salmon recipe I created earlier in the week. In a way it kind of goes along with the "just keep swimming" theme of this post...or something haha :-)

Almond and Parmesan Crusted Salmon


Almond and Parmesan Crusted Salmon

Ingredients
  • 2 salmon fillets (wild is best!)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup almond flour (or almond meal)
  • Approx. 1/3 cup of egg whites
  • Salt 
Directions
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Put salmon fillets (it's okay if the skin is still on the bottom) on a greased pan and sprinkle with salt. 
  • In a bowl, whisk Parmesan and almond flour until thoroughly mixed.
  • Pack mixture on top of salmon. You are probably going to have to use your fingers for this if you want to be accurate.
  • Place in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes.
  • After the top of the mixture looks like it is starting to melt, especially around the edges, remove from the oven and pour egg whites over both fillets so the entire top is covered.
  • Place back in the oven, raise heat to 400, and bake for about another 5 minutes.
  • Remove, serve, and enjoy! I had mine over a spinach salad with olive oil and dried cherries, but it would be delicious with roasted vegetables, wild rice, or any other side. 
Almond and Parmesan Crusted Salmon

Please let me know what you think! I would love to get more feedback for my recipes.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Energy Bars and Powering Through

I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders! It's been a pretty crazy week, and I can finally sit down, not be anywhere, and gather my thoughts.

After our bi-monthly sushi dinner (featuring our self-invented BYOTea) this past Sunday, I was talking to my roommate Julie and we both knew it was going to be a hard week. So we came up with the concept of Best Week Ever. It is our way of tackling the week and powering through with a positive attitude. We focus on appreciating all the good things that happen to us, and looking at the challenges that come in a better light. A couple of examples: fitting in an extra workout? BWE. Making apple crumble just because? BWE. Seeing our favorite food (ie. salmon and pumpkin!!) at the cafeteria when we happen to be there? BWE. Getting free lunch at work? BWE. Finishing an assignment early? BWE. Finding out the landlords turned on our heat? BWE. Locking myself out but finding someone to borrow the keys from? BWE. Rushing from class to interview to class to practice but living through it? BWE. You get the idea...There are so many positive aspects to every day, but sometimes we fail to notice them just because we have already predetermined and make it okay to write off the day with a negative outlook. It might sound ridiculous, but this has been such a good way to stay focused and productive, and it makes getting through things you would otherwise not look forward to more fun. Anyways, I am definitely excited for a great weekend and many more Best Weeks Ever to come.

Another thing that helped get me through the week? These energy bars I created! They are packed with only goodness and have great nutritional balance. Try them and you will see...seriously a saving grace when you are always on the go.





Energy Bars
(Makes about 5 bars)

Ingredients
  • 1 medium, banana (very ripe works best)
  • 1/4 cup nuts (I used salted cashews)
  • 1/3 cup dried fruit (I used cherries)
  • 1/4 cup seeds (I used sunflower seeds, or sub for more nuts)
  • 1/4 cup vanilla protein powder (try with another flavor and let me know how it is)
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot starch (or other starch)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour (thought I should add parenthesis here too)
Directions
  1. In a bowl, mash the banana well with a fork or other handy utensil. It doesn't have to be perfect.
  2. Add almond flour and arrowroot starch and mix well.
  3. Add in your mix-ins and stir well.
  4. Grease a small pan (I used a meatloaf pan and it was perfect) with your favorite oil and pour mixture in, pressing down where needed to evenly distribute throughout.
  5. Bake on around 275 for 30-40 minutes, or until the edges start to brown.
  6. Take out the loaf, and cut into cute bars or squares.
  7. Power up as needed! And store in the fridge after a day.

That's it! These are great and can be a serious life saver...please continue sharing my page and recipes and have a great weekend!

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Pumpkin Apple Squash Hash

It has taken me some time to rewrite this post after I lost it the first time because of internet difficulties, and was too frustrated to get back to it this weekend. But I am finally sharing it with you! It is actually funny because this was another lesson on the topic I had originally covered...patience.

I was sitting on the subway on the way to Manhattan the other day and I got impatient. And then I started thinking about this "are we there yet" mentality and how childish it is. Yet at some point we all experience it. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this way of thinking can be detrimental in helping us achieve our goals, whether they relate to weight loss, job searches, relationships, or other changes in life. We often get so caught up in where we want to go and the progress we so badly want to see, that the process of getting there starts to seem impossibly difficult. We get obsessed with the end result, and suddenly get discouraged by the time and the effort that still lies ahead. I have noticed in myself that this impatience leads to an increased sense of urgency, which leads to anxiety, which leads to a sense of helplessness in the moment. This frustration can quickly lead to a "screw it" mindset, and we end up making impulsive decisions we wouldn't otherwise make. When we get the feeling that we will never get where we think we need to be, we end up doing things that will end up moving us further away from our goals. So what I am trying to say to you, and what I am trying to say to myself, is to be patient! Try not to get caught up in getting "there" and instead acknowledge the progress you have already made, because chances are, we will never fully feel like we have made it anyways. Maybe the best experiences and lessons happen during the journey, and we just need to change our perspective in order to see them.

With that off my mind, I would like to share an incredible fall recipe I made for (last) Monday's Columbus Day dinner: (PS. have you tried my Banana Beet Brownie recipe from that night yet??)

Pumpkin Apple Squash Hash
Pumpkin Apple Squash Hash

Ingredients
  • 1 cup of pumpkin puree, fresh or canned
  • Approx. 1 1/2 lbs. of ground turkey or beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 small sweet potatoes
  • Approx. 2 cups butternut squash
  • 2 small apples
  • 2 tbsp. Italian seasoning/spice mix (or equal parts basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram, and rosemary)
  • 1 tbsp olive or coconut oil
  • Salt, to taste
Directions
  1. Cut sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and apples into manageable cube-ish pieces, and salt lightly. Cook in the crockpot for about 2-3 hours on high, or steam for about 10-15 minutes until soft. Set aside.
  2. In a pan, saute onions in your choice of oil until they become translucent and start to caramelize. Add in ground meat, about 1 tsp salt, and Italian seasoning, and continue to saute until meat is browned.
  3. Pour pumpkin puree over meat, and continue to cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until thoroughly mixed and heated. It should look approximately like this:Pumpkin Apple Squash Hash
  4. Add in the cooked sweet potato, squash, and apple medley, mixing well so the flavors are all integrated, and continue to saute for about 3-4 more minutes. Add more salt if desired.
  5. That's it! Serve for breakfast, lunch, or dinner by itself, over spinach, with toast, in a burrito, or any other way you can think of. Enjoy, and let me know how you liked it ;)
Please continue to share, it means so much to me!
                                        

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Banana Beet Brownies

I feel like I have so much to share lately and no time to organize my thoughts and actually post something, with midterms last week and our trip to St. Louis this past weekend. But I am finally catching up, and hopefully will have more time to do work this weekend when we are in Ohio. We also hosted our first potluck dinner in our apartment on Monday! The theme was "what Columbus didn't bring" to celebrate all that the new world had to offer even before Columbus came and did a bunch of unethical stuff...anyways, we ended up with an awesome mix of the most indigenous foods that included some really great squash dishes, apple pie, wild rice, chicken and rice, corn, ice cream, and tacos to name some. It was so fun and I'm already excited for the next one (Pre-Thanksgiving dinner??). There is something about just hanging out and talking and eating that makes for the best nights.

Anyways, I have been working pretty hard on this brownie recipe, and since I debuted some of the experimental versions at the dinner, I thought this would be a great time to share what I came up with. It might sound a little crazy, but trust me on this one! I think they are pretty revolutionary...I really like them without any added sugars, because the dark chocolate taste really stands out, but if you would like, you can easily add honey to sweeten them to your liking. As always, the recipe is really simple too...

Banana Beet Brownies


Banana Beet Brownies

Ingredients

  • 2 red beets, cooked (I used the really convenient pre-cooked and packaged kind)
  • 2 bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chocolate protein powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cacao powder
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 small 75% dark chocolate bar, chopped (optional)
  • 2 tbsp honey (optional)
Directions 
  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and blend until smooth. 
  • Stir in the dark chocolate bits, or nuts, or peanut butter powder, if desired 
  • Pour into a well-greased pan about 8x8 inches 
  • Bake at 325 for about 40 minutes.
Banana Beet Brownies

Enjoy!!! Seriously, don't be scared of this :-) And please remember to support and like and follow!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Case Against Following Directions

       We had a really interesting conversation with a guest speaker in my Fair Trade class last Monday about following directions. So often, we feel that we are bound to act the way others construct for us because it seems like the "right" thing to do. We go through the motions, get jobs, go to networking events with people we don't like, practice for hours but never get playing time...why do we do this? Who do we feel the need to do this for and what would happen if we stopped? We never really engage, or see the real implications of our actions, yet we do them anyways because we feel it is what we are supposed to do. We hesitant to change the way we live because we are scared of the resulting insecurities, negative consequences, judgments, or failure to live up to others' expectations. To me, this represents such an opportunity cost, because more often than not, people never start the businesses they know could be successful, quit the jobs they hate, or end miserable relationships because it goes against the "role" they think they ought to be playing. There is an imaginary barrier between what we really want and what we think we should be doing that keeps us from being truly happy. We can be content for the time being, proud of  the 4.0's in the classes we do not like or the teams that we are a part of, and experience happiness on a superficial basis, but there is a difference between this temporary satisfaction and a real sense of fulfillment.
       The guy who talked to my class had finished college as a finance major, and had a job lined up on Wall Street after graduation, which meant a sure way to pay off his college debt. But he didn't become a banker. Instead he turned from a contract ensuring a steady income to teaching English in Sri Lanka. He now lives at home and is just getting back in the job market instead of making six figures. Why did he make this decision? He ignored all the constructs that had been set up for him, from his home, his school, and his classmates and did what he wanted to, what he felt was right, and had the guts to go and do what he thought would make him into a better person.
       This thought had a big impact on me, because I can see this fear towards decision making in myself. I am not saying that as a result of this conversation, I am going to drop out of college, sell my belongings, and live out of an RV in order to seek the meaning of happiness. I would, however, like to use this conversation to reflect and make it a habit to ask myself why and for who I am making decisions for more often in order to make sure that I am only devoting time to things that add value to my life. More importantly, even thought it is scary, I want to learn to realize that it is okay to not follow directions sometimes. The more I think about it, the more I realize that we don't have time to spend on things that make us unhappy. Because if we're unhappy, we're not engaging in a way that will allow us to have the best influence on those around us and the work we do. And the world could use more people like that.

I'd like to share one way that blogging adds value to my life: being able to interact and actually make an impact! It motivates me to keep going forward with this great experiment.


Do you sometimes feel like you are expected to "follow directions"? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Also, please remember to keep liking and sharing, thanks! :)



Thursday, October 3, 2013

Butternut Squash, Kale, and Sausage Soup

Do you look at a list of ingredients for a recipe sometimes and get overwhelmed? Yeah, I do too. Which is why I like to keep it simple. And my thought is that food tastes the best that way anyways. The soup recipe I am sharing with you tonight only has 4 main ingredients!

On another note, I got a concussion at practice today...again. I still really want to share what I made today with you because I am proud of it, but I will keep the writing quick. So thankful that my week is over and I get to rest tomorrow. Feeling terrible just makes me that much more grateful for when I do feel well.
I am also thankful for the beautiful weather we've been having.
I am also thankful for my wonderful family and my sister, who's birthday is today.
And I am thankful to be able to experiment with food like this and share it with you.

Good night for now everyone, and seriously try this soup recipe!!

Butternut Squash, Kale, and Sausage Soup

Butternut Squash, Kale, and Sausage Soup
Makes about 2 servings

Ingredients
  • Approx. 2 cups butternut squash (8 medium cubes), steamed/roasted/crockpotted/softened
  • 1 cup fresh kale, steamed or microwaved
  • 1 sausage (I used already cooked apple sausage, but any kind would work...smoked would be especially delicious)
  • 1.5 cups almond milk (or more, depending on how thick you like your soup to be)
  • 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp salt, based on taste
  • 1/2 tsp basil , to taste
  • 1/4 tsp lemon pepper, or more to taste
Directions
  • Microwave almond milk for about 60 seconds or until hot.
  • Put cooked butternut squash, almond milk, and spices in a blender or magic bullet and blend until smooth.
  • Chop your sausage into smaller pieces, and add to squash mixture along with the steamed kale.
  • Blend or pulse on a low setting, so that the sausage is not completely blended into the soup.
  • Enjoy! If you make this right away, the soup should still be hot after you are done making it.

Butternut Squash, Kale, and Sausage Soup

                                           Bye for now, and please remember to like and share!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Red Beet Hummus

It's October!! You know what that means...having an obsession with seasonal things officially becomes acceptable. Mine took the form of food when I went to Trader Joe's this past weekend. I got so many great things, I just had to Instagram them: (PS check out my account) So far, the pumpkin cream cheese is an absolute winner.

Seasonal Trader Joe's

To combat all of the orange though, here is an idea I came up with today when I went on a mission to make hummus and realized I had all of these pre-cooked beets in the fridge...Red Beet Hummus! The color is amazing, and the taste is even better. I had it with celery today, but I am pretty sure that you could spread this on anything. I'm going to try it tomorrow with spinach and goat cheese, and I'm already excited about it. Anyways, I'm keeping it short because I have a debate on the Constitution and America's values tomorrow that I need to prepare for. I just had to get this to you first though...obviously I have my priorities straight :-)

Red Beet Hummus

Red Beet Hummus

Ingredients
  • 2 medium beets, cooked or roasted until soft (I bought mine prepackaged, but I am also lazy and have no time...)
  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or more to taste
  • 1/3 tsp lemon pepper (I'm sure regular works too) or more to taste
Directions
  • Chop beets into smaller pieces, and place into a food processor.
  • Add chickpeas, salt, and pepper, and blend until smooth. (it took me a decent amount of mixing and blending for my blender to process this, so be patient).
  • If you do not have a food processor that is high powered enough to handle the blending, or just like chunkier hummus, combine all ingredients in a bowl and then use a fork to mash until you reach your desired consistency. 
Note: If you are still having trouble blending, try adding a tsp of olive oil to the mixture, stir, and blend again.

Enjoy!! And as always, let me know what you think! 


Please follow :)
 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Coconut Plantain Muffins, Urban Hiking and Fair Trade

This past Sunday I decided to walk from the Bronx to Manhattan. I don't really even know why I did it, but it turned out to be such a great day. The weather was perfect for walking, and it was so nice not to have a set route planned out. I just kind of wandered, and ended up going down Grand Concourse, over Madison Bridge, to Harlem, across to the Upper West, and down Columbus Avenue. On the way, I passed by several farmer's markets, got a free National Coffee Day coffee from Dunkin' Donuts, stopped by Sephora to pick up my birthday gift three months late, and wandered into a Whole Foods before ending my hike on 59th. I kind of feel like I was meant to walk in and see the demo of fair trade chocolate spreads from Barefoot & Chocolate. I asked where the chocolate was sourced from, and ended up having a great conversation about the importance of Fair Trade and the lack of its awareness with what turned out to be the company's owners. We had both seen the documentary The Dark Side of Chocolate, which is about child slavery and the unwillingness of the chocolate industry to take action against it. (watch it!!) Fair Trade has been on my mind a lot lately, and the more I learn about it, the more I develop a sense of guilt and urgency. I learned on Monday that 40% of the world's poorest make just 5% of global income, whereas 20% of the world's richest account for 75% of global income. I really makes me self-reflect on my life and realize firstly how grateful I am to be living the way I am, secondly how trivial some of our every day issues are compared to those who who lack the most basic human needs on a daily basis, and lastly how small decisions we make can be the most important steps to making a difference, such as asking a question or deciding to buy a Fair Trade good. My encounter was so relevant to the class I am taking on entrepreneurship and fair trade, and it was great to see that people are living and acting upon the principles that we are discussing in class. This Sunday, I really felt like I made yet another connection between class and real life, and I know that my way of thinking is completely changing thanks to these experiences, and I am so grateful for that.

Urban Hiking

To go along with a day's worth of incredible experiences, I would like to share one more life-changing thing: a recipe that I have been working on for a while and feel like I am finally ready to share. These Coconut Plantain Muffins have an incredible texture and no added flour or sweetener thanks to the amazing properties of plantains. They are so dense, yet really moist and have the perfect balance between protein and carbs. And on top of all of that, they are so easy to make! This recipe can also easily be made into a loaf. I tested it out with some leftover batter, and am including a picture later on in the post. Here goes, your mind will be blown :-)

Coconut Plantain Muffins

Coconut Plantain Muffins
Makes about 12 muffins

Ingredients
  • 2 ripe sweet plantains
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup flaxseed
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Directions
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a mixing bowl, mash plantains and add egg whites, then blend with a hand mixer. You can also use a blender or Vitamix to make it easier on yourself, but I kind of like the occasional chunks of plantain that the hand mixer leaves in the batter.
  • Mix in the flaxseed and shredded coconut with a spatula.
  • Lastly, add the baking powder and stir in well.
  • Grease your muffin tin with oil (coconut works best) or use non-stick muffin liners and pour in the batter.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes or until the muffins are firm. Let cool inside of the oven before removing.
Coconut Plantain MuffinsCoconut Plantain Bread

Enjoy! Please let me know how they turned out, keep thinking about Fair Trade, count your blessings, and try taking an urban hike one of these days :-) 

Remember to follow for more great recipes, thanks!!

 

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