Eeek, what’s for dinner?

Quite frequently, I end up eating enough at my office to remove the need for dinner (and then some!) when I get home at night. Earlier this week, though, I had the unusual experience of getting to eat my own Sarah-made dinners two nights in a row!

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While I love to make dinner for myself, I’ve stopped planning for it because I got tired of feeling the pressure to use my food before it went bad even though I wasn’t hungry. Therefore, when I found myself with a dinner-sized hole in my belly on Monday night, I had to think fast since the only thing at-the-ready in my fridge was the same salad I’d had for lunch. Then, I remembered the eggs!!! I had a half dozen farm-fresh eggs in my fridge from the CSA, so I decided breakfast-for-dinner was in order.

I toasted half of an Arnold’s Sandwich Thin that my roommate Tara (I mean ex-roommate — I keep forgetting!) left behind and gave it a healthy smear of my three-leaf pesto before topping it with the poached egg, a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper, and a dusting of homemade parmesan:

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I didn’t quite poach the egg long enough for it to reach my standard of firmness, but the slightly running yolk didn’t bother me out as much as it usually would since I knew the egg was fresh and handled humanely. (What one has to do with the other, I’m not sure, but the reasoning works for me!)

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Monday’s second dinner course was 1/3 of a freshly-baked sweet potato stuffed with a scoop of homemade coconut-banana ice cream and garnished with an Oh!Nuts dark chocolate-covered strawberry, a homegrown basil leaf, and a sprinkle of nutmeg:

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Seriously, healthy tastes so good!! I wish I had tummy-space to do this every night. (That should be something within my control … but tell that to my eyes and my mouth when cake materializes in front of me every afternoon without fail!)

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One more for good measure:

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I got to eat my own dinner again on Tuesday night. I realized Tuesday morning that I was short a meal and hadn’t packed anything to get me through my late evening class, so I scrambled around to throw something together and ended up with another amazing combo. I pressed the remaining 2/3 baked sweet potato against the outer edges of a tupperware container and then filled the hole with a mix of plain yogurt, chia seeds, and cinnamon. I topped the whole thing with a spoonful of peanuts:

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Oooh, this was so good! Especially after sitting all day and thickening as the chia seeds did their job. This meal was definitely a candidate for repetition!

How do you stuff your potatoes?

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Green me up

With all of the indulgence going around this week (and every week), I am thrilled that my CSA is now in full swing and provides (almost) everything I need to balance all the sugar with lots of green.

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This week’s salad consists of a 100% CSA base with mesclun, pea shoots, and spinach. Each day, I pack a bunch of those leaves in a giant container and then pack a “dressing” separately for last-minute addition so that I can sidestep the wilt. The dressing for my CSA salad this week consists of CSA garlic scapes (sauteed in olive oil), CSA cilantro, CSA-inspired three-leaf pesto, CSA spinach stems, frozen corn niblets, chopped dried apricot, red wine vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper.

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Thanks to my coworkers, I’ve been able to use my CSA salad all week long as a base for addition enhancements! For Monday’s parents’ group, Inginia and I ordered roast chicken, yellow rice, and beans. I added some of the rice and chicken to turn my glowing green salad into a well-balanced protein powerhouse 🙂

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Mmmmmmmmmmm.

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On Tuesday, my salad came back again with some of the leftover chicken from Monday and a couple of spoonfuls of Myrna’s homemade rice, beans, and meat (hiding in the top left):

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The salad has continued to serve me well all week long. Thank goodness for greens!

Of course, every lunch needs a dessert, so I’ve re-invited an old favorite into my life: pumpkin yogurt (equal parts of each) with chopped apples, loads of cinnamon, and hemp seeds:

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Sigh, it feels so purifying to do a post all about healthy food. I really do love to eat this way — it just gets impossible for me when cake and authentic multi-cultural delicacies lie in wait around every corner!

What is one food you will never ever ever turn down?

Featured moment of expansion

So, I got home from class at 10:30 on Tuesday night (my bedtime is 9pm, mind you) and decided it would be super smart (sarcasm) to embark on a kitchen project right then. I raided my stores of shelf-stable items and came up with the following. Can you guess where this is headed?

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Motivation for the insanity? Lucia’s surprise potluck baby shower was scheduled at my office for 3pm on Wednesday, and I had signed up to bring cookies. (Yes, we had another baby shower! ‘Tis the season …) I could have just grabbed a package of cookies and called it a night, but that would have been too easy. Instead, I tried to come up with delicious items I had hanging around my apartment that I certainly did not need to be eating all by myself. The project evolved as I worked, but I started with a package of Newman’s Own Organics honey wheat pretzels (and I sooo nibbled my share during prep because I am powerless when it comes to salty-sweet!), Peeps, and this bar of Russian chocolate from Olga:

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(I definitely nibbled on the bar as I worked, too. Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.)

Plan #1 was chocolate-covered pretzels. Plan #2, in honor of the anti-chocolate crowd at work, was marshmallow-covered pretzels. Melting ensued (oven-based since, once again, I have no microwave):

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I added a dash of soymilk to the chocolate to aid in dipability but, aside from that, I did not doctor my dippers whatsoever.

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I placed the pretzels on parchment paper and let them relax in the fridge overnight. In the morning, the Peep pretzels were still impossibly sticky, so I had this brilliant idea to mix them in a bowl with the rest of the pretzel pieces and a bag of Skittles to minimize stickyness.

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I sort just ended up with a giant glob of pretzel-marshmallow-skittle deliciousness. I was very confident in the taste, but I was not as confident in the eat-ability. How could I serve a giant pretzel-marshmallow-skittle glob as a dessert for 30 people?! I was running late, so I stuffed everything into a tupperware: chocolate-covered pretzels on one side, pretzel-marshmallow-skittle glob on the other side, and Newman’s chocolate Os in a ring around the outside.

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I kept brainstorming throughout the whole subway ride to work (a lot of brainstorming since my commute is an hour and 15 minutes) and started to think about plan #3: turning the glob into pretzel bars. When I got to work, I went to the kitchen and used the bottom of a glass to smush everything down as aggressively as I could. I cut the contents of the tupperware into squares and put it in the fridge in the hopes that it would firm up.

Just before the shower, I went to check progress. The marshmallow pretzel-pieces stuck together pretty well, but the chocolate covered pretzel pieces and cookies were a crumbly mess. At that last-minute, make-or-break moment, plan #4 came into being: pretzel salad.

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I poured the crumbly chocolate cookie and pretzel mess into the bottom of a bowl and broke the pretzel-marshmallow-skittle globs into smaller clumps to use as a colorful garnish:

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I threw a spoon in the bowl and my “salad” joined the impressive line-up.

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Also on the crunch-time snack-preparation brigade were Inginia and Danilda, who were hard at work in the kitchen on some serious guacamole (because guacamole is critical!) right up until the very last second:

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In addition to pretzel salad and guacamole, the lineup included corn chips, fruit platters, veggie platters, salsa and other dips, [nurse] Sarah’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies …

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Tortellini salad with tomatoes and pine nuts, rice and beans, quiche, more chips, fruits and cheeses …

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Custard fruit tart!!!!! (my favorite)

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Plus more! Before we could eat the food, however, we had to surprise Lucia!

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(And I think she was actually surprised! As Pura was leading her into the room, Lucia asked, “Whose party are you taking me to?”)

The crowd:

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And then, it was onto the food! Here’s my plate #1 with tons of (buried) green salad, tortellini salad, jalapeno cheese cube, pineapple, fruit tart, Pansy’s ambrosia (!!!), roast chicken, the afore-mentioned guacamole, and two blue corn tortilla chips:

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And plate #2 with more salad, some rice, pineapple, and more ambrosia topped with pretzel salad:

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(I may have also had thirds and fourths of ambrosia …)

Inevitably, my favorite time of day rolled around: cake time! How adorable is the cake decor?

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Awww, sugar baby sleeping …

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This cake was actually made by one of the women who volunteers for our agency, and it’s a Dominican-style pound cake with guava-berry filling and sugar-and-egg white frosting (that tasted exactly like a marshmallow).

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And my mountain of a piece:

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Phew, nothing like a 3:30 dinner to get you excited for the last hour of the work day! I was so stuffed after all of this that I couldn’t even contemplate going to my hot yoga class even though I had packed and lugged all of my yoga gear with me that morning. My belly was sticking out so far at that point that I wasn’t even sure I had it in me to touch my toes! Plus, I had a weird sore throat/congestion thing going on all day and thought I might be better served by sufficient sleep and prep for my looooooooooong Thursday. I think I might need to start finding a way to eat just for the moment and not for the rest of the week every time I see food …

OK, two questions: (1) Craziest thing you’ve seen that was labeled as “salad”? and (2) Best cake decorations you’ve ever encountered personally (as in, not by watching Ace of Cakes on Food Network!)?

Into my lap

Featured food finds: Monday and Tuesday

The week started out slowly in terms of food finds, but it has quickly picked up steam. I have a hunch that today will be even more rife with contributions, so I’m getting these down before I end up with a novel!

Monday morning, Lillian offered me this biscuit to go along with my tea. I don’t know what it is about these biscuits — they’re so plain yet soooo addicting.

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I also tried out one of my free Soyjoy bars from the health event last weekend:

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I can see why the people at the event only let me take two of their sample bars (I still snuck a third) — they didn’t want me to know how un-amazing they were! I had asked if I could take one of each of the five flavors, and the lady turned me down. You’d think Soyjoy would want to give away as much as possible with all the soy controversy going around, but I guess she did not study marketing. Although, if she had given me one of each, I would have been able to say with confidence that every single flavor was lousy. So maybe she wanted to keep the lousy-ness a secret.

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Anyway, the bar wasn’t gross or inedible by any means. It was just dry and kind of eh. I’ll eat them as I need them, but I’m not in a rush!

Tuesday morning, I went to a two-hour training downtown about deafness/hearing concerns. I had a suspicion that pastries might be present due to the breakfast timing, so I brought along a paper bag and a bunch of napkins just in case. I was right!

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I packed up a bunch of bagels and assorted pastries for my freezer, and I contented myself with tea, the lone strawberry garnish, and a mini cranberry-orange muffin:

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Oh, right … and a mini bran muffin, too 😛

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Also on Tuesday, Myrna brought in a bunch of purple-pink frosted tres leches cake from a birthday party her daughter attended over the weekend. Here’s my pile!

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Salty-sweet trail mix from Rosey later in the afternoon:

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And a free fro-yo sample with Tate’s Bakeshop oatmeal-cranberry cookies from Butterfield Market on the way to class 😀

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The end!

What has fallen into your lap this week?

Parfaits and powders

It’s shaping up to be another highlights-style blog week around here. Summer classes move at the speed of light — I already have to be working on final papers and projects, ack!

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This week’s featured breakfast started here:

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IMG_1705.JPGI had frozen the rest of last week’s CSA strawberries on Friday, so I pulled those out of the freezer and let them simmer in a covered pan with about 1/2 cup of water. I added 2 tbsp ground flax, boiled a few minutes longer, and then added 1/2 cup BRM Scottish Oatmeal. Before this, I was under the impression that Scottish oatmeal and Irish (steel-cut) oatmeal were the same (and I’m sure my ScotchIrish ancestors are rolling in their graves right now). But, if you look closely, you can see that the Scottish oatmeal is not as uniformly chopped as steel-cut.

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In my opinion, more texture = more fun, so I was thrilled with the textural variety of these! I didn’t really cook the oats — I just mixed them into the hot strawberry-flax mix and added more things like plain yogurt, chia seeds, and goji berries. The resulting pudding the next morning was thick and creamy and chewy, just as I had hoped!

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I layered the strawberry-oat-seed pudding with plain pumpkin for a parfait effect:

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I topped the parfait with a sample packet of Fitnutz Butter, the “regular” variety this time. I still prefer PB2 (well, I really prefer real peanut butter, but we’re talking about powders here!), but the creamy texture of the Fitnutz did lend itself well to the parfait setup.

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(I also tried the Fitnutz Pro with “added essential fatty acids.” The ingredients list (peanut powder, sugar, salt) is the same, but somehow it struck me as having more of a sesame flavor. And I still prefer PB2!) 

I topped the reconstituted peanut butter with unsweetened coconut and a chopped square of Newman’s espresso dark chocolate (sooooooo good!). And if you look closely, you can see my homemade balls in the background!

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I used soymilky Numi emperor’s puerh black tea to go along with the tapioca. I prefer my bubble tea iced, so I brewed a big pot of the tea on Sunday and have just been storing it in the fridge so that it’s ready to go when the balls start calling!

What is your favorite powdered product (food or non-food)?

P.S. Remember my French toast challenge? True to her word, Brandi went ahead and French-toasted her donuts! Go check out the heart-hammering results 😀