Thursday, December 27, 2012

Green Juice

Whew, it has been a crazy year...can you tell by the way I haven't posted since July?! So sad!

Whenever I'm crazy stressed, I tend to eat the worst food possible. Example: as I type this I am eating pad thai. So, to kick my butt back in order, I am going to start juicing again.  I promised I would post my green juice recipe forever here it is! I adapted this recipe from the Crazy, Sexy Cancer "Make Juice, Not War" green juice. You can see Kris Carr make her juice on YouTube here.

Here are my only guiding criteria when juicing:

  1. Keep the veggies/fruit all the same color. This way your juice is a beautiful bright color and not brown. Ugh, who wants to drink brown juice??
  2. Use what is in season. Juicing can be expensive, especially when juicing things with little pay off like leafy greens. You see a sale on swiss chard? Use that instead of kale! On my budget I can't break the bank for the greens I'm "supposed" to use, so I use whatever is on sale to keep my budget in check.
  3. Change up your "sweetener". Bored with green apple? Try a pear instead!
  4. Always use a cucumber. I don't care if you don't like cucumber normally. The cucumber bulks up your juice and is great for hydrating. Without it, you just have one glass of really strong, expensive juice...
My recipe makes enough for two/three servings (dependent on how much juice you get out of your veggies). I usually make the juice the night before and store in small mason jars filled all the way to the top. This way you limit the oxidation/browning effect on your juice. It can store up to two days, but it's best to drink as soon as possible. 

1 inch piece of ginger, unpeeled
1/2 head of romaine (approx 10 leaves)
3 handfuls of baby spinach or 4-5 kale stalks
2 stalks of celery
1 broccoli stem
2 medium granny smith apples
1 medium cucumber (peeled if not organic)

Juice all ingredients in your juicer and enjoy! My only suggestion is to juice the ginger first, then alternate hard/soft items, and end with the cucumber to push any remnants through the juicer.

Can you tell how bright green this is?? I like drinking juice in a wine glass like Kris Carr...makes me feel special feeling like I'm drinking something healthy.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nectarine & Goat Cheese Salad


Fruit on a salad? Yes, I went there....well, more specifically, SweetGreen went there last month with their June salad of spinach, peaches, goat cheese, almonds, and basil. This salad cost me $7.95+tax in the store, which for DC, is not a bad price.

In my CSA box last week I had nectarines, which are not my favorite fruit to eat. I could tell this week that the fruit was almost ready to throw out (and I hate throwing away food!) so I racked my brain for what I could make. That's when I remembered the awesome salad from SweetGreen and voila! Dinner!

Ingredients (my version):
1 nectarine
5 leafs of romaine lettuce, chopped
handful of sliced almonds
1-2 T goat cheese, crumbled
1 T basil, chopped (optional)

Drizzle with your fav dressing (I like a little balsamic vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, salt & pepper) and your done!

So how much does my salad cost? Well, if you take into consideration that I buy a heads of romaine for my green juice,  left over goat cheese from my sandwich, nectarine from my CSA box, and almonds that I just keep in my fridge...then free, right?! Really it is approximately $2 total. 

This salad is perfect for lunch, but it was not really filling enough for dinner. Next time I'm going to toss on some roasted chicken or sauteed shrimp.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Copycat Recipe: Potbelly's Mediterranean Sandwich


I am literally OBSESSED with Potbelly's Mediterranean Veggie sandwich - spicy hummus with cool, crisp veggies and creamy feta cheese. My mouth is watering just thinking about it...I especially love the price ($4.50+tax), but I'm really trying to rein in my spending after reading the blog "No More Harvard Debt" (a GREAT read and inspiration to pay off my student loans) so I will be brown bagging it every day from now until my loans are paid off...ok, you caught me, I still budgeted for foodie outings, but hey, I am eating out far less!

Lunches can get boring when you don't go out to buy has to be something psychological because the restaurant salad/sandwich tastes better than the one I brought from home, even if they have the same components. *sigh* That's why I generally bring pasta/quinoa salads to work. They tend to keep me from going out to get something "better". However, I think this sandwich may be my turning point since I really liked how it turned out!

1 pita pocket
2 T hummus (roasted red pepper or garlic suggested, or the three layer hummus from TJ's!)
1 T Goat Cheese
1 handful packaged lettuce (or 2 romaine leaves chopped)
2 artichoke hearts (canned is the cheapest, then save the rest in Tupperware)
1 roasted red pepper, chopped
1/8 small cucumber, peeled & chopped

Fill pita with all of the ingredients and enjoy!

Now, I used pita because that's what I had on hand, but feel free to use any type of bread you like. If you're taking this sandwich to work, I would suggest ringing the water out of the peppers/artichokes with a clean towel before creating the sandwich. Otherwise you will have a soggy mess when you open it up at work a few hours later.

Another suggestion would be to simply keep the jarred ingredients at work, then stack up the sandwich there. This keeps your bread dry and saves you prep time in the morning.

Add the following for variation:
- Deli meat or left over chicken breast
- Chopped olives
- Chopped tomato
- Use olive/pepper tapenade instead of hummus
- Feta instead of goat cheese

Approximate cost of my sandwich - $3. This is taking into consideration the number of sandwiches I can make per can of artichoke hearts (4), and doesn't include the fact that the goat cheese and red peppers will last me far more than just 4 sandwiches and I can use the lettuce/cucumber for other salads. So really, it probably costs me more like $2.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Juicing for Beginners: Green Lemonade

A couple of months ago I watched the documentary "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead", which changed my whole outlook on what I eat. The guy in the film drank only juice for 60 days and completely cured himself of of his auto-immune disease! Now, I'm not advocating that everyone drink only juice and water for the next 2 months; I simply want to be a bit more conscious daily with what I eat. The best way I've found to do that is to drink green juice every morning for breakfast. 

Now, this juice is actually not my usual morning green juice (I will post that later), but my first "beginner" green juice. This juice is extremely refreshing and a great way to get yourself psyched up to try the more "green tasting" juices. First, you'll need to buy a juicer. I bought mine (a Breville) off of Craigslist for under $50, which is a great way to try out juicing. 

Next, the produce:
  • 1/2 head of romaine lettuce (approximately 10 leaves)
  • 1/2 large cucumber (or one small/medium one)
  • 1/2 lemon, with most of the peel cut off and the pith (white part) remaining
  • 2 medium apples
This is what I use, but the thing about juicing is that it's all about taste! If you like a bigger lemon taste, juice the whole lemon; if you want it sweeter, add another apple; cucumber bulks the juice up and refreshes the body. I use granny smith apples since they are also green, which makes the juice a bright green color and not brown, which happens when you add in red apples.

To make the juice simply use your juicer to juice all of these ingredients, and enjoy! I actually like to add a little filtered water and ice to this juice so that it is more refreshing and not a strong lemonade.  Still, like I said before, it is completely up to your taste-buds so experiment!

Monday, March 5, 2012

TJ's Chocolate filled with Cookie Spread my new(est) Trader Joe's obsession...

You know how much I LOVE Trader Joe's Products, but this is just crazy good. They take their new cookie spread (which is like Nutella, but with cookies instead of chocolate/hazelnut) and put it inside of creamy dark chocolate. This combination together makes for a very happy tummy! Plus this is the perfect thing to fix those Monday blues.

Happy Monday Everyone!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Chocolate-Banana-Almond Smoothie

When I was home taking care of my mom in November, there were only a few things she would eat. However, she usually wouldn't turn away smoothies or anything with chocolate. So to bulk up her nutrition intake, I put the two together and "created" this smoothie! 

At first I thought I was soooo original, but I have since seen similar smoothies on other websites. Alas, I am not as original as I first thought, but I love how easy it is to be creative with smoothies.

What you need:
1 frozen banana (peeled & chopped into large pieces before frozen)
3/4 to 1 cup almond or regular milk 
1 heaping T Nutella(c) or chocolate almond spread (I got mine at Trader Joe's)
1/4 t vanilla extract (optional)
1/2 mug of chopped ice
chocolate chips & walnuts for topping (optional)

Put all of the ingredients but the ice & toppings into the blender. The reason I put the a range for the milk amount is because you never know how thick "1 banana" will make the smoothie. So I feel it out more so than measure. Once everything is blended, add chopped ice to your liking to thicken the smoothie up a bit. This also makes it taste more like a milkshake than a smoothie.

Top it with your favorite toppings and your done! Mmmm, is this breakfast or dessert? I say both!

Want to make it even healthier? Use 1 tablespoon cocoa powder and 1 heaping tablespoon almond butter instead. Adjust the sweetness to taste with a touch of honey.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Restaurant Week, Meal 1: Taberna del Alabardero

So you know how much I LOVE restaurant week. It's a chance for me to completely destroy my budget for the month with just a few meals...and to have some great food. Sadly, my first meal was not near as tasty as it looked, nor was it worth the restaurant week price. 

My dining companion was gracious enough to let me try her food as you get two tastings in this review! The picture on the top was their salad with a fried-hard-boiled egg, and on the bottom was the mussels & shrimp. The salad was probably the best thing we ate all night. It was lightly dressed and the fried egg was an interesting component. Would I go back just for the salad? No. But was it an interesting dish? Definitely.

The broth in the mussels was amazing (I couldn't stop dipping my bread in it). However, out of my three mussels, one had grit that was audible as I chewed, one tasted old (like it should have been thrown out) and the third was just ok. The rest of the dish (aside from the sauce) was simply underwhelming.

For the second course, I had the sea bream (top) and my friend the chicken (bottom). The sea bream had a strong fishy taste, which I know a lot of people gawk at when I say that, but fish should not taste super "fishy". A "fishy" fish is an old fish.

The chicken was chopped into bit size pieces before it was sauteed, which led to a very dry bite of chicken. The whole time I ate it I longed for a little sauce to help moisten my mouth ("why did they take my mussel sauce away?!"), but sadly there was none. I think the chicken would have been ok if it had not been chopped before cooking, but still, the dish needed more flavor to be considered for a restaurant week menu.

Finally, desert was rice putting and a bread pudding. Both looked lovely, and were not terrible, but at the same time they were not anything to write home about. I think we both only ate about half of our desserts.

So meal number one was a let down. I probably will not go back to this restaurant as there are TONS of Spanish restaurants in the city. Luckily, however, meal 2 was awesome! 

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

In Memory of My Mom

Tea at the Willard, Feb. 2011
I would like to dedicate this post to my mother who died on November 19th, 2011 after a second battle with breast cancer. You may (or may not) have been wondering why I have not posted in quite some time. Well, I was home the entire month of November and have not felt motivated to write during/after that time. However, in honor and memory of her, I thought that it was only appropriate that my first post in the new year be about the woman who inspired my love of food, my mom.

My mom taught me to cook at a very young age. When I was 7 or 8, I remember making chocolate chip cookies and talking to the wall as if I was on a cooking show like the Frugal Gourmet or Julia Child. No matter how much I begged, my mom would never buy me an easy bake oven; she told me that if I wanted to bake or cook, we should use the "big girl" oven. I am so glad she pushed me that direction, because if it wasn't for the use of that "big oven" experience I may have never caught the cooking bug.

My mom is also the one who bought my first stand mixer for me when I was 15 (yes, that's the number one gift I wanted for my birthday that year) and a bread machine when I was 16. We thought about starting a cookie flower bouquet business, but that quickly became too much for my high-school-self to handle. However, every year we baked cookies for my aunts/uncles as Christmas gifts, and it became a ritual that I now share with my younger cousins.

Escargot in Paris 2007; picture taken at mom's request (for proof).
Besides baking, my mom pushed me to try new foods and create new dishes. She is the reason I take pictures of my food at restaurants while traveling. She said that she wanted to experience all the foods I was eating, and could do so by seeing pictures of what I ate at every meal. When I came back from Paris, she did not ask "Did you see the Eiffel Tower?" but "What new food did you try?" and "Where's the proof that you ate snails?"

Just a few of my mom's side of the family around 1989
Mom gave me the food bug; the desire to not only make good food, but to create community around food. It always astounds people when I tell them that we have 40-50 people over for Thanksgiving. If you knew my mom (and her two sisters that cook with her), you would know that the size of our Thanksgivings wasn't just contributed to the amazing the food they prepared...but the bond of family. Mom was the glue that really held our family together.

Sweet tea and Paula Deen's, 2008
After her first battle with cancer ended almost 5 years ago, we went on a road trip to Savannah, GA to do what? You guessed it, eat. We planned out every meal (including of course a stop at Paula Deen's) then found interesting places to visit in between. When I travel for work, my co-workers joke that all I want to know is where we'll be eating! This habit definitely stems from our food-based vacations.

Thanksgiving 2008
All of this is not to say that my mom's only legacy was my love of food. She instilled in me a passion for building community, family ties, friendships, compassion toward others and acceptance among many other lessons. I miss my mother terribly, but I know her memory will live on in the traditions I will keep from baking cookies with my cousins at Christmas, to our big Thanksgiving family meals, and finally the recipes and lessons I will teach my kids some day.

I love you mom. Rest in peace.