New beginnings

Sorry to deceive you with the title of this post. There’s actually no new beginning to be described. Life has continued in nearly the same routine since the last we’ve heard from one another. Turn, smile, shift, repeat as Phantom Planet would say. haha OK the song reference may be a little dark for my meaning.

Actually sitting and thinking, more has changed than I realize. I’ll just list three things right now so as to give me motivation to keep get back into posting on this thingamajig.

1) I moved into my own 1 bedroom apartment

There’s a surprisingly much different feel to living in an apartment on my own when I went into its acquisition on my own. I think living in a 2-bedroom without a roommate (when I used to have a roommate) felt like it was missing someone, but this feels just right.

Me and a small glimpse of my apartment (plus the map of the world my boyfriend so graciously purchased for me at christmas time and framed for me 5 months later for my birthday because I am that lazy.)

Me and a small glimpse of my apartment (plus the map of the world my boyfriend so graciously purchased for me at christmas time and framed for me 5 months later for my birthday because I am that lazy.) PS: Ignore the mess in the corner.

This is pretty much the only photo I have of the place, so imagine this times two plus a kitchen, bath, and study.

2) I started Strong Lifts

Me during one of my workouts.

For those unfamiliar with this workout :stronglifts-routine-starting-strength-routineReally liking it but have pretty much stalled on everything. Here are my current stalls:

Squat: 105lb
Bench: 70lb
Row: 70lb
Overhead Press: 50lb (can only do ~3 at this weight)
Deadlift: 130lb

I can tell I’m stronger than when I started, but stalling is frustrating (and annoying). But I’m sticking to it for now.  Going to try and change up the reps/sets.

3) I turned 25.

My friend and I celebrating my birthday.

My friend and I celebrating my birthday.

Hard to believe that when I started this blog, I thought of myself as someone who was just graduating and getting out into the world. It’s been 3 years since I graduated now, and while I don’t own a house or anything, I feel much more “out into the world” than I did when I started this thing.

Well, I’m off to the gym to either get into a TRX class or do a Stronglifts workout. Only fate will tell. (I’m on the waiting list)

 

Where to begin.

It’s hard to say. I’ve obviously gotten so out of the habit of writing on this thing. And now I’m just trying to figure out where to pick back up. I feel highly motivated to talk about how the past year has been eye-opening and older-feeling and how I’m loving it but I pretty much did that here already. At this moment as I sit at my kitchen tablette with a first attempt at homemade cranberry sauce on the stove, I have nothing to complain about. Nothing bogging me down. I am content in this moment. It feels awesome, what can I say?

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So I guess I’ll talk about all the things that have been going on in my kitchen lately.

(And thankfully no fruit flies were involved)

1. Homemade Nut Butters

(and other food processor awesomeness)
Finished Bliss AKA Coconut Butter

Finished Bliss AKA Coconut Butter

Shredded coconut + food processor = bliss-in-the-making

Shredded coconut + food processor = bliss-in-the-making

Chopped almonds, set aside for CRUNCHY almond butter

Chopped almonds, set aside for CRUNCHY almond butter

Almond butteroundandround

Almond butteroundandround

The finished goods

The finished goods

Asian Ginger Dressing

Asian Ginger Dressing

2. Raw & Roasted Salads

Curried Raw & Roasted Salad

Curried Raw & Roasted Salad

Raw & Roasted Salad

Raw & Roasted Salad

This has been my lunch for weeks now. It’s the perfect transition of lunch-salad into colder weather. Simply roast a large baking sheet worth of vegetables with desired flavoring

Favorites: coconut butter + curry powder, olive oil + chili powder&cumin, olive oil + zatar, coconut oil + cajun seasoning

Then combine a bunch of raw vegetables with a separate dressing

Favorites: lemon juice + olive oil + apple cider vinegar + dijon mustard (add additional seasoning to complement roasted flavorings)

Protein can be tofu roasted with the vegetables or beans/lentils added with the raw veggies.

3. Homemade No Sugar Added Cranberry Sauce

Before

Before

After

After

(As I finished the post, I finished the sauce. And let me tell you, it’s delicious. –> Recipe to follow)

Alright, I think I’ve covered it.

Who más

Howmis?

Humm is

Him us

Hummus.

Seriously, who doesn’t love hummus?

I grew up eating homemade hummus, and I must say that it has spoiled me into viewing a lot of store-bought hummus with a fair helping of disdain.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some brands (one-that-I’ve-tried) that taste like homemade (Trader Joe’s for the win), but seriously

this just doesn’t taste real to me {Probably because of the ingredient list: Cooked Chickpeas [Chickpeas (Garbanzos), Water], Tahini (Ground Sesame), Soybean And/Or Canola Oil, Garlic, Salt, Citric Acid, Seasoning And Spices, Natural Flavors, Potassium Sorbate Added To Maintain Freshness.}

In my holier-than-thou humble opinion, hummus deserves to be made with extra virgin olive oil and without preservatives. And it’s so easy to make (and cheaper- just think of the cost comparison) that there’s no reason not to!

So without further adieu, I give you hummus. (With the extra-special-secret ingredient my Syrian Uncle told me about)

Hummus

Ingredients
– cooked (or canned) chickpeas/garbanzo beans (about 2 cups worth)
– tahini (sesame paste) (about 1-2tbsp)
– extra virgin olive oil (about 1-2 tbsp)
– juice of 1 lemon
– 1-4 cloves of garlic (depending on your preference)
– a couple splashes of white vinegar (<–secret ingredient)
– a couple grinds of sea salt
– a few good shakes of cumin
– a few good shakes of paprika
– water

Directions
1. Combine all ingredients in your food processor or blender (but seriously, it’s easier in your food processor unless you have a super-high-powered-expensive-blender) except the water. Process until it’s as smooth as it can get.

2. Add water (reserved water from your chickpeas would be really great) gradually until the mixture reaches the desired consistency.

3. Get in your belly!

I’m telling you, the vinegar kicks this baby up a notch! Also- feel free to experiment and add spices/other foods (olives, pine nuts, etc) to make it your own.

What’s one homemade item that you can’t stand to buy from a store?

Have you ever made hummus?

Things I’m Looking Forward Two

1. Winter Squash

 

Cajun-spiced Butternut Squash Fries anyone?

2. BIG Navel Oranges

Almost-grapefruit-sized juicy delciousness… is your mouth watering like mine is right now?

3. My Sister’s Wedding

4. The day when this cough goes away

5. Dinner

… No picture available, but it’s a Curried Lentil, Barley, and Pumpkin stew. YUM (leftovers from date-night-in with my boyfriend on Friday)

Sprouts!

So lately I’ve been in the mood to do some experimenting in the kitchen.

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I’ve always known and loved alfalfa sprouts, but I’d say that sprouting fully came on my radar when I first laid eyes on this bread:

ImageIntrigued by the packaging which informed me that sprouting allows for the creation of bread without flour and that sprouted grains are more nutritious than their un-sprouted counterparts. Well, I started buying this bread from time to time (because I like it) and didn’t really think of sprouting as something I could do myself. That is, until my friend decided to go raw-vegan a while back. She purchased sprouting trays and sprouted her own legumes. Naturally, I was intrigued and the idea sort of hung out in my head for a while.

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(Me & Idea hanging out)

Until finally, I thought: “Hey, why don’t I try sprouting legumes?”

And that’s what I did.

At the advice of The Sprout People, I elected to buy the EasySprout:

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($11.53 on Amazon)

Then, I got down to business and learned that sprouting is pretty much the easiest thing ever.

Step 1:

Soak your legumes/seeds in lots of water overnight or 8-12 hours.

Step 2:

Drain your legumes/seeds by taking the insert out of the outer cup and pouring out the water from the outer cup. Shake some to ensure that all of the water is drained out.

 

Step 3:

Rinse every 8-12 hours for 2-5 days. You will start to see the legume/seed sprout

See those babies grow!

The Sprout People recommend tasting the legume/seed after each rinse to ensure that you “harest” them at the best time. I gave the garbanzo beans one or two more rinses after the above picture.

Step 4:

Serve ‘em up (or refrigerate them, or freeze them… depending on the sprout)

Salad of parsley, broccoli, cauliflower, shredded carrots, red bell pepper, and sprouted garbanzo beans with a homemade balsamic-lemon-garlic dressing

I’ve also made sprouted lentils lately:

They also met their end in a salad roughly based on this one: http://www.food.com/recipe/indian-sprouted-lentil-salad-131211

The Verdict:

I enjoy the sprouted legumes. They offer a crisper taste to the salad. I will definitely add them into the rotation and am eager to move on to grains and seeds. That being said, I love their cooked counterparts  whole lot and will still be eating them as well.

Have you ever sprouted anything? 

What do you think of sprouts?

Have you done some experimenting lately?

Change

Isn’t it funny how sometimes change can just sneaks up on you?

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Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times when one follows all the steps, making a clear, conscience decision to make a change: (1) This is the change I want in myself (2) This is what I have to do (3) This is what I’m doing.

But most of the time it’s more sneaky. Like you’re going about your life thinking you’re doing everything the same and then you look back and think: “Man, how often did I used to eat out?” or “What did I used to have against smoothies?” or “Wow, I really used to be a to-the-T calorie-counter” or “How could there have possible been a time when I was worried about eating too many nuts/too much nut butter?” (HA!)

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I think the brain has some sort of bias for the belief that we are always the same. Though this makes sense because how else would we integrate everything? ANYWAYS! enough with the philosophical introspective stuff. Basically I just want to talk about what has changed in my life since I fell off the face of the Earth  started interning.

Basically, I’ve aged 10 years.

Ok, maybe I haven’t aged 10 years, but I seriously am so much more buckled down. I have a system for living. This includes a formula for meal planning, food preparation, exercise, free time activities, and clothing selection during the work week. It takes many day-to-day choices out of life, which in my book is MARVELOUS.

Take away tips:

1. Take 15 minutes on Sunday and pick your outfits for the week. Seriously. Especially if you’re like me and pack your outfit with you to the gym in the morning so that you can get ready there before heading to work. Those 15 minutes will unload 15 pounds from your shoulders in accumulated stress throughout the work week.

2. Take the guesswork out of meal planning – create your own formula for the week in meals. Mine looks like this:

Thursday/Friday: Meal planning online whilst at work (it’s OK to multitask, right?)

Friday/Saturday: Grocery shopping/farmers’ marketing (always 2 fruits x7 servings for the week, yogurt, and what I need for snacks and the meals planned)

Saturday/Sunday food prep: 3 voluminous-oatmeals-in-a-jar, 1 Salad Conglomerate (serves 5 lunches for the week), 1 Other food creation (Mexican Spaghetti Squash Casserole, Veggie Chili, Curry-roasted veggies + tofu, etc.) that serves 4-6 dinners

Wednesday: 2 voluminous-oatmeals-in-a-jar

Optional: 1 more meals Wednesday/Thursday

3. If it’s vegan you can probably eat something past the “4 day fridge life expectancy”

Hence why I’ve been making two meals that last all week for the past month or so. I’ve pretty much switched to vegan for the majority of my home meal preparation. Soy milk in my oatmeal and delicious replacements for cheese – Nacho cheeze sauce makes an excellent topping for enchilada casserole by-the-by. Actually, the only animal products I buy (at the moment) are yogurt and the honey that’s laced into my Kashi Go Lean cereal.

4. Create a workout routine that’s a no brainer.

For me that means take exercise classes every weekday and leave the “What workout should I do today?” for the weekend. I’m fortunate enough to be able to create a well-balanced, continuously challenging workout from the classes offered at my gym

(My Plan: M- Cycle, Tu- Cardio Strength, W- Cycle, Th- Yoga, Fr- Boot Camp, Sa/Su- mix strength & cardio or rest)

5. Strive to only spend time on the things you want to be doing.

That means planning fun activities for the weekend ahead of time, making plans to see your good friends, and deciding what you want to use your free time to do during the week.

6. But at the same time try not to worry so much if things aren’t exactly how you want them to be. 

I would be a dirty liar if I said that I’ve mastered this. Sometimes it’s easy to let myself get bogged down with feeling like I wish things were different than they are right now- especially when I was interning and had no time. But in the end, it just makes things worse to dwell on it, so I continuously strive to try not to focus on what how I wish things would be unless I have the capability of making them that way right now.

Well…

That pretty much sums up my changes and learnings.

How have you changed lately?

What have you learned?

Things to look forward to on eatmybeets:
– Hot sauce creation “sriracha”-style
– Sprouts!
– Fermentation? <–that’s a maybe

Lentil Vegetable Salad with Broccoli “Green Goddess” Dressing

Like I said in my previous post, I’ve been making a lot of salads lately.

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What I may not have mentioned was that I got a food processor, which makes the salad possibilities even greater!

This week I was inspired by the Broccoli “Green Goddess” Dressing I found in this book:

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I tweaked the recipe a little but adding jalapeño for extra kick and subbing fresh garlic for powdered. The outcome was awesomely delicious. :-)

Lentil Vegetable Salad with Broccoli “Green Goddess” Dressing

Ingredients:

Salad

1 cup lentils (I used 1/2 yellow 1/2 green)
parsley (2 bunches), chopped
green onions (1 bunch), thinly sliced
yellow bell pepper (1), chopped
shallot (1), finely diced
red cabbage (~1/3 large cabbage), thinly sliced
cauliflower (1/2 head), chopped

Dressing

1 stalk broccoli, steamed
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 jalapeño, chopped
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
salt, pepper, onion powder

Directions:

1. Rinse lentils and place in a medium sauce pan. Add enough water to cover them by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and allow to cool.

2. Combine parsley through cauliflower in a large mixing bowl. Toss well to combine.

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3. Combine all dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process/blend until well-mixed.

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4. Add lentils do the vegetables and toss well to combine. Add the dressing and mix well.

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And voila! A delicious, healthy salad for lunches (or dinners) this week. Of course I had to make my roasted cauliflower, red cabbage, and purple potatoes (made with coconut oil, madras curry powder, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper) to go along with it.

What are you eating for lunch this week?

Have any yummy salad dressing ideas to share?