Monday, September 29, 2008

Boys on the Brain

I might otherwise not mention this subject, but considering the overwhelmingly female readership of this blog, I feel like I can broach the topic that has been on my mind all day: boys.

As a nearly 21-year old woman, I am embarrassed to admit that I have never had a boyfriend. Yes, I actually confessed it. I am all about being open on my blog, so there is no use in hiding my (nonexistent) romantic status. Anyway, as a result of my decades-long romance deprivation, my mind has been wandering in the direction of love and marriage lately. I find myself wondering, "Will I ever get married? Am I going to be single for life? What is so wrong with me that I can't seem to nab a man of my own?" I am uncertain as to why my thoughts have assumed this pattern, but I'm sure watching Tristan + Isolde and Ever After within the past two weeks didn't help the situation...Or, perhaps downloading Celine Dion's greatest hits on my iPod was a poor choice.

Romance woes aside, I have a few interesting meals to show you this evening before I get crackin' on studying. I have a psych midterm tomorrow, but I am not sure how effective studying will be at this point given my disgruntled mental state.

Enough chit-chat. Here's the grub.

After loading up on frozen fruit at Target, I was excited to enjoy cherries again. Unfortunately, this smoothie was a flop. Too liquidy. Boo.
Upon my return from an especially difficult run around campus, I decided on a blueberry-banana-flax parfait. Organic blueberry yogurt, sliced banana, Whole Foods brand Cheerios, and ground flax made up this little glass of deliciousness.
After a hot day in the sun at the Duke-UVA football game (at which DUKE was victorious), I was in serious need of fuel, fast. I had the rest of the Annie's rice milk mac and cheese (to which I added garlic and oregano), plus a salad with cashews and a plum.
For dinner that evening, I got a chance to try those TVP crumbles I ordered a while back. I rehydrated them, then mixed them with pasta sauce, oregano, and chopped onions. I stuffed it all into an Ezekiel pita and served it alongside green beans with chopped almonds. Delish.
The uber-delicious shake of the night consisted of frozen strawberries, cocoa Living Harvest hemp, and coconut. The consistency and flavor were both completely "perf."
Before heading to the Chapel yesterday, I made myself a big bowl of oats with rice milk and butternut squash. A dash of cinnamon and chopped almonds made it oh-so-good. I bet it would be even better with almond butter:)
I was neither hungry nor creatively inclined yesterday afternoon, so lunch was just a simple glob of hummus with raw veggies and pita bread. I hit all my bases by adding a trail mix (cashew-cranberry combo) and an organic plum.
After writing my snack post yesterday, I was especially inspired to create a new snack combination: PB & J cottage cheese. I just combined cottage cheese with roasted peanuts and a blob of organic blackberry jam.
I was ravenous after my chapter meeting last night, so dinner was a campus special: the Crunchy Broccoli Salad. Remember when I first blogged about it here? Well, I still love it just as much. FYI, my addition of soynuts is perhaps what makes it so delicious. On the side I had a fruit cup and some Milton's crackers.
Another successful smoothie last night: strawberry-pineapple. So tropical, so tasty.
I just needed something simple mind was otherwise occupied. I had whole wheat toast with Natural Sunbutter, plain yogurt with butternut squash, and another plum. This was SO filling, the way I like it.
Before my run today, I had some original flavor Puffins. I nabbed these at an on-campus grocery store--can you believe that they were cheaper than the box of Corn Bran? They're very similar products, but I obviously much prefer Barbara's cereals.
It had been a while since I had enjoyed my beloved scrambled tofu, plus I happened to pick up some turmeric at Target last Friday, so lunch today was an obvious choice. This rendition included mushrooms and garlic, along with the usual tahini and soy sauce. On the side I had a slice of whole wheat toast, a sliced apple, and a simple spinach salad. I love the colors in this one!
Now, I am off to study evolutionary psychology and mating preferences...I can't seem to escape the subject today. Enjoy your evening!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Healthy Habits: Get Snackin'

For this edition of Healthy Habits, I thought I would highlight a question I get a lot: What do I eat for snacks? My snacking habits might be a bit of a mystery to you all because I mostly just post meals (and smoothies, of course). My snacks are more spontaneous creations (read: I'm too hungry to make it look pretty for the camera), plus they can be repetitive, so I choose not to post them very often. Nonetheless, I am an avid snacker, and I have developed a few guidelines for smart snacking.

A lot of people the misconception that snacking is "bad." Not so. Eating between meals is an excellent way to keep your energy levels up and to keep your metabolism chugging. For me, it is also a great strategy to fill in nutritional gaps within my diet; food groups that I don't often incorporate into meals can easily become part of a balanced snack. A final advantage of snacking is that it fits easily into a fast-paced schedule. That is, if you're running short on time, you likely don't have time to sit down to a 5-course meal, but you might have a few minutes to spare on a snack.

Although I consume multiple snacks per day, most people seem to be most interested in keeping those mid-afternoon munchies at bay. Thus, I will focus on the ever-popular afternoon nibbles.
My basic formula is:

healthy fat + calcium source (dairy/non-dairy/dairy alternative) + fruit or whole grains

This pattern works for me because:
1) I often lack dairy in my meals, so snacktime is a great occasion to balance out my diet and ensure that I am getting adequate calcium

2) The combination of protein, fat, and healthful carbs (i.e., fiber) keeps me full for a few hours until I am ready to prepare dinner.
3) There are myriad combinations of these food groups! Keeping it interesting is simple.

Speaking of possible snack combinations, here are a few of my favorites:

At Home or In the Office options
-Plain yogurt with nuts and dried fruit

-Greek yogurt with a crumbled snack bar (such as
Clif Z or Mini Clif) and nuts
-Whole grain crackers and cheese, pistachios
-Cottage cheese with ground flax and dried fruit
-Pumpkin Bread in a bowl: plain yogurt with nuts (walnuts recommended), raisins, pumpkin, and cinnamon

On the Go options
-String cheese, small baggie of GORP (Good Ol' Raisins and Peanuts)
-Larabar or Jocolat bar with a to-go carton of soymilk/milk such as
Soy on the Go
-Pretzel sticks with a PB packet (such as Justin's) and a piece of fruit
-Apple or banana with nut butter (if using almond butter, it contains calcium AND healthy fat)
-Trail mix: simply combine your favorite cereal with nuts, dried fruit, and your favorite mix-ins (chocolate chips, anyone?)

Here are a few other examples from the past:

This list is in no way comprehensive but rather a mere sampling of what I like and what works for my current schedule.

I hope that demystifies my snacking style for some of you, and I also hope you all find it useful. Happy snacking:)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Stocked Pantry Satisfaction

Today has been yet another full day, despite my not having classes. How does that happen?! The day's schedule included a workout, banana pancakes (!), Whole Foods trip, tutoring, Target trip, laundry...and other such wildly adventurous activities.

I got it all done though, so now I am left with a feeling of accomplishment, combined with a feeling of satisfaction--with 2 grocery runs today, my pantry is pretty well-stocked. I scored some good produce, Sunbutter, and organic yogurt at Whole Foods, while I loaded up on frozen fruits/veggies, canned beans, and a few odds and ends at Target. I am such a foodie/dork--new groceries excite me so to no end.

Despite my collegiate chaos, I have managed to churn out a few interesting dishes these past few days...

I finally got a chance to try VeggieGirl's smoothie recipe! For months now, I have been meaning to experiment with her favorite comination: banana, berries, hemp protein, and spinach. I didn't have any hemp milk on hand (as her version requires), but I think the soymilk served as an adequate substitute. This was my first time adding spinach to a smoothie, and I think I'll continue adding it in the future--it adds lots of nutrition without any difference in taste. Plus, you get cool green flecks throughout the beverage. Sweet.
Breakfast yesterday was pretty simple, but it included lots of my favorites: butternut squash and almond butter (although not together). On whole wheat toast, I spread the last of my almond butter (a tragic event, as I am too poor to replenish my supply). I also combined a container of plain yogurt with butternut squash, cinnamon, and stevia--this was by far the best part of this breakfast! A juicy peach made for a nice end to the fiberful feast.
Pre-run snack was just a simple chocolate chip Clif bar. Tasty and effective, as always. For lunch, I got creative with the most recent secret ingredient, apples. I decided on a vegan tempeh apple sandwich, an idea inspired by a recipe from Whole Foods Market (I am a loyal subscriber and reader of their newsletter). I didn't use the oven as the recipe suggests, but rather used the stovetop for convenience and speed. I *might* have forgotten about the apples simmering, thus their slightly charred appearance. Anyway, that's agave mustard on the bread beneath the apples and tempeh. I was doubly ambitious in the kitchen yesterday, as I tried a Baked Eggplant Moussaka from the Imagine Soups website. Clearly, I didn't follow the recipe precisely, as I did not have all of the ingredients on hand, so I just ended up with a layered vegetable casserole dish. On the side, I had some couscous, salad with kidney beans, and kefir with peanuts. An odd combination, but tasty nonetheless. I discovered yet another tasty flavor duo for my smoothie last night: strawberries and peaches. It was a discovery out of necessity rather than experimentation in that I didn't have much frozen fruit left. The texture on this concoction was perfection, likely due to a greater proportion of fruit. I used the Nutiva Berry Pomegranate hemp for this one. Friday
After a workout at the gym this morning, I treated myself to a batch of banana-chocolate chip pancakes, using the Sweet Eats recipe as a guide. I don't think there are many dishes that can match the euphoria of banana-chocolate chip pancakes. So sweet. So indulgent. So YUM.
Before heading out to an afternoon of tutoring appointments, I made a basic TLT: Tempeh Lettuce Tomato (wrap). I cooked the last of my tempeh in Bragg's and garlic, then rolled it into a whole wheat tortilla with lettuce, tomato, vegan mayo and mustard. I served it alongside a salad and a sliced Rome apple (a new Whole Foods purchase).

Following the Target run, I was hungry and not in the mood for a laborious leftovers it was! I combined Annie's Mac & Cheese (whole grain, organic) with broccoli and garlic. I also had a basic salad with peanuts for crunch.
Well, I am off to relax with Kristen and catch up on What Not to Wear episodes. G'night all.