Monthly Archives: March 2013

WIAW

I don’t officially do What I Ate Wednesdays (yet?) but today I have a few things to share with you.

I adore food blogs with artful pictures of meals, starting with photos of trips to the market and all the ingredients what went into it, along with lengthy descriptions of the background of the dish, preparation methods, etc. etc. But right now I don’t have time to write posts like that and possibly never will. So I will enjoy the blogs of people much better than me at doing it, but I suspect that a lot of you also enjoy pictures of simple food that can be whipped up quickly on a week night.

Food doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult to make to be delicious and healthy. This dinner I made last night of braised bok choy and tempeh finished with a drizzle of hoisin sauce definitely fits in with that. Bok choy contains a good amount of calcium, along with vitamins A, K, C, folate, and is in the cruciferous class of vegetables known for their anti-cancer properties. The fact that it is also delicious makes it a good leafy green to include in your weekly meal rotation.

Braised bok choy with tempeh and hoisin sauce.

Braised bok choy with tempeh and hoisin sauce.

All I did for this was lightly brown my tempeh strips in a little oil, set aside, and then use the same pan to saute the bok choy until the greens were tender but the white stalk was still a little crisp, and then added the tempeh back to the pan and drizzled it all with a little organic hoisin. So simple, so good. Tempeh is a great source of protein and has a great, nutty flavor. Here’s another post about the nutrition benefits and another way to prepare tempeh (from one of those amazingly detailed blogs with great photography!).

Tonight I felt like Indian food and luckily I happened to have all the ingredients on hand to make chana saag (or chole palak), one of my favorite dishes.

chana-saag (2)

Chana saag with biryani

I loosely followed this recipe at Manjula’s Kitchen, one of my favorite sites for Indian recipes and instructional videos. I used Whole Foods 365 brand frozen mixed greens (a blend of collard greens, kale, and mustard greens) instead of spinach, a small onion and LOTS of minced garlic, canned crushed tomatoes instead of fresh, used only 1 TBS of coconut oil instead of  3, and I didn’t have asafetida so I used a few squeezes of lime at the end of cooking for a little tartness. The biryani came from Trader Joe’s and heated through very quickly; it took less than 10 minutes. The raisins and apples in it added a nice sweetness to this dinner. SO incredibly flavorful and full of all kinds of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and anti-inflammatory properties from the turmeric and other spices. It only took about 10 minutes to prep everything and about 20 minutes to simmer the chana saag. It’s healthier than getting restaurant Indian food, as that’s usually full of oil (or ghee and cream) and too much salt.

And finally, a little pre-Easter treat I ordered for myself from the best chocolate shop in the world, as far as I’m concerned.

The Harlot Box

The Harlot Box

This box of exquisite truffles are a mix of  pomegranate (with rose petals on top) and lemon (with lavender blossoms on top) Read more about Lagusta’s Luscious chocolate shop here. I truly have never had such divine, decadent chocolate and her ethics align nicely with mine, so it’s a win-win. I ordered a few treats for my boyfriend for Easter, as well, but I HAD to get myself something as long as I was making an order.

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Getting Organized

In the interest of roping our household food spending bill in and getting back to making more home cooked meals, I hearby declare that this weekend I am going to clean out my fridge and make a meal plan for the following week. I just made a meal plan for my symposium project, so it should be a no-brainer to do it for myself. To make it even easier, Kris Carr has made a printable meal planner/shopping list template that you just fill in with the meals you want to make for the week. She also offers up some great tips to keep meal planning and cooking as simple, quick, and enjoyable as possible.

Also, bonus tip: how to get perfectly browned tofu by Isa Chandra. I guess I’m going to have to try to re-season my cast iron pan or buy a new one if it’s unsalvageable. Mine has been sitting sadly in the cupboard after a botched attempt at seasoning made it all gummy and gross probably almost two years ago.

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2013 Undergrad Symposium

The symposium was a success! We got everything finished just in time (some handouts with a weekly meal plan had to be printed this morning!) and had a great response to our poster. I don’t know if I said this already in a previous post, but we presented on plant-based diets and human health. We did a literature review of several peer-reviewed studies looking at vegetarian/vegan dietary patterns and heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes incidence. Included were the EPIC-Oxford and the Adventist Health Studies.

We got to meet several students and faculty who are already vegetarian or vegan and were attracted to our brightly fruit and vegetable covered poster and a lot of people who were curious about plant-based diets. I was happy to hear that several people were familiar with plant-based doctors like Dr. Fuhrman, Dr. Barnard, and Dr. Esselstyn. A lot of people enthusiastically took our meal plan that we created.

My partner Erin on the right and me on the left.

My partner Erin on the right and me on the left.

erin-dr.mistry-angela

Erin, our professor who sponsored us for the symposium, and me.

It was a great experience that I’m very grateful to my professor for providing us with. I generally don’t do so well with crowds and talking in front of people I don’t know, but I know it’s something I need to get used to and this allowed me to get some practice.

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Cram week

Please pardon me while I have a very busy week. The symposium I am presenting a poster at is this Friday and my partner and I have been working like madwomen around our already busy schedules to wrap everything up, make all the final edits, and make our poster look great! Earlier in the week we had a (now comical) stressful day of technology mishaps where nothing we tried to do on the computer went right! Luckily, my partner was able to work things out late Monday night and the rough draft of our poster looks amazing. She’s good like that. Final draft should be done tonight!

On top of that I have an exam over the weekend (thanks, art professor!), an assignment due Sunday (thanks, feminist theory professor!), and an exam over nine chapters that I have hardly had the time to read Monday. So even though I’d like to breathe a sigh of relief and have some cocktails Friday after the symposium, I have to get back to work immediately Saturday.

During busy times I resort to eating lots of giant salads from Whole Foods salad bar, majadara sandwiches from the delicious Haifa Falafel restaurant, and things I can throw together in minutes, like wraps made with sprouted grain tortillas with lots of vegetables, hummus, and avocado inside. The thing I always miss most while very busy is shopping for groceries and cooking at home. I know as a future dietitian I should be the queen of knowing how to maintain eating home-cooked, healthy meals even when busy, but I am still learning and trying to find that balance.

If you are great at having a healthy meal routine I’d love to hear how you make it work. I know all about the wonders of slow cookers, pressure cookers, and making a week’s worth of food over the weekend, but again, these are all habits I haven’t established despite my best intentions yet. YET.

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Exciting Mail

Accepted!

Accepted!

This little letter has been much anticipated lately. It finally arrived yesterday afternoon right as I was leaving for my experimental foods class. I was home alone and was so nervous to open it and read whether I had been accepted or not for the dietetics program. This program only has 18 spots per year and I knew that around 44 people had applied this year.

The first word I read was Congratulations and immense relief washed over me. I have been preparing to get into this program for over two years and all the striving to make A’s in organic chemistry, biochemistry, and other assorted science classes I had to take as prereqs finally paid off! I, uh, also didn’t really have a plan B, so I don’t know what I was going to do if I didn’t get accepted. I just didn’t leave that as a possibility in my mind.

One of my best friends called right after I opened the letter and it was amazing to have her to share my insane giddiness with. Squealing ensued.

So, officially I will be in the professional phase of my program starting in September, but I’ll be taking a couple of dietetics courses over the summer to get started. After all this time preparing it hardly feels real yet.  This is a coordinated program as opposed to a didactic program, which means that instead of completing two years of coursework and then trying to get matched to a year-long internship (only about half of dietetics graduates get matched to an internship their first year — odds I didn’t like) which could be anywhere in the country, I will complete my 1,200 hours of supervised practice along with my 2 years of coursework. When I graduate I will be prepared to take the RD exam and then I will be an RD! I’m assuming it will be a bit intense, but I’m anxious to get started.

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Sunday Night Dinner

Maybe this will become a thing? I don’t know. I just know that I have made Sunday dinner two weeks in a row since I’ve had this blog and all of a sudden I feel compelled to document it.

Tonight’s dinner wasn’t the fanciest, but it was quite good. I decided to make the Black Bean, Zucchini, and Olive Tacos from Appetite for Reduction.

If you aren’t familiar with Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s cookbooks, I suggest you check them all out from your local library. They are all amazing in their own way. Appetite focuses on low-fat vegan cuisine for when you want something lighter but still flavorful and delicious.

tacos

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National Nutrition Month and Healthy Challenge Check-In

March first begins National Nutrition Month! If I’d had more time to plan, maybe I would do some sort of theme on the blog for this month, but since my blog tends to be food and nutrition oriented anyway, I’ll just go with posting whatever comes up.

So far I’ve had some good days and some not-so-good days with improving my eating for the Spring Healthy Vegan Challenge. I had some deadlines for school assignments last week and not a lot of food options at home, so I did get some Whole Foods pizza for dinner one night (cheeseless with lots of veggies at least!) and ate a frozen Masala Burger (they are actually pretty tasty) from Trader Joe’s another. Yesterday afternoon, however, I was able to do some grocery shopping and stock up on some more veggies and healthy staples. I made this colorful and delicious cauliflower and cashew curry by Dianne Wenz, aka Veggie Girl, for dinner and served it over brown rice. I added cubed sweet potato and a frozen veggie mix that included peas, lima beans, green beans, carrots, and corn instead of the green beans in the recipe and extra red Thai curry paste because I’m a spice/bold flavor lover.

spring break 003spring break 010 Someone got her camera back!

Spring break officially started for me yesterday after class, so this week I’m looking forward to making some healthy food at home and working on my symposium project research. I know, I totally know how to do spring break! This is the difference between being in school in your late teens/early 20s and being in school in your 30s :)

This morning I had a slice of toasted, sprouted, whole-grain bread with a smear of spinach hummus (not pictured). For a late-morning snack I made a cherry-blueberry smoothie with frozen fruit and just enough unsweetened soymilk to blend it.

smoothie

We have very little natural light in our apartment for better photos, sadly.

For lunch I’m planning on making a wrap with an Ezekiel sprouted tortilla, some baked Italian tofu, onion sprouts, carrot, tomato, avocado, red onion, and a bit of the spinach hummus. For dinner we’ll probably have leftover curry.

I’m still working on the getting motivated to exercise part. Yoga break today, perhaps?

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