Back on my grind, loving life.

No matter what happens in a day, no matter the ups and downs, cooking always makes me happy. Knowing that I can combine fresh vegetables, herbs, and fresh lime juice to create the most insanely fresh and full bodied tasting dish puts the biggest smile on my face and warms my heart. Food has always been my comfort and always will be.

After an eventful vacation and a crazy exhausting week back to school, I’m finally back on my grind. I won’t even talk about the food I ate last week – wegman’s prepared food for dinner and salads with cucumbers and tomatoes was basically every day last week – it was a sad situation. So I am very grateful that I had this weekend to rest back up and get back to my grind of healthy eating, homemade, my own.

I started this weekends cooking with making my own peanut butter for the first time. OH MY GOD, WHY DID I NEVER DO THIS BEFORE? So freaking easy and so so delicious. Literally nothing but a pound of trader joe’s organic roasted, unsalted peanuts in my ninja storm – pulsing and grinding for 3-5 minutes and bam – peanut butter! And the consistency is perfect. I’m a crunchy peanut butter kind of person and this peanut butter is an in-between stage – not huge chunks but I could always add these in if I wanted. Price differential is not that amazing. I pay $6.99/lb for my organic, free trade peanut butter from the local coop and I paid $3.99/lb for these peanuts which yielded about 1 1/2 cups of peanut butter – a little less than what I would buy. This will last me about a week and half — as I’ve said before, peanut butter is my everything. I can’t go a day without having at least a spoonful.

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My bestie at school is going to be so thrilled when she gets some of this peanut butter tomorrow morning πŸ™‚

Next, lime pickled cucumbers and red onion with cilantro. Yup, you heard right. Here is it – cut up 2 cucumbers ( I peel them slightly, like every other peel if you know what I mean – so that there’s still some skin on it) into very thin slices, throw in a bowl. Add in thinly sliced red onion (1/2 onion), a small bunch of cilantro chopped, juice of 2 limes and salt and pepper to taste. Mixed all of this up with 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar & 1/4 cup water and then stored in a bar jar.

Can’t wait to eat this on top of salad greens this week.

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Then another new recipe I tried — “California Quinoa Salad” (pinterest find). I followed the recipe for the most part but didn’t have red pepper. I’ve eaten this twice already. As the blog states, it makes a ton and it’s so damn delicious. This is definitely a find for the summer – on those hot days with a fresh margarita in hand, lounging in my chair in the backyard. Oh how I dream of these days, almost everyday, with this cold weather still, I don’t think we’ve had spring yet.

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Lastly, a recipe I made up months ago that I just had to bring back… roasted asparagus and mushrooms with kamut and goat cheese. This time I added cherry tomatoes to the roasting pan – I really love doing this. Cherry tomatoes especially roasted, they get all split open and juicy and even more sweet. Mixed these up while hot with goat cheese, kamut and salad green – yum! yum! yum! This is lunch for tomorrow for sure!

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Next weekend look forward to this Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea salad that I’m going to try! Have a peaceful week ya’ll and remember, clean cooking will always bring a smile to your face πŸ™‚

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Clouds and rain in Florida

Florida in April is hit or miss, and we missed it. While there on vacation, it rained, stormed, and was cloudy 90% of the time. But we didn’t let it stop us!! I had an absolute blast and can’t wait to go back again, let alone go on another vacation with my boyfriend anywhere cause he’s pretty cool.

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As soon as we got to the resort we were blown away with the size of our villa and the fact that we had our own kitchen and cookware to enjoy!

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So, of course we went grocery shopping. Here’s our luggage cart full of groceries and then unloaded in the fridge. I’ll give ya 10 bucks if you can guess whose food is whose πŸ™‚

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Here’s our first dinner we made in our villa that night…

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We explored the resort we were staying at, Kissimmee, Winter Park, Orlando, Tampa, and St. Cloud (visiting my grandmother) while in Florida and there was never a dull moment and it sure took me a few days to rest back up once we returned to NY. From eating at a pretty awesome vegan restaurant called “Ethos” in Winter Park, to getting rained out at Busch Gardens, toΒ  screaming our heads off on the roller coasters at Universal Studios, we enjoyed ourselves almost too much. Vacations are always a blast but even better when you’re spending them with the people that you love, making memories that will last a life time.

Here’s some of the food I enjoyed while in Florida — all of which is definitely not vegan or nutritarian, but I promise I tried my best!

Ethos restaurant in Winter Park: We had a seitan calzone and philly cheese steak sandwich with ginger ale sodas that were to die for!

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Also while in Winter Park we stopped at a specialty candy shop where I was able to pick up some vegan chocolate πŸ™‚

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One night we ventured out to Downtown Disney for dinner and a movie. For dinner we stopped by the B.B. Blues House. I had an amazing fresh fish sandwich with sweet potato fries as we enjoyed some live music on the street.

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We also ventured to City Walk at Universal Studios for dinner, dancing and karaoke. We ate at Bob Marley’s Tribute to Freedom restaurant. I had jerk chicken, obvi!

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Then we danced it all of at the karaoke joint, a nightclub and back at Bob Marley’s place for some live reggae, our favorite.

Our last night in Florida, after a long day at Universal Studios we had dinner at the resort. Here’s a picture of the fried gator that we had for an appetizer. For my entree I had blackened mahi mahi with pineapple mango salad and brown rice but forgot to take a picture of it.

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And we’re off!

Later today my boyfriend and I are leaving for spring break! I can hear the waves crashing up on the beach. Florida here we come! I wanted to post really quickly before leaving – how does a nutritarian travel? Well, its vacation and I’ve worked really hard at the gym and with my eating for this trip, so I am not going to push myself to be 100% nutritarian, because that would be super stressful eating out every day. So, I’ve made some snacks to pack that we’re packing and I have a grocery list for whole foods once we get there. Oh, whole foods! Gleaming!!

Here’s what I made for traveling snacks —

Banana Peanut Butter granola bars – typical recipe for this. I did two bananas, 1/2 cup peanut butter, 2 tbs raw honey, 1/2 cup of nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts) and 1 cup of whole grain oats. Mixed all up, spread out onto 9X13 pan and pre-cut with knife, baked for 10 minutes on 375, cooled and wrapped in foil and plastic bag for safe traveling.

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Then my wonderful mom made cinnamon raisin granola bars and trail mix full of my favorite sesame sticks, whole wheat pretzels and other delights from the local Amish farmer’s market back at home.

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Food to eat before leaving —

Last morning at home cooking breakfast, I had to do one of my quick favorites before heading to the gym this morning. Sweet potato – cooked in microwave, peeled and slices into rounds then fried in 1 tbsp coconut oil till crispy brown on the two sides. Then 2 farm fresh eggs thrown in and topped with too much fresh cracked black pepper πŸ™‚ Rest of gigantic baked sweet potato – in a baggies for snack while on plane!

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For lunch later – a roasted beets and sauteed fennel and fig salad. Roasted beets in oven with black pepper, cooled, peeled and sliced. Fennel was browned in coconut oil in pan on medium heat – sauteeing fennel brings out its sugars and turns this licorice raw vegetable into a sweet delectable topper for salads, or addition to any dish really. At the very end of sauteeing the fennel I threw in some dried figs. Put all of this over top of organic spring mix and topped with goat cheese — to die for.

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When we get to Florida, I’ll buy some Vega One protein shake powder, almond milk, fresh veggies and fruit, and whole grain oats for breakfasts. For lunch and dinners – trust that I have researched vegan and vegetarian restaurants near by and have a huge list that I’m so eager to try!

Won’t be back until next Monday so no post next week — enjoy your spring break teachers! πŸ™‚

Spring is here! Tra la! Tra la! Tra la!

I woke up to the sun shining today and the birds chirping… spring surely is here! What a beautiful day today was. It only hit about 51 degrees (according to my car), but the sun was endless and the skies were bright blue. After spending about an hour working this morning, I went to the gym and ran some final last minute Florida shopping errands (spent all of Saturday doing the same after a nice market trip and lunch with a friend). I say final because I don’t plan on going out and getting anything else… I don’t plan. I had my sunroof open, my shades on, and my music loud. Enjoying this spring day, for sure.

Get ready ya’ll, the summertime loving and food is coming from here on out until September when the brisk air returns and school starts up again. We had ELA testing last week and it is making me feel like school is almost over, which it is… only 50 school days left I believe. Woah! I’m feeling great though, I have one more unit to teach… astronomy. And then we’re reviewing, testing, and having some fun the last two weeks before school is out. Any fun ideas for astronomy – send them my way! First time teaching it and not sure what I want the big idea to be that will focus our learning.

So, for this week I have salads! Yes, salads. T-minus seven days until Florida, I am eating absolutely no processed foods or complex carbs (as in rice, bread, pasta, etc), drinking tons of water, continuing to hit the gym everyday, and drinking my smoothies for breakfast.

First, not a salad, I made some homemade nutella this afternoon after the gym to eat with my apple. Nutella is loaded with sugar and made with dairy milk so I haven’t eaten it in quite awhile. In college it was all I ate with bananas, apples, and pretzels with my friends. The chocolately smooth spread was to die for on almost anything. So, because I’ve been wanted to try making nut butters with my ninja storm and I was in the mood for chocolate, I decided to try some nutella.

I started with 1 cup hazelnuts (raw, from Trader Joes) and 1/4 cup cashews (these blend well into a fine powder so I thought it would help with smoothness). I blended for about 3 minutes, scrapping down the sides of my processor. Then I added a tsp of honey and about 3 tsps of dutch cocoa powder and a dribble of almond milk. Pulsed for another minute or two and added more almond milk (adding up to about 1/3 cup I’d say).

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It came out kind of chunky but super chocolately and delicious. I think next time I need to pulse dry for longer to get the nut oils out more – which is what you would do with a peanut butter.

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Yesterday at the market I stopped by my favorite farm stand where I buy eggs sometimes and vegetables every time I go. The family had zucchinis which made me really excited! The garden season is upon us! I bought two large zucchinis for $2 and then two GIGANTIC sweet potatoes also for $2.

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Picture doesn’t do it justice… so here’s me hold one in my hand, gigantic.

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I knew I wanted to do a pasta with the zucchini and thought of trying it with the sweet potato.Β  So,Β  that brings me to the salads. First, a new one that I am SO glad I stumbled upon on pinterest.

Zucchini pasta salad tossed in avocado cream sauce. I followed the recipe exact except for adding 1/4 cup of cashews in my avocado cream. This was so easy to make and the flavors and texture, everything just melts in your mouth with this fantastic feeling and savory delight-fulness!Β  You start by making the zucchini pasta. Now the recipe explains to spiral the zucchini, but I’m not rich and fancy so I don’t own those fancy tools. Instead, I just use a vegetable peeler. This is what you end up getting.

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And the leftover zucchini… (I added this into my asian cabbage stirfry… read on)

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Then you dice up some tomatoes and cucumbers and toss it all with the avocado cream sauce and fresh ground black pepper.

 

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I took one taste and I was hooked. I poured it into a dish — decided to take it into work tomorrow for my friends to try (I know they’ll love it, and I don’t think this is one that can sit for days in the fridge and still taste so fresh).

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And shamelessly ate the rest with my hands out of the mixing bowl. Oh yeah, I did it.

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This for sure is going to be my new summertime jam! It will go oh so well with some spiked iced tea and a wedge of lemon. Oh, and cantaloupe! Thanks to my sister growing up, cantaloupe is one of my favorites – especially in the summer. So giddy I can barely sit still!

So, for the sweet potatoes… I didn’t use the two that I bought yesterday because I already had some that I had forgotten about. So, I roasted them with asparagus and broccoli. I tried something new here — usually I just roast the vegetables plain, sometimes I add herbs, sometimes I use coconut oil. This time I decided to roast them in a balsamic Sriracha sauce. I just mixed the two liquids up in a dish with some melted coconut oil and tossed the vegetables in it before roasting. Then in the last 5 minutes of roasting I added some dried cranberries.

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I’m looking forward to these vegetables tossed with some goat cheese for salads this week at work.

Lastly, not technically a salad, a stir fry. For dinners this week at home… my favorite cabbage stirfry that I’ve been making forever. Added some new vegetables this time than normal… zucchini (left over from pasta making) and bok choy (so surprised I didn’t do this before). As always, just chop up the vegetables and saute them in aminos liquid and Sriracha, then add water and cabbage and steam together. This is always a go-to for me when I’m trying to cut back on complex carb intake.

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So, with the sweet potatoes… I’ll probably just roast them whole and use them in different things. For breakfast with nuts and almond milk. For dinner, just plain with other veggies (still have more asparagus and broccoli and mushrooms). And the last zucchini… I’m thinking of making a zucchini bread for my crew boys (I won’t eat any… don’t you worry!) for Friday.

Feeling great! Life is good! Florida in a week, yipe! Stay healthy ya’ll. Next Sunday (hoping that I get a chance to blog before leaving) will be all about traveling as a nutritarian. How to prepare, what to eat out and at the hotel… thank god there’s a whole foods near by my resort.