Monthly Archive: November 2012

The evolution of my grocery list

This post is semi-embarrassing, but was fun to reflect on and write.  I don’t eat a “perfect” diet now (whatever that means), nor will I ever, but I’ve come a LONG way in the past decade.

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I didn’t live in an apartment until my senior year of college.  Before that I was in the dorms or the sorority house.  We all know what dorm life is like…needless to say, moving to a gorgeous mansion with tons of girlfriends was a big upgrade.  And although living with a million other females wasn’t always such a treat (hello estrogen overload), the fact that we had the sweetest house mom who made us all delicious home-made meals was a HUGE perk.  I had it so good and I didn’t even know it.  Well, I kinda knew it.  Even while living in an apartment on the opposite side of campus, I still ate most of my meals at the house.  That’s why the fridge and cabinets in our apartment consisted of basically nothing.  Sometimes (okay, a lot of the time) we’d go over to the sorority just to raid the fridge (aka steal groceries).  We took bowls and cups too.  I’m pretty sure this was frowned upon, but nobody ever did anything about it.

Anyway, that’s my attempt at explaining what I’m about to show you.

A typical grocery trip (circa 2004):

Apples
Canned peas
Diet Dr. Pepper
Dried fruit
Peanut Butter
Cereal
Oatmeal
Bread

And that’s about it.  Seriously.  Isn’t that just about the grossest thing you’ve ever seen?  I’m sorry if you’re reading this mom and dad.  I’m mortified by it, which at least shows how far I’ve come in understanding proper nutrition.

I also spent a TON of money at the on-campus candy store.  And I had my way with the salad bar at the on-campus restaurant next to where I worked (which I’m 100% sure I rationalized as cancelling out the candy addiction).  Neither are still in business, so obviously I was alone in that.

My eating habits improved some (minimally) over the next few years, but it wasn’t until I moved to Philly that I really cleaned up my act.

I started nursing school and began to realize how gross I felt when I ate crap.  The upside of saving time and buying processed stuff was totally not worth it.  [There wasn’t an aha moment that led me to this conclusion, I just grew tired of sugar free pudding and packaged deli meat]

So I went back to my roots – eating real food that I made with real ingredients.  It’s pretty odd that I decided to cook and pack bag lunches (two things I never did before) during the busiest year of my life, but I’ve always been one of those people who excels with more on my plate.  Thanks to my mom – who made all our family meals growing up – I already knew my way around the kitchen, so it wasn’t like I was starting from scratch.

A typical grocery list (circa 2006-2007):

Any and every fruit from Whole Foods (apples, bananas, etc.)
Fruit and veggies from the Reading Terminal Market (my first foray in the world of butternut squash)
Trail mix
Bulk bin treats (carob energy chunks, dried fruit, granola, etc.)
Soy yogurt
Vegan cheese
Vegan deli meat
Fresh sliced turkey from the WF deli counter
Bread
Oatmeal
Cereal
Rice (I had enough rice to last a year)
Frozen veggies
Pretzels

As you can see there was some of the same (like cereal and dried fruit), but I did all my grocery shopping at Whole Foods or the Reading Terminal Market (meaning the quality of my food was exponentially better than their 2004 counterparts).  Yes, I still ate meat, but it was real meat, not processed and packaged, and I started trying vegan alternatives as well.  I learned to shop seasonally (something I never thought about growing up in California).  I experimented with roasting new to me vegetables.  And I basically started enjoying the act of preparing food.  I was pretty proud of myself each time I sat down to a put-together meal.  It was yummy, but it also came with a sense of accomplishment.  Don’t get me wrong, I sometimes had PB&Js that I smuggled into the library too.  But I had chocolate with a glass of wine occasionally, to balance it out.  I look back on that year as the turning point in my health and diet evolution.

When I moved to NYC, everything was different.  I had a poor excuse for a kitchen.  Kyle and I lived together and co-managed grocery shopping.  I started my first nursing job at a hospital where I was barely able to stay afloat.  And I had ready-made food options available 24 hours a day, anywhere I looked.  I started to slip into a expensive habit…the Whole Foods hot bar.  Every once in a while I cooked, but it was infrequent.  And yet, I started to focus on nutrition even more.  I slowly removed meat from my diet (hummus made up 75% of what I ate) and I learned all about veganism.  But I still ate a ton of health bars.  I discovered kombucha and seaweed and kale.  But I still made smoothies with soy protein powder and spent 50% or more of my paycheck on pre-made food from WF.

And from there it has continued to change.  As we moved to a bigger apartment in NYC.  And then back to California.

My dietary evolution was obviously not always a linear equation.  But that’s normal, I think.  I’m human.  I’m living and learning and adapting as I go.  Sometimes it was like two steps forward, one step back.  But overall, a step forward each time means I was headed in the positive direction.

I’ve grown up and changed and dabbled in and out of various food phases.  And I’m working as much as I can towards eating the least amount of processed stuff.  But sometimes you want to just get store bought bread.  And nut butter.  And faux meatballs.  And since I know how far I’ve come, I can appreciate the fact that I do eat well most of the time, and allow myself to enjoy (and indulge in) the eats I don’t prepare myself.

Grocery list (today):

Apples
Bananas
(other) fruit
Quinoa
Brown rice
Oats
(other) grains
Spinach
Kale
Tomatoes
Sweet potates
Carrots
Organic cheese (for Kyle)
Almond milk
Vital wheat gluten
Tempeh
Tofu
Dried beans & lentils
Almonds
Cashews
(other) nuts & seeds
Frozen veggies & fruit
Hummus
Eggs
Nutritional yeast
Bragg’s aminos

And so much more…

It’s amazing how I can do anything with just bulk bin items (nuts, seeds, grains) and produce.

I also have a pantry full of various whole grain flours, baking ingredients, and the likes, including almond and coconut flour, lucuma powder and coconut sugar.

If you’d asked me in 2004 how many days a week I’d eat chia seeds, I would have thought you were speaking gibberish.

And if you asked me today how often I crave sugar free jello, I’d tell you never ever ever ever (in a million years).

And that’s the evolution of my grocery list.

Readers request: Breadmaker bread

This is the recipe I use time and time again (I’ve strayed but none are as good as this simple whole wheat loaf).

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Whole Wheat Breadmaker Bread [vegan]

For a 1.5 lb loaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp warm water
  • 1 tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp Earth Balance
  • 1/4 cup sugar (I usually use coconut sugar, but I’ve used cane sugar too)
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast (1 packet)

Directions:

Add to breadmaker in the order listed above.  For the yeast, make a small indentation in the flour and pour it into it so it doesn’t contact the water.

Turn machine on, set it to wheat bread and 1.5 lb setting, select light/medium/dark color setting (I pick medium), and start.

With my machine, it takes about 3 1/2 hours until it’s done.

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I have this breadmaker.  I think it’s fantastic.  It’s relatively inexpensive (as far as breadmakers go) and works great.  I’m definitely not an experienced baker (after I got this machine was the first time I even attempted using yeast), so I feel comfortable calling the appliance idiot proof.

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This bread makes perfect sandwich bread.  It’s soft in the middle with a nice crust.  It’s also great toasted, piled high with Earth Balance, and dipped in yolk.

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The reason I make this wheat bread is because it comes out every single time.  I’ve tried gluten free breads, but they’ve all been mediocre at best.  The ones with the best texture (bouncy and fluffy) contain chickpea/fava flour, which really messed with my GI system (and caused way more symptoms than wheat flour).  And so I’ve given up with gluten free yeast breads. 

If anyone happens to know a good breadmaker recipe for GF yeast bread I’d greatly appreciate it.  Especially if it doesn’t call for 8 different rare flours. 

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In the meantime, I’m happy to keep eating this lovely stuff.

Crunch Quota

First order of business, the gardein winners.  #8 Robin O., #25 Erica Wollman, and #28 Debbie.  Email me with your addresses.

Now.  Let’s do a full day of food, okay?  This is from over a week ago.

I woke up way too early after sleeping way too little.  Nothing new.

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I had milky coffee.  And holiday waffles with an egg.

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Oh gorgeous froth.

About two hours later, I was hungry (again), so I made a sweet potato hash.

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I made it the same way as I previously posted.

You’d think the coconut oil would have been enough, but I still added gratuitous amounts of Earth Balance.

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Mmmm.  Buttah.

Lunch came a bit later in the afternoon.  Since I started the day with mostly carbs and Earth Balance, I wanted to get some real nutrients on board for baby.

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Veggie Kraut Salad with Black Beans & Cashew Hemp Dressing [vegan, gluten free]

Ingredients:

Salad

  • 2 large fists of spinach
  • 1/3 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 cup black beans
  • 1/4 cup sauerkraut

Dressing

  • 1 cup cashews (soaked overnight and drained)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp cane sugar
  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp tahini
  • 1/8 tsp miso

Directions:

Chop everything and add to a bowl.

Make dressing my pureeing ingredients together in a magic bullet, food processor, or blender.

Toss salad with dressing until well coated.

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Now that’s definitely enough to meet my daily crunch quota.  Veg-errific.

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The dressing was thick and creamy, which complemented the sauerkraut nicely.  And talk about a protein punch!  Between the beans, quinoa, and hemp, this salad was packed with amino acids.

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So good.  I will definitely be using kraut in salads more.  It was such a fun and tasty new ingredient.  Not nearly as strong or dominating as I thought it would be.

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I wasn’t so sure about how I’d feel about the sauerkraut so I was cautious with it at first, but ended up adding more later.  It’s really a nice addition to this salad.

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Look at that big hunkin’ pile of kraut!  Yummay.

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After lunch I had two “five” balls.  They are such peanutty perfection.

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I occupied myself in the afternoon by going on a long walk and prepping more food stuffs.

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I tried not to ruin my appetite with this pm snack but holy crap, I cannot contain myself when I am around Sabra’s seasonal hummus.  The rosemary and olive oil flavor is hands down the best they have.  I wish it weren’t specific to the winter months because it means I have to try to get my fix in just a few shorts months of time.

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If you see this on the shelves at your local grocery store – stock up!!!!

We did soosh for dinner since I’d been craving it for a while.

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I got a California roll and a (cooked) shrimp roll.  I didn’t end up eating that seaweed salad because it made my stomach churn.  Early in my pregnancy I spent the night hovered over the toilet dry heaving seaweed salad…and clearly I haven’t really recovered.

I’m so excite for real (raw) sushi after pregnancy.  And beer.  And mimosas.  I swear, one of my first orders of business post-pregnancy is a sushi date and a mimosa brunch.  Oh, and I am going to go to the nail salon too.  After avoiding the toxic fumes for 9 months…well, I’ll just let your imagination fill in the blank…

Ok, so now that I’ve ruined your appetite with that visual, how about I bring it back to dessert.

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On the left, Kyle’s red wine and almond bites.  And on the right, my chocolate, candied ginger, and pecan toffee.  I have a freakin’ love/hate relationship with this Sees candy from my patient’s family.  Blahhhh.

Weekend of thanks 2012

I know Thanksgiving was ages ago, but I’m only just getting around to uploading photos and such because my week/end was SO packed I couldn’t be bothered to worry about blogging in a timely manner. 

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Shorts and a tank top in late November…must be Southern California…

For the first time in as long as I can remember ever (!!) I got the holiday – PLUS it’s surrounding days – off of work. 

Kyle and I took full advantage, and drove down to his parents’ house in San Clemente on Wednesday afternoon, to stay through Sunday.  Mini vacay!

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He had a half day of work, so I took the opportunity to fill my morning with last minute errands and food prep.

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I made a pumpkin cheesecake (above) for my family’s Thanksgiving and roasted nuts (below) for a kale salad I was going to make for Kyle’s family’s Thanksgiving. 

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Recipes coming.

I had pumpkin butter & cream cheese oatmeal for breakfast, which was as brilliant and delish as it sounds.

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But since I went to such great lengths to use up every last (perishable) food before we headed out of town, our fridge was completely bare by Wednesday afternoon.  Which meant I had to go to Whole Foods for lunch.  Such a sacrifice.

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This is my new favorite thing. 

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Made to order sandwich with gluten free bread, field roast loaf, avocado, mustard, vegenaise, lettuce & tomato.

I ate it in the car while Kyle was trying to navigate through the most intense LA traffic ever and naturally spilled on my belly.  Twice.  Washed it all down with a gingerberry kombucha.

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For dessert I had a few tangerines.  I’m obsessed with citrus at the moment, and these are on sale at WF for cheap cheap cheap.  They’re almost easy enough to peel that your hands don’t get all sticky.  Almost.

It took us a rather miserable 2+ hours to get to San Clemente.  [A trip that should be an hour long. Max.]

After we decompressed a bit, Kyle’s dad fired up the BBQ and we threw together a quick dinner.  Nothing like a low key meal before the big day.

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I had two Field Roast sausages with all the toppings, but no bun.  I was saving my (wheat) FODMAPs for Thanksgiving the next day.

I never took a picture of dessert, but we had vanilla coconut ice cream.

The next day was the big day.  Evidently I didn’t photograph my breakfast either, but it was my preggo standard – two fried eggs with toast and a pound of Earth Balance.

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I made a lunch out of appetizers – with hummus & guac aplenty on corn chips and carrots (I still dodged the wheat).

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On the left: Kyle reading his mom the directions to make vegan gravy.  On the right: the full spread.

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I think 50% of my plate was kale salad.  The rest was vegan mashed potatoes with vegan gravy (yum!), vegan cassoulet, and cranberry jelly (from the can, obvs).  I had seconds of kale salad, but otherwise didn’t really stuff myself.  Even my normal portions make me so uncomfortable, it’s really miserable feeling packed to the gills while pregnant.  Pre-pregnancy I thought the holidays would be so awesome – eating heaps and heaps with the excuse that you’re “eating for two”.  What a load of crap.  I think I ate less this holiday season than any other.

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Anyway.  After dinner we played cards until it was time for dessert.  Kyle had apple pie a la mode, while I had a vegan carrot cake with cream cheese frosting (made by Whole Foods).

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I had to pick around the walnuts, but otherwise it was fantastic.

The next day was one of recovery.  I slothed it up in the morning, reading my book, watching football, and just being a lazy bum.  I had the eggs & toast (again) for breakfast.  And by noon I was ready for something more active, so Kyle and I went for a walk around the neighb.

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Lunch was, of course, leftovers.

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Including the green beans that I somehow missed the previous night.

Later on Kyle and I headed to Newport Beach to my G-ma’s house (where my family was spending the weekend). 

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How many people does it take to arrange a table for nine?

TACO NIGHT!!!!

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Even though this was supposed to be a mellow night (before Thanksgiving #2 on Saturday), it turned into quite the elaborate production. 

With both corn (fried and un-fried) and flour tortillas, black and refried beans, grilled peppers and grilled fish, regular cheddar and daiya, avocado, tomato, lettuce, and salsa.  And probably other stuff I’m forgetting.

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G-ma, Auntie Wendy, & mom.

We all sang happy birthday to Laura and then dug in.

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Yum.  I was way too ambitious with this plate and ended up saving half of my second taco for the car ride back to San Clemente. 

Kyle had coffee once we got back to his parents’ house, but I crashed almost right away.

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Another relaxing morning by the fire with eggs & toast.

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Then we headed back to Newport Beach for Thanksgiving with my mom’s side of the family.

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This time the pita chips lured me in.  :)

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Finn discovered Kyle’s inability to say no and exploited it the rest of the day requesting him as a play buddy.

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Ivy was more easily entertained.  With tupperware, pots and pans.  My cousin’s kids are too cute for words.

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We took a lot of family photos, but this is really the only one worth showing.  I mean, it says it all, doesn’t it?  Holy crap, we’re going to be parents?!?!?

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On the left: Murphy Goode merlot mocking me.  On the right: dad carving the turkey.

In total, I think there were about 20 people to serve.  So we had a TON of food.

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[Cool] Kids table on the right.  :)

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The food…where oh where to begin…

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Cranberry jelly. Rolls.

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Vegan mashed potatoes (there were reg ones too).  Spinach salad.

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Jello.  Vegetarian (turkey-less) stuffing.

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Roasted veggies.  Green bean & pea cheese casserole.

And so much more.  I’m even finding things in these photos that I somehow missed on Saturday!?! 

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My mom and Aunt were responsible for cooking almost everything.  Seriously.

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So much to be thankful for this year.

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Can you believe it – this measly plate left me feeling stuffed to the brim.

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I didn’t even have room for dessert (including my own pumpkin cheesecake).

After helping clean up (while getting heaps of leftovers “forced” upon us [gladly accepted]), Kyle and I headed back to San Clemente.

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I managed to find room for dessert after all.  :)  Kyle and I watched Home Alone with his parents and enjoyed some of his dad’s home-made coconut ice cream. 

For some reason I took a photo of my breakfast the next morning.

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This is probably because I tweaked my routine (ever so slightly) by switching out toast for waffles.  And not just any waffles.  These are Vans vegan and gluten free blueberry waffles.  Two thumbs up, by the way.

After breakfast Kyle and I hit the road (yet again).

This time we were headed down to San Diego for the Chargers vs. Ravens game.  Being a huge football fan, it may seem surprising that I’ve never been to an NFL game, but this was my first, and to say I was excited would be a huge understatement. 

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I did some research on Qualcomm stadium and since you’re allowed to bring in your own food, we decided to stop at the Escondido Whole Foods on the way.

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Because I never turn down the chance to explore a new Whole Foods. :)

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Does this look familiar?  I wasn’t joking when I said this is my new favorite.

The traffic getting off the freeway and into the stadium was obnooooooxious.  And by the time we made it to our seats we were both ready to dig into our lunches.

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I took my last bite just in time for kickoff.

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Kyle got us tickets as my 30th birthday present and it was such an exciting game.  It went into OT and was basically the most fun I’ve had in a long time.

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And now I can cross it off my fake thirty by thirty list. 

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Even though I snacked on dark chocolate covered almonds throughout the game, I was still ravenous by the time we left.  And thanks to the horrendous traffic and disorganized exit situation, we weren’t actually on the road until nearly 6 pm. 

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So we went back to WF again.  Underneath the baked tofu and roasted butternut squash is emerald kale salad and vegan mashed potatoes (which I topped with nooch).  I think it’s safe to say I got enough Thanksgiving food this weekend!

After a quick pit-stop at Kyle’s parents’ house, where we packed everything back into the car, we were back on the road, heading home to Santa Monica.

What a holiday!

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And somehow I wound up with enough leftovers from all the Thursday through Sunday meals that our previously empty fridge is now packed.

Time to get ready for Christmas…

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PS It’s hard to believe, but I’m a couple days shy of 30 weeks! 

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“Five” balls

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Dearest medjools.  You make everything taste like dessert.  And yet, you count as a fruit.  One of mother nature’s true gifts.

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Dearest peanut flour.  You’re so rare.  So special.  People have to seek you out and hoard you.

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These two together are like…heaven.  No really.

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I named these treats “five” balls because the ingredients are oh so conveniently organized in fives.

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Ironically, the recipe yields more than five balls, but whatever.  I suppose I could have just made really large ones in order to honor the name.  But I didn’t.  Oh well.

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“Five” balls [vegan, gluten free]

Ingredients:

  • 5 medjool dates, pitted and halved
  • 5 tbsp peanut flour
  • 5 tbsp oat flour
  • 5 tbsp liquid (3 water + 2 coconut oil)
  • 5 shakes of salt
  • cane sugar/almond flour blend (to coat the balls)

Directions:

Add everything to food processor (except the sugar and almond flour) and pulse until just combined.  Try not to over process.

Refrigerate mixture (in food processor) for 10 minutes.

Form into balls and roll in 50/50 blend of almond flour and cane sugar.

Makes ~8 balls (give or take depending on the size you make them and how much of the batter you eat).

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These are in a league of their own.

In all honesty, it was reallllllly hard to make them last longer than 48 hours.  Kyle saw them in the fridge and badgered me to death until I let him try one.  And after that it was all over. 

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They taste like sweet peanutty cookie dough.  But since I used peanut flour instead of butter, and dates as the only sweetener, you really don’t have to feel guilty if you do polish them off in one dessert session.  I promise I won’t judge you either way.  ;)

Store them in the fridge.  It’s a good idea for a variety of reasons.  Most importantly, it keeps their texture firm.  But it also keeps them out of sight.  Which might help them last longer…than a day.

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