It’s May 21st and the weather feels like it’s August 21st. There’s one month more until it’s officially summer but here in Miami we are already feeling the effects of the heat and humidity. I’m not complaining, I’m just stating the facts. I live in a tropical paradise. Key word, tropical. Tropical weather allows for a variety of fruits to grow here. We’re gearing up for mango season – with over 400 varieties – it’s hard to pick a favorite.
Besides mangos, we have lychees, longans, carambola, mamey, passion fruit – and that’s just to name a few. So, yes, we are lucky to have tropical fruit. The not so lucky part? Dealing with all the heat, humidity, and bugs. Watch out for the cockroaches and mosquitoes. It’s just a part of the environment unfortunately. The heat is a definite factor when it comes to my running. During the week I run early enough the sun isn’t out. And even though the sun isn’t out, it’s been beyond humid – the sweat factor is ON. It’s pretty bad when I can’t stand my own smell. Which leads me to why I’m even talking about the weather – hydration. I’ve had previous blogs on hydration – here and here – so read up and drink up. Water that is. Drink water to hydrate. If you are doing extensive exercise or if you’re out in the hot sun, it’s possible you’ll need an energy replacement drink. But the truth of the matter is most people just simply need water. We are not all athletes. Be mindful of your liquid calories and stay hydrated this spring/summer.
To say I’ve been recently cookbook obsessed is an understatement. All I want to do is bake and cook. My latest find, Bread Illustrated. I’ve been successful with a few other bread recipes as of recent just through searches on the internet. But I knew if anyone could help me to have more success it’d be America’s Test Kitchen. They’ve tested the recipes so I don’t have to. Am I right?? And in theory most should come out successful – unless there’s a user error, which is most commonly the case! I am a very visual person when it comes to directions and was thrilled that this book was called Bread Illustrated – a picture for almost every instruction?! Sign me up. I knew this might be the answer to all my bread failures. I’ve still been trying to make everything homemade this year and bread has/is my nemesis. I just made chocolate babka this weekend:
I should’ve read the introduction pages to the cookbook because they clearly state that the easier recipes are in the beginning of the book and the harder recipes are towards the back. Clearly chocolate babka was in the back. Leave it to me to pick what sounded the best, when in reality I should’ve started with a few more successful recipes before tackling the hard ones. I’ve decided to begin to work my way through the book. Not only is it something that I’ve wanted to attempt for a while now – in my all things homemade quest – but also as of recent baking has been a form of stress relief for me. Some people may not understand or see how that is, but it’s been working for me. I’m able to channel all my energy into making bread and not have a care in the world when I am as focused as I have to be while baking the bread. Not to mention the smell of my house? I mean, come on?
It’s been a common theme in my nutrition counseling sessions with patients over the last month – find a form of stress relief that doesn’t involve food. Each person has to find their outlet for stress, whatever that may be. It will be different for everyone. In so many patients that struggle with weight loss, their outlet is food. I teach patients to find an alternative outlet – honoring your hunger cues – but definitively finding something else to channel their stress. I meditate for 10 minutes every day and that truly helps me to focus solely on my breath. I find additional moments, 1 minute at a time during the day, to help me reconnect with my breath. The simple act of focusing on my breathing clears my mind of extractions which then enables me to better connect with those around me and my spirit within. Everyone has stress. How do you handle it? For me, it’s meditation and baking – now if only I could bake all day…
In my quest for making everything homemade, I’ve come to the realization that not everyone can make everything homemade. I get it – remember you have to begin where you are at. And I’m not asking you to do everything homemade – remember, that’s MY goal. You do YOU! People will always try and say that I eat way too healthy and they can never be like me – that’s not the idea behind healthy eating. The key is to begin with one key change and keep adding on ways to improve. The idea is to continue to form healthy habits AND stay consistent with the ones you’ve established. I definitely make my own homemade salad dressing, but if you’re struggling to find one that tastes good and isn’t going to take the salad from healthy to unhealthy, enter Bolthouse. I am not sponsored by them (which is another story for another day), I just know that they taste good, will add flavor to your salad and won’t turn your salad into something unhealthy. They also make a yogurt version of their dressings, but I selected these to share as they have less ingredients and are virtually homemade. You’re welcome.
I have been making this over the last month on repeat. I can’t get enough. A quick pickle of sorts – pickle referring to the technique, but not actually a cucumber if you will. I take a Mason jar and thinly slice a mix of vegetables – typically red onion, carrot, and radish – and pack it into the jar. Bring ¼ cup of white wine vinegar, ¾ cup water, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon of sugar to a boil. I pour the brine over the vegetables and cover. Let it chill for at least half an hour. Keep it in the fridge. My go to? Adding these vegetables to my Taco Tuesday! They’re also great on salads and sandwiches.
Last but not least, my inner creativity. I mentioned earlier how I meditate and bake for stress relief. Stress can really wreak havoc on a person’s body, in more ways than one. Truth be told, stress has been limiting my creativity abilities as of recent – hence why my blogs sometimes go every three weeks instead of two. I recently did a presentation for a group and while I was stressed getting it to come altogether, the truth is the end result turned out just fine. Ideas don’t just come naturally to me, they take time – it’s all a part of the process (for me anyways). Each night I would come home and try to brainstorm what my topic would be. I think it was five nights straight and not one idea came to fruition. Enter the strawberry rose tart –
How did this help my presentation you ask? I started to watch a youtube video –How To Make A Strawberry Rose. A distraction if you will. From there I started to practice on a few strawberries. In the video they continue to fan the layers all the way to the top. I decided that it looked more natural if you cut an actual hole at the top instead of fanning one last layer. Five to 10 strawberries later an idea for my presentation came to mind. I immediately jotted down a rough draft, slide by slide, as quickly as I could. The minute I began to feel less stressed my creative ideas started flowing. I didn’t know if they would ultimately lead to a presentation, but minimally I had more ideas coming. Cut more strawberries and get more ideas? Or now begin to channel some of these ideas into a presentation? The truth is as much stress as I was putting on myself the less creative I was. Each night as I came home to work on my presentation I did something in the kitchen – whether it was simply creating an amazing salad to have for dinner that night, baking bread, or simply throwing a few ingredients for dinner together – the key was disconnecting from the stress in order to have my creative ideas flow. It worked. My presentation came together and was a success. Some people might call it procrastination, I prefer to call it channeling my inner creative ideas. Stress surfaces for everyone in different ways. For me the stress has been stifling my inner creativity. Every day isn’t perfect and some days are better than others. I’m working on better controlling my stress levels with whatever comes my way through cooking and baking. Enter my finished product – a strawberry rose tart, with a rosé simple syrup drizzled on top, otherwise known as my way of letting go of what I can’t control and knowing that what will be will be. Stress, let go. Creativity flowed. Mission accomplished.