Sunday, July 30, 2017

That's A Keeper 7

One of these is NOT a keeper!
The last installment of “That’s A Keeper” was from December 2016.  How did so much time go by again in between posts?  Two things – I post a lot of ideas on my social media and thus forget to do a round-up of sorts of the recipes and two, I’ve been a little cookbook obsessed.  Just a little.  I used to vow that I wouldn’t buy cookbooks – there are too many recipes online these days and I’m used to moving so much I tend to not want to accumulate so much stuff (that you’d have to pack up).  Well, I’ve caved.  I follow all these food bloggers online and their recipes look and sound SO amazing, I started buying their books.  I started with HowSweetEats.  She’s my girl crush if you will.  Her food combinations are out of this world.  Never doubt when she puts flavors together.  They taste AH-MAZ-ING!   And since then, it’s just kind of snowballed.  I follow too many people to tell ya - but the truth is it’s where I find my inspiration and aim to find the recipes that are “keepers” – because again, they are not all ones you’d want to repeat.  Remember, I do the work so you don’t have to.  Here are the latest recipes that are keepers:

Breakfast: Kale and Goat Cheese Frittata

This recipe is good for brunch, breakfast, or brinner (breakfast for dinner – we all do it sometimes and eggs are my go to for a quick and easy dinner).  I love Real Simple’s recipes because they are just that, Real Simple (pun intended).  The hardest part of this recipe is getting the stems off of the kale – if you have kids you can always make them do that.  Sauté the onion and the kale for a few minutes.  Whisk together the egg mixture.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.  Couldn’t be simpler.  Now if only it didn’t require turning on the oven in this summer heat.

Salad Dressing or aka Jack of All Trades Dressing: Basil Vinaigrette

Make this, thank me later.  Yeah, it’s that good.  And not only is it that good but it’s quite versatile.  Whip up a batch and use it as a drizzle on almost anything.  Turkey burger, caprese salad, grilled corn – I mean I always joke that it’s all about the sauce, but this is the truth.  I adjusted and didn’t use as much of the red pepper flakes.  Call me a wimp when it comes to spicy, but I used just ¼ teaspoon and it had just the right amount of kick – remember you’re also drizzling it over other food items, you’re not just straight drinking it from the spoon.  I mean you might want to and I won’t judge, but its best when paired with all the food items you can think of!  Perfect summer sauce!

Condiment: Coconut Bacon

Many might find this hard to believe, but I have never liked bacon.  Yes, I am a vegetarian and I know that might make sense, but I mean I have never liked bacon.  Never. Take that in for a minute.    More recently I have started including seafood, which would technically makes me a pescatarian, but I’m not into the whole classifying me as to what I eat thing.  When it comes to meats – red meat, chicken, turkey, pork – I have a distinct memory of not liking the texture of the meats.  I would chew the meat as a child over and over and over and then eventually spit it out.  I just didn’t like it.  Period.  And bacon?  Forget it, unless it was crispy I wouldn’t even touch the stuff.  These days there’s always a way to mimic an animal based food as a vegetarian/vegan option.  Enter coconut bacon.  I didn’t try the coconut bacon to include because I liked bacon, I was trying it to see if I simply liked the crunch added in recipes where bacon was called for – because let’s be real, there are a TON of people out there that are bacon aficionados.  The coconut bacon did provide crunch to many recipes.  I even found myself just munching on the coconut when I needed something salty – it’s hot and humid as all get out here in Miami these past few days and I think I need to make some coconut bacon, STAT!  There are many recipes out there for coconut “bacon” so find the mix of flavors you like and have available.  This is my go-to recipe (and I actually leave the liquid smoke out to keep it even simpler).  My only recommendation is to keep an eye on it – it can go from crisp to burnt REAL quick.

Snack: Macadamia “Cheese”

While I don’t love bacon, I do love cheese.  I mean, I can overdo the cheese.  It just tastes so good.  However, I do have heart disease in my family and am always looking for ways to transform any nut into a “cheese”.  I won’t go so far to say as that they taste as good as cheese does, it does at least serve as a substitute and as a way that I can include to help me reduce the frequency of my cheese intake.  You can take virtually any nut and transform it into “cheese”.  I typically will use cashews or almonds, but I upped my game and used macadamia nuts this time.  (Yes, I know macadamia nuts are expensive, so try a cashew or almond the first go-around).  The flavor is delish.  I definitely need to try the macadamia nuts as a version of a ricotta cheese next time.  So many possibilities.

Main Dish: Veggie “Meatballs”

I get a magazine in the mail as a health care professional called Diabetes Self-Management.  I always peruse the magazine to read some of the articles and keep up on the latest information in regards to diabetes.  I admittedly have never tried a recipe…until now.  This recipe simply sounded amazing.  A mix of bulgur, mushrooms, zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes, & cheese?  Okay, maybe I’m geeking out as a vegetarian, but the combination sounded like a perfect mix for a vegetarian “meatball” and well, I’ve been trying to find one that’s a keeper.  There have been some recipes that claim to stick together and taste good, but this one lives up to the hype.  I roasted a spaghetti squash to go along with this recipe (as the “meatballs” already contained my carbohydrates) and use as the spaghetti noodles and believe me when I say so darn good!  I gave a sampling to a few people as my quality assurance and they too loved the flavor.  Keeper status for sure. 

I have never made homemade sushi nor do I ever intend to take the time to make homemade sushi…but this!  Just call it deconstructed sushi if you will.  All the components of what would be sushi, the flavor of sushi, and without having to roll it into what would look like sushi.  Score!  I broiled my salmon ahead of time to have ready for the week.  The best part about this recipe is you don’t have to warm it up (sushi is cold, right?) so that means I won’t make enemies with my co-workers – no-one will like you if you heat up smelly food in the microwave.  Don’t do that to your co-workers.  This bowl will save you and you can have your fix of sushi all while saving time.

Main Dish: Halibut with Lemon,Herbs and Sautéed Asparagus

This recipe comes from Williams Sonoma.  I use their balsamic vinaigrette recipe to this day and should’ve thought to reference their website for other recipes before now.  Why I haven’t before today I’m not sure why.  But no need to question this, but rather know to keep going back and using some of their recipes.  Phenomenal.  Their description of this recipe is advertising their versatile pan:

The versatile fry pan does triple duty here in this springtime weeknight meal. First it’s used for sautéing the asparagus, then for steaming the fish, and finally for simmering the sauce. Serve with steamed fingerling potatoes tossed with butter and parsley, and pour a light, crisp white wine to serve alongside.

And I didn’t even realize it when I was making it, it was a one-pan dinner.  Love that!  Less dishes, sign me up!  And since they were giving instructions I decided to use just one more pan and roast up some potatoes.  I might have even paired it with a glass of white wine.  I follow directions and I’m glad I did.  Perfect combination and balanced dinner. (If you’re thinking halibut is too pricey, simply use an alternative fish like cod, haddock, and/or sea bass).

Dessert: Almost Raw Cherry +Almond Butter Caramel Bars

There’s a lot of talk recently on social media using the terminology “naturally sweetened” when referring to the use of maple syrup, agave, molasses, and honey.  I hate to break this to you, but even if they want to reference it as “naturally sweetened” as opposed to using sugar, it is still added sugar.  So, while it might be a tad healthier (because of different nutrients it might provide) you still have to be careful of the quantity used when added into a recipe.  There is definite interest in lessening the amount of sugar (in whatever form) in our diets.  And while desserts are meant to be enjoyed, I think in general people are eating desserts way too frequently and that is where the actual problem lies.  We need to be conscience of the added sugar and where it sneaks in – this could be a whole blog post on just added sugar by the way – so I’ll stop my soapbox for now to simply say, that this recipe is actually naturally sweetened with dates and has NO ADDED SUGAR.  I repeat NO ADDED SUGAR.  And that’s the honest truth (yes dates are quite dense in their sugar content, however it is just this dried fruit as a sweetener throughout the recipe).  I have gotten used to using no added sugar throughout my day, through my coffee, through my yogurt, and in my nut butter toast in the morning.  So when it comes to desserts I do tend to splurge occasionally.  I did start the hashtag #thisdietitianeatsdesserts #inmoderation.  And I do.  But I was pleasantly surprised to stumble across this little gem that literally only used dates to sweeten each portion of the bar.  The almond butter caramel is so freaking delicious I wanted to eat it from the spoon.  If you’re used to super sweet desserts, this one is not.  I found it to be delectable and fit the bill as dessert.  You might think it could pass as breakfast or a mid-afternoon snack, and it could.  It’s just that nutrient dense good.

So there you have it.   My latest round-up of recipes that have made it to “keeper” status.  I’ve found the more and more that I trial recipes the pickier I become.  I think that’s a good thing – for all my readers out there, you’re only getting the best of the best!  If you try some of these recipes, let me know.  I hope they make it to “keeper” status for you too!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

My Week Off

I start my new job tomorrow!!  To say I'm excited is an understatement.  I'm super excited for this next chapter and all that awaits me.  But before I start, I knew I needed some time off in between jobs.  I had a week, actually 10 days off (including the weekend).  Some might see that as an opportunity to go on a trip, but the reality is I simply needed time to decompress and help transition from the old job to the new job.  Call me an old fart, but I call it like I see it.  If I want to get off on a good start, I knew I needed to really truly rest and relax.  And that I did.  Here's a little peak into what I did.  Might not be exciting by your standards, but it's exactly what I needed.

I went to the dentist.  Seems uneventful, but the truth is a few years back I didn't have dental insurance.  So I'm grateful that I do have insurance and wanted to use up my 2nd visit before the new insurance kicks in!  I used to drink sugar in my coffee (gasp, the horror as a dietitian!!) and well, I got a few cavities during the time I didn't have the insurance.  Flash forward to present day and I'm all about my check-ups.  I go four times/year just to keep up and monitor and make sure no cavities pop up.  I had to get my second check-up in before the new insurance starts.  I call that smart thinking if you ask me!

Again, not the most exciting, but I literally cleaned out all my closets.  I moved back to Miami in 2005, so we're talking that I've been back for 12 years now.  I had clothes I haven't worn since 2005 in my closet.  I had old teaching materials from my teaching days, old nutrition notebooks (filled with stuff from my internship days circa 2000), and even Chicken Soup for the Soul books that I had read only god knows when.  So, yes, the closets were cleared and minimalized as much as possible.  It literally felt like the weight of the world was taken off my shoulders once I dumped some of that junk.  I promptly bought myself some macarons after this dreaded chore because I have yet to make these successfully and deemed them my reward for a completed job.  Caramel sea salt was my favorite in case you were wondering.

I had a broken toe a few weeks back and while it was almost 100%, it just wasn't there. That left my running out for at least a few more days.  But what I did do daily was a little bit of meditation and yoga.  Many poses in yoga were not possible (I needed to still rest that toe), but yoga for me is simply about showing up and spending time on the mat, simply being PRESENT - whether that's 10 minutes of savasana (resting pose) or an hour and a half of hard-core poses.  This week off was about me showing up as I said and committing to spending time stretching, breathing, and just being.  Exactly what I needed.

My mom's birthday was on the 3rd.  We did a day trip to Naples .  I compromised.  I mean I didn't want to have to recuperate after a long trip, but I thought if we could do a quick get-away that'd be nice to celebrate her birthday.  She does love Naples and those white sand beaches.   I do believe that many times instead of giving gifts you should give experiences.  She'll remember this birthday more because of the experiences we had - from the botanical garden, to nearly missing a thunderstorm, an epic seafood dinner, and to a breathtaking sunset (because those sunsets NEVER get old).  Happy 72nd birthday mom!

Baking bread.  It's been my hobby as of recent.  The patience it takes to make some breads is beyond me, but this bread making has definitely been teaching me a lot.  I am forever thankful for my KitchenAid mixer - I mean how did they knead bread for that long in the old days??  Being precise and accurate in your measurements all the way down to the temperature of your water for the yeast - I think you should know this is why bread is so expensive in the stores.  All jokes aside, I've found a few go-tos that are SO simple, I might never have to buy bread again.  Here's my latest creation this week, Anadama bread.
This year our mangoes taste a little watery.  I think from the early blooms to most of the blooms being blown away, there's a little thing called global warming effecting our crops - but who am I to say?  At the end of the day, I do know that our mangoes tasted different this year.  But then were some that were just so spot on sweet, you had to get to using those mangoes all the ways - mango bread, mango ice cream, mango salsas...I mean the possibilities were endless.  Just look at how pretty those mangoes are!

Today I ended with getting a manicure/pedicure.  It's just one way I have been treating myself to some self-care over these past few years.  But today's felt more special for some reason.  Maybe because I know I'm starting a new chapter in my life tomorrow, who knows.  Throughout the week I also reflected on this new job I'll be starting.  I know that I want to be open to all the opportunities brought before me.  I am willing to learn as much as I can all while bringing as much to the table as I know I am able to.  I have a lot to offer through my nutrition knowledge and can't wait to get started with the team.  And of course, I'll keep you posted on my's to jumping in 100%, no fears!