A New Perspective

I love restaurants.  Unfortunately, my college-sized wallet does not.  Also, I’m not very good at budgeting when it comes to food.  I love trying new products, and often impulse-buy new-to-me health food items.  This doesn’t leave me much room for spending on restaurants and coffee shops and such.

At home we go out to eat a lot.  But I can’t spend that kind of money on myself here.  Every once in a while, though, I indulge.

Tonight was one of those nights, and I did not regret it.  The other day, my dad sent me a link this article.  The article highlights Souen, an asian (mostly vegan) macrobiotic chain of restaurants in Manhattan.  I have eaten there many times before, but I forgot about the place until now!  I used the opportunity to get together with a friend of mine who I don’t see often, and dragged him to Souen with me.

I wish I had taken a picture of the place itself, it’s really cool looking.  But it was really cold and wet and rainy, so I just wanted my warm food.

After taking a rather long time to decide what to eat, we finally got to it.  We started with the special appetizer – brussels sprouts in peanut sauce.

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This was the perfect, light appetizer.  The sprouts were very fresh and not overcooked or undercooked, and the sauce was not too overpowering like peanut sauces so often are.  Served hot, with a few toasted walnuts.

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kale, spinach, wakame, black beans, kabocha, broccoli, carrot and brown rice, with a choice of dressings - I got tahini dill

For dinner, I ordered the macro plate.  [[click here to read more about macrobiotics from Souen’s site]] I literally squealed when I saw the ratio of greens to other stuff on this plate.  One thing that now bothers me about restaurants is when the menu says the dish has all different veggies, then you get one bite of each.  If I order veggies, I want my veggies! But Souen does really well in this department.  Also, there was a piece of kabocha. Instant win.

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beautiful, colorful bowl of yum!

My friend chose the chef’s special ramen.  He keeps kosher, so he has never had ramen before as it’s usually cooked in fish stock or has pork or shellfish.  At a macrobiotic restaurant? All veggies.  I had a small taste, and the spice was amazing.

I was too full from my giant dinner plate, but my friend wanted to try one of the desserts.

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He went with the green tea mousse (dairy, egg, and soy-free).  The flavor was there, it tasted like they used real matcha powder.  But the texture was definitely not very mousse-like.  It seemed like it was made from agar-agar, and was kind of slimy.

You win some, you lose some – overall it was an excellent meal.

Yes, I’m getting to the meaning behind this post’s title.  Ever since I started getting more into nutrition and super foods, I have a completely new perspective when it comes to dining at restaurants.  I’m unsatisfied with a meal with ingredients that do not taste fresh.  I’m unsatisfied with a meal that doesn’t have enough green.  I’m unsatisfied with a meal that doesn’t have enough protein.  These are not to be taken as disordered thoughts – I have always loved my vegetables.  This is just to say that I have found the best way for me to curb cravings, avoid overeating, and feeling sick or bloated after meals.  Eat a balance.  After eating this way for a while now, I am often unsatisfied by a meal that does not have a good balance.

This meal filled me up, but was light and balanced.  It just physically feels good to eat clean.

Have you ever tried macrobiotic food? Are you a fan?

What is your ideal restaurant meal?

What foods give you energy and that awesome ‘clean-ness’ feel in?

WIAW – Eats & Updates

*sigh of relief*  I’m alive!  In two days – 2 exams, 1 project, 1 essay – done.  And I can relax for a night or two before getting back to the grind stone.  My google reader hates me now, there are over 100 blog posts I have not even looked at.  Which barely ever happens!  But I now have a little time for internet use, so I will reappear at some point.

Since I’ve been studying and stressing like a crazy person, I haven’t really taken very many pictures of my food.  So this edition of What I Ate Wednesday is a compilation of eats from the past week.  And some other things thrown in at the end.  But the food part is more important.

Check out Jenn‘s lovely site to see what’s up at the WIAW link party!

The Eats:

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pumpkin spiced muffin goodness

Somehow I still had to make muffins.  Many people were appreciative.

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delicious oat groats!

the topping/sauce was Katie’s amazing protein frosting. If you have sun warrior, try this, you will not regret it.

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1 egg + 1 egg white, stuffed with chard, topped with squash sauce, and a warm hummus wrap on the side.

The perfect, fluffy, stuffed omelet – I’ve reached the point where I can get it right every time!  This has become a staple high-protein, low-budget, delicious meal.  Sometime in the future, expect an omelet cooking-tutorial.

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spinach pancakes with pre-roasted eggplant & hemp seeds. savory goodness!

Inspired and based on Kristina’s recipe.  Except I used egg whites and spelt flour, added some spices (garam masala!) and downsized the recipe.  I think I’ve finally found a satisfying pancake!  And strangely it’s not even sweet.  Apparently I like my greens more than my sweets?

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this squash was delicious, but gave me some trouble. keep reading to find out.

This is my interpretation of the boy scout motto.  Always have snacks, preferably squash.

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crazy veggie plate!

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this one was carob & peanut flour & pumpkin

return of the giant protein cake!

The Updates:

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if you see this in your TJ's, buy 2. or 3.

I finally decided to give the boxed cake mix pumpkin muffin ‘trick’ a try.  My mix (okay, I de-simplified it a little): 1 box pumpkin bread and muffin mix, 1 can pumpkin purée, 2 milled chia ‘eggs’, 1/4 cup almond milk, 2 t pumpkin pie spice.  I brought them to campus and shared them with some friends – and they got rave reviews.

A few days later, this happened.

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silly little kabocha made my knife slip. ouch.

I was cutting into my perfectly shaped, blemish free (no pics, sorry) kabocha using my roommate’s large knife, which is not super high quality, and definitely not that sharp.  The cut is not pretty, and that bandage barely covers it.  But I’ll spare you the gory details.

That little incident prompted this:

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8" chef's knife, victorinox. not super fancy, but decent and sharp.

Given the amount of squash and other vegetables I prepare, I have debated spending the money on a decent knife.  Seriously, I’ve been thinking about it for weeks!  Hopefully this guy likes vegetables over fingers.

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filter cone coffee love. ceramic > plastic.

This is seriously the most efficient way to make a single cup of coffee.  Minimal time, effort, and cleaning required.  Also, get a ceramic one if you can find one.  Chemical free, and holds the heat better!

I really hope I have time for some real posts this week.  I have so many things I want to write about!

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten recently?

Sweet or savory pancakes?

How do you make your single-serve coffee?

Conquering Cravings

First of all, I’m loving all the comments on possible posting topics.  Note that I asked simply to guide for my incredible indecisiveness.  It’s one of those times where I have too many options and not a ton of time, so nothing ends up getting done.  But hopefully that’s done with for now.

[[Keep commenting on this post if you want to make sure you’re added to my upcoming blogroll page!]]

Second order of business(?): You may have noticed that I did not do WIAW.  Why? In all honestly I just really didn’t feel like dragging my camera around and taking the extra time to take pics of everything.  Do not get me wrong, I think it’s a great way to share a day’s worth of eats, but school, midterms, and my own mental health are more important.

Which leads me to the real topic of today’s post – cravings.

[[disclaimer: I am not a health professional, all statements on this page are based on my own personal experience]]

If you say you never crave anything, you are probably lying.  It may not be food related, as I know a good deal of people who just eat when they’re hungry and could care less what they’re actually eating.  But we all crave something.  Comfort, space, warmth, release, sweets – something.

Being the crazy foodie that I am, I crave specific foods all the time. Some of these cravings are really weird – like kale… And some are quite typical, like chocolate.

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[[source]]

So here’s the big question: when is a craving really a craving, and not just a desire to eat for comfort?  Are there times when it is better not to indulge your impulses?

As someone who has a history of comfort eating, this is something I have to ask myself almost on a daily basis.  I have a huge sweet tooth.  I eat when I’m bored, and when I’m alone for long periods of time.  I could easily have chocolate and baked goods every day if I wanted.  Physically speaking, I could easily eat dessert after every meal.  I could easily eat the portion sizes of a large man.  I could easily eat decadent restaurant dishes every day.  But would I be happy with that? No.  It weighs me down, and does not feel good.

I know this is exaggerating a bit, but regardless – comfort eating is almost an addiction.  There came a time when I needed to learn to exercise some self-control.  I’ve actually heard that self-control is like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it gets.  I guess that’s where restriction comes into play. Luckily I never got that extreme, but there was a brief period where eating a whole cupcake was forbidden – it was too much of an indulgence, and couldn’t be done.

I’m writing this now, because I think I’m starting to finally figure out which of my cravings to honor, and which to divert.  For example, I had ravioli for dinner the other day.  Random, right?  I have no idea why, but all day I couldn’t get ravioli out of my head.  And not whole grain or vegan or gluten-free – just goat cheese, red pepper and basil ravioli made with semolina flour.

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served on steamed kale with some goat cheese on top. Had to get my serving of leafy greens as well!

Pasta was one of those things that I stopped craving when I stopped eating so much of it – which I’m totally fine with.  But that made this random impulse so weird.  Regardless, I thought long and hard about it.  After some serious deliberation, I knew that I would kick myself if I did not allow this meal to happen.  And I am really glad I did.  In no way is this a particularly unhealthy meal.

However, there are other times when I do have to use my self-control muscle.  Almost every time I walk past a shop with pastries in the window, I start thinking about how much I want cookies or cupcakes.  Every time I walk past the chocolate aisle at a market, I have to remember that I don’t need to eat a full chocolate bar per day.  When there is one item or serving left of something, I have to convince myself that I don’t want it – because it most often appeals to me because it’s the last one.

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solution - make my own treats to control indulgence levels: homemade PB cup. see my recipe page! (this was actually AB)

Those kinds of cravings are comforts, ones that I would most likely indulge too much, and regret if afterwards.  These are the ones I am learning to control.  It’s not an exact science, but I think I’m getting better at it.  And of course, I feel better when I indulge now and then.  The more I honor the little things I truly want, the less likely I am to gorge myself with desserts at a party or impulse-buy unhealthy indulgences.

Now that I can allow myself to give in to little treats, I find myself craving healthy things more and more.

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there are times when all I want is WF salad bar, a box of veggie-goodness

If I eat a huge plate of quality, nutrient dense foods, I’m less likely to want that chocolate bar.

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...and there are times when I make random things out of flavors I can't stop thinking about, like this stuffed acorn squash with curried seitan and okra

And I’m starting to get more creative in the kitchen.  Which is fun and rewarding.  Which again, leaves me with no void to fill, no real reason to comfort eat.

Now, it is midterms week, and I have made one promise to myself.  I will not restrict, and I will not over-indulge.  I know I’m going to want chocolate, and all kinds of sweet things in the middle of the night.  So I’ll have a small taste, but try my best to leave it at that.  I will fuel myself with delicious, good nutrients, as I know I will feel better in the long run – and most likely have more energy.

I’d love to hear some thoughts on how you deal with cravings.

Do you listen to every little thing impulse you have?

Are there certain cravings that you know are only comfort related?

How do you exercise your self-control without going too far?

Ramblings, Confessions, and Curries

Friday could not have come sooner!  I’m not doing a discoveries post today.  Why? Honestly, I’m really not feeling it. So excuse the random ramblings and contents of this post.  Oh, and there’s a recipe at the end.

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confession - sometimes I dip my pre-workout banana in the coffee. try it, it's delicious.

Despite the shortened week, I was again thrown off but the change in routine.  After being really busy for a while, I have an incredibly hard time with breaks that do not involve a change of environment.  That probably doesn’t make much sense – I’ll try to be as coherent as I can here.  If a vacation involves travel, I’m more inclined to use the time to enjoy myself.  If I don’t go anywhere, I am not at all good at making good use of my time.  There is too much free time to get work done, nobody around to hang out with, and not really enough time or money to do anything crazy.  So this past week was rather unproductive, and now I have so much work to do within the next week or two.  Stress = not good!

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this round of nut pulp cookies were bad. sadness.

Despite this, I had an awesome week fitness-wise!  One thing I love about days off is that I can get to the gym early, before I do anything else with the day.  I love starting days this way.  I’m really starting to like running now, as well!  I owe a huge thanks to Tara, who (a while ago) kindly sent me some awesome tips for beginning runners.  Thanks again! I’m trying to focus on form as much as I can, to avoid getting hurt, so I’m taking all the advice I can get.

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confession - i eat my meal salads out of large mixing bowls

My running this week: monday 3 miles, Wednesday 20 minute HIIT run, friday 3.5 miles nonstop!  I’m proud of myself for today’s run, as I took no walk breaks.  My pace makes me a little sad, at about 11:00 mins/mile – but I didn’t stop to walk at all.  I have to remind myself that I’m not a born runner.  I won’t be perfect from the start.

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current beverage obsession. Just have to remember not to drink it after 5pm, or I definitely wont sleep

I had a whole bunch of other things to write, but there are too many things going on now that I lost my train of thought.  A few nights this week I’ve even had to get out of bed at 4am just to make a list, so I can sleep!  Hey brain, you want to turn off at night? Thanks.

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what? she bought cereal? kashi golean. protein, fiber, low sugar, tasty, crunchy. with homemade almond milk, sun warrior, pumpkin and cinna

As far as eats go, things have been all over the place.  I think mostly because of my workout changes, routine changes, and stress.  But, no crazy slip-ups and guilt trips, so I think I’m okay for now.  On the topic of eats, I posted a homemade coconut curry as part of my WIAW and a few people asked for a recipe.  So here it is!

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Simply Coconut Curry (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

This one-pot meal is super easy to make, and near impossible to mess up.  It’s nutrient-rich, high in protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats.  You can use the ingredients I have here, or choose whatever veggies or grains you choose.  It even tastes fantastic the day after, perfect for planned leftovers. [[makes about 4 servings]] prep time: 15 mins, cook time: 1 hour +.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cups cooked quinoa (measured after cooking!)
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 eggplant, cubed
  • 2 cups brussels sprouts
  • 1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • a few handfuls of spinach
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, I like spicy)
  • 1tsp garam masala, or cinnamon
  • 1tsp salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400F.  While the oven is heating, chop up all your veggies.  Toss all the veggies (except the spinach) in a bowl with a little olive oil and sea salt, then spread on a pan in a single layer.  Roast for about 30-40 minutes, or until they are tender and start to brown.
  2. Place all ingredients in a pot.  Stir it up, and bring to a boil.  Immediately reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook for about 20 minutes – or as long as you like.  The longer it cooks, the more the flavors will combine, but it tastes delicious regardless.
  3. Serve hot, or store in the fridge for the next few days.  Garnish with shredded coconut or some cashews or peanuts for crunch.  This would also be great with a creamy glob of greek yogurt.

[[notes: I used lite coconut milk as it was all I had on hand.  Full fat would be delicious, but It would come out much creamier than mine did.  Also, be careful with the cayenne pepper, this stuff is strong – but I like my curry really spicy]]

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roasted veggies

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really just throw it all in a pot!

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and simmer away...

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the best leftovers!

Unfortunately, it’s already all gone.  Ah well, it was delicious!

That was a rather long post, kudos if you made it through the whole thing!  I’m already up later that I should be for an early morning rehearsal on campus.  Good sleep is not easy to come by around here.

Do you have any random foodie confessions/weird habits?

If you’re a runner, what was your average pace for an easy run when you started?

[[Oh! One more thing – I have 16oz package of Navitas Naturals Maca powder that I am not going to use.  It is open, and about 1-2T have been used, but I’m not really a big fan of the taste, and I have not noticed a difference in how it makes me feel, so I’m not going to use it anymore.  I hate to have to throw it out but I can’t return it.  Does anyone out there want to do a swap? I’ll thrown in some other goodies too – just shoot me an email at eatlearndiscover@gmail.com ]]

Always Fashionably Late (WIAW)

Never have I ever been one of the first 150 or so bloggers to link up for What I Ate Wednesday!  Maybe it’s because I always choose to post Wednesday’s eats, as opposed to Tuesday’s.  Tuesday is usually my worst day of the week, I have at least 4 classes with really awkward 1 hour breaks.  So Wednesday it will stay, and I will alway’s be fashionably late to Jenn’s fabulous party.

Let’s get to it!

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OIAJ! I went with overnight oat bran, though I still think I prefer hot oats in a jar. lots of cinna on top!

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second part of breakfast: amazingly tasty organic Bartlett pear

coffee on the go! made a boring class much more bearable

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perfectly ripe pre-workout banana

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the return of the green post-workout smoothie!

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grilled sandwich. best decision ever: hummus, mustard, greens, squash sauce, (invisible) peppers, on sprouted grain bread

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organic gala (not as good as honeycrisp) and goat gouda! apples & cheese = delish.

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it's okay to have chocolate as an appetizer, right?

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homemade coconut curry! with quinoa, chickpeas, eggplant, brussels sprouts, and other stuff. So glad I made a huge pot of it 🙂

Now, sipping on a coconut chai green tea (no photo…) and about to tackle some physics homework and coding.

Have you ever made your own curries?  What’s your favorite way to do it?

Best thing you’ve eaten recently?