Brought to You by Orange

First of all, I apologize (again) for all the blog craziness that started yesterday.  As I mentioned in the previous dummy-post, I finally decided to move all of my content over to a private hosting account – that I’ve owned for a while now.

Unfortunately, none of the parties involved make it easy for you.  And as (I like to think) I’m  pretty good with tech & web stuff, there was no way I was going to pay over 100 dollars to get someone else to do the transfer for me.  It took a while, but I’m pretty sure everything is up and running by now – necessary plugins and all.  Nothing got lost, and everything is backed up.

On another note, I had hardly any work to do this weekend since I just finished the bulk of my midterms.  So I had a little bit of time to de-stress, which was quite nice.

Halloweekend, in pictures! [note numerous occurrences of the color orange…]

Starting the morning with green juice! and snow…

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It seems that now is the season for orange! Now starting with a now-to-me fruit: persimmons.  I’m not sure if I had ever tried a persimmon before, but they are easily a new favorite of mine.  I even tried both of the common varieties.  First up, the fuyu. Sliced up in a big bowl of oat groats.

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Next up, the hachiya.  Be careful if you buy these. They cannot be eaten when the are still hard – the astringency will dry out your mouth and make you feel sick, not fun.

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Instead, you have to wait until they are mushy, what would normally be considered over-ripe.  Then you can eat the flesh, but it’s impossible to cut up or bite into.  It comes out something like this:

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There were slices of failed (but tasty) kabocha pie.

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Snacks for solo adventure part 2! (click to see part one, the high line)

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Delicious flavor – I wish they made seasonal flavors all year round!

Dressed up and ready for this un-seasonally cold October.

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Destination…

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I walked around, and admired all the delicious food and pretty things.  I didn’t go to buy or eat anything, I just needed an excuse to get out of the room after the crazy snowstorm.

There was orange aplenty!

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And, I got a hot chocolate on the way out, to help with the cold weather.

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And, what would a free weekend be without some baking?

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Chocolate cupcakes, slightly modified from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, spiced buttercream from OhSheGlows.com.

And instead of buying halloween candy (avoiding crazy addicting processed sugars), I had a few bites of nature’s candy! And maybe a cupcake. Or two.

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Dates = natures candy. Natural sugar for the win.

How was your halloweekend? Was it full of orange?

For self-hosted bloggers – any advice/suggestions for a smooth-running site?

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?

A Sweet New Year

As I mentioned last Wednesday,  a week ago was Rosh Hashana – the Hebrew new year.  While I am generally not that religious, I really enjoy the culture that goes along with all the Jewish holidays.  Of course, that means mainly the gatherings, songs, and the food.

There are a few food traditions for the new year, some of which I love, and some that just do not appeal to me.  For example, it is a common practice to serve a fish head at the Rosh Hashanah meal, since it’s the ‘head’ of the year.  I’ve definitely never done that one, and never really care to.  Fish heads are not my thing.

The most common tradition, is to greet the new year with apples dipped in honey, as a sign of our wishes for a sweet new year.  I think even the least religious Jews I know always take part in this one.  It’s delicious, fun, and a great way to start thinking about a new year.

There are other traditions as well, but I’ll spare you the culture lesson for now.  [[click here if you want to read more!]] The one I chose to tackle was the traditional dessert – honey cake.  It is a sweet, moist loaf cake that has a distinct honey flavor, but is not overly sweet.  If done right, it is so simple and delicious.  My family does not have a honey cake recipe that has been passed down through the generations, so I though I would try to make my own.  I did a little research and recipe formulating.  I decided to go the authentic route, and make a simple, traditional honey cake – with my favorite whole food ingredients of course.

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Traditional Honey Cake

This thick, moist loaf cake has the rich taste of honey without being overly sweet.  It tastes fantastic on its own, with a cup of tea, or as a part of a tasty sweet breakfast. [[makes one 9×5 loaf]] prep time: 10-15 mins, cook time: 40-50 mins

Dry Ingredients:

  • 200g (about 2c) whole grain spelt flour
  • 1/4 c sucanat
  • 2-3 tsp spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Wet Ingredients:

  • 6T melted coconut oil
  • 3/4 c honey
  • 1/3 c apple juice
  • 3 large eggs at room temp, beaten

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F (180C), and grease a 9X5 inch loaf pan.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl until well combined, making sure there are no clumps in the flour.
  3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, and add all the wet ingredients.  Mix by hand, with a whisk or wooden spoon, until the batter is smooth and clump-free.  The batter will be thin and liquid-y.
  4. Pour into the greased loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes – turning the cake halfway through to make sure of even baking (if you have a not-so-great oven, like mine)
  5. When the cake is done, it will be caramel / golden brown in color, and a toothpick stuck in the center should come out clean.  Be careful not to over bake. It is better to be slightly moist and under-done than dried out.
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack, then promptly wrap in aluminum foil.  Let the cake ‘mature’ wrapped in foil for at least a day – that way the honey really soaks in and all the flavors combine.

[[substitution notes: feel free to use any flour mix for cake, such as whole wheat pastry, etc.  I like the light texture and nutty flavor of spelt.  You can use brown or turbinado sugar if you do not have sucanat.  Feel free to use any neutral vegetable oil as well, but I’m a big fan of coconut oil.  For the spices, choose any mixture you like – cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice.  I love adding freshly ground nutmeg, it adds a subtle richness to the cake.]]

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drippy honey cake batter - careful not to eat it as is, this one does have raw egg!

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straight out of the oven - caramel colored and perfectly collapsed a bit in the center (this is good!)

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sliced and served, day after, at a dinner with family, and a side of pumpkin butter. 🙂

Pumpkin butter is definitely not a Rosh Hashana tradition, but I was in the mood for a sweet autumn flavor to go with my honey cake.

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dark, spicy, rich, dreamy.

I made Angela’s Pumpkin Butter, but halved the recipe.  It filled one standard ball jar.  I’m still enjoying this with some of my breakfasts, coffee, and snacks.

I’m curious – anyone ever tried honey cake?

What are some of your favorite holiday foodie traditions?

Local Crop & Miracle Oats

First of all, thanks so much for the support on my last post.  It really means a lot!

Onto the important stuff – it’s friday!  Which means I get to relax a bit for a day or two.  I finished my first fullybooked week of classes, and I finally feel like I’m getting back into the swing of things.  Unfortunately that also means lots of stress, and many late nights doing homework.  But I tell myself that it will eventually pay off, once I figure out what I want to do with my life.  But that’s a discussion for another time.

I haven’t done any real workout updates lately, so here are some highlights: I ended the week (on thursday evening) with my favorite modern dance class.  We’re working on a dance now that is really fast, and cardio intensive.  It takes serious athleticism, and I love it.  It makes me feel really great to know that I can now push my body to move like that, with precision and speed. We have another 3 classes to work on this choreography, and I love it.  I do miss pilates, though I guess it’s a good trade-off.

Somehow, I managed to get myself to the gym again this morning – by 10:30, haha! I did an awesome-ly sweaty 30 min cardio session, and some heavy lifting for legs, glutes, back and shoulders.  It was glorious.  Tomorrow will be a rest day, and holy sore-quads I’m looking forward to it.

You may be thinking “did she not discover any new loves this week?!” Nope, not the case – this week’s new loves:

1. The local, organic food co-op, only blocks away from my dorm!

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a bunch of collards, fresh ginger, kabocha, bulk nooch, and the best golden apples ever

I got all of this for under $10, and that wasn’t even with the co-op member’s discount.  I don’t know whether I want to pay for the membership.  I could pay less money and work there 2.25 hours a week for a 20% discount, but they already have really great prices for seasonal, local, organic produce.

2. An overnight-oat miracle

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coffee and oatmeal = love

Wednesday night, I decided I wanted oats for breakfast the next morning, but did not want to take the time to make them in the morning.  So I made a batch of voluminous oats on the stove Wednesday night, and covered the pot to let it soak overnight.  Little did I know – it saved my thursday!  I barely woke up in time to make it to class on time, and definitely did not have time to eat or even make coffee before I left!

I tossed the oats into a ball jar, grabbed a snack bar to hold me over and ran to class, still only half-awake.  Longest. Class. Ever!

But, I went to Think Coffee after, and sat down with a soy café-au-lait, and my jar of plain old oats.  Better late than never.

3. The egg bake.

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cooked in my mid-size round glass pyrex, perfectly golden brown

Inspired by Ashley’s recipe.  I threw together some quinoa, egg, random veggies and spices, and baked away!

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smothered in salsa!

Delicious, filling one-dish lunch.

4. Autumn is here, despite the 70+ degree temperatures.

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our kitchen smelled amazing after this. a crisp big enough to feed 8+ people! or 4 really hungry people...

My suite-mate’s mother sent her some sour apples, fresh from their garden in California.  She wanted apple crisp, and asked me to help her make one.  Of course I said yes!  Those apples made for a fantastic crumble.

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I had my serving with a dollop of coconut cream, straight out of the can

Well, that’s it for this week. I don’t really have big plans for the weekend – other than sleeping, relaxing, hanging with some friends, and (*sigh*) doing my homework.

What are your weekend plans?

Have you even unintentionally planned ahead? thank goodness for overnight oats!

Do you shop local/organic/seasonal?