Sawasdee ka!

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Hey there blog world….Here’s a brief recap of events that happened this year. The reason I haven’t been blogging is not because I didn’t have thoughts. I have thoughts (but rather too many). (High five for Julie and Julia reference?) This year has been a crazy beast so far with so much going on and a roller coaster of feelings. Feels like waves breaking over my head sometimes.

I had my 21st birthday in January. I don’t usually care much for my birthday, but friends and family made it special.

February I moved out of my parents’ house and into a condo across town with 2 roommates. This is very new and takes some getting used to, but I “decorated” my bathroom and hung pictures!

In March I went to Thailand for two weeks (What?!?). I pet tigers, zip lined through forest-y jungles outside of Chiang Mai, ate nachos at a karaoke bar, got hugged by elephants, Thai massage, yoga, got a Buddhist blessing tattoo (yes, it is like the one Angelina Jolie has, but not at all for that reason), spent a day on a beach on the island of Koh Larn, and met people from all over the world. The friends we made were the best part, now I know people all over the world that I can “visit”. I “got” to try all kinds of public transit; busses, sky train, planes, taxis, songthaews, and tuk-tuks and walked around the markets and saw all kinds of temples and the Grand Palace, and I learned a sentence in Thai. Sawasdee ka, khao pad kai dao, kop kun ka. Means “Hi, fried rice with a fried egg, thanks.” I ate a lot of fried rice. And food from 7eleven.

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One of the crazies I went with. This was at a monastery, I think.

Also in March, I had to withdraw from a class for the first time ever. And my grandpa died, but this is not a place to talk about that. March was a big month.

In April I had to drop my nutrition minor and had an existential crisis over grad school because I applied for graduation. You know, the usual college graduate questions….what am I going to do with my life? How do I travel and get paid to do it? Or just pay to do it? How do I incorporate the things I love into making money? What is this money stuff everyone is talking about and where do I get it? etc.

So for now I’m just trying to keep it cool and finish school with decent grades and my sanity intact. Guest passes to the gym, friends, and nachos faith, hope, and love make the world go ’round.

When You Can’t Have Chocolate…

High and low, far and wide, I’ve searched but the one on the left does not exist in Alaskan stores…

 

Have you heard of this tasty hot cereal called Malt-o-Meal? It’s been a staple at my house since before I was born. When I was little we ate so much of the chocolate kind with sugar on top. It was like the dessert Mom let me eat for lunch! These days I wouldn’t be so liberal with the refined sweetness, but I say keep the chocolate coming! Sadly, though, I’ve searched all over for this variety and only came up with the “Original” flavor. It’s just not the same when you want a chocolatey fix for breakfast (or lunch or even dinner!)…
Yesterday I came up with a recipe to turn boring original into a tasty vanilla! It was so exciting that I wanted to share this revelation with everyone. So here it is:

3 Tablespoons of Malt-o-Meal dry cereal
~3/4 cups water, depending on how thick you want it…1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
~2 Tablespoons of organic coconut palm sugar
1-2 Tablespoons ground flax seed (just because you can!)
*cold processed vanilla whey protein powder
*directions on box call for optional salt, I didn’t add it because I don’t like to increase sodium content…but it’s up to you!

Cook according to directions (it’s easy, just boil water and add slowly while stirring). While your water boils add palm sugar, flax seed, protein powder, and vanilla to your bowl. When your plain Malt-o-Meal is done cooking and is the thickness you want, add it to the bowl and combine. Enjoy hot, but don’t forget about your utensils and pot you used, let them soak while you eat, or it will be forever cemented to them.

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It doesn’t look like much, but it tastes great and is free of refined sugars and natural flavors (whatever those may be) and is full of essential nutrients and protein! Just make sure your protein powder is not an isolate variety with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, acesulfame K, sucralose, etc. More on protein powders and a helpful guide here; I use this one.

Healthy Potluck Treats!

For about this past month or so I have participated in a nutritional study where we were part of a group that met weekly and discussed fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fats, and sugars. We had a potluck at the end on Saturday and I got so excited to bring healthy treats. Here are the recipes for the 3 treats that incorporated the components of the nutritional information we learned over the course of the study.

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No Bake Energy Bites (aka peanut butter balls)
borrowed from smashedpeasandcarrots.blogspot.com
I got this recipe from my mom who has been making these for a couple of years. They have whole grains, natural sweeteners (plus chocolate chips…), and healthy fats (omega’s from flax seed).

All you have to do is combine these ingredients in a bowl until incorporated then roll into balls. It made about 20 for me, I used one of those tiny ice cream scoops.

1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup nut butter (I used peanut, but almond, cashew, etc. would be tasty too)
1/3 cup honey
1 cup coconut flakes (or shredded)
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup mini (or full sized) chocolate chips
1tsp vanilla

Coconut Snowballs
This recipe was borrowed from deeprootsathome.com
Despite their name they are nothing like the pink Hostess snowballs made from coconut covered marshmallows. I also got this recipe from my mom and they’re pretty simple too, just combine these ingredients in a mixer and mix until it sticks together, roll it into balls (again those little scoops are very handy) and chill for at least an hour. Mom and I doubled it and it made 24. Includes natural, unprocessed sweetener and healthy fats.

1 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup honey (can use pure maple syrup if you have it and like the maple taste)
2 Tbsp virgin coconut oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt

Food Babe’s Low Sugar Cookies
borrowed from foodbabe.com
I have been loving Food Babe’s (Vani Hari) blog lately because it’s so informative and she has some cool recipes. This is a pretty new one that I’ve made a couple of times now in the past few weeks, the first time with organic evaporated cane sugar instead of organic coconut palm sugar because I didn’t have any. Mine turned out quite crumbly, but to save the. My mom gave me the idea to put them into muffin cups so I could bring them. I think this happened because I used the flax seed and water instead of the egg, so it didn’t bind as well. These taste great and can have the fruit component, natural, unprocessed sweetener, healthy fats, and whole grains. It made 13 large cookie for me, but the recipe says 20.

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Ingredients
½ cup coconut oil, melted
¼ cup coconut palm sugar
2 tbsp ground flaxseed with 5 tbsp water or 1 large egg (again I think the egg will bind it better, but not vegan)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 and ¼ cup almond flour
1 and ¼ cup old fashioned oats
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ walnuts, chopped
½ dried currents (optional mix in, feel free to get creative, i.e. raw cacao nibs, goji berries, etc.)
*I used shredded coconut and chocolate chips instead of walnuts and currents.*

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Place the coconut oil, sugar in a bowl and stir until well combined
3. Add flaxseed or egg, vanilla extract and stir for another minute until smooth.
4. Add rest of ingredients and stir
5. Place dough mixture in fridge or freezer for 10 mins
6. Using an ice-cream scooper, scoop out dough and press each cookie on silpat or parchment paper lined baking pan
7. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown
8. Cool at least 7 mins and serve

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Egg Salad Sandwich with a Twist.

I adapted this recipe from the one found here.
This is an egg salad sandwich recipe made with avocado instead of mayonnaise and I got excited because I love avocado and could eat them all day long while I find mayo to be quite gross. It’s very rich and sticks pleasantly to the bread.

Whole grain bread (I used Dave’s spelt)
2 boiled eggs
1/2 avocado
Mustard
Olives
Onions
Salt and pepper
Paprika
Tomato
Lettuce

Today I only had a quarter of an avocado left over so I halved the recipe, but it is flexible that way, as long as you have a 4:1 egg to avocado ratio. But it’s really as simple as chopping up ingredients and mixing them together.

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Cut up avocado, size depends on how chunky you want it to be, same for all ingredients.

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Peel and chop up the eggs.

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Combine the avocado, eggs, onions, olives, mustard, salt, pepper, and paprika in a bowl and mix until desired consistency.

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Lightly toast the bread and have the tomato and lettuce ready for your egg salad. Today’s was a lunch to-go. The great thing about this egg salad is that it doesn’t smell quite as strongly as traditional made from mayonnaise.

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Then the only thing left to do is enjoy your funky looking, but oh so good tasting sandwich! It’s super filling, too!

Let me know if you try this recipe or any creative variations and what you think about it!

I Just Love Food…

I can’t help it. I love food and I have a camera with which to photograph the delicious concoctions I come up with while trying to eat vegetarian in a house full of omnivores.

Obviously I've got to work on the timing, but delicious anyway!

Obviously I’ve got to work on the timing, but delicious anyway!

I have been making a modified grilled cheese a lot for the past week or so and I think it’s pretty delicious and quite possibly share-worthy. I obviously haven’t gotten the timing down precisely as my bread got a little burnt this time, but it’s a really good way to use ingredients from your fridge in a tasty way. I used one large griddle-type pan for the whole meal. I sauteed some veggies from my fridge, I had chopped onions and red bell peppers left over from family dinner last night, but you can use just about any veggies that will complement your cheese, but not ones that will make it soggy like tomatoes. I used Pam cooking spray to grease the pan so it would have less fat and so it wouldn’t burn (and I managed to burn it anyway!). I think the reason it burned was that I used bread from the freezer and didn’t thaw it first because I’m impatient like that.

The only ingredients are bread, cheese, and veggies, but the combinations are limitless!

The only ingredients are bread, cheese, and veggies, but the combinations are limitless!

So, what I did was get out the mozzarella cheese, veggies, and bread. Then I sprayed the pan and turned the burner to medium heat. Since the bread was frozen and thickly sliced, I put that on at the same time as the chopped bell peppers. While the peppers are heating up, the bread should start to turn a golden brown then you flip it to the other side and add the cheese to both sides. At this point I added the chopped onions to the bell peppers (I added them last because they were chopped so finely that they would cook quickly; the order may change depending on the size of the veggies to be sauteed). At this point the heat should be turned off and when the onions are starting to brown at the edges, the veggies are then scooped up with a spatula and put onto the bread that now has mostly melted cheese and the two halves become a sandwich that is ready to eat. It is a quick, easy meal that has little prep and clean up time, and it’s tasty too, honest!

What a week….

I have been thinking a lot about this ol’ blog lately and missing typing up updates, so this will be a total update that even includes a recipe!

In the past two weeks since Spring break I have been so busy with tests and papers and especially this last week with deciding on what classes to take for the next couple of semesters. That was super stressful! I finally made one of the most important and major decisions- it is now totally official that I am a psychology major and I’m psyched about it!;)

I also decided just today at the last minute that I’m not going to declare a minor. I’d rather just take a whole bunch of psychology and photography electives instead. Everything is coming together at the last minute as I have to register for fall classes at midnight tonight and I have to be registered for my summer classes already and I just added a third today. I’m taking 2  online psych classes and an anthropology class (also online) this summer and hopefully working as much as humanly possible.

Even with all the stress I sometimes take a little time out to do some cooking. Tonight I decided that I wanted breakfast for dinner. So, here is that recipe I promised earlier. It is a mug muffin recipe adapted from this really awesome blog that has fantastic recipes. Instead of making a blueberry muffin, I made a cherry almond poppy seed muffin. It was pretty good, but not as sweet as I had expected. I would also have used a smaller mug for aesthetic appeal and ease of telling when it was done. The recipe was a little more involved than I imagined, but it takes very few ingredients and makes a convenient single serving that could easily be multiplied to make regular muffins, but they’re so much more fun in mugs.:)

I enjoyed my mug muffin with a scrambled egg with red peppers, onions, and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.

I enjoyed my mug muffin with a scrambled egg with red peppers, onions, and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.

1/4 Cup flour

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

1/2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp milk (I used fat free, but almond or coconut milk would have been tasty, or any milk will do)

1/4 tsp almond extract

2 large frozen cherries

5 sliced almonds

Pinch of poppy seeds

All you have to do is thoroughly mix the ingredients, all except the cherries and almonds, together in the mug. Once all are combined, add the cherries and push them down into it a little, then sprinkle the almonds on top. Microwave for 1 1/2 – 3 minutes depending on your microwave. Mine is pretty weak so I started at 90 sec. but ended up with a total of 2 min. 40 sec. *When adding time, try doing so in small increments. It may also help with clean up if you spray the mug with Pam or other non-stick spray.

Enjoy! I now have to go write a sociology essay…

The Incredible, Edible Egg!

Yay! Finally another post – isn’t spring break wonderful?

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I have been making a lot of eggs recently and I came up with a recipe that I would like to share, it’s a kind of quiche, but it’s super quick and easy. If you can scramble eggs, you can make it.

In addition to my affinity for eggs, I also love ramekins and cocottes, which coincidentally are great vehicles for cooking/baking eggs. It all started with a recipe from Rachel Khoo, a British chef living in France and cooking in a tiny parisian kitchen with a BBC television show, on making oeuf en cocottes (eggs in pots). The closest approximation to this recipe that I can make is delicious. I say approximation because I have to use whipping cream instead of creme fraiche because there are no stores that carry it here in Alaska. If you live here and you find one, please be so kind as to direct me to it! But making the same dish almost every day, no matter how delicious, got boring and so I mixed things up by making scrambled eggs with various vegetables. I one day wondered what it would taste like if I baked the egg mixture in a cocotte instead of heating it in a frying pan. It turned out surprisingly well as a kind of quiche.

I have so far tried quite a few veggies in the mix, here are some of my favorite ingredients; red bell peppers, onions, spinach, and asparagus. I sauté these up and beat two eggs (per serving) in a bowl with a splash of milk and some salt and pepper, and sometimes a little mozzarella cheese. I then combine them and pour the mixture into a cocotte and bake for between 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees. Adding some shredded cheese, tomatoes and/or black olives just before it’s done baking often adds a nice flavor. Make sure to allow a generous amount of time to cool before serving as the whole thing will be very hot. It’s a fairly quick and easy meal that can be meatless or not; adding some chicken, ham, or bacon may be a way to make it an even more filling meal and add some more flavors, but it is also easy to make it as a vegetarian option. It can be made as a single serving or for a whole family.

If you have a fridge full of eggs and assorted veggies, a bake-safe dish (be it ramekin, cocotte, sturdy tea cup, pyrex bowl, etc.), and the knowledge of how to scramble eggs, then you are well-equipped to make this tasty dish.

Still Here!

I’m still here! I have just been so busy because I am taking 6 courses this semester! It’s been crazy, but the real reason I haven’t been updating the old blog is because I have been trying to focus my studies and my interests. I like to have plans and a direction in which to travel, or I drive myself crazy going in circles. I finally decided my major! I was debating between journalism, social work, and psychology for the longest time, but a friend helped me decide. I met with some friends from a photography class and was telling them about the classes I am taking and I realized the only one that I like is clinical psychology, and she said, “if it excites you, why don’t you make it your major?” It was like an epiphany sitting there with English and art majors and realizing I can do what excites me. I can study what I enjoy, even if I’m not sure where I’ll be five years from now.
The same thing that I did with my studies, I would like to do with my blog. I would like to give it focus and direction, so I won’t be posting here for a little while as I sort out my priorities, so TTFN!

How to Survive Winter.

If I could only impart to you one piece of advice about surviving winter, I would have to say layers. Yes, layers. They are the secret to survival, but the beautiful thing about having a blog is that I get to impart so much of my acquired knowledge about surviving winter after spending almost ten years in Alaska! So here it is, everything you need to know about surviving everyday life in negative degree weather.

**Now, one disclaimer: this post is not being pretentious, it only covers those who go to work, school, run errands, etc., not those outdoor, adventure-loving (crazy) people who do outdoorsy things like ski and snowboard and hike in the snow and cold. I wouldn’t mind, though, if people shared in the comments what you would need if you were crazy into those sorts of activities…

Now that the temperatures are getting to be sub-zero during parts of the day (if they’re not for you, then I’m jealous and you should be expecting a house guest shortly), I figure it’s high time to share what I’ve learned about standard mobility and the winter. First of all, car care. Take care of your car and get studded tires on as soon as is legal because snow and ice are unpredictable. Also, keep in mind that gas doesn’t go as far when you have to warm up your car for 10 to 20 minutes before leaving the house, and the road conditions can be dangerous, so try to limit your driving. Keep extra clothes in your car. It’s important to keep extra gloves, sweatshirts, jackets, hats, etc. for those times you think you left prepared but didn’t. Also, if you feel compelled to help somebody on the street by handing them extra gloves or a hat, that will make someone very happy and will make you feel like a hero.

In the summer it’s sun screen that is a life saver, but in the winter it is most definitely chap stick. And gloves…but lips will get chapped walking from your front door to your car; it happens that fast. This phenomenon drives me crazy, so I usually keep some Burt’s Bees balm in my coat pocket, but mom loves her Carmex- that’s a personal preference and it’s up to you what kind floats your boat!

Take up knitting, or find some really good books to keep you entertained while you stay warn in your house. Invite friends over for meals and get togethers so you seem polite while not having to leave the warmth of your house to see your friends. I would also recommend owning a treadmill because people, me included, tend to get lazy without being able to go out for a walk or a bike ride, especially with all the holiday related eating. First, there’s Halloween where candy is everywhere and lasts at least a month, lingering around your house, tempting you to eat it. Then, there’s a holiday that is just about eating, and giving thanks, but mostly eating. Some people cook for days and all that comfort food; mashed potatoes, stuffing, casseroles, etc., last a week or two, and finally the Christmas baking. There are always festive cookies and fudges and treats…so the treadmill or an elliptical or spin bike would be really great options to have in your home so you can spin while you watch Elf and A Christmas Story by the toasty fireplace. 🙂

What are your go to tips for winter?

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