Thai-Inspired Dinner! And Other Eats

By Katie, 7:59 pm

I must say, I am not the biggest fan of coconut. Which might surprise you, since I’ve blogged several recipes containing the ingredient. The truth is that it’s not really my thing, but Dave happens to love it! And since I cook plenty of dinners based on my personal preferences, it’s only fair to make some that are more catered to his taste buds. :-)

Take, for instance, this Thai-inspired Coconut Soup.

If you’re like Dave and love coconut, then you’ll appreciate this light soup! It’s based off of this Healthy Eats 5-Ingredient Coconut Soup with Noodles and Mushrooms recipe. My soup actually had 6 ingredients because I added snap peas; I also used shiitake mushrooms, which I highly recommend.

If I were to make this again I would definitely add lemongrass to give it an even greater Thai-inspired flavor!

Another (somewhat) noteworthy dinner:

Annie’s Whole Wheat Shells and White Cheddar, doctored up with some broccoli and canned Alaskan salmon. For some reason I don’t mind eating dinner from a box quite so much when I add a little somethin’ somethin’ of my own. ;-)

Let’s check out some other times of the day, shall we?

Breakfasts

Nothing too thrilling – plain bite-sized Shredded Wheat (TJ’s brand) with banana in almond milk.

I also wanted to show you this awesome bowl of oatmeal.

This is actually Dave’s concoction, not mine. I have to say, he is quite talented when it comes to interesting oatmeal bowls!

In his mix:

  • steel cut oats cooked in milk
  • cinnamon
  • dried blueberries
  • chopped dates
  • shredded unsweetened coconut

Lunches

This sammie was awesome!

Whole wheat bread, Applegate Farms roasted turkey breast, lettuce, asparagus, pickles, and spicy brown mustard.

I want to say that the asparagus made this sandwich, but then I would be lying…the rockstar was definitely the PICKLES! For some reason I always forget to add pickles to my sammies, and then I randomly remember and am in heaven!

There are also some mega-salad action.

In the bowl:

  • red and green leaf lettuce
  • cucumber
  • grape tomatoes
  • artichoke hearts
  • some tiny radishes from Dave’s back porch garden
  • mung bean sprouts
  • a chopped medjool date for sweetness
  • big dollop of hummus

Plus a side of some locally-made plain yogurt topped with a pinch of Post Great Grains cereal.

And finally, on a rushed day, a frozen Amy’s meal.

Snackage

Not surprisingly, I’ve eaten a couple of bars.

The usual suspect. ;-)

A whopping THREE ingredients!

Fruit leather thingys.

Greek yogurt topped with a crumbled Vita Muffin. (Love this!)

Maple-roasted butternut squash cubes (yes, I eat squash as a snack! :-D )

And half of a cantaloupe filled with cottage cheese. Delicious!

Those are all of the food photos I’ve taken of late…time to start snapping some more! ;-)

If you cook for your significant other, do you ever make meals that you don’t like too much because he/she does?

AND

For those days when convenience is king, do you have a favorite brand of frozen meal that you turn to?

Celebrating Our Earth

By Katie, 7:26 am

In honor of Earth Day 2010, here is a quote from Mary Oliver, one of my favorite poets and essayists.

“It is one of the perils of our so-called civilized age that we do not yet acknowledge enough, or cherish enough, this connection between soul and landscape – between our own best possibilities, and the view from our windows. We need the world as much as it needs us.”

Today is actually the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, and while we’ve certainly come a long way in changing how we think about and treat our natural world, we still have a long way to go.

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While I consider environmentalism to be one of my values and priorities, I know there’s a lot more I could be doing to live a truly environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Today is the perfect day for all of us to take a minute and reflect on what we’re doing well and where we could stand to improve.

Let’s start with the good news.

Pat on the Back

1. Meatless Meals

I’m very fortunate that going meatless for a meal – or even a full day or a full week – comes very easily to me. In fact, it often happens accidentally! Cutting back on meat consumption is a great way to improve the environment, your health, and your wallet simultaneously. I know a lot of people engage in “Meatless Mondays,” which I think is an awesome idea!

2. Recycling

Dave and I are pretty darn good about recycling. Then again, how hard is it, you know?

3. Gardening

Well, I’m not actually the one doing the gardening – Dave is. But I support him wholeheartedly! ;-) I do think we’re doing a great thing by trying to grow some of our own food.

4. Re-usables

I always shop with re-usable canvas bags. I always sip my aqua from a reusable bottle. And, on a related note, I’m getting really good about buying in bulk to cut down on packaging. (Finally broke my habit of buying individual cups of yogurt!)

5. Cold Water

I do almost all of my laundry in cold water instead of hot. And yes, my clothes are still perfectly clean. :-)

6. Shopping Local/Organic

I make an effort to put my money where my mouth is, which we all know is especially challenging in today’s economic climate.

7. Appreciating Nature

This may seem silly, but I think one of the best things we can do for our planet is simply to enjoy it! When we spend time outdoors, we do wonders for our physical, mental, and spiritual health, and it deepens our respect for the natural world.

Room to Improve

1. Recycle

Wait, I thought that was part of the good news! Well, yeah…sort of. Yes, I toss certain items into my recycling bin instead of my trash can, but I could definitely do more to really recycle some things. By “really recycle,” I mean find new uses for items, donate them or give them away, or trade them with others on sites like FreeCycle. That kind of recycling provides much better assurance that stuff stays out of landfills.

2. Paper Towels

I am a major paper towel addict. Honestly, it’s really bad. If only I weren’t so darn messy! :-? I desperately need to cut back, use sponges, etc.

3. Cleaning Products

Right now I’m still using conventional, chemical-laden cleaning products. I could easily make the switch to more eco-friendly versions.

4. Shopping Local/Organic

Yep, this was also already mentioned. While I am glad that I buy a lot from local farmers and choose organic much of the time, I could always be doing better. There are still times when convenience and money trumps the environment, and I’d like to try to challenge that even more.

5. Involvement

I’d really like to become more involved in the environmental movement. When it comes to other issues that I’m passionate about – such as women’s rights and health – I take an active role. (For example, in college I started a women’s advocacy organization.) I’d like to do more for the environment not just in my individual life, but also on an activist level.

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I’ll leave you with the wise words of Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

What’s something you already do to be environmentally-friendly? And is there a habit you’d like to change or improve upon in order to treat the planet a little bit better?

For more reading check out Body + Soul magazine’s 10 Ways to Make Earth Day Matter.

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall

By Katie, 2:25 pm

Who’s the fairest of them all? I certainly never thought it was me!

Starting in 7th grade I developed an intense love-hate relationship with mirrors. It coincided with my intense love-hate relationship with my body and self-image. Sadly, there was a lot more hate than love going on. :-(

My mom used to tease me in high school because I would get ready in front of the mirror in our upstairs bathroom, and then proceed downstairs and immediately give myself another once-over in our hallway mirror. She would laugh and remind me that my image hadn’t changed in the five seconds it took to walk downstairs.

Her teasing was fun and innocent because she honestly thought I was constantly looking in mirrors out of vanity or self-admiration. Unfortunately the truth was that I was incredibly self-conscious and insecure about my appearance; I looked in mirrors over and over again as a weak attempt to assure myself that I actually didn’t look as unattractive as I felt.

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It seems counter-intuitive, but I was obsessed with mirrors not because I thought I was pretty, but because I thought I was ugly. I kept hoping that one time I’d look in a mirror and think otherwise, but it never happened.

That is, until I decided to make it happen.

About a year ago I realized that if I wanted to improve my body image (and my self-image in general, because I was just as uncomfortable with my hair and my skin as I was with my body), I would need to make a purposeful effort. I committed myself to looking in the mirror every day and saying something positive about my reflection. It didn’t matter if I didn’t actually believe the words that were coming out of my mouth (I definitely didn’t at first); I just kept saying them.

It was the “fake it ’til you make it” approach, if you will.

At first I started out in safe territory, telling myself I liked my eyebrows or my wrists – things that, for me, weren’t really wrapped up in my self-esteem issues. But eventually I began to compliment myself more deeply; I told my mirror image that she had a nice smile and lively eyes. And then one day I moved onto my actual body – my arms, my legs, and even (on a really strong day!) my stomach.

Doing this short exercise day in and day out has made an incredible difference in my relationship with mirrors and my relationship with myself. I certainly don’t think I’m a beauty queen (far from it!), and I certainly have days when I’m overly critical of my appearance. But now, when I hear that voice in my head saying that I’m ugly or unattractive, I can remind myself that deep down I have the strength to use a glance in a mirror as a way to build myself up rather than tear myself down.

Have you ever had a “love-hate” relationship with mirrors? Have you ever tried complimenting your reflection as a way of increasing your confidence?

Banana Dogs and Oatmeal Splits

By Katie, 7:26 pm

Dear Banana,

How can I find the words to express how much I love you? You are the ultimate staple item on my grocery list. You are so delicious and nutritious, with your overflowing abundance of potassium, fiber, and vitamin B6.

And don’t even get me started on your versatility! I could go on for days about the creaminess you bring to my morning oatmeal and the fruity flavor you add to my smoothies. A bowl of cold cereal simply isn’t complete without some slices of you.

You shine in a yogurt mix, and when dipped in chocolate or added to ice cream you are the perfect dessert. Of course, you’re also delicious all by yourself, especially before an intense workout.

We’ve had some fun together recently, haven’t we Banana? Remember when I turned you into a hot dog?

And used peanut butter for ketchup? Good times!

Remember the time I took a cue from Brandi and used you to make an oatmeal-banana split?

Remember how you cracked in half, but that was totally fine because then peanut butter melted into your crevice?

What great memories we have together, Banana! Where would I be without you? ;-)

Your Not-So-Secret Admirer,

Katie

Do you have a love affair with bananas? What’s your favorite way to eat them?

What It Means to Honor Cravings

By Katie, 7:54 am

When I first began the process of intuitive eating, I focused on the question of when. I practiced listening to my body each and every day to determine when I was truly hungry and when I was pleasantly full. It didn’t take me too long to get the hang of it.

What was (and still is) significantly more challenging, in my opinion, is the question of what. I would know that I was ready to eat, but I had no idea what to eat!

On this blog I often use the phrase “honor your cravings.” But what the heck does that really mean??? And, if you’re truly honoring your cravings, how likely is it that you will eat chocolate and ice cream for every meal? :-?

I say not very likely. That’s because when I think about honoring my cravings, I make an important distinction between mental and physical cravings.

Mental Cravings

These are the cravings that are all in your head – the foods that your body doesn’t really need but you just can’t get out of your mind. They could also be called taste cravings. For example, ever since I saw some Dairy Queen deliciousness on a blog last week, I have been craving a Mint Oreo blizzard like mad. My brain just keeps reminding me, you want to eat that!!!

Physical Cravings

These are the cravings that come directly from your body. You want to eat something not so much because of the way it will taste, but more so because of the way it will make your body feel - refreshed, cleansed, energized, etc. Some say these cravings are actually the body’s way of getting us to eat the nutrients we’re lacking.

IMPORTANT POINT: Mental and physical cravings are not mutually exclusive; they most definitely overlap. By that I mean, you might have a physical, bodily craving for a Green Monster smoothie at the same time you have a mental, taste craving for the goodness that is spinach blended with fruit.  ;-)

So How Do You Honor Your Cravings?

I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but here’s my thought process.

- If I am having a very clear craving, I ask myself if it’s mental or physical. I usually honor it either way, but if it’s a mental craving I will make a special effort to slowly, mindfully savor each and every bite.

- If I’m hungry but am not sure what I want to eat, I’ll think it through a little bit more.

  • When I get an idea for what I want to eat, I’ll imagine what the food looks, smells, and tastes like. Is that look, smell, and taste appealing to me at the moment?
  • I imagine how the food will make my body feel after I’ve eaten it. This helps me determine if I’m craving something light that won’t weigh me down, or something heavier that will make me feel more full. There’s a time and a place for both.

In the end, if I’m truly honoring my cravings – both mental and physical – sometimes I’ll be eating this:

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While other times I’ll be eating this:

(Source)

Yes, I truly find that sometimes I am craving a salad, no doubt about it. :-)

What about you? Do you “honor your cravings”? What does that mean to you? Do you agree that we experience both mental and physical cravings?

For more reading, check out Elina’s post from a few weeks ago on eating intuitively versus eating whatever you want.

The Truth About Cereal! And Other Hot Links

By Katie, 3:26 pm

I figured it was time for another round-up of links! I hope you find them interesting! :-)

The Truth About Cereal

I don’t know about you, but I have a love-hate relationship with cereal – in that I love to eat it (and eat it and eat it…) and I hate when I get to the bottom of the box! But I have definitely found that a lot of so-called “healthy” cereals are loaded with sugar and little else. This Livestrong.com article tells you what to look for to find one that is actually good for you.

On Ingesting KFC’s “Double Down”

At this point you’ve probably heard about KFC’s new product, the “Double Down,” which consists of American-style cheese, bacon, and the special “Colonel’s sauce” between – wait for it – two breaded, fried pieces of chicken. No bread, no bun – just fried chicken. Here’s the New York Times Diner’s Journal’s humorous take on it.

Gut Bacteria Give Super Seaweed-Digestion Power to Japanese

I’m not even going to try to explain this one, but it’s quite fascinating!

The Lost Art of Solitude

It’s true that we are, by natural, social beings, and connecting with others is what life is all about. And yet even the biggest extrovert occasionally needs some time to herself. This Zen Habits post discusses the benefits of solitude and suggests some ways to cultivate it in your life.

Attitude Important for Healthy Lifestyle

Turns out our behavior is greatly influenced by our unconscious beliefs, so it’s important to have the right attitude toward exercise and physical activity. Because dreading your workout day in and day out is no way to live.

15 Simple Truths about Food

Here’s a nice SparkPeople slideshow that separates the truth about food and healthy eating from all of the myths and misconceptions floating around out there.

5 Ways to Run Past Your Mental Blocks

A great article for those of us who deal with an inner critic who constantly tells us our runs (or other workouts) aren’t good enough. Active.com offers five comebacks to shout at that critic when it rears its ugly head.

What’s your favorite breakfast cereal? I love Barbara’s Bakery Puffins and Kashi Warm Cinnamon Heart to Heart.

AND

Would you eat the KFC Double Down “sandwich”? Even once, just to try it? ;-)

Back-to-Back Birthdays

By Katie, 9:24 pm

Birthdays are rather exciting in my household because they come in twos!

Dave’s birthday was Saturday and mine was today (so he is one year and one day older than I am). We had a full weekend of celebratory fun! What makes a good birthday? Great company and great food…and some fun presents don’t hurt either. ;-)

Great Company

The Birthday Couple. (Please ignore random balding man in the background.)

My brother Matt and his fabulous lady friend Rosa.

Mom and daughter. :-)

A lovely group of people, if I do say so myself!

(We also spent some time with Dave’s family, and they are equally wonderful company…but alas, I forgot my camera when we were with them. :-( )

Great Food

A birthday isn’t a birthday without some fabulous eats, am I right? We enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Dogwood on the Avenue in Hampden, a quirky neighborhood in Baltimore. The restaurant is known for its use of local, organic ingredients.

We shared some my brother devoured this plate of hand-cut potato chips with herb dip.

We also split an appetizer of escargot, which I had never tried before. They were encased in these little pierogi-like things.

My little snail friend. ;-)

I thought it was good, but not blow-your-mind amazing or anything.

For my entree I got a spring pea risotto dish with garlic-sauteed oyster mushrooms. This was majorly yummy!

Love the look of oyster mushrooms!

I also had a bowl of roasted red pepper soup topped with wheatberries.

And to end the evening, Dave and I shared a slice of apple tart with caramel ice cream.

By the end of the night I was definitely stuffed, but I enjoyed every bite of my food! :-)

(With Dave’s family we had some delicious stuffed shells and a homemade cake – a family recipe that is absolutely unbelievable…again, no camera. :-( Just know that I enjoyed not one but two slices!)

There was also a little bit of this:

You know you really enjoy running when you willingly do it on your birthday! ;-)

After plugging away for four miles, I returned home to a birthday breakfast made by the hubba hubba!

Whole wheat pancakes with blueberries…yumm-o!

Real, pure maple syrup for dipping.

I was a happy birthday girl!

Fun Presents

A Life Is Good tee from my mama.

Some inspirational messages included. :-)

TEA!!!

Also: an un-pictured gift certificate to a lovely-sounding restaurant in a nearby town, and some vegetable and herb seeds for our back porch garden. :-)

The kitties got gifts too! New cat beds!

I think Hamilton likes it. ;-)

All-in-all, Dave and I both had wonderful birthdays! I hope your weekends were equally lovely!

Have you ever tried escargot? Did you like it?

AND

Do you exercise on your birthday? Why or why not?

Contemplating the Contradiction

By Katie, 7:48 am

There are a million reasons why I think God is amazing. One that’s been on my mind lately is the fact that God can take two states that seem completely contradictory, and yet have them co-exist perfectly.

Let me be more specific. Lately I have felt very humbled when I contemplate the fact that I am a mere blip on this planet. My day-to-day problems and frustrations seem so insignificant when I remember that I am just one of almost seven billion people on this planet – all with their own day-to-day issues to face.

And that’s just people! Dave and I have been watching the Discovery Channel series called “Life,” and with every episode I find myself baffled by the intricacies of the natural world.  The complexities of this earth – the way that each and every creature is unique and amazing – makes me feel astounded…and quite small.

In a good way. It humbles me. It reminds me that this world does not and never will revolve around me.

But then there comes the contradiction. At the very same time that I am but a minuscule peon in this world, I am simultaneously the focus of God’s all-encompassing love. That’s right; even though there are billions of people on this planet – and billions upon billions of other living creatures – God cherishes me personally. He knows me inside and out, much better than I know myself.

So when I realize that my minor issues and problems aren’t so important in the grand scheme of things, in the very same moment I am reminded that God cares about each and every one of those issues and problems, that no matter how minor they may be, God still wants me to share them with Him!

I can barely wrap my mind around the contradiction: I am humbled by how small I am, and yet amazed at how adored I am. On the one hand the little things don’t really matter, and on the other hand, they make all the difference.

I find it utterly fascinating.

And to give the post a bit of visual appeal, another beautiful spring photo, courtesy of my photographer hubby. :-D

Have you ever found yourself feeling utterly baffled or fascinated by something like this? Have you ever contemplated this particular contradiction before?

Dishing Up Local Fare

By Katie, 4:14 pm

One of the highlights of my week is my Saturday morning trip to the farmers’ market. I have a blast browsing the local cheeses, choosing my fruits and veggies, and chatting with the farmers. Who better to swap asparagus recipes with than the person who grew it, right?

Last Wednesday evening I had the pleasure of hearing Lucie Snodgrass speak. She is the author of the new book Dishing Up Maryland, which is part-cookbook, part-homage to Maryland agriculture, and part-buy local manifesto.

Snodgrass makes a compelling case for why all of us, regardless of where we live, should make a serious effort to buy locally and eat seasonally. Some of the benefits include:

  • Better taste.
    Fresh food is always more flavorful than food that’s been shipped thousands of miles. Who would choose a strawberry picked a week ago over a strawberry picked that very morning?
  • Greater variety.
    Snodgrass pointed out that while your chain grocery store may carry two or three types of peaches, a local farmer might have twenty-some varieties available throughout the growing season. We do our palates a great disservice when we miss out on all that diversity.
  • Safety
    Locally-grown produce is less likely to have been treated with synthetic chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, etc., and locally-raised livestock probably weren’t pumped with growth hormones. And if there’s any doubt, you can always ask!
  • Environment
    Shipping food thousands of miles requires a lot of energy and creates a lot of pollution, and industrial agriculture isn’t as good for the soil.
  • Community
    When you buy your food locally, you are putting your money directly into your community; you are supporting local families rather than multi-billion dollar corporations.

What I find most fascinating about the book is that it highlights just how many resources I have in my home state, many of which I was completely unaware of. For example, I’m familiar with one bison farm in my area; turns out there are fourteen in the state of Maryland! Who knew?

The point is that when we put in a little effort – do a little research, travel an extra ten minutes – we often find that our local food options are incredibly rich with possibility. And making that discovery is part of the joy that comes from connecting with our food and our communities.

Do you make an effort to buy locally and eat seasonally? What types of food do you buy locally, and where do you get it? We buy our milk, eggs, and most produce at the farmers’ market. We also buy some of our meat locally, but I’m motivated to begin doing more of that!

Parsnip Fries! And Other Eats

By Katie, 9:21 pm

Here is a glorious plate of parsnip and carrot fries that I recently consumed:

Dipped in BBQ sauce…delicious!

I’ve gotten some questions recently about my parsnip fries, so I thought I’d do a quick how-to. If you’re not familiar with them, parsnips basically look like big, white carrots.

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They taste a lot like carrots, too, except that their flavor is stronger and a bit more “woody,” if you will. (Best word I can think of to describe it!) I’m also pretty sure they beat carrots in the vitamin and nutrient department. Regardless, the two go well together!

To make parsnip fries, start by peeling your vegetables and cutting them into fry shapes. It doesn’t matter how thin or thick you cut them, you just have to adjust cooking times accordingly. With parsnips, it’s important to know that the inner core can be a bit bitter, so I usually cut around that.

Toss your fries with a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. (Some people like to put them in a plastic bag and do some shake ‘n’ bake action. I just put them in a big bowl and mix it all up with my hands. As long as all the fries are nice and coated, you’re good to go.) Spread them out on a baking sheet coated with spray and/or lined with foil.

I did these at 425º for about 30 minutes, stirring them up halfway through.

I like them dipped in BBQ sauce or ketchup, but I’ve heard hummus is good too!

Some other eats of late…

Breakfasts

I tried a new nut butter with my oatmeal!

In the bowl:

  • oats cooked in H2O
  • pinch salt
  • cinnamon
  • sliced banana
  • Naturally Nutty Vanilla Almond Butter
  • dried cherries

I’m going to say the verdict is still out on this one. I really wanted to love this almond butter, but I actually found the vanilla flavor to be a bit too strong and overpowering. But maybe it was just my mood, or maybe the combination here just didn’t work. So I’ll give it another shot before officially saying I don’t like it. ;-)

And a yogurt bowl.

Plain Greek yogurt, chopped apple, and Cinnamon Puffins.

Other Random Eats

Sunshine Burger (Garden Herb flavor) topped with Annie’s Naturals Honey Mustard.

Green pepper strips dipped in hummus. (Exciting? Not really. Classic snack? For sure!)

Lovely Bosc pear.

And a Horned Melon.

Ever seen one of these thorny guys? I hadn’t, so of course when I did I had to try it. And of course I had to Google how to eat it!  :lol: Turns out the inside is this crazy green gel.

It kind of reminded me of the green slime that they would pour on the heads of the contestants on kids’ game shows I watched growing up. Not exactly appetizing. Taste-wise, it reminded me of a non-ripe banana. Next time I’ll just stick to a banana, then. ;-)

Have you ever had parsnips? Do you like them? What’s your favorite way to eat them?

AND

What’s the strangest fruit you’ve ever eaten?

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