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Monthly Archives: March 2011

A Quick Mid-Week Meal

A Quick Mid-Week Meal

The days of the week always seem to fly by when an exam is near.

It’s already Thursday!! Where did the week go?!? Even worse…the entire month of March ends today!

Whoa.

Luckily, I love Thursdays because my weekend officially starts today!

Hmm too bad the weekend will be filled with studying, studying, and more studying 😦

You always miss what you don’t have, and right now for me that is time.

Yesterday I came home from a group meeting completely starving (I hate group projects!), and wanted to whip up a quick meal instead of reheating leftovers. Pasta usually bores me but last night just thinking about it made me drool.

It all came to me in the blink of an eye. Right before leaving for spring break, I froze a bunch of food instead of throwing it out. One such food was a frozen mashed avocado. A few weeks ago I also froze a container of my Carrot-Onion Dip, and it was time to use it as well.

Out came this satisfying creation:

CREAMY CARROT N’ KALE PASTA

Ingredients:

-3/4 cup whole wheat penne pasta

-1/2 cup carrot-onion dip

-1/2 of an avocado, mashed

-1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (I used baby bella)

-3-4 large kale leaves, chopped into small pieces

Directions:

1.) Boil some water and cook the pasta until soft, about 15 minutes.

2.) Meanwhile, in a medium pan sauté the mushrooms, carrot-onion dip, and kale until the mushrooms are cooked and the kale is shriveled.

3.) After the pasta is done cooking, drain it and add it into the pan with the “sauce” made in step 2. Add in the mashed avocado and stir to coat all of the pasta.

Serves 1 hungry college student

Enjoy!

So so so good! What a quick and satisfying dinner for one!

This morning I couldn’t resist another bowl of my porridge, except this time I used ground-up rolled oats instead of steel cut oats. I also topped it with fresh mango.


I am battling a serious addiction to this porridge and just might succumb to it daily.

No complaints though 🙂

Lunch was also scrumptious and nutritious and consisted of my fav sandwich: the Healthwich!

I used Ezekiel bread, kale, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado (), grilled onions and mushrooms, eggplant spread, and kalamata olive hummus.

Don’t forget to drink green tea with your meal! It’s no mystery that green tea holds vast nutritional and health benefits. I also remember reading somewhere that the nutrients and antioxidants in green tea are better absorbed with lemon and during a meal, so I always drink my green tea with a sliver of fresh lemon.

It always makes my day 🙂

“To be great, feel great and act great”

~From Russia With Love~

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Posted by on March 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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A Change Of Taste

A Change Of Taste

It’s crazy how much my taste pallet has changed throughout my life.

Like any child, I was a ridiculously picky eater. My ideal meal consisted of a piece of candy followed by a massive bowl of ice cream. Russian food was very low down on my list of favorite foods.

Although my sweet tooth is still as strong as ever, my dislike for Russian food has taken a complete 180-degree turn. When I got to college I started craving it like crazy!

Cabbage leaves and red peppers stuffed with ground beef (I used to like red meat), Russian pilmeni, buckwheat, Borsht. The list goes on…

I guess homesickness came with a dose of home-cooked food cravings!

Living in a dorm with nasty food didn’t help very much either…

Starting sophomore year, having my own apartment and access to an actual kitchen helped cure some of these longings for certain foods (although we all know that nothing can really be as good as mom’s cooking).

So when I saw the oatmeal created by Mama Pea, it immediately reminded me of one of my childhood favorites- Russian kasha. I knew I had to make it ASAP.

The traditional Russian kasha is made with semolina, milk, and butter and is usually topped with jam or honey. My mom used to always make it with raisins as well and, unlike many Russian children, I LOVED it.

This morning I literally jumped out of bed (oh how I wish every morning was like that) and immediately starting making my own version of this kasha.

So.Exciting.

PORRIDGE WITH BLACKBERRY-COCONUT CREAM

Ingredients:

-1/4 cup steel cut oats, ground up into a powder

-1/2 cup almond milk (I used unsweetened and unflavored- you can use any non-dairy or dairy milk)

-1 cup water

-2 tsp. maple syrup

-1 Tbs. raisins

-1/8 tsp. salt (try not to leave this out!)

*For Blackberry-Coconut Cream Topping:

-1/4 cup fresh blackberries

-1/2 Tbs. Artisana Coconut Butter

-splash of almond milk

-optional: some sort of sweetener (I left this out)

Directions:

1.) Combine the ground up steel cut oats, almond milk, water, maple syrup, salt, and raisins in a small pot and whisk together.

2.) Bring to a boil and then cook on low heat (simmer) for about 15 minutes.

3.) Meanwhile, in a blender combine the ingredients for the cream topping and blend until a smooth consistency is reached.

4.) Transfer the porridge into a bowl and top with the cream.

I am IN LOVE with the porridge. It reminds me so much of my mom’s version! There was a subtle sweetness from the maple syrup and raisins, and the salt really brought out the taste of the steel cut oats.

I am also in love with my Magic Bullet. Borderline obsessed actually. It’s sooo useful!

It helped me turn this:

Into THIS:

Artisana Coconut Butter is DELICIOUS. It’s raw and unprocessed and tastes absolutely divine.

My mom will be proud 🙂

On another note…yesterday I went to a celebration dinner with my Engineering Council committee. We are in charge of our school’s career fairs in the fall and spring, and after days of hectic work a celebration dinner is always a necessity.

We went to the nicest restaurant in town and oh boy did we go to town.

I ordered pan-seared salmon with couscous and pickled vegetables. WOW the salmon was fantastic! It was perfectly seasoned and literally melted in my mouth.

Perfection.

Left-overs were definitely a perk as well 🙂

It’s been a good day 🙂 And the 50 degree weather has helped out too 🙂

“Bliss is a constant state of mind, undisturbed by gain or loss”

~From Russia With Love~

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning

Hello!

The temperature outside is rising and so is my mood! It’s a direct correlation (yes I’m nerdy I know).

A little sunshine goes a long way 🙂

Despite the looming FE Exam, I’m still trying to maintain this internal happiness in any way possible. Which is why I decided that it’s time for…

Spring Cleaning!

But wait…this is not the physical labor kind of cleaning. This is an internal, emotional kind of cleaning.

I want to purge all negativity out of my mind and cleanse my body and soul.

Winter can really take a toll on our emotional health and well-being. If you’re anything like me (and I’m sure many of you are), your mood significantly drops during the winter months. I even read somewhere that women eat more in the winter!

Our lives are so fast-paced, stressful, and hectic at times, and an occasional detox can only do you good. Personally, I feel lazy and drained (and severely out of balance), so my body craved some sort of cleansing.

A few days ago I explained the forcing of myself into a “springtime mentality.” So today I decided to start the day off with a little detoxing meal.

I first did my research and found a great list of foods to eat and avoid during a detox:

Detox Foods List

Then, this meal was created:

DETOX BREAKFAST MEDLEY

Ingredients:

-1/8 cup red quinoa

-1/8 cup millet

-1/4 cup fresh blueberries

-3 large strawberries

-5 cherries

-1/4 cup diced mango

-1/2 Tbs. brown rice syrup

-1 Tbs. each of assorted nuts (I used almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds) = 1/4 cup of nuts total

-1/2 cup almond milk (I used vanilla flavored)

-1/4 cup beets, boiled (can be done ahead of time) and blended to a pulp

Directions:

1.) Combine the millet, quinoa, beets, brown rice syrup, and almond milk in a medium pan and cook on low heat until the grains are soft, about 20 minutes.

2.) Remove the mixture from heat, add in the nuts, and mix together thoroughly.

3.) Transfer to a bowl, top with fruit, and enjoy!

Don’t be afraid to try out this breakfast. It’s ridiculously filling and uniquely delicious. The beets add a gorgeous color and a subtle sweetness while the nuts add the perfect crunch. You can choose any fruits you want, but avoid “heavy” fruits such as bananas.

The quinoa-millet combo looks so vibrant and pretty!

And the beets make the entire mixture even prettier!

Can you say, helllooooo spring?!?

I feel better already just looking at this uplifting bright color!

Mix in the nuts (make sure to avoid peanuts though!).

Top with fruit!

This breakfast is the perfect blend of whole grains, fruits, veggies, and nuts.

What a gorgeous way to ring in spring, huh?

“Mental happiness is total relaxation”

~From Russia With Love~

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Saying Goodbye To Winter

Saying Goodbye To Winter

I’m back. I’m back. I’m back to school!

And no, I’m actually not excited at all.

So much to do.

 

Study

Study

STUDY!

I drove down with my mom on Saturday and we spent a couple of hours cleaning and organizing my apartment.

Now I’m all alone and completely homesick 😦

It’s hard (and sad) to believe that I only have ~1.5 months of school left. Where did my senior year go?!?

One thing is for sure- I will definitely make the most of these remaining 7 weeks!

The weather is refusing to morph into spring. April is almost here and yet it’s still supposed to snow on Wednesday! Not to mention that spring officially started last week…

Not.Cool.

I decided to take matters into my own hands and throw myself into spring mode.

So this is my formal goodbye to winter.

As a final grateful farewell (after all, winter did bring us a snow day), I decided to create a “wintery” meal- butternut squash soup!

This soup is an absolute favorite in my family. It was first made on Thanksgiving a year ago and has continuously been re-made ever since.

The soup is rich and hearty, perfect for the cold fall and winter weather. Not so perfect for spring, although given the weekly weather forecast I deem it appropriate.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

Ingredients:

-18 oz (about 1lb) butternut squash, chopped into small 1″ cubes

-4 cups vegetable broth (I used low-sodium)

-3/4 cup canned diced tomatoes (I used no salt added)

-1 medium onion, chopped

-3 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped

-1 tsp. dried basil (I suggest using fresh if possible)

-1/2 tsp. bay leaf

-olive oil for sautéing

-salt to taste

Directions:

1.) In a large pot, sauté the garlic and onion in the olive oil until the onion is translucent and soft.

2.) Add in the basil, bay leaf, and tomatoes and allow to cook for ~5 more minutes.

3.) Add in the butternut squash and vegetable broth and cook the mixture at medium/low heat for approximately 45 minutes or until the squash is very soft.

4.) Transfer contents into a blender and blend until smooth. Salt to desired taste.

The consistency is absolutely perfect, not too thick and not too thin.

As you can see, the butternut squash had to be used immediately!

I try to eliminate excess sodium wherever possible.

Cook until the squash is very soft.

Blend to perfection and serve with a side of garlicky bread and enjoy, knowing that this is your final farewell to winter.

Yields about 4 cups.

I guess I’ll be saying goodbye to winter all week…

Goodbye to winter gesture #2: planting!

Yesterday morning I planted basil and dill, and I also cracked open another egg planter with Impatiens since I left my first one back home for my mom to take care of.

If all goes well and the herbs actually grow, I will have delicious fresh herbs all summer!

I’m dreaming of it already…

“Be so happy that when others look at you they become happy too.”

~From Russia With Love~

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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“Spring” Break

“Spring” Break

As promised, I will not abandon you all again today!

Spring break is almost over (!!!!) and there has only been one day that actually felt like spring. Otherwise it’s been around 30-40 degrees and cold.

Overall, I feel like I accomplished very little this week.

Well, at least in terms of studying for the FE Exam…

Otherwise I have been wildly successful: I slept in, shopped a bit, vegged out around my house, and hung out with my sis and Max and other friends. Good good 🙂

Laziness gives me quite the guilt-trip, so I decided to at least be partially productive and whip up some exciting sweets for mi familia. Inspired by Averie’s mango balls, I created a deliciously easy dessert of my own.

My inspiration? Sunflower seeds!

In case you didn’t know, all Russian people love sunflower seeds. I have fond memories of walking around my grandparent’s hometown in Russia and seeing cute old ladies selling perfectly roasted in-shell sunflower seeds literally on every single street corner.

Yes, they are everywhere.

Oh my my my, words can’t even describe my addiction to sunflower seeds. Once I start crackin’ them, it’s impossible to stop.

Confession: I even have a little dent in one of my front teeth as a consequence of this habit.

So here is my Russian-inspired creation for my family of sunflower seed lovers.

CHOCO-MANGO SUNFLOWER BITES

Ingredients:

-1/2 cup sunflower seeds, roasted and unsalted

-1/4 cup  chopped dark chocolate (I used 85% dark)

-1/3 cup dried mango, finely chopped

-10 pitted dates

Directions:

1.) In a food processor, add half of the sunflower seeds and blend into a fine powder.

2.) Add in the remaining sunflower seeds and the dates and blend until a large ball forms.

3.) Add in the chocolate and mango and blend again until the mixture is well-mixed.

4.) Form into balls of any size (you pick!).

I bought raw, unsalted and unshelled sunflower seeds at Trader Joe’s. The taste of roasted sunflower seeds is mind-blowingly good, not to mention totally nostalgia-inducing. So of course I had to roast them to bring out the fantastic taste.

Be very careful when roasting the seeds. I toasted mine at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes and they ended up tasting a bit burnt (although they didn’t look burnt at all). Luckily, that flavor paired incredibly well with the sweet dates and a perfect balance was achieved. But regardless, you should still aim to avoid this.

Here are the other ingredients:

Sorry for the ugly measuring cups…they are very old

Tada! Scrumptious sweet and tangy Choco-Mango Sunflower Bites!

The oily-looking ball on the right was an experimental one where I used coconut oil. The addition of the oil honestly made very little difference so it really is a personal preference if you want to use it or not.

Everyone in my family loved these. The sunflower seeds provide a unique taste that pairs perfectly with the chocolate and mango.

Enjoy 🙂

“Happiness is nothing but total relaxation.”

~From Russia With Love~

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Spring?

Spring?

Privet friends!

Sorry for my lack of presence these past few days. I’ve been judging for a state debate tournament, and it’s an 11 hour commitment daily.

But finally I am free and home for spring break at last!

Oh spring break…it will be such a bittersweet week. I have my Fundamentals of Engineering exam the week after I return to school.

So what does this mean?

I have to study all of this week for it 😦

Lame!

There are so many activities that I am eagerly awaiting to do this week. Just to name a few: go shopping at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, sleep, read read read, catch up on my favorite tv shows, and just go shopping in general 🙂

Lets just hope I’m able to fit studying between all that! Just kidding…I meant to say that I hope I can fit in all of those activities in-between my studying 😉

Since I have been judging all weekend, my typical routine has gone out the door. I feel incredibly un-balanced and it’s wearing me down.

Even though it’s been a while, I wanted to share my awesome St. Patrick’s Day breakfast from last Thursday. I was feeling festive and daring, so I attempted to make green tea flavored oats.

It came out sooo good!

I mixed together some oats, chia seeds, matcha green tea powder, soy milk, honey, and lemon juice and out came this!

You like the starfruit addition?

I know I complained about my wariness with overnight oats, but they’re finally starting to grow on me! I love the chewiness and coolness of the mixture, especially now that spring is finally here!!!

Yes, spring is officially here 🙂

The 40 degree weather seems to say otherwise. It’s been cold, rainy, and dreary the entire week.

Luckily, I love being home so the weather has to work pretty darn hard to bring my elatedness down. My sister has also been staying with us all week and it’s been great!

I’ve also been working on getting back in balance again. Eating healthy and working out is difficult when lounging around with my sis is so easy, but I won’t succumb to the temptation (not always at least).

More updates tomorrow!

“Love your soul.”

~From Russia With Love~

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Updates

Updates

What have I been doing lately? What have I been eating lately? What have I….

Ok ok it doesn’t really matter, I know. But I’ll tell you anyway 🙂

Brace yourself…this is very exciting stuff here! (sarcasm)

A couple of days ago I ate this (not so) little beauty:

It was a whole wheat bagel filled with homemade hummus, fresh cucumber slices, avocado, grilled onions and mushrooms, smoked salmon, and lots of leafy greens.

So.Good.

I also attempted my very first homemade peanut butter:

The Magic Bullet is my savior!

I wish I had toasted the peanuts- I bought them toasted and unsalted but I would have preferred a richer roasted taste.

Still delicious though!

Two nights ago I was craving some curry, so I whipped together a carrot-cauliflower coconut curry stir-fry (whoa that’s a lot of C’s).

It definitely hit the spot.

Since spring break starts this weekend and I will be back home all of next week (yay!), I need to get rid of eat all of my fresh food asap.

So I threw together an onion, a cup of carrots, 2 tomatoes, 3 garlic cloves, honey, and some crushed red peppers, blended the heck out of them (after I cooked them of course) and BAM, I had a delicious sweet and spicy dip/spread.

The bag of organic potatoes were also giving me encouraging looks, so I sliced those up, coated them with olive oil and smoked paprika, and roasted them to crispy perfection.

And lets not forget my daily obsession with the magnet balls:

I think I was trying to make a laser?

Last but surely not least, upon arriving from class earlier today, I had an incredible surprise waiting for me:

I almost fainted with joy.

I honestly cannot believe that my little flower is alive! This is the first sign of life it has given me. Yes, I have been watering it daily, but my apartment gets little direct sunlight and the weather has been quite cold lately. I thought it was a goner for sure!

This is a great omen 🙂 The weather today is incredible…my balcony is even open!

Spring is here at last!!!

*Lent Updates:

I’m happy to report that there has been NO nail-biting since the start of Lent! WOOOO!!!

Also, the nice thing that I have been doing for myself every day is working out! I started small…just some sit-ups, squats, and weight lifting. But hey…you gotta start somewhere, right?

Don’t forget to keep yourself balanced!

“Let people bask in your radiance and sunshine.”

~From Russia With Love~

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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