Greetings from down south!
I know I’ve been a little remiss with updating my blog this past month, but I’ve embarked on a new adventure, and I’m ready to once again make your web browser slow with my picture-heavy entries.
At around 3am this morning Michal and I packed up the car and made the 12+ hour trek to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.
I like how the above picture makes Michal and I look like the worst car packers ever, but I assure you there was some method to this madness (i.e. cooler full of food goes closest to me).
After some fun gridlock traffic in NYC, we moved on to the land of Snookie, and also the land of where rest stops have the most amazing international chain ever created….Cinnabon.
The above photo came out blurry, but the Cinnabon motto reads, “Life needs frosting.”
I don’t think life needs this much frosting though…
Michal polished off the whole row as I watched in horror, and he had a smile on his face the entire time.
My breakfast consisted of an overnight oats recipe I’ve been perfecting over the past few weeks…
Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal (overnight oats style)
- 1/2 cup old fashion oats
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tbs. peanut butter
- 1/2 tbs. raw chocolate powder (I use Navitas brand)
- 1 tsp. chia seeds
- One handful of blueberries
- Sweetener to taste
The reason these are called overnight oats, is because there is no need to cook the oatmeal. You just combine all the ingredients in a glass or bowl the night before, mix them, and then let it sit overnight. In the morning you will have something that may not look so pretty, but it will taste like dessert.
After further stuffing ourselves with some Luna bars (which Michal just realized are made for woman), we crossed over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
The bridge was built over the ocean, and runs for over 4 miles, so it’s a bit eerie when you drive over it. There are also a few tunnels along the bridge which run underwater, so this furthers the creepy factor.
Once we reached dry land we saw a lot of this…..
and LOTS of this stuff…
If the car wasn’t moving so fast I could have captured all the billboards which make it seem as though all they sell down here are fireworks, cigarettes, and liquor.
One billboard promising the biggest selection of fresh grown fruit and vegetables spiked our curiosity, so we stopped, and they were NOT lying…
Holding my goods with pride even though I can barely carry it.
And as promised Powell’s had fireworks….
Who cares if the boxes of fireworks all read “Y2K Celebration,” I’m sure they work just fine…
After leaving Powell’s we did a straight shot to the Outer Banks, and another 2 hours later we arrived at home sweet home (or at least we get to pretend it’s our home for the next seven days). In total the trip took us about 12 hours, and we traveled over 550 miles!
If you ever want to go on a budget-friendly vacation, the Outer Banks is it! As long as you have a group of friends to go in on a house with, a dollar will take you very far down here. Nine of us went in on this house, and it’s awesome, especially since it’s close to the beach, and it still comes with it’s own pool.
The kitchen is really spacious, and our group of friends is going to be taking turns cooking dinner, so this will save everyone a lot of money throughout the week.
Is it weird that the room I was most excited about was the bathroom in our bedroom?
This bathroom was the size of my bedroom at home (picture does not do it justice).
In total we each paid $400 to have the house for the entire week (and we didn’t even fill up all the bedrooms, so you could reduce your costs by much more if you go in with more people). I’d say look for a smaller house, but if you’ve ever been to the Outer Banks, you know that houses with less than 6 bedrooms don’t exist here.
There is so much more I want to type, but I’m running on two hours of sleep, and we have a friends wedding tomorrow morning, so I’m off to bed.
I think with over 20 pictures in this entry, it’s safe to say the blog has officially been revived, so stay tuned.
August 22, 2010 No Comments
For most people, french toast is often thought of as a full-flavored sugary treat, only meant to be enjoyed on the occasional Sunday morning, but with the right modifications, french toast can provide your body with a near perfect ratio of protein, carbs, and healthy fats (which means you can put down that box of Special K and start eating real food again).
Ingredients (serves one):
- 3 slices of light whole wheat bread
- 1 egg (I use real egg, but you can use egg substitute)
- 1/3 cup Soy Milk (I’ve also used almond milk and skim milk)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground flaxseed (optional)
- Frozen strawberries
- Peanut Butter!
Start by preparing dipping mixture in a bowl. Beat together egg, soy milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and ground flaxseed.
Heat a large pan on medium heat (or if you’re lucky enough to have a skillet, use that). While the pan is getting warm, prepare strawberry topping by placing a large handful of frozen strawberries in a bowl, and then heating in the microwave for about a minute. Once they’re soft, mash them up in the bowl, and then heat again for another 30 seconds. Mash again until you get desired consistency.
You will save a lot of money by purchasing your organic fruit in the freezer aisle.
Once your strawberry topping is done, it’s time to cook the french toast.
Coat your pan with olive oil, and then coat your three pieces of bread with the egg mixture (if any is left over just pour it on top of the bread once it’s in the pan). Place the coated pieces of bread in the pan, and then cook for about three minutes on each side.
Once your french toast is done, spread a thick layer of peanut butter on each piece, and then cover with strawberry topping. I usually sprinkle more cinnamon on top, and sometimes drizzle a little agave syrup over the finished product.
Feel free to stack your french toast like a sandwich, and then cover with more strawberries.
The possibilities are endless. You can even create your peanut butter sandwich first, and then dip it in the egg mixture, so the peanut butter gets warm and gooey as it cooks in the pan.
Be warned that french toast addiction might follow…
But since there is absolutely nothing unhealthy about this meal, eating it every day for the next year is OK.
May 17, 2010 1 Comment
Even when I was a vegetarian, I absolutely hated tofu, but over the years I’ve come to realize that this was probably because I never learned how to properly season or cook it.
Thanks to this challenge, I decided to re-visit my hatred for tofu, and combine it with something I love–GRILLING!
First things first though…pit stop at Trader Joe’s…..
Ingredients (serves two):
- 1 package of Trader Joe’s Organic Extra Firm Tofu
- 1 bottle of Trader Joe’s Island Soyaki marinade
- 3 Bell Peppers (assorted colors)
- 1 large Zucchini
- olive oil
- kale and brown rice (the side dishes I served with this meal, but feel free to serve whatever side dishes you want)
Tip: No matter what brand of Tofu you decide on, always make sure it’s “Extra Firm” if you want to grill it. Also be sure to get as much water out of the tofu as possible before you marinade it. I use paper towels, and press them into the tofu to get out extra moisture.
Directions: Slice tofu into 4 or 5 even pieces, and then coat them with Soyaki marinade inside a ziplock bag. Let sit in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes (I just did 30 minutes, but some people marinade their tofu overnight).
While waiting for tofu to marinade, cut bell peppers into thirds, and cut zucchini into long slices for grilling. I like to brush olive oil and balsamic vinegar on my vegetables before grilling.
When grill is ready (keep heat on low), brush a generous amount of olive oil on the area where you will be grilling the tofu. If you don’t, the tofu will stick.
Place tofu and vegetables on the grill, and cook for about 6 minutes on each side.
Look at how pretty the grilled tofu looks. The grilled vegetables came out nice also….
And now for the final product….
…..A beyond simple vegetarian meal that took only about 5 minutes of prep, and 12 minutes of cooking time. Did I mention it tasted INCREDIBLE also? The only thing not pictured is the kale and brown rice I paired with this meal (always pair some sort of grain with such a low-carb meal, especially if you’re active!).
I was honestly shocked by how much I loved this meal, and I already have plans to throw together a tofu burrito to bring to lunch tomorrow.
I think I’m going to enjoy the Meatless May Challenge a lot more than I thought.
May 6, 2010 1 Comment
I threw this oatmeal together Sunday morning, and it ended up tasting like banana bread, so I had to share.
Ingredients (serves 2)
1 cup water
1 cup almond milk (or any type of milk product)
1 cup oatmeal
2 tbs. ground flaxseed meal (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 large banana cut into small pieces
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
Sweetener of your choice added to taste (honey, agave syrup, brown sugar, etc…)
Directions: Bring milk and water to a boil. Add oatmeal and ground flaxseed meal, and then reduce heat to low. Add in banana, cinnamon, vanilla, and sweetener. Stir occasionally. Oatmeal will be done in 5-10 minutes.
I of course added a dollop of peanut butter on top, but there are a variety of things you can do, such as….
…drenching it in strawberry syrup like Michal did.
To achieve this, let a bag of frozen strawberries thaw out over night, and then you will have a bag full of lots and lots of natural syrup. If you’re cut for time, just throw some frozen strawberries in a mug and then heat in the microwave for about a minute.
I used the other half of the banana to make a side dish of “mini peanut butter banana pies,” which we enjoyed along side the oatmeal for breakfast.
As you’ve noticed, my culinary “skills” never really extend beyond 10am, but I hope to change this with my Meatless May challenge, where I’ll be eating vegetarian for the remainder of the month, so expect some extremely basic vegetarian recipes to be posted up here soon.
May 3, 2010 No Comments
I live for Saturday mornings, especially the sunny ones where by 9am it’s warm enough to enjoy breakfast outside.
On this mornings menu was homemade Pumpkin and Flaxseed Oat Bran with lots and lots of strawberries (I had already eaten about 7 by the time this picture was taken).
Pumpkin and Flaxseed Oat Bran Recipe
1 cup water
1 cup almond milk (any type of milk will do)
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup oat bran (I used Trader Joe’s Natural Toasted Oat Bran)
1/2 cup pumpkin
1 tbs. of Bob’s Red Mill Flaxseed Meal
1 tbs. of Pumpkin Spice (also Trader Joe’s)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Sweetener of your choice (I like agave syrup, brown sugar, and stevia)
Directions: Bring water and milk to a boil. Add all ingredients; reduce heat to low. Cook for about 10 minutes (or until it thickens), then serve. Feel free to garnish your bowl of oats with whatever you like (I topped mine with a scoop of peanut butter and strawberries).
If you hate oatmeal, I apologize for subjecting you to so much of it on this blog, but I tend to go through food phases, and right now I am all about being the poster child for fiber. Plus, this blog is about what makes me happy, and this morning this is what made me happy….
Sunlight and Oats
I have a pretty big day planned out. Michal and I decided that for today’s adventure we’re going to go on an epic bike ride (all we need to find are bikes and a cool location).
April 3, 2010 1 Comment
I’ve had a can of Trader Joe’s Sweet Potato Puree for a while now, and to be honest, I sort of had this vision while I was buying it of me finding it in my kitchen cabinet 10 years later with dust on it, but lo in behold, this morning it saw daylight…
Now I know I just did an entry about the many crazy habits adventures of my breakfast routine, but this mornings cooking experiment was way too good not to share, so I’ll try and make this brief….
Sweet Potato Pie Oatmeal
Ingredients (serves 2):
1 cup water
1 cup almond milk (or any type of milk)
1/2 cup steel cut oats (I used Quaker)
1/2 cup sweet potato puree
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
A sweetener of your choice sprinkled on top (optional)
Directions: In a medium sized pot, bring water and milk to a boil. Add steel cut oats, sweet potato, and spices, and reduce heat to low. Simmer on low for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. (do not cover with lid). Take pot off of heat, stir, and let sit for 10 more minutes. Garnish with raspberries and enjoy.
Some advice about cooking with steel cut oats: No matter what brand of steel cut oats you buy, they all take a really long time to cook. Depending on your stove-top, you may have to cook them for up to 40 minutes on low before the mixture begins to thicken, so this isn’t the type of breakfast to make before work. The good news is that steel cut oats taste just as good the next day, so feel free to make a big batch the night before, and then just re-heat them the next morning on the stove top or in the microwave.
If you don’t have the patience, feel free to make this recipe with regular oatmeal, but I assure you that the texture and taste of steel cut oats is worth the wait…
While the steel cut oats were cooking, Michal and I decided to fit in a trail run. Although it looked as sunny as last Saturday’s 75 degree weather, it was in fact 27 degrees.
Cold weather aside, the trail run was really nice.
All in all, we covered about 2 miles of trails and 2 miles of road, but the best part was getting to come back to a huge batch of steel cut oats waiting for us on the stove.
Alright, I’m off to relax for a bit and then do some laundry, but tonight I have an adventure lined up in Brooklyn, so stay tuned.
March 27, 2010 No Comments
There are breakfast people, and then there are….other people.
I am a breakfast person.
This wasn’t always the case though. As a child I was an extremely picky eater, and if there wasn’t a box of Lucky Charms around, I would rather starve.
Then there were the awkward formative years of middle school and high school, where breakfast was just…wrong. Microwavable french toast sticks, pop tarts, hostess donuts, Pillsbury cinnamon buns, and yes, even fluffernutter on toast, amen!
And then there was college–a place where breakfast only existed on a Sunday, and even then it happened well after 12pm.
So in retrospect, I’m not quite sure how I ended up here:
Yup, that’s right. That’s everything I used to make my breakfast this morning, and I even left out a banana and bag of frozen raspberries. Here are a few more shots…
And just so we’re clear, every morning (no matter what’s on the menu), my breakfast is this elaborate. In fact, I usually dedicate 45 minutes to my breakfast every morning, which I know sounds crazy, but once it becomes your routine, you realize how nice it is to have time to cook a warm breakfast, enjoy every bite, and relax with a cup of tea.
For today’s breakfast I had a can of pumpkin to finish off, so I made one of my favorites…
PUMPKIN PIE OATMEAL
Ingredients (makes one serving):
1 Cup Water
1 Cup Almond Milk (or any type of milk is fine)
1/2 Cup Oats (I used old fashioned oats, but instant works just fine)
1/2 Cup Spelt Flakes (I realize most people don’t buy Spelt flakes so just add another 1/2 cup of oatmeal)
1/3 Cup Pumpkin (you can buy it in a can in the baking aisle)
1 tbs. Chia Seeds (or you can add 1 tbs. of flax seeds, granola, or raisins)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 tsp. Cinnamon
And of course a sweetener of your choice sprinkled on top (sugar, honey, agave syrup, etc…)
Directions: Bring the milk and water to a boil. Add oats, spelt flakes, pumpkin, and chia seeds, and reduce heat to low. Stir well, and add vanilla, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon. Oatmeal will be ready in about 10 minutes.
For added protein (and flavor) I added a dollop of peanut butter on the top of my oatmeal, followed by some fresh blueberries. I also paired my oatmeal with a spinach egg beater omelet on the side.
Non-breakfast people have no idea what they are missing!
After first breakfast, I quickly prepared my “second breakfast” which is usually just something I eat at around 9am when I’m starving at work again.
I threw some raw almond butter on a piece of whole wheat bread and then paired that with a Green Monster Shake (I added frozen raspberries to the basic recipe).
T.T.A. Budget Friendly Tip: Buy organic fruit in the freezer aisle. The fruit doesn’t lose any of it’s nutrients, and you will save quite a bit of money, especially when it comes to strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Plus, frozen fruit works much better than regular fruit in shakes, and if you cook it in with your oatmeal, it really seeps into the oats for a lot of flavor. The only fruit I can’t stand frozen are blueberries (they never taste the same).
My second breakfast (seen here at my desk at work).
And now it’s 7:30 pm, and I’m off to eat dinner (yawn–so lame).
March 25, 2010 2 Comments
Wow, could the weather be any more incredible for ringing in the first day of spring? It’s supposed to hit 75 today!
I just had a very early wake up call. Michal and I signed up to do a 5k race in Manchester aptly titled, “Finally Spring,” and since the event was an hour away (and since we both like to eat three hours before start time), we were up at 6:30am. I’m pretty excited for the race, so waking up wasn’t much of a problem, and knowing that we were going to be eating grilled banana and peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast made me practically fly out of bed.
Grilled Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich
(a.k.a. modified Elvis sandwich)
- 2 slices whole wheat bread
- 2 tbs. peanut butter (I use a brand called Naturally More)
- 1 banana
- Honey or Agave Syrup (optional)
Directions: Just make a sandwich out of everything and then grill it in a pan or on a George Foreman for a few minutes.
We also paired a green monster shake with our breakfast.
Basic Green Monster Recipe
- 1 large banana
- 1 cup almond milk (I use Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla, but you can also use skim milk, soy milk, or hemp milk)
- 3 cups Spinach (don’t get grossed out, I SWEAR you can’t taste the spinach at all)
- Some ice
Directions: Add all ingredients into a blender. Blend for a few minutes until it’s thick and frothy. Enjoy. This recipe serves one, but Michal and I split this recipe because we didn’t want to have too much stuff in our stomach before the race.
I’m not kidding when I say that this stuff is so good that there are whole websites dedicated to the mystical powers of this drink. Instead of caffeine, I drink a green monster at work every morning, and it packs some serious energy in just 8 ounces. Proof is that my boyfriend now drinks one to two of these a day, and he is not the type to drink something green unless it tastes like candy.
Ok, I’m off to the race!
March 20, 2010 6 Comments
Hi, and welcome to my first entry in The Tiny Adventurer.
Tonight doesn’t really involve any adventures, but tomorrow is a jam packed Saturday which includes a 3.25 mile race in Manchester, lunch at a vegan restaurant named ION, and then a 7 course dinner party being hosted by my friend Mike. I’m pretty excited to ring in the first day of spring with all these exciting activities.
Tonight Michal and I just lounged around in our pajamas, and cooked a nice pre-race dinner of “burgers and fries,” but as you’ll see below we made a few healthy modifications.
We made the fries from scratch out of sweet potatoes, and they came out incredible….
Sweet Potato Fries Recipe (serves 2)
What You’ll Need:
2 large sweet potatoes
1 egg white (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp olive oil (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Wash sweet potatoes thoroughly, and then peel them (removing the skins is NOT required, and I typically leave one with skin and one without to give the fries some variation in texture). Slice the sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch to 1 inch sections. In a large bowl or zip lock bag, combine the sweet potato slices, egg white, paprika, and cinnamon. Mix until the potatoes are coated thoroughly. Cover a baking sheet with tin foil, and then coat it with cooking spray (don’t forget to do this or else the fries will stick to the pan!). Spread the fries out onto the pan, and then place them in the oven. Cook for 15 minutes, and then take out the pan to flip the fries and move them around a bit. Put them back into the oven for 15 more minutes (some ovens might take longer), then remove them from the oven and enjoy.
I highly recommend this as an inexpensive dish to serve at any occasion, and if you have a spice cabinet, the variations of this recipe are endless. And on a very important side note, sweet potatoes are a super food with a very long list of health benefits, so this is one of the best ways to satisfy a savory food craving without breaking the bank or doing damage to your health.
For the burger portion of our dinner, I had a turkey burger which I made from scratch, while Michal opted for two veggie Boca burgers. We used the George Foreman to grill them, and then topped them with suateed mushrooms and onions, pepper jack cheese, bib lettuce, ketchup, and whole wheat toast. I’ll end this entry by leaving you one more picture of Michal holding our very satisfying and budget-friendly dinner.
Alright, time for bed now, but hopefully this will be the first of many more entries to come!
March 19, 2010 1 Comment