Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Soup It Up!


As it turns out, being a senior English Education major in her final semester before student teaching is extremely stressful. When I'm not in class, I'm tutoring. When I'm not tutoring, I'm observing or giving lessons in nearby high schools. When I'm not doing that, I'm giving mock lessons in my labs. When I'm not in lab, I'm waitressing at the pizzeria. When I'm not waitressing, I'm doing homework. And when I'm not doing homework, I'm sleeping.

Or eating.

I might have taken on a little too much this fall. But that's okay, because I've had plenty of soup to keep me warm and cozy and sane.

Since the beginning of the school year, I have made three different soups (not counting chili). All thanks to this baby:

My immersion blender is seriously the most used appliance in my kitchen. It's almost frustrating that it's never clean when I need it, because I often use it multiple times a day. Smoothies, soup, pasta sauces, etc.

Potato Corn Chowder

I essentially made a pureed potato soup, and then cut the corn off the cob and added it in. Only four ingredients: onion, vegetable broth, potatoes, and corn. Everything but the broth came from the farmers market! Vegan, local, and organic. Just the way I like it.

Potato Soup

I used the leftovers from the other soup. And garnished it with fresh rosemary growing from the pail on my balcony. :) Three ingredients: onion, broth, potatoes.

Roasted Acorn Squash Soup

I've never actually had squash before. Or at least acorn squash. Admittedly, I had to ask Google how to roast a squash. But the experience was a positive one! I ended up eating spoonfuls of it before dumping it in the soup. 

So I've done the whole pureed soup thing. Now I'm going to try my hand at hearty, chunky soups. With lots of beans.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lunch: Meatless Chili Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries

My dream come true: owning a camera that can capture steam rising from hot food.

My other dream come true: this lunch. Wowza. Jennie Perillo's lentil burgers + my meatless chili + oven baked sweet potato fries = heaven.

I wish I would have had a darker backdrop to capture the steam better, but at the time I was too eager to eat. :) So I was taking those pictures as fast as I possibly could!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Do you eat breakfast? I do.

I've become so accustomed to preparing elaborate breakfasts for myself that I often forget my peers usually just eat a bowl of Frosted Flakes or some Hot Fudge Sundae Pop Tarts. Or, even more likely, they eat nothing at all.

Which is a shame. Besides all the health benefits of breakfast, I can't imagine having one less meal every day. I plan meals hours ahead of time. I think about them. And count down toward them. And drool over the thought of them. I already only get three a day; I couldn't possibly settle for two.

And breakfast has slowly become my favorite meal of the day. I used to think of breakfast food as sugary cereal, white flour pancakes, and frosting-covered rolls. All of which made me MISERABLE. As someone who suffers from IBS, nothing makes me more bloated and crampy than traditional breakfast food.

Then I discovered oatmeal. I originally tried it as an attempt to include more soluble fiber in my diet (because of the IBS thing). I started with the instant packets, and eventually weaned myself onto preparing my own on the stove with old-fashioned rolled oats. Which I recommend to everyone. Because seriously, what's more appetizing to you: "maple and brown sugar oatmeal," or "oats cooked in almond milk with banana, raisins, cinnamon, and almonds"? I choose the latter.

But I've become obsessed with breakfast. Omelettes, toast, smoothies, whole wheat pancakes/waffles, muesli, any sort of porridge, egg sandwiches, etc. I find that being excited for breakfast helps me get up early, which is why I never sleep past 9.

And since I know many people who find breakfast a pain to prepare, I decided to log my efforts for a week, just for fun. :)

Rules for my breakfasts:
1. At least one serving of fruits or vegetables must be included.
2. Be diverse (ex: don't overdo grains, like having oatmeal with toast).
3. The entire breakfast must reach at least 400 calories, which is usually done by pairing two things (ex: oatmeal and smoothie, eggs and toast, etc.).
4. Some good form of protein should be present (peanut butter, eggs, almonds).
5. No meat.
6. Keep dairy to a minimum (dairy is an IBS trigger). I use almond milk for everything, but when I use cheese, I use it sparingly.

DISCLAIMER: None of my classes start before 10, so no, I'm not in a hurry these mornings. However, I worked at 8 AM all summer, and I still got up early enough to prepare these same breakfasts.


Broccoli and cheddar omelette; banana, peach, and almond smoothie
My smoothies are rarely any color besides green. Unfortunately, I'm not stocked in spinach at the moment. This meal took me quite a while to prepare--nearly half an hour. My breakfasts rarely take more than fifteen minutes to put together, but the steaming of the broccoli and pealing the peaches were quite time-consuming.

Also, my smoothies are always vegan. I use frozen bananas to get that creamy texture. You're aware that blended, frozen bananas have the same consistency as soft-serve ice cream, right? RIGHT?! I buy giant bags of overripe bananas for $.99 at my local grocery store, and then I slice them up and store them in the freezer. Super cost effective.

Muesli with fresh peaches and almond milk; toast with peanut butter and jelly

I fell in love with muesli when I was in Ireland. I had never had it before then. Europe has a fantastic brand called "Alpen," and I ate it every single morning over there, except once, when it wasn't provided (darn you, Shannon Court Hotel!). Over here, I've struggled to find a brand that compares. Right now, I'm settling for Bob's Red Mill Old Country Style Muesli. It's okay. But it's certainly not Alpen.

This breakfast took me about ten minutes to prepare, most of which (once again) went to pealing the peach.

Chocolate-peanut butter-banana smoothie; oatmeal with peaches

This is my most typical breakfast: smoothie and oatmeal. It may be a stretch to call my banana ice cream a smoothie, but at the end of the day, it's frozen blended fruit--a smoothie. I made it super thick this morning so it would actually be the consistency of ice cream instead of an actual smoothie. And the source of the chocolate comes from a splash of Silk's Dark Chocolate Almond Milk. Just enough to add a hint of chocolate and help liquify the mixture. Oh, and the oatmeal... Fantastic. :)

This breakfast took about ten minutes to prepare. I did not peal the peach this time. ;)

Oatmeal-banana pancakes with spiced peaches and granola

Are you ready for this? Forty minutes. Yes, I spent forty minutes preparing this little beauty. But:
  1. It was worth it.
  2. It was time consuming only because I had to grill an entire batch of pancakes, meaning I'll have leftovers! Another morning, all I'll have to do is reheat that puppy. :) So time spent now is time saved later.
  3. I don't have class until 3 today. So I'm in absolutely no hurry. ;)
The pancakes are vegan, which I love because I can eat the raw batter without fear (no eggs!). I encourage you to check out the recipe; it contains no refined flours or sugars, and it will make your house smell like banana bread. I almost always use vegan recipes for pancakes and waffles, simply so I don't use up my precious eggs as fast (and so I can lick the batter from the spoon...).

The spiced peaches...mmm. I wanted to do something resembling a peach compote, but all the recipes I looked at included a truckload of sugar. What? They're peaches. They don't need sugar! So I just chopped up the peaches and heated them up in a saucepan with cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg, and I let all of it simmer until the juice thickened, as if I were making a reduction sauce. It worked beautifully. And it was plenty sweet.

Egg sandwich on multigrain thin bun; banana-peach-almond smoothie
Say hello to my new camera! I spent more time photographing my food than I did preparing it, which was only 10-15 minutes. I used to make this sandwich with a slice of American cheese, but I'm trying to eliminate that particular cheese from my diet. I've been ignoring how processed it is for a long time, but I'm finally forcing myself to accept the fact that it needs to go. :)

So that's five days of breakfasts in my life! Two things stick out as unusual:
  1. All the peaches! This week has been quite a luxury.
  2. None of my smoothies are green. My smoothies are almost always green. I really need to get to the store and buy some spinach.
Looking over these pictures make me smile. My brother told me once last week that I use more dishes preparing breakfast than he does over the course of the whole day. I denied it at the time...but I knew deep down that he was absolutely correct. ;)

Buon appetito!