Saturday, November 26, 2016

#happylist 11/25/16

Nothing like a list of the things you're most thankful for to start off the morning on a grounded, gratuitous foot. 

Nom-Nom Namaste

I never used to eat breakfast. I never had time, never found the point, and never was interested in the sugary treats of the 90’s that my friends gobbled up, nor any other breakfast staple, nutritional value aside.
In becoming an older, wiser, more informed individual (or so I would like to hope!), I’ve developed my own breakfast routine. And in making my breakfast every morning, there is a sort of solitude and sanctuary, a method that is meditative, and without it, I’m often frazzled (as silly as it sounds) for the first few hours of the day, not having had the time to take everything in and digest. Literally and figuratively.
Mind you, I’m no breakfast aficionado. Sure, I can make a mean French toast or bread pudding for a Sunday brunch for my parents, and have been known to make some weeknight-saving pancakes and frittata meals for a dinner on the fly, but eat these foods on a regular basis in the morning I do not. And true to being an amateur cook, I can’t really do much with an egg that doesn’t turn into something disastrous on the plate. Albeit it tasty, the majority of the time!
I stick with two good ol’ staples that I think I’ve perfected and over-complicated beyond all good reason, but the work for me, and keep me powered until the late-morning munchies hit, or lunchtime lolls around.
In hitting all of the necessary food groups, my breakfasts are combinations of the following formula (WARNING: Serious Math Ahead)

Oatmeal/yogurt (Usually instant (The result of time restraints and my stunning incompetence with overnight oat-making (four times, four gloopy jars of ‘No-way-am-I-getting-near-that”); Always without added sugars and other nonsense that no one really needs.)
+ Fruit (Especially in the summer months, half of my kitchen counter is a veritable mini fruit market with tons of variety, because I’d have it no other way; Sometimes, for the insta, I’ll go all out and chopped, sliced, fanned, and enticingly; Now that the temperatures are dropping, I’ve found myself craving warm, melty fruity toppings as opposed to the crisper (and often frozen) crunchy fruit that was the staple of summer for me. In a small pot, bring the fruit to a slight boil in tea or water with tons of warm spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric, Chinese five-spice) until piping hot and syrupy)
+Dry-roasted nuts & seeds (Bought in bulk (raw) and roasted with all different kinds of spices, some sweet and some savory; Delicious as a breakfast add in, convenient snack or addition to a cheese platter or salad.)
+ Spices (Yes. I’m weird. I season my yogurt, oatmeal, and fruit. It brings out in-depth fruity flavors, makes each day a little different, and why not? You season every other meal, right? )
 + TEA (Essential. Interchangeable with coffee, often is combined as a dirty tea latte, or tea followed by coffee, or coffee followed by a tea latte…..(I’m not an avid fan of either beverage, as you can tell.)

A project? Only to get the essentials prepared.
After that, it’s a guarantee that my morning starts off on the right note , my nutritious nom-nom Namaste, as it were.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

#happylist 11/18/16

Its been a weird several weeks, and all I can say is that a much-needed infusion of all things that keep me centered was long overdue. Details to follow in another post soon, but really, truly, there's no place like home.

Friday, November 11, 2016

#Happylist 11/11/16

I opted to type out today’s list, as the photograph that I took for instagram was as foggy and unappealing as the wonderful weather we’ve had lately. Coincidence? I think not. Terrible photography skills desperately requiring improvement? Much more likely.

I promise to work on it, for the sake of the blog and everyone’s eyes!

Things I like 11/11:
·     Making a wish (11/11, dudes!)
·     Spaghetti squash, caramelized
·     Hot cacao nib lattes (mugs with steam lines = my spirit emoji, for real.)
·     Thanksgiving menu planning!
·     A new black tea phase
·     Surprising, positive results

Saturday, November 5, 2016

I've Bean Roasting....

In an attempt to be more frugal, slightly vegan, and diversify my ‘versatile-as-ever’ recipe repertoire, I’ve looked to bean salads that can be dressed up or down, mashed and spread onto toast, or my favorite, piled high and wrapped up tight in a lettuce or cabbage wrap as the ultimate vegan veggie vehicle for a satisfying meal.

This recipe got its roots from Alexandra Stafford’s Sweet Potatoes Stuffed with Black Beans, which I’ve made and love. I decided to try roasting the beans in the oven with the vegetables to make it a one-pan meal that, in theory, could be prepped alongside of another dish to multitask and make preparation for a week’s worth of lunches (or dinner!) all the easier.

I usually roast a whole pumpkin or two, break it down, and save it in Ziploc bags in the freezer, taking one bag out at a time to use during the week. To crisp up the edges of the pumpkin, I always re-heat it in the oven, giving it the twice-baked treatment, and I’ve found that a sprinkle of cinnamon and/or nutmeg, combined with a savory flavor, like onion or garlic, brings out the flavor of the pumpkin, the warmth of fall, and adds unique texture to any dish. Hence the nutmeg. A happy accident, it appears that nutmeg deepens the smoky flavor of the cumin, and works exceptionally and surprisingly well with black beans. Who knew!?

Also, don’t stop at using pumpkin! Any winter squash or sweet potato would be wonderful in its stead.

That said, I wish you happy roasting!

Tray Roasted Black Bean Salad with Citrus
·      1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
·      1 medium onion, cut into quarters
·      2 cups cooked pumpkin (feel free to substitute with any kind of winter squash or sweet potatoes)
·      1 tablespoon cumin
·      2 teaspoons nutmeg
·      2 teaspoons paprika
·      Salt and pepper to taste
·      Juice of ½ orange, 1 lemon, or your favorite, seasonal citrus of choice

Make it happen:
  •     Line a baking tray with parchment paper, and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  •   Cut the pumpkin into ½ inch cubes, and quarter the onions. Lay the pumpkin cubes out on the parchment paper for roasting.
  •   In a small bowl, combine the spices, and sprinkle about ¼ of the mix over the pumpkin cubes. Roast in the oven until just beginning to dry out, about 20 minutes.
  •     Add the onion quarters to the pan, sprinkle with another ¼ of the seasoning, and continue roasting.
  •  Rinse and drain the black beans in a colander, shaking off all excess water; dress with ½ of the citrus juice. When the onions just start to caramelize, remove the tray from the oven and gently push the vegetables to one side of the parchment, making room for the beans.  Lay the beans out on the parchment paper and put the pan back in the oven until the beans are toasty and warm, about 15 minutes. The skins on some of the beans may begin to peel back and curl at this point – that’s when everything is done!
  •    Pour the remaining citrus juice and seasoning into the bottom of a bowl, and add the beans and vegetables on top. Toss gently to coat and break the onion quarters up slightly, and either serve warm with chopped veggies, lettuce wraps, and toast or crostini (or crackers, but really…toast.) or chill overnight and enjoy at room temperature for lunch for the week ahead! 

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Happiest of Lists

A while back, Food52 posted an awesome article about creating a list on a regular basis of the things that make us happy. But this list isn’t the things of grandeur, like immense wealth, a Ferrari, or the like; instead it’s a reminder that the little things in life matter, and can actually bring us more joy than anything else.  A quiet moment to sip a particularly well-brewed cup of coffee while the sun rises, a smile from a stranger on a bad day, or a new way of thinking about an old problem that changes the game plan in the best way possible, born of a random epiphany while walking your dog, these singular spotlights of life’s gems to us (the few and occasional that it throws our way) are worth remembering and writing down, so that we can appreciate them more, and remember that maybe it will all be okay, and if shared, that we’re really not alone in this.

I started making my happy lists every Friday morning, a ritual of just a couple of minutes to reflect on the week and figure out exactly what made it all worth it. I post them regularly on my instagram, and will start posting them here as well. I challenge you to try it for a month – just four Fridays, or Wednesdays, or whatever you choose- and see if you don’t wind up finding that there really are some hidden treasures in the everyday. You just have to remember to celebrate them accordingly.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

On Celebrating the Everyday...

I would like to say that I'm one of those super-adaptable individuals who rolls with the punches with feline agility, and thrives on the excitement of spontaneity and thrill seeking.....but that would be more of my mother, or pretty much anyone else on the world than myself. Adapt I can, and I don't eschew change like the plague, but I've always been a sucker for the comforts of a routine and ample preparedness. 

However, I can't say that in my daily routine I haven't found a lulling monotony from time to time, ebbing and flowing over shores of security and stability, and that which I unconsciously seek out. It can get boring, admittedly, but quirky resourcefulness has lead me to find some small ways to liven things up and keep the everyday not so ordinary all the time. 

One of the best, probably strangest, habits I've developed is checking the national day calendar, a collection of day-by-day little known holidays that are worth celebrating if not only for their obscurity. For example, today, November 01,2016, is National Calzone Day (spinach, garlic, and cheese, please!). 

The bigger lesson, though, is that everyday there should be a celebration of some kind, something that you look to for smile and a kick to your step, because we all know that outside our front door there is too much casting a looming, dark shadow on life and the few, small precious pieces it offers to us in the long run. 

I look forward to my mini- celebrations each day. It's something different, new, and not ordinary. It's the kind of surprise I can handle every single morning without having an existential breakdown, or at the very least, feeling like a chicken without its proverbial head. 

So the ultimate question that I pose to you, is, in this moment, right now, on this day, what are you celebrating? From the invention of the order-ahead phone app for Starbucks to the introduction of new life into the world, no occasion is too meek or meager so long as it provides joy. These celebrations speak to the very nature and backbone of our lives and ourselves, and if more people openly celebrated and celebrated together, a new thread of society weaving us together over some of the better things in life could be drawn, and our routines -or spontaneous adventures, even- could become all the more enriching.