Blackberries, not BlackBerry

It’s been much too long since I posted anything, but suffice it to say that I’ve been eating.  Too much.  Eating too much.  Eating too much sugar, to be precise.

Sigh.

Yes, I’m a non-blogging bottomless pit as of late, and so I’ve decided to go refined carbohydrate-free for seven days to get things back to normal.  Has my sweet tooth subsided?  Somewhat, yes.  I find it easier to say N-O to the many muffins and bagels that are set out at work for the pickin’ (and free!) at the 4:00 hour, but it doesn’t mean that I still don’t want something specifically un-savory after dinner.

Take it away, blackberries.  I forgot you existed except as a way to keep me chained to friends/family/work at all hours of the day!

IMG_0273

Oh, pretty!

And sorta weird-lookin’!

Saw them at the co-op this week and snatched them up at a good price, despite being past peak season.  They’re organic, to boot.  I’ve mostly been stirring them into my Fage Total 0% yogurt but may try them in a morning smoothie soon.

Want the nutritionals for 1 cup?

nutrition

High in fiber (a whopping 8 grams!) and high in Vitamin C!  Yay!

Sure, a good portion of calories are from sugars, but yo, those are natural sugars and when paired with the fiber, don’t cause spikes in your glucose levels like, say, that evil Fat-Free Berry-Full Muffin That Waits for Me at 4pm.

(Listen:  a piece of fruit is not a candy bar, Dr. Atkins.)

If I ever get around to pairing blackberrries with savory flavors, I’ll try this.

How do you like your blackberries?

handwriting

Pick-a-pepper

One of my favorite things about Sunday is actually having the time to plan and cook meals for the week.  Today, after an hour of weight training and an hour of yoga at the gym (my first time there in a week!), I hit the co-op and noticed these pretty peppers…

IMG_0247

Remembering that I had some frozen black-eyed peas still lurking in the back of my freezer from a month ago, I was inspired to stuff the peppers with the peas.  My first thought was to also buy some soysage, cajun seasoning, and kale or collard greens to make a creole-flavored dish, but truth be told, I spotted Follow Your Heart vegan soy cheese at a low price, whose package proudly claimed “It Melts!”

(Now, most vegan cheese doesn’t melt.  Why not?  Because it doesn’t include something called casein, a milk protein that makes your average soy cheese ooey and gooey.  I figured this stuff wouldn’t melt, either, but I was willing to try it out.)

((Spoiler alert:  it doesn’t melt.))

Oh, and I spied this lovely organic cilantro, which begged to be chopped…

IMG_0253

…and so, I decided to pair the black-eyed peas with chile powder, cumin, salt, roasted garlic salsa, mix in the cilantro and top with the cheese.  While I’d usually use black or pinto beans for this dish, it was an easy way to try something unexpected.

The peppers are ready to be blanched and stuffed!

IMG_0259

The peppers are ready to be baked!

IMG_0260

I baked ‘em at 350 degrees for 25 minutes and then topped each half with a slice of the cheese.  I baked the dish for about 10 minutes more, determined to get that cheese to melt.

IMG_0263Nope.  Didn’t melt.

I do declare, however, that these shall be perfect for dinner tonight and to bring to work for lunch a few times this week!

Now, how do you stuff your veggies?  And do you have a favorite soy cheese?

handwriting

Ch-ch-ch-chia!

I’m going to ask you to trust me on this.

Yes, you can eat chia seeds.

chiapetsYes, that chia.

Not only am I going to ask you to trust me on this, I’m going to ask you to run out and buy some today.  Why?  Because if you’re like me, you don’t eat enough fish to get your essential omega-3 fatty acids and, if you’re like me, you’ve had a  bag of flax seeds in your freezer for a year but haven’t finally purchased a grinder to use them.  (Note:  you gotta grind up those flax seeds before you use ‘em, and the pre-ground flax can go rancid quickly.)

“But, Jen”, you ask, “why do I even give a fig about omega-whatzit-fatty-huh?”

I’ll tell you why, tough guy!

Because according to the American Heart Association, a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids has been found to:

  • decrease risk of arrhythmias, which can lead to sudden cardiac death
  • decrease triglyceride levels
  • decrease growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque
  • lower blood pressure (slightly)

(That means a healthier heart and a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease.)

“But what does this all have to do with ch-ch-ch-chia seeds?”

Chia seeds are incredibly rich in something called alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA), which converts to omega-3 fatty acids in your body, like magic!  Even better, they’re even richer in the ALA than flax aaaaand you don’t have to grind ‘em up.  They’re also a good source of fiber and according to Dr. Andrew Weil:

…when added to water and allowed to sit for 30 minutes, chia forms a gel. Researchers suggest that this reaction also takes place in the stomach, slowing the process by which digestive enzymes break down carbohydrates and convert them into sugar.”

(That means you may end up feeling fuller for longer.)

“So, okay, okay, fine.  I’ll try the darn things.  But how?”

I’m glad you asked.

Sprinkle them on your cereal, throw them into a smoothie, blend them with yogurt, top a salad with a tablespoon.  Be creative. Yesterday, I made a morning smoothie with the following:

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 10 frozen strawberries
  • 1 T chia seeds
  • 1 T oat bran
  • 1 T agave nectar
  • 1 T soy protein powder
  • 1 c. unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 c. water

I had enough energy to completely reorganize my desk and get work done that I’d been putting off for months!  I was a regular Superwoman and I’ll thank the chia seeds for that.

And see how pretty they are?  Like little stones!

IMG_0246

IMG_0244

So, you have your mission.  Buy a bag at your local natural food store or co-op.  (Um, yeah, don’t eat the ones that come in the Chia Pet box, thanks.)

Try them and see what you think.

And don’t worry.  You won’t sprout green hair.

handwriting



Pee Chee

I spied some gorgeous peaches at the co-op the other day and suddenly remembered that tomorrow brings a) an employee’s birthday and b) another employee’s farewell soiree AND I had promised my staff that I would bring something sweet.  Rather than bake a cake (expected, boring), I felt inspired to use that luscious fruit in something simple.

Like a tart.

IMG_0193

Using this as a bit of a guide, and instead of making a free-form galette, I lined my 11″ round tart pan with defrosted puff pastry.  Slathered some peach preserves on top.  Sliced up five ripe, juicy peaches.  Made a pretty spiral pattern.  Brushed the whole impressive mess with Earth Balance and sprinkled with raw sugar.  Into the oven at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes it went.

Voila!

IMG_0194

Splendid!

IMG_0199

(And here’s another shot, just because.)

IMG_0198

handwriting

Bon appetit!

Thanks to my trivia prowess, I won tickets from from this fabulous site, I was able to see the sneak of “Julie & Julia” last night — and was able to bring a friend, to boot!

julie_and_julia_ver2

Loved it. 

Meryl Streep was spot-on as Julia Child.  Talk about a charmer!  I think I’ll finally crack open her biography that was given to me as a gift over a year ago.  And boy, did I understood Julie Powell’s malaise.  I left the theater thinking about what I could passionately tackle to get me out of my current funk.  (I won’t bother you, dear reader, with explaining that.) 

If only I had someone to cook for every single night!  If I tackled a project like hers, I’d gain at least 30 pounds right out of the gate.

I’m in a pickle

Though I’ve tried canning once and it was all very pretty, the strawberry jam didn’t really taste all that yummy and my fear of botulism was never quite quelled.  I think a few of those jars are still tucked away in my mom’s pantry somewhere.  She doesn’t have the heart to throw ‘em out.

Fast forward to two weeks ago and, while at the coop, I spied some lovely Kirby cukes. “Maybe I’ll give that canning another try,” I thought.

Oh, but I’d still have to, like, sterilize everything by boiling the cans in my tiny kitchen and well… let’s just say I’m lazy.  (And maybe still afraid of botulism.) I like the idea of canning — of keeping the flavors of summer around for months — but, well, let’s just say I’m lazy.

My happy medium? I’ll just pickle, using this recipe.  No sterilization!  No stove work, at all!  Sure, I won’t be able to tuck away the pickles for winter, but that’s fine.  Sure, it’s not canning, but that’s fine.  It kinda looks like canning.  Think of this as more of a two-week science project.  I merely wanted to see  if I could actually turn those cutie cucumbers into something piquant that would pair well with my mock meat and soy cheese sandwiches.

(Okay, I know that doesn’t sound very appetizing, but bear with me.)

Here’s the mason (actually, an old well-known brand of pasta sauce) jar…

IMG_0184

Obviously straight out of the fridge and out into the humid Brooklyn air.  Note that condensation!

IMG_0183

And some arty shots of the finished product…

IMG_0186

IMG_0191

IMG_0189

Success!

Next time I’ll use less sugar, as I prefer my pickles extra-tart and spicy and garlicky, but it was a good go ’round.  I’ve considered pickling green beans or okra next to use as accoutrement for a good ol’ Bloody Mary.

So, yes.  Try this yourself.  You’ll feel just like a modern-day Laura Ingalls.  Promise.

handwriting

Tra la la

The day started with a watery smoothie.

Nothing is less appealing than a watery smoothie, no?  Ughhh.

Still, kinda pretty.

IMG_0107

(1 T. soy protein powder, 1 c. unsweetened (not vanilla!) almond milk, 1/2 frozen banana, 1 c. frozen mixed berries, 1 T. oat bran, 1 squirt agave nectar, a few ice cubes, a cup or more of water — if only because nothing seemed to be mixing well.  Tomorrow?  No water.  That blender will just have to earn its keep!)

IMG_0110

See?  Ice.  I need a new blender.  If you’d like to buy me a Vita-Mix, I won’t grumble.

And then it was a Larabar for that mid-day snack, prior to Pilates.  It was necessary, because that dang icy smoothie didn’t fill me up worth a darn.

IMG_0112

Went to Pilates.  Good good good.  Didn’t sweat much, though, and so maybe I didn’t really WORK OUT.  I usually sweat watching television, so the lack of sweat worries me.

Gobbled my vit-a-mins.

IMG_0114

Ate my lunch.  (Whole wheat sandwich thins, Dr. P’s Cali Burger, organic green leaf lettuce, Sriracha, spicy mustard.)

IMG_0116

Oh, and these.

IMG_0122

And then at 4pm-ish, I had some tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, pretending that it was a big o’ sandwich.

IMG_0118

On the way to the train after work, I passed Bryant Park, where individuals were engaging in some FREE YOGA.

What follows is some of my favorite pictures of individuals engaging in free yoga, like, EVER.

IMG_0124

IMG_0125

IMG_0127

IMG_0126

(Especially Mr. I’ll Take A Nap, Ladies, While You Work Out.)

Heading home on the B train.

IMG_0128

Now waiting for the Q.

IMG_0131

Oh, here it comes.

IMG_0133

My neighborhood.  (Yeah, my Brooklyn actually does look like Athens, GA / Main Street USA.  Nice, right?)

IMG_0135

IMG_0144

IMG_0140

IMG_0141

See y’all tomorrow!

handwriting