Spring Dinner: Black Bean Quinoa Burger with Asparagus and Fava Beans

As I mentioned in my Daily Prompt-inspired post today, my intention for the week is to take more risks. I bought fava beans and green garlic at the store today to push myself outside of my comfort zone. Once I was cooking, I realized I have already cooked with green garlic probably around this time last year. I just bought everything that looked good in the produce department today and then looked up recipes. I found a great explanation about how to prepare fava beans from Martha Stewart and also ideas about what flavors pair well together: asparagus and almonds. Since I was trying such new ingredients together, I paired that recipe with an old favorite that I am really comfortable making: Vegetarian Times‘ Black bean Quinoa Burgers.

I followed the Vegetarian Times recipe exactly, but I added an extra 3/4 cup black beans or so because I was using a 23 oz can instead of a 15 oz can. I added it with the beans and quinoa(after the food processing step). Also I cooked the finished patties on parchment paper not a cookie sheet with oil. Usually I use my own oven dried tomatoes, so I have to add some oil, but today I had an open jar of sun-dried tomatoes to use. I don’t have steak seasoning–what vegetarian does?–so I used a medley of seasonings I had on hand. I served the burgers with a quick avocado-poblano guacamole. Corn and/or tomatoes are also a good addition to the guacamole.

My husband and I ate 3 patties each and Biddi (23 months old) ate 2 patties! That is definitely a lot of food, but we didn’t have any bread with the meal so I feel like it was the right portion for dinner. I would eat it again tomorrow it was so good!

The myfitnesspal app from UnderArmour says the Asparagus is 324 calories, the guac is 134 calories, and the burgers are 171 calories each, for a grand total of almost 1,000 calories. But the best calories ever-monounsaturated fats in the avocado and olive oils. 43 grams of protein(72% RDA), 42 grams of fiber (170% of daily minimum according to MyFitnessPal)! I have been consuming mass quantities of veggies like this for 18 months and I have lost 40 pounds as a result, and so has my husband. So I don’t buy in to the “calorie is a calorie” thinking.

I spent my first 6 months post-partum eating 1200 calories a day of granola, diet coke, OJ, and yogurt and ended up hungry all the time and gaining 5 pounds! I now literally eat fruits, nuts, and unlimited olive oil and veggies some days…and other days I don’t eat until lunchtime if I had an especially filling dinner the night before.

It took about an hour and a half or two hours to cook this entire meal, but I am really familiar with the quinoa-black bean burger recipe, having made it about 5-6 times. My husband made it once and it took him a little longer. I think the investment of time pays off in the long run, real food tastes so good and is so filling. Every night when we have dinner I express gratitude that I am able to take care of my family and myself by providing a healthful, nutritious, plant-based meal…Namaste

Black Bean Quinoa Burgers (makes 8 patties)

  • 23 oz can black beans drained and washed- separated into 3/4 cup and the remainder
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 onion–Vidalias are in season right now!!!
  • about 10 sun dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup quinoa(or 365 Whole Foods “Supergrains” blend)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 Teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cajun seasoning

Cooking Method

Spring Dinner- Burger Patties

  1. Preheat oven to 375 on Convection roast, or about 400 on regular Baking setting
  2. Add quinoa to 1 1/2 cup water and boil; cover and simmer for 20 minutes. After it is done, remove the lid and let the quinoa dry out some–I measure out 3/4 cup quinoa for the food processor right away and leave the remainder of quinoa in the pot on the stove while the stove is preheating to help evaporate some water.
  3. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add onion and sun-dried tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes
  4. Add herbs and garlic and 3/4 cup black beans and 1 1/2 cup water
  5. simmer 10-15 minutes until water evaporates (I think this will vary based on the size and shape of the skillet)
  6. Add onion-bean-tomato-herb mixture to the 3/4 cup cooked quinoa in the food processor, blend until smooth about 30-60 seconds on pulse mode
  7. Add mixture to remaining quinoa and add remaining black beans (about 2 cups)
  8. Use 1/4 cup measure cup to measure out patties. They will be sticky and messy!
  9. Place patties on parchment-lined sheet pan in oven for 20 minute
  10. Flip patties–carefully so as to not split them open–and cook an additional 10 minutes

Poblano Guac (Serves 2)

  • 2 poblano peppers
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 cloves garlic

Methodspring-dinner-roasting-poblanos-e1495593517356.jpg

  1. Mash garlic using molcajete or chop/mince with knife
  2. Add avocado and continue to mash
  3. Fire-roast poblano peppers over open flam eor in oven
  4. Peel and seed poblanos
  5. Chop poblanos
  6. fold poblanos in to the avocado and mix until smooth

Asparagus and Fava Beans with Almonds (serves 2)

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh fava beans, shelled
  • 1 bunch green garlic
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup almonds (slivered or sliced or chopped)

    Cooking Method

  1. Shell Fava Beans and add to boiling water for 3 minutes

  2. Drain and move to ice bath to shock them and cool them for peeling
  3. Peel each bean of the thick skin–they will go from a lima bean light-green color to an edamame bright-green color
  4. Remove roots of green garlic and slice the whites: bulb/stems
  5. Separate that bulb/stems from greens/shoots and chop those separately
  6. Heat the olive oil and add garlic whites for about 3-5 minutes
  7. Add asparagus and cook for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally
  8. Add cooked fava beans and garlic greens and cook another 3 minutes

Spring Dinner- Black Bean Burger with Poblano Guac and ApsaragusThe meal was great but I was hustling more than usual so I didn’t get to take a ton of pictures. The picture above is pretty sloppy but it was an amazing meal.

 

Launching the Catapult: the ittyBIDDI Shop

My intention for the week, set during yoga yesterday, is to take more risks. I have gotten really comfortable in my routine and am feeling like I have mastered this “mom” thing for the moment. Although the “baby” is mere days away from entering the official Terrible Twos so perhaps I am premature in seeking a new challenge. I bought fresh fava beans and green garlic today, which are both pretty intimidating, so I think I am on the right trajectory.

In terms of trying new things outside the kitchen, I have decided to get my Etsy shop up and running. I have a backlog of inventory (toddler dresses) and corresponding blog posts that I need to get online so I can figure out my customer and get “feedback,” a less intimidating way to talk about what my time and design aesthetic is worth on the marketplace…could be $0.00.

It is so scary to put myself out there, but writing this blog has been a great way to try and expand my boundaries and take a risk. So I am really looking to catapult myself to the next level. And that is a really apt metaphor- quick, efficient, fast, and once that cord is cut there is no going back!

I am trying to bring all the familiarities of my normal day to the new scary venture. I have made a to-do list and a skeleton of a business plan to hold myself accountable, anything to make me feel in control when I am really so overwhelmed.  I am trying to set up the checks and balances so that I keep on track, and I know in theory what steps to take, but it’s been so long since I had an independent project!

As a tutor specializing in executive functioning, I typically help students to manage their workload by doing these exact things: setting mini-goals, chunking assignments into smaller deliverables, avoiding procrastination. And that is the real problem; I set up my Etsy shop in November but haven’t done anything with it!

This blog has even become a comfortable way to evade sewing and costing garments, and especially actually putting them up for sale. There is so much to do and learn so I know I will make mistakes and that is scary. I know the long-term earning potential of the Etsy shop is pretty limited by what I can do manually and what I value my time to be worth. The next step would be bringing a sewing production facility into the equation; that is almost too overwhelming to think about. That goes takes my venture from medieval catapult to jet-powered rocket–way more dangerous and in a whole different league. And putting the cart before the horse is another great way to procrastinate.

Vegan Tofu Scramble

Wonderful morning and great lunch! I was up until 2 AM last night and thankfully,  Biddi slept in until 9:30! Usually if I am up late she likes to wake up extra early,so this was a great respite for me. We had a fun time reading books until we went on a shopping trip to Target–“Red Cart!!” she screams whenever she realizes where we are. I have heard recommendations to keep brands away from young children but how that is possible when you are taking them around the world, I have no idea. She is even pointing out characters that I have never introduced to her and it is so surprising, she is just a little sponge!

At the store, my husband and I decided to do a burrito-style wraps/mexican salad idea for lunch. When our little fly-on-the-wall heard that conversation, she started saying “rice, rice, rice.” So we added rice to the lunch menu and I mentally shifted the beans from the inside of the burrito to a side dish. We grabbed a variety of salsas–I love Frontera salsas and had never tried the double roasted tomato before. I would prefer a homemade salsa, but it was not in the cards today. We got home at 1:00, which is usually nap-time for Biddi so I wanted everything to be done by the time the rice finished in 45 minutes and I also didn’t have enough ingredients on hand to make a great raw salsa with depth of flavor.

Another similar tofu scramble that is I love to make uses al pastor style seasoning–heated guajillo and adobo chiles and pineapple and red onion…yum! And with that recipe, the leftover guajillo salsa is great over tortilla strips as breakfast chilaquiles.

For this recipe, I used a head of broccoli that is 2-3 days away from being not-great, so I started with that, keeping the floret stems to eat as well. Cauliflower and carrots are also great to pair with this type of Mexican meal. Pickled jalapenos also make a great topping in the burrito or on the salad; the vinegar flavor adds another layer.

Tofu Scramble- Ingredients.jpg

Tofu Scramble Wrap Ingredients (serves 4)

1 wraps per person (optional, this can be served as a salad, too)

1/2 cup greens per person, I used red and green leaf, butter lettuce, parsley, oregano, and mesclun greens

1 tomato per person, diced*

1/4 red onion per person, sliced and rough chopped*

1 tablespoons Hummus per person, I used Jalapeño

Tofu Scramble Ingredients

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 head brocoli, florets and floret stems chopped

About 10 oz High Protein tofu (Or Extra firm, pressed to remove water)

1 Tablespoons Chili Powder

1/2 cup salsa

Black beans and rice Ingredients

1 Cup rice, cooked

25 oz can vegetarian black beans in sauce

1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

*leftover tomato and onions from wraps

Cooking Method

Heat olive oil over medium heat

Add broccoli stems and brown for 2-5 minutes without stirring, until charred and fragrant

Add chopped broccoli florets for another 5-10 minutes

Crumble tofu and add to broccoli; add chili powder and cook for 5 minutes, stirring

Add salsa and lower heat to medium-low

Assemble Wraps

Heat Wrap over flame to soften it

Add hummus, lettuce, onion, tomato, and about 1/2 cup tofu scramble

Side of BeansTofu Scramble- Beans Base

*There will be leftovers from the tomatoes and red onion- add to stock pot on medium heat

Cook to soften for about 2 minutes

Add entire can of beans with liquid from the can

Add garlic powder

Heat for about 5 minutes, until warmed through

Serve over rice, top with salsa or hot sauce.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Quick Tofu Stir-Fry

So today we did something new–Biddi and I went to our regular “Story Time” but she walked herself there, instead of me pushing her in the stroller! It was really a cool trip. She stopped at every house with an open gate and closed each and every one along the way. It took at least double the regular time, but I feel like she learned a lot more than she does being passively pushed along.

I have read some books on the Montessori education, which is evidence-based, and a common theme was movement and learning being closely related. My experience is just anecdotal, of course, but after our regular story time and trip to the park, she asked to be carried the last couple of blocks home and was noticeably calmer. She had lunch and was ready to nap about 30 minutes earlier than normal.

I tried to give her leftovers for lunch “Would you like the tofu noodles with peas and pesto from last night?”

“No!” I hear from the living room, followed by the pitter-patter of little feet. And then she runs into the kitchen to show me what she wants from the fridge! She is so unbelievable. She took an inventory of her options and decided on carrots and tofu, so I went with stir-fry. She hangs out in the kitchen and watches me cook, or while I am cooking I call her in and let her smell the food or look at what is going on in the oven or stove. It’s a very involved process, but it keeps me mindful of what I am doing.

So here is the recipe that Biddi designed for lunch today! She loved it, she asked for more tofu 2 times and ended up eating about 8 more pieces than pictured. I didn’t use any spicy peppers in the stir fry, but I would if it were just for me. I prefer sambal oelek, but I was out so I added dry sriracha seasoning to mine at the end as a seasoning. The first or second ingredient is sugar in the sriracha powder, but I only use maybe 1/8 of a teaspoon, so that doesn’t bother me too much. The stuff tastes really good, so I am sure one of the many ingredients (maltodextrin, citric acid, natural flavorings, etc) are actually MSG, which is more concerning to me than the sugar listed on the label, to be honest. I used to eat MSG powder and bouillon cubes as a kid and I don’t think there were any long-term side effects, but who knows? I developed a really keen taste as a result of snacking on it, so I can taste it immediately when it is in food. Like chicken stock in risotto or fish sauce in pad Thai, its pretty obvious when it’s not  there and so you can pick it out immediately when it is.

Quick Stir Fry Ingredients (serves 3-4)

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger (I grate the whole piece of ginger whenever I buy it fresh and keep it in the freezer to grab as-needed)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 red pepper (use roasted if they cause indigestion)

1 diced fresno, jalapeño, or serrano peppers, with seeds to make it spicier (optional–no spicy food for baby)

1 bunch carrots, sliced

1 diced yellow onion…Vidalia onions, if you’re lucky!

1 Brick of tofu

1 cup cooked grains: rice or barley/peas/lentil mix work well

Quick Stir Fry- Marinade IngredientsTofu Marinade

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 Tablespoon Black sesame seeds

1 Tablespoon White sesame seeds

1 Tablespoon Toasted sesame oil

1 Tablespoon Mirin cooking wine (or rice wine vinegar)

2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

Cooking Method

Press the tofu to remove water for 30-60 minutes by wrapping in  kitchen towels and weighting with pots or something heavy. Or use Tofu Express for 15 minutes. This is so that the marinade can absorb and add flavor without making the stir fry watery

Whisk together Marinade ingredients and add tofu for 15 minutes or so

Heat Oil on medium heat (medium-high if you will be standing over the wok to watch it closely, I usually am cutting veggies while things cook, so I use medium)

Add minced ginger and garlic and diced onion to the heated oil and cook for 2-5 minutes, until fragrant and starting to char

Add veggies-peppers and carrots and cook for 10 minutes

Add tofu and marinade and cook for another 5 minutes

Add barley/cooked rice and cook another 5 minutes

Quick Stir Fry- Toddler Lunch Twinning

This is just a basic stir fry with the veggies cooked in oil and aromatics and then sauce added towards the end so that it doesn’t get too salty. Most teriyaki-style marinade recipes will have sugar or honey added but I don’t find that I miss it, so I leave it out. Plus, the cooking wine has some sweetness to it. I love to include broccoli, too, but I left it out since broccoli will probably be the bulk of dinner tonight.

Another great option is substituting all these veggies(onions/peppers/carrots) and using only green beans(or frozen haricot vert depending on what is in season). After cooking until they are brown, I add in the marinade and tofu. I usually have that once a week for lunch, it is so filling but still healthy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade Marinara Sauce

About 18 months ago when my family cut out processed foods and added sugars, the biggest change to our diet was the sudden lack of tomatoes. Tomato sauce, ketchup, barbeque sauce, and even cans of roasted tomatoes have tomato paste as an ingredient and can add up to a lot of extra sugar, especailly when there is already additional cane sugar or sweeteners added. The tomato paste is essentially boiled and condensed tomatoes, with no fiber so the digestive system treats it like straight sugar.

It was quite the shock to stop eating canned tomatoes when we stopped eating processed foods, although I have since found some brands that do not have added tomato paste or puree. By now, I am in the habit of cooking the tomatoes from scratch and the flavor is so good, I don’t think I can ever go back! I make a basic marinara. I use Giada DeLaurentiis’ Simple Tomato Sauce recipe as a guideline, but get deeper flavors from roasting tomatoes from scratch, tripling the garlic and carrots, and adding some deep red wine as it simmers. I served this last night for dinner and it went over really well.

I have found a much better, tastier replacement for canned tomatoes: homemade oven-roasted tomatoes. I just give quartered or chopped tomatoes a light toss in olive oil and sometimes remove the seeds, depending on my mood and the recipe. For instance in a marinara or chili, I leave the seeds in because they will go into the food processor, but for ratatouille I seed them before roasting because they are eaten as is. Roasting the tomatoes takes about an hour, but I usually just wash and cut veggies until the tomatoes need to be flipped and then finish the sauce while I start the pasta water to boil.

Marinara- Roasted TomatoesThe flavor of the roasted tomatoes is unreal–so sweet and rich and combined with the charred flavor of the roasted red peppers the marinara has a lot of depth, unlike flat, watery canned tomatoes.

Produce selection is really important when cooking a dish with just a few ingredients, especially the tomatoes. We are lucky to have a local greenhouse that provides perfect tomatoes all year round so they are really ripe and not just red on the outside due to some ethylene gas chemical reaction, like most commercial tomatoes. I don’t use organic tomatoes for this recipe, because only cherry tomatoes are on the “dirty dozen” list.

Marinara- Ingredients

Homemade Marinara (serves 4)

15 tomatoes, whatever is freshest (if using larger heirloom variety, 8 tomatoes is probably sufficient)

1 yellow onion–Vidalias if they are in season–diced

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 bunch carrots (about 6 carrots)

2 red peppers

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 for tomatoes

1-2 bay leaf

1/4 cup fresh basil or 1 Teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 Tablespoon fresh oregano

1/8 Teaspoon salt

1 Cup water

1/2 Cup red wine

Cooking Method

Preheat oven to 375.

Cut tomatoes into 3-4 pieces each and place seed side up on a parchment lined cookie sheet

Use a basting brush to cover tomatoes in oil, plus salt and pepper

Place tomatoes in oven for 55 minutes, flipping after about 30 minutes

Use open flame to char red pepper skins, turning as they cook (or use an outdoor grill or place on pan sheet with tomatoes)

Place charred red peppers in a heat proof bowl for 5-15 minutes to steam

Rinse in roasted red peppers cold water to remove burnt skins and chop and dice the peppers

Shred carrots using food processor or box grater. Any weird carrot bits that wont go through the food processor, just chop or dice

Heat 2 Tbspn Olive oil over medium heat in a pot big enough to cook the marinara- I use a 4.5 Qt dutch oven

Cook the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes on medium heat until translucent (I like to go a minute longer and get them a little browned and caramelized for extra flavor)

Add the shredded carrots and salt and cook for about 5 minutes

Add the roasted red peppers and oven roasted tomatoes and stir for one minute

Add 1 Cup water and 1/2 cup red wine and bay leaf

Simmer and reduce sauce until it thickens, about one hour

After removing the bay leaf, use a blender or food processor to blend the marinara to a nice consistency, I prefer a chunkier consistency

Add herbs and heat on low heat until ready to serve

Marinara Sauce

Serve over pasta, spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles

Top with a sauteed broccoli, zucchini, or cherry tomatoes

Season with or serve along side crushed red peppers

Items from the olive bar would make a great appetizer- the spicy olive mix and peppadew peppers are my favorites

Serve with a side salad or fresh wheat ciabatta bread with olive oil or extra sauce (there should be enough extra marinara for dipping)


A quick sautéed with olive oil, sliced garlic, and a couple of florets of broccoli–stems and all. Add 1/2 cup marinara plus 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Add 2 servings quinoa pasta and toss.

 

 

A Dress for Me!

I love sewing for Biddi, but on a trip to Joann’s to find some lavender thread, I couldn’t help but swoon for a small sign that said “All Simplicity Pattern $1.” I died. And then Brigid sat happily and watched me look for patterns. And by “look for patterns,” I do not mean that I casually perused books, but instead I frantically pulled out drawer after drawer of patterns and scavenged while she ate 5 mandarin oranges like an angel. A tiny angel with a ticking time bomb, when she was out of snacks, my shopping was done. So, I had to pick some cute patterns, but not go crazy with an unreasonable number of patterns or get caught up and pick ugly patterns. It was unbelievable, I found 5 pattern across the Simplicity brands that I really liked for Spring/Summer and would be easy to modify.

I do love pattern drafting, but I find my time is so limited these days that buying a pattern cuts the time in half. And I justified it by choosing looks that are good base designs that can be altered many ways. Of course, when I sew I don’t cut out the pattern but transfer it to packing paper, so there isn’t an incredible amount of time savings, but a store-bought pattern saves my brain.

I selected 2 vintage patterns (1692 and 8085) and one summer romper, and another casual summer look. Also I chose one child’s pattern, 1122 mostly to learn a new technique for finishing tutus. There really isn’t much to a tutu, but I’ll pay a dollar to learn a new construction method. Recently, I asked the gym if there was a dress code for the 2-year old ballet class. I was really expecting “ballet shoes, leotard, and pink tights,” which was standard in my childhood. The answer was “No dress code.” I thought “I will still get her some tights.” And then the craziest thing that I was not expecting came out of her mouth, “…but most of the girls wear, you know, tutus.” Say What? So full on prima ballerina is the norm for toddler ballet. Now I know! I digress.

Fabric Selection

The first pattern I chose to complete was the vintage circle skirt dress in a red white and blue cotton print with red and white floral. I debated not using the pockets, but they can always be removed so I cut them out when I cut the dress, plus pockets are still in style and I can always put some snacks in there for Biddi. The 1940s pattern is so cool, but it has an invisible zipper and I need a foot for my machine and I have been avoiding trying to find the one that goes with my 15-year old machine.

Fitting

I made a muslin mock-up which I have not done in ages! Since it was a vintage pattern, I knew there was a risk of the fit being out of style, strange, or for some other reason not worth the effort to sew. At first I thought it was so weird–it seemed very short-waisted. After I wore it around for a while it grew on me and I embraced the retro fit. It also seemed short–both illustrations of the shorter wrap dress show it with pants and I am planning to wear it as a dress. Flashing moms and nannies at the park is low on my “To Do List” so I thought the extra length was a good idea. I bought about an extra half yard of fabric because that was the last of it, so I had some wiggle room for pattern placement when I cut.

When I fit the mock-up there was really only one issue- 1950s undergarments. My body does not ascribe to the 1950s bust shape (waaaay up high and crammed together). I’m not sure what type of girdle-bra combo I would need to get my chest in those bust darts, but I consider it dressing up to wear an underwire bra instead of a sports bra, so I moved the bust point lower and adjusted the two darts accordingly.

Everything else fit surprisingly well, but I lengthened it about 2″. I thought making the shortest skirt might be too short to wear as a dress because the shorter dress is pictured over pants in the original 1950s pattern illustration. My plan is to wear the short dress as a dress, not an apron. So, I added as much length as I could with my fabric, about 2″. My plan B was that I could put in a 2″ hem if the length looked strange.

In the muslin mock-up, the top of my bra showed a touch in the center back, but I did not make any alterations to the pattern. The actual fabric is much stronger than the muslin, and the red trim gives some weight so the fabric doesn’t fold back. So it overlaps enough to hide my bra.

Construction

I followed the instructions for the most part, but of course I added French seams. I also disregarded the directions to utilize hem tape to keep the waist from growing. I am hoping the French seams will do as much or more than hem tape would, we shall see. Simple construction: darts, seams, bias tape, hem. I finished the darts by hand, tying the knot in threads under the dart.

One change that I made was to use 1/4″ bias tape instead of 1/2″ for a more delicate look. retro-dress-pocket.jpg

When I was making this, I realized how much I have missed darts. Everything I wear is a T-shirt or tank top. The tailoring of good darts just makes me stand with better posture and feel more put together.

The front bodice is very plain and I considered adding some design to it, like a cutout in the front or some different straps, but I thought I would just make once through super-basic and see how it turned out.

The pattern instructions–which I disregarded–said to let the dress hang overnight before hemming. At the back, the hem ends droops really long and I needed to seam rip and rehem 8″ or so on either end of the skirt about 2″ shorter on the edge, tapering to nothing at 8″ in from the edge

All in all I think it is really cute. If I make it again, I will definitely add side seams and remove that annoying center front seam, although nobody else seems to notice that. I could remove some volume and make it more of an A-line, too. I think there is also an opportunity to reverse the look and have the V in front rather than in back. My husband thinks the front it a little plain, but I think with the red trim pockets and red tie in the front, it needs a little moment of calm and simplicity.

Before it was completed, a friend saw it hanging by the iron and thought it was a housecoat or apron. Which I can’t say for sure wasn’t the original spirit of the garment. I think as a finished dress, it is cute and will be a great fabric for summer.

Making Healthy Choices: Thai Kale Wrap with Peanut Tofu

 

Upon leaving hot yoga class today, I am inspired to go buy tons of produce and make some amazing food. My favorite meal post-workout is a huge salad and my husband’s favorite is a wrap, since we gave up bread for the most part. The perfect compromise is a salad that can be a wrap.

Originally, I got the recipe from my mom. My mother is amazing cook and the quintessential image of her from my childhood is her entering the dining room during a dinner party with a bananas foster or baked Alaska–both flaming in full 80s fashion, of course. She made the Asian Kale Slaw from Once Upon a Chef a few years ago and I just loved it. Usually I double the recipe and save leftovers for wraps the next day, or two…I literally will never get sick of this salad.

Thai Peanut Wrap with Carrot side

So the recipe from Once Upon a Chef is pretty much perfect-I love the carrots and red cabbage. However, it wasn’t on hand in my kitchen today and my husband and I came back from the gym so hungry. I was craving protein and fat after yoga and I thought Peanut Tofu was the best thing I had ever heard of in that moment.

I was way too hungry to head out to the store and buy ingredients, so sans cabbage and carrots had to be good enough! It actually probably worked out better. The Ezekiel tortillas are kind of brittle and a bunch of cabbage and carrots would probably have ripped them apart.

Typically, I do this recipe as a wrap on Day #2, after the salad leftovers have been dressed overnight in the fridge. That gives the crunchy carrots, cabbage, and kale a chance to mellow and soften.

Thai Peanut Wrap Ingredients

Thai Peanut Kale Wrap (serves 2): Ingredients

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

10 Oz Block of organic tofu (I like Wildwood High Protein for this recipe, or a drained super firm would work as well)

1 red pepper, cut in julienne

3 spears of kale, torn into bite-size pieces

1 teaspoon each: Black and White Sesame seeds

1 Tablespoon Sunflower Seeds

2 Tortilla Wraps

Marinade/Dressing Recipe

1 Tablespoon each: Sugar Free Peanut Butter, Rice Vinegar

Juice of one lime

1 Teaspoon each: Soy Sauce, Toasted Sesame Oil, Powdered Ginger, Sriracha

A pinch Garlic Powder

 

Thai Peanut Kale Wrap: Cooking Method

Add 2 Olive Oil to small frying pan and head on medium heat

Cut tofu into strips, about 12 strips per 10 Oz Tofu

Add tofu to pan and cook about 3 minutes on each side

Add marinade ingredients together and whisk

Remove tofu from pan and set on paper towels to remove some oil

Allow oil in skillet to cool for a few minutes, then whisking it into the marinade (if its too hot it will spit when oil and water meet)

Heat wraps over stove flame for a few seconds on each side, or in a skillet for a minute on each side

Assemble wrap. Sprinkle with Sesame seeds and sunflower seeds and marinade and extra Sriracha to taste

Roll it up, Wrap it up, Eat it up!

Roasted Carrots (Serves 2)

Cut one bunch of carrots(I used rainbow carrots) into 1/3s lengthwise, and then halves and then 1/3s again (they be about the size and shape of french fries)

Toss in Olive oil and Salt and Pepper and whatever herbs you prefer (I used Sriracha Powder seasoning and Paprika)

Spread on a sheet pan covered in parchment paper in a 400′ over for about 30 minutes

 

 

 

Food Goals

I found this food poster from the 1940s a few years ago and I was smitten. Those 6 guidelines for food should replace the food pyramid, my plate, USDA guidelines without a doubt. I love that buying local was a recommendation from WW2–those proto-hipsters! Then somehow the McCarthy era convinced Americans that consumerism was patriotism. I want to do better than I have been as far as these 6 rules go.

I adore this poster and I have wanted to frame it in my house, but the wall space in our kitchen is already spoken for. I think having this visual around daily would be a great nudge in the right direction those nights when I am thinking of “treating” myself to some grubhub.

Of those food rules, I have especially been trying to make less waste, so some hybrid of 5 and 6. I watched a few documentaries on freegans and food waste and was totally disgusted by myself. I stopped buying milk because that is the one thing I always buy “just to have it” and never use, and then toss the second the expiration date is close. I really like unsweetened almond milk as a substitute and it stays good so much longer. A third of food is thrown away. Once a “biodegradable” food product gets buried in the anaerobic landfill, it just sits there, entombed but not decomposing. So to do better for myself and for Biddi less of my food should end up there.

Immediate-Term Goals

World_War_II_Patriotic_Posters_USA_Conservation_Food_1LG

This is another amazing 1940s WW2 poster, although my idea of “food as a weapon” is more like abstaining from meat, processed foods, and only buying organics whenever possible. So I guess my wallet is really the weapon I am wielding in that scenario.

In an effort to live up to my grandmother’s generation, I make sure to use food instead of tossing it when it starts to have a blemish or look not-so-fresh. I am cataloging my produce daily, “one more day until I should wash and freeze those peaches/berries/bananas if I can’t eat them,” says the depression/war era housewife in my head.

With herbs and lettuce, a quick rinse in COLD water perks them right up, as long as they haven’t really started to decompose. If there are bugs in my broccoli or mold in my tomatoes seeds, I cross that bridge when I come to it. For the broccoli: a good wash is good enough and maybe I get a little extra protein? Dark tomato seeds I just remove, as long as there is no mold growing. I usually seed my tomatoes anyway. One thing I really will not eat and exchange is a red pepper if it is mold.

Because food waste starts in the grocery store, I am trying my best to buy the first piece of produce I pick up: no inspecting each pepper or pineapple; just grab and go. It has actually made shopping so much more enjoyable, better.

Short-Term Goals

World_War_II_Patriotic_Posters_USA_Conservation_Food_2LG

A short-term goal of mine is to get a worm composting bin to address my own food waste. Biddi will love watching the worms eat scraps (if not because it is inherently entertaining, then because I love it) and its science…and she is getting sick of learning about the planets and water cycle, so this could blow her mind. No I am not joking, I have gone through several iterations of the solar system and ice-water-steam monologues to a 23 month old child. My immediate term solution for my food waste is the garbage disposal, since our pipes are on a sewage system, not a septic system; I consider that a poor man’s compost.

Living in the midwest does present a particular set of problems for Rule #4: Buy Local Foods. In the winter there isn’t much local food to buy. Although our Whole Foods carries Mighty Vine tomatoes from a local greenhouse all winter, and I swear they are as good as any midsummer tomato from the garden. The 1940s patriotic solution from the US Food Administration was canning.

Long Term Goals

And my long term goal is more of my “dream space,” where I live on my own produce year round and I do canning in summer…And I make my own soap à la Fight Club…and I recut old clothes into new ones every season like women did for generations (or “wear leather clothes…” à la Fight Club)

But maybe this is all BS because the sugar ration was like 2 lbs per person a month, which is totally excessive. Also, the same masterminds that create all those other insightful and inspiring food rations posters also made this:

World_War_II_Patriotic_Posters_USA_Conservation_Tokio_Kid_SayLG

yikes!

 

These posters are from Library of Congress and another free site are in the public domain

Living a Healthy Lifestyle: Making Healthy Choices

Mondays, I usually go to hot yoga class. I used to attend a heated yoga flow later in the afternoon, but my toddler, “Biddi” insisted on moving her nap time to right in the middle of my class when she consolidated to one-nap-a-day!

The heated class is nice because it’s about 80 degrees and I don’t need to spend 10 minutes warming up my muscles, I just arrive 5 minutes early, take a seated position, and by the time class begins I am ready to go. The mild heat is wonderful on freezing midwestern winter days, especially because I don’t get the chills when I leave the studio and go back outside like with a super-hot yoga practice.

Biddi’s nap shift actually worked out really well, because after about a year of heated yoga, my core had 100% recovered from pregnancy and I felt up to a new challenge. My former class was amazing with lots of Vinyasa and a chance to practice inversions and attempt crow pose each week. I got the full wheel pose and gained confidence with some fun poses that were new to me, like dolphin pose, my weird new favorite!

The new class has more chair pose, camel pose, but fewer inversions. It is a nice change and I find it more introspective and inspiring. In the past, I would typically set my intention at the start of class along the lines of opening my heart or finding my voice. Recently I have switched it up and I have been focused on living a healthy lifestyle. I find that taking time to focus my efforts and energy on Mondays sets the tone for a very positive week.

In terms of my yoga practice, I try to push myself out of my comfort zone without being reckless. I am flexible for whatever reason, so in the hot room it’s tempting to push too far and risk injury. I always have to remind myself to stay engaged and strong, rather than absent-mindedly relying on stretchiness to complete a posture without actually doing yoga.

My slow-but-steady mindset has paid off in a very rewarding way–I did a tripod headstand this week for the first time ever and it was the coolest thing. I was terrified and asked the instructor to help. She didn’t act as a spotter or guide me by picking my legs up, like I pretty much expected. Instead she stood beside me and walked me through the steps. I did not get my legs extended vertically, because I was a scared and my abs just aren’t there yet, but it was a really solid first try. So basically for a year and a half I have been envious of everyone in class who can do that pose and I did it. I love surprising myself! It’s like when my husband cracks me up with some hysterical anecdote I have never heard before. Like, “Yes! After all these years we can still learn something new about each other!”

As I feel myself aging and turning into an old fuddy-duddy, I have expanded the idea of pushing myself out of my comfort zone without being reckless beyond the yoga studio. In the picture above, for example, when my husband finally convinced me to put Biddi in a kid’s seat on the back of his bicycle last summer. I was freaked out. She loved it and it opened up our days in summer so we can do more things on the weekends with Biddi’s mobility, since she is now independent of a carseat or stroller, weather permitting.

In the interest of making healthy choices and living a healthy lifestyle, I usually leave the gym and immediately head to the supermarket to load up on produce. On days that I rush home to put Biddi in to nap, I inevitably end up eating something frozen or from a can. I can justify it by saying it was reduced sodium or vegetarian but I don’t think it lives up to the mantra of living a healthy lifestyle. Biddi has been my inspiration: rediscovering actual food was a direct result of making her baby food. I had to start making an effort to care for myself after years of flying on auto-pilot, because I realized that my example is more impactful and long-lasting than just feeding her pureed cauliflower.

 

 

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