Snack spotlight

February 28, 2008

Snacks are a major part of my diet, and I try to use them to my best advantage by making them healthy and filling. Wednesday nights are always a little weird for me, because I go to a late kickboxing class, and figuring out what to eat beforehand is always a challenge. I need enough to fuel me for the workout and to keep me from stuffing my face when I get home at 9:15, but not so much food that I cramp up or feel sick. So I usually go for a small, early dinner and then a snack about an hour before I head out. Tonight’s dinner was a small serving of leftover chickpea hotpot with a slice of oatmeal bread. Now, as I start to get ready, I’m trying out a new snack creation.

I grabbed about 1/3 cup of Kashi Cinnamon Harvest, my favorite cold cereal, which is like shredded wheat, and 1/4 cup skim milk. On a whim, I warmed it up for 30 seconds in the microwave, and, because I’ve got a ton of produce to use, I added most of a peach. It’s got whole grains, protein, fiber and a serving of fruit, so it’s a perfect pre-workout snack. I typically don’t eat cold cereal for breakfast in the winter, but I may have to try this trick for breakfast sometime soon. It would probably be even better with a small banana instead of a peach.

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Hotpot for a cold day

February 27, 2008

The wind was pretty brutal again today. I was tricked by the forecast into somehow believing that the high might actually get to 40. HA.

Anyway, I was wrong about having my beautiful grilled cheese sandwich for lunch today, as I remembered late last night that I had a work lunch. We went to a popular campus spot, the closest thing to a faculty club that we have on campus. They usually have soup and limp veggies, and a salad bar, so I’m generally able to find something vaguely filling without turning to the overwhelmingly well-stocked dessert table. Today was kind of an exception, as the soup seemed like it might have both bacon and cream in it (not exactly what I’m looking for in a light lunch), and the main course options were meat loaf (I don’t eat beef) and fried chicken (again with the heaviness). So I had an iceberg salad, some of today’s limp veggies, rice, some pasta salad, a roll, a sugar-free cookie (yeah, just about as good as it sounds) and an orange. The orange was awesome, at least, and they kept the coffee coming. But I still spent the afternoon feeling carbo-loaded and tired.

So, dinner had to be really awesome to make up for it. I’ve been wanting to make this chickpea hotpot recipe for a few days now, and we had leftover chickpeas and bulgur. It turned out wonderfully. It’s got orange juice in it, which is fascinating, and makes for a really thick, citrus-y stew. Mmmm. Perfect for a blustery day. Here it is with a slice of oatmeal toast and a little plain yogurt:

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Comfort food

February 26, 2008

Today was less than awesome. I couldn’t find my keys, didn’t make it to the gym, temporarily lost my ID card, forgot to return the old cable box and nearly froze to death walking in the gusty wind from our car to the coliseum for tonight’s game. Oh, and then we lost.

Oh well, at least we had a nice, comforting dinner beforehand. I requested in advance that Matt make grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches tonight (it’s almost like I knew I’d be having a bad day) with the pepper jack we picked up in Alma on Saturday. I paired them with some Pacific Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup, which I’ll definitely be buying again. It was really creamy and the pepper adds a nice zing. Perfect for grilled cheese night. Here it is with a tiny salad (sorry, flash was weird again):

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I even have a leftover grilled cheese and tomato on english muffin for tomorrow’s lunch.  Hopefully that’ll make it a better day.


I lied

February 25, 2008

I lied about having leftovers. I forgot that we’ll be rushed for dinner tomorrow night because we have a basketball game. We’ll be on Big Monday, so look for us at 8pm CST on ESPN! So, leftovers will have to wait.

Tonight, I got adventurous and made this recipe for caramelized tofu. I saw it recently and must have known I really wanted to make it, because I happened to buy brussels sprouts during my morning excursion to the grocery store. This meal was an extra adventurous move for me, because I’ve never cooked tofu OR brussels sprouts (I usually get the microwaveable kind). Amazingly, it turned out really well, and was super easy. I prepped the food in advance, but the actual cooking only took about as long as halftime of the Carolina game. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly – I didn’t have pecans, so I used walnuts, I left out the cilantro (accidentally), and I used about 1/3 lb brussels sprouts instead of 1/2. But it was still delicious! We had it with brown rice and both went back for seconds.

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Busy Sunday breakfast

February 24, 2008

Breakfast is my favorite meal, and Saturdays and Sundays are usually the only days that I have to spend any time cooking it. So, I usually try to be a little more creative and take extra time cooking for us. But today, I woke up wanting a banana oatmeal redux, so I walked to the grocery store and stocked up on produce so that I could make it for us again. This time I got the photo opp on camera:

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That’s one of my new bowls from a little shop in Wamego. Matt pointed out that they look like oatmeal, so they’re my new oatmeal bowls. Also featured: new coffee from Emerald City Market called Dorothy’s Dream. It’s Guatemalan Huehuetenango and it’s really good. Nice and light.

Anyway, banana oatmeal for two: bring 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup skim milk to boil. Stir in 1 cup of rolled oats (old-fashioned oats will work, but not the quick-cooking kind), add cinnamon and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Thinly slice a medium banana and stir all or most into the oatmeal after 5 minutes. Add about 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract and a little more cinnamon and stir for about 1 minute. Remove from heat. I saved some of the sliced banana to make Matt’s bowl extra banana-y. So mine probably had about 1/3 of a medium banana in it. That’s just enough though, that you don’t really have to sweeten it. I usually put about 1 tsp of honey in my oatmeal, but this time I didn’t have to.

This is probably the last post for today, as I have a lot to get done today (errands, gym, laundry, cleaning, organizing, Carolina basketball game and some work) and we’ll probably be having leftovers tonight.


Bulgurritos and basketball

February 24, 2008

Quick dinner post during halftime…

I’m trying to convince my mom that bulgur is delicious and versatile, not scary or gross. So my current favorite grain was back tonight in its finest appearance in our household to date: bulgurritos! I had some leftover bulgur, but it wasn’t quite enough for my brilliant idea, so I made more. When it was done cooking, I added the rest of the black beans from Thursday night and a can of diced tomatoes and simmered for a few minutes. I put a few spoonfuls of that onto a whole wheat tortilla, added a little shredded chicken from last night, a little cheese, and microwaved for 30 seconds. Here’s what the innards looked like:

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I actually wanted more filling, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to close it if I did, so I had a little extra on the side:

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Mmmm. I also had the bright idea to use up the last of a bag of flour tortilla chips we had in the snack cabinet:

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There’s my new water bottle, making an appearance. The bulgurritos were really good and super filling, and we also had a little bit of the Surrender wine we bought today, which is a pretty awesome dessert wine. I’m really full now, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to resist cookie temptation.


Anniversary adventure

February 23, 2008

We had plans to go to Lawrence, our favorite day trip destination, for our anniversary this weekend. But, with the weather weirdness lately, we decided to play it safe and wait until things warm up a bit. So, we stayed closer to home and took a quick trip to Wamego and Alma. It was a really pretty morning, and we started the day with banana oatmeal and coffee. Sorry, no pictures, the batteries went dead in the camera this morning. I’ll take a shot next time, though, because the banana actually made the oatmeal look much prettier. After breakfast, we ran a few errands here in Manhattan and then headed down highway 24 to Wamego. We got a nice walk in while we were there – I’ve been wearing a pedometer for a walk challenge we’re doing at work, and our exploration of Wamego clocked in at over 2 miles.

For a teeny tiny town, Wamego is pretty cool. They have an Oz Museum, which I avoided at all cost due to Wizard of Oz-related fears, but it was impossible to completely avoid Dorothy and her little dog, because that’s pretty much the extended metaphor of Wamego. They randomly have a really fancy specialty food store, with chocolates, sauces, pasta, coffee, tea, and some cookware. Right next door is Ozland Winery, with locally produced wine.

We had lunch at the Friendship House, a bakery and cafe that are in an actual house. Seriously, the customer restroom had a bathtub. And Clorox wipes, which I thought was pretty smart. Here’s a picture of the house:

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The lunch menu was just soup and sandwiches, two of my favorites, but my meal actually wasn’t that great. The sandwich was tiny and the soup had some unidentified meat in it:

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They did have homemade chocolate pie, which really got me excited, as I love pie above all things, but that came up short, too.

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It basically tasted like Jell-o chocolate pudding with some Cool Whip, a few chocolate chips (that were actually sweaty, so I think this was sitting in the refrigerator for a while), and a standard crust. I had about two bites and some of the crust (the best part of pie) and Matt finished the rest.

We also bought a dozen of their cookies, and I’m happy to report that the sugar cookie I just split with Matt was delicious. Next time we’ll know to go to Toto’s Tacoz for lunch and Friendship House strictly for baked goods.

Then it was on to Alma for cheese. Whenever we drive back from the airport, we always pass a billboard for “Famous Alma Cheese,” and, since I love cheese almost as much as I love pie, we had to go. The creamery was pretty great, and they had cheap local cheese along with other snacks made in Kansas. How could anyone resist this?

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It’s nibblin’ good!

After a quick walk in downtown Alma, where it started to get really dark and cooler out, we came back home. All in all, a fun trip, and check out this haul:

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I can’t believe how much money I spent today, but, hey, how often do you go to Wamego? Sorry for the weird flash effect, but hopefully you can see the Swiss chocolate and then the local stuff: pear honey, strawberry rhubarb jam, Surrender wine (dedicated to Judy Garland, apparently), some little cookies, peanut butter snack mix and Famous Alma Cheese!

Last, but definitely not least – cookies!

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And now, instead of going to the gym to work off the cookies I’m sure to eat later, I’m going to listen to my exhaustion and take a nap before tonight’s K-State game and the big, exciting no. 1/no. 2 match-up between Memphis and Tennessee.