Life of Late (Articles Galore)

What if share all the articles that I have resonated with me over the last two months?  Well, that’s exactly what I did so enjoy. 🙂

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Mrs. Field Meets the Valley

Cookies.  Chocolate chip cookies.  Nature Valley bars.  What do all these glorious things have in common?  My quasi-experimented recipe – Chocolate Chip Granola Cookies.  Sure I love my regular chocolate chippers but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve graduated to the extra crunch with chocolate chip oatmeal.  Then, with my granola-parfait obsession, I figured why not break the cookie barriers?  I mean, I’ve already conquered the Junk in Da Trunk, so granola should be a seemingly easy addition.  I didn’t want to go into as much of analysis of the chocolate chip cookie as this writer did and pulled a typical Kaitlin – throw all the ingredients together and hope it works out.

The inspiration started awhile back when my mom sent me a torn out recipe of such cookies.  Then let’s add in the fact that I came home from the 2014 Blend Retreat with oodles of trail mix and granola swag, including Nature Valley Granola. SCORE!  I’ve been a loyal Nature Valley customer for over 8 years.

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The sweet and crunchy taste reminds me of high school days and pre-cross country snacks and helped aid many tedious college group projects.  The really helped me get through the group dynamics more than the projects but that’s a story for another day.

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Chocolate Chip-Granola Cookies
~36 cookies

Ingredients

2 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup butter (or coconut oil) softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1.5 cup chocolate (preferably dark chocolate chips/chunks)
1 cup granola
1/2 cup rolled oats

Directions

1. Stir together dry ingredients – flour, granola, salt, and baking soda and set aside. (Preheat oven to 350F while mixing the dough)

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2. In a different bowl mix the butter for about 30 seconds.

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IMG_5070Of course it’s normal to watch TV while baking.   Just don’t get distracted trying to translate the soccer matches from Spanish into English while you are mixing ingredients. 

3. Add in sugar and continue to beat. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined.

IMG_50724. Slowly add in the flour mixture until fully incorporated.

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5. Lastly, add in the chocolate chips.

IMG_50776. Divide up the dough using tablespoons or your own hands.  Separate on a cookie sheet and place in the oven for about 9-10 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies start to brown.

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7. Cool on a cookie sheet or serve up warm with a beverage of your choice.  I’m partial to a tall glass of milk – regular or almond 🙂
*Cookies can covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze up to three months

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I’m almost positive this came from a Rachel Ray recipe, but am not 100% sure as it wasn’t on the tear-out recipe that my mom sent.  Oops.

*Although we were gifted bags of Nature Valley granola, this post reflects my own thoughts on all products 

Fresh Pick – Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are often considered a fall produce, but with the access to most veggies year round, I will for sure continue to consume them in mass quantities.  Who knows, maybe by Christmas I’ll be orange.  It could me my backup to tanning, right?

It’s safe to say this is one of my favorite foods.  I don’t think it was until The Counter came out with sweet potato fries that I even knew such things existed.  I’ve expanded my repertoire to include baked sweet potato, fries, and soon this scalloped sweet potato recipe with Greek yogurt.

It’s completely possible to lighten up some of your favorite potato recipes by swapping in sweet potatoes.  These starchy orange root vegetables actually have many more health benefits than their white counterparts, and in my opinion, pack much more flavor. 

79450eaf305c824ae1ddab14842118dbCountless bloggers have shared their favorites and this is just one random one I picked off Google. Control appetite, curve sugar cravings, cancer-fighting, heart-healthy, and beauty-boosting (vitamin C & E).

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Taking a little bit of this research and recipe linkup from RealSimple:

How to Choose: Select small to medium sweet potatoes, which are sweet and creamy (Larger varieties are starchier).  Skin should be firm, smooth, and even-toned. The deeper color of the sweet potato, the richer it is in the antioxidant beta-carotene.  Picking smaller ones is helpful when cooking for 1 or 2 people, reduces the logistics of reducing recipe sizes, etc.

How to Store: Keep in a cool, dry place (pantry not fridge) for up to 2 weeks.  Any longer and the sugar content causes them to spoil (oops, made this mistake before)

Is it a Yam?: True yams are starchy, white-fleshed tubers common to tropical countries.  Honestly I’m not sure how to tell the difference but thankfully there are countless articles, even one by the Huffington Post.

COOKING UP AN ORANGE STORM

Sweet Potato Wedges w/ Rosemary (Opt – brown sugar): Toss sweet potato wedges with olive oil or coconut oil, salt, pepper, and chopped rosemary.  Roast at 400F for about 40 minutes, tossing once through. **Absolutely my favorite way to enjoy!

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Sweet Potato & Bacon Pasta: Saute peeled and diced sweet potatoes in olive oil with smashed garlic cloves until tender. Toss with cooked pasta (maybe zucchini pasta??), grated Parmesan, crumbled bacon, and chopped fresh chives.

Baked Sweet Potatoes w/ Chipotle Yogurt Sauce: Pierce whole sweet potatoes with a fork.  Bake at 400F until tender (45-50 minutes). Serve with a mixture of Greek yogurt and chipotle chili powder.  Top with chopped fresh cilantro.

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Sweet Potato Pancakes w/ Sage: Mix coarsely grated sweet potatoes with grated onion and chopped fresh sage; season with salt and pepper.  Cook as though you would pancakes (suggestion – pan-fry spoonfuls of mixture in EVOO or coconut oil) until crisp and cooked through.

Spiced Mashed Sweet Potatoes: Boil peeled and cut-up sweet potatoes until tender.  Mash with unsalted butter (or Greek yogurt) and honey.  Season with ground cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper.

19f1ca1aff9f312d153abe693f507109Because this showed up in my feed when I searched “sweet potato”.

What is your thought on sweet potato?  What are you favorite recipes to make with it?

Fresh Picks – Apples + Squash

Let me tell you a little story about going to the farmer’s markets.  I remember years ago (8 maybe?) when our little town in Southern California got its first farmer’s market.  This actually might have been the start of my healthy food interest, or at least passion for food started – the variety of produce and products being sold by friendly (relatively) vendors on a weekly basis.  You could browse the stalls and taste the sweetness of the fruit.  Ok, being honest I’m sure for a good 4 years I would go and simply sample the produce and count it off as my daily serving of fruits.

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As time went on, we started making it a destination for our weekly berries, I made friends with a few of the vendors and we would chat it up in Spanish.  Our berry man even remembers me to this day and will start a conversation in Spanish, even though my knowledge of the language is fading fast.

I would go to the Saturday market up at Santa Clara, continuing my habit of taste-testing before purchasing.  I’ve never really caught onto the whole “seasonality” trend, simply because in America and especially California, you can have whatever type of produce you want all year long.  Sure some items come in droves during their appointed season, but other times you can find strawberries at any point of the year.  They may not be as plump, sweet, and juicy as in the summer months, but they are still there, sitting on the shelves waiting to be purchased or composted (so we hope?).

We all hear about “organic this” and “freshly farmed that” and sure, I support the local movement, but when it comes down to it, I’m all about price.  So last week, I decided to pick up some vegetables at the Union Square market.  I’ve been eating kale and spinach on a regular basis and decided to try one of the salad selection tents.  It was all fine and dandy – I got to choose a ziploc bag and fill it with my favorite types of lettuce and I thought to myself, “ah, arugula, maybe I’ll sample that this week.”  That was until I reached the cash register and the woman said, “25”.  So, 25 cents? That’s a deal.  “No, $25” she replied.  Oh no, no, no.  That’s where I draw the line.  My entire farmer’s market budget blown on one bag of lettuce.
IMG_3966I do enjoy the process or routine of going to a market.  The sights and sounds are comforting or even just fascinating.  There are times where I feel I need to come dressed as a football player, decked out in shoulder pads and a helmet, simply to get through the mess and grab a head of cauliflower.  But, it is an adventure and a weekly one at that.

I guess I would compare it to the action of getting a cup of coffee from the same coffee shop.  Sure, there are countless other ones you can go or even brew it yourself, but actually going to a store where maybe one day they will learn your name, your face, or even your order, standing in line with other people, makes it more enjoyable, at least in my view.

IMG_3963Well, I’ve managed to spend most of the post talking about my random views on farmer’s markets when I really wanted to point out a couple of my favorite fall products – squash and apples.  True, squash is present in the summer as well, but just go with it.  From spaghetti squash to acorn squash, butternut squash to good ‘ol pumpkins, there are so many wonderful and delicious gourds to make for your meals.  I’m normally not that creative with my meals during the week and resort to chopping up any type of squash that I bought, covering it with a little coconut oil spray and some seasonings (either my uncle’s variety or thyme) and throwing it in the oven at 350F-400F for about 20 minutes.

There are also a number of benefits from squash although I’m not much of a food scientist or health dietician, so all my notes come from Google.

Squash Benefits

  • Vitamin C
  • Anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Antioxidants – carotenoid (alpha-carotene & beta-carotene)
  • Regulates blood sugar

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As for apples, we’ve all heard the little tale of an apple a day keeps the doctor away.  Well, in some cases it can be true! Random side note, did you know red apples affect your blood sugar more than green apples?  Thanks to Sara Smiles for that little fact. SO strange!

Last year I went apple picking for what I believe was the first time and it was a blast.  I had planned on attempting to leave the city this year to do the same, but things got in the way.  But, there’s always next year. A few quick tips on apples, apple storage (so they don’t rot like mine seem to have done lately), and even some tasty snacks and treats to keep you on your “apple-a-day” plan 🙂

Bushel of Quick, Easy Tips

  • Apples continue to ripen at room temperature so store them in the fridge, preferably in a plastic bag.  This will keep them fresh for a few weeks
  • Skin an apple with a peeler instead of a knife, which slices away too much of the flesh. (I personally think the skin is the tastiest part) 🙂
  • Making baked apples? use a melon baller to scoop out the core without cutting through the fruit.
  • Apples turn brown quickly once they’re peeled and cut.  Before adding chopped or sliced apples to a salad, toss them with a little lemon juice.

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And while we all are familiar with apples + peanut butter or apple pie, how about some of these other delectable recipes?  I’ve been a fan of the fresh juice craze, complete with apple, celery, kale, and all 🙂

Cinnamon Applesauce: Peel and quarter 4 large apples.  Simmer in a large saucepan with 1/2 cup water, breaking up apple wedges into small pieces as they cook.  As it starts to boil, add 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.  Cook and stir for ~10 minutes, mashing apples with a fork.  Remove from heat, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.  Great with pork loin and green beans!

Granola-Topped Baked Apple: Core a Fuji or Gala apple, leaving bottom intact; remove seeds.  Place in a glass bowl and top with 2 tsp brown sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, pinch of nutmeg, and 1 tsp butter or greek yogurt.  Cover and microwave for 2-3 minutes or until apple is soft.  Sprinkle with granola or top with a dollop of ice cream or yogurt.  Tastes lovely with pumpkin ice cream for added festivities.

Apple & Cheese Sandwich(es): #1 – take a toasted English muffin, spread with nut butter and layer thinly sliced cheddar and sliced apple. #2 – Take two pieces of whole wheat (or bread of your choice), spread a little butter on the outsides, place in pan with cheddar and sliced apple.  Cook until outsides get crispy (flip halfway through) #1 would be extra sweet with a few chocolate chips

Apple Smoothie: Blend 1/2 cup apple juice, 1/2 cup greek yogurt, 6 ice cubes, 1/8 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 apple peeled and chopped.  Pour in a glass and add a little apple slice for garnish.

Apple-Oatmeal Cookies: Beat 1/2 cup softened butter (or 1/4ish cup Greek yogurt), 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and 1.5 tsp vanilla extract until creamy.  Stir in 1.5 cups uncooked oatmeal, 1.5 cups flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp cinnamon.   Once batter has been mixed, add in 1/4 cup milk, 1 finely chopped apple and optional – 1 cup raisins.  Form dough into balls and place on parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake at 350F for about 10 minutes.

IMG_4083_FotorWhat are some of your favorite ways to enjoy apples or squash?

What I Love About Fall Food

Before I jump into this week’s munching roundup hosted by Jenn at Peas & Crayons, I’ll go ahead and share a few of my random thoughts.

Kate Spade needs to stop advertising its sales.  Or I should just avoid all means of accessing shopping stores, websites, or literally freeze my credit cards.  There is just too much good stuff out there.  And there need to stop being sample sales next to my work.  Right now Under Armour is literally one block away and they have SO MUCH and decent prices.

I also need to create a massive buffer between me and any type of candy.  Usually I’m good about spreading out my sugar intake and saving up for the good stuff.  I don’t know what happened Monday but I must have had some underlying stress combined with lack of sleep that prevented me from realizing I was full and altering my willpower.  Oh well, what’s done is done.  I did whip up some good junk in ‘da trunk cookies to take to work and my roommate gave two thumbs up.  This helped me get rid of some of some ingredients in the kitchen.  I try not to house too much junk in my apartment, just because I know myself and know that I will dive in whenever is around, especially if I’m a bit stressed.  Eva Longoria claims the no sugar diet helps with energy and sleep.  I think I might try my hand at it.  Although I have a few sweet treat recipes coming out in the next few weeks, so no guarantees.

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made these while riding Monday’s sugar high.  The plan was to use up any remaining candy in the house and instead bring them to work for my coworkers. 🙂  They pretty much loved me and hated me at the same time. 

One more random thought – has anyone heard of the Mercury Retrograde?  Where Mercury is in such a position that impacts our communication and makes technology go haywire?  This would sort of make sense why my phone keeps acting up, I never hear it when it rings, it continued to drop calls yesterday, the washing machines in our apartment complex don’t work (one even ate my $20…I had a lovely conversation with the company about that), and the computers at work keep breaking.  Don’t believe me? Check out this Huffington Post article on the matter.

Their recommendations: editing, revising, reviewing, research, relaxing, and regrouping. Also, cleaning out clutter, organizing and catching up on paperwork are highly favored during this time. Above all, remember that this is a magical time to reconnect with the past while revisiting abandoned projects and renewing old relationships. Have a magical retrograde!

So onto food, food, food.  Breakfasts have been anything from bagels from our company’s Thursday bagel delivery to pumpkin overnight oats to a Shakeology smoothie to go.  This morning in particular I threw in half a large frozen banana and a handful of spinach.

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In terms of lunch, I finally got into the habit of prepping meals for the week on Sunday, which saves some money by not eating $12 salads every day.  As of late, lunches consist of quinoa, pepper, carrots, spinach, green beans, and hummus.  I might not be eating enough protein since I end up hungry throughout parts of the afternoon and am pretty much starving by dinner.  As you can see, the snacks are distributed throughout the afternoon and if I’m lucky, avoid most of the candy.  That is, “if” I’m lucky.

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Does anyone watch Revenge? I’m starting from the beginning on Netflix and it’s too good.  Not to mention the attractiveness of the cast 😉

IMG_0958This is my favorite dinner by far – salmon with some type of squash or sweet potato and some sauteed kale.  Add a dollop of ketchup and mustard and we are good to go.  I was still hungry after my body pump class, so some peanut butter and almond milk was added to the late night mix.  Maybe I should add some more pumpkin to my daily routine 🙂

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Here are some of my favorite recipes thus far (some are oh-so-old and desperately need to be recreated) –

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And yes, a recipe for this will be happening SOON.

Do you find yourself hungry throughout the day?  What are your favorite snacks?  Favorite fall foods?

“I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence, but it comes from within. It is there all the time.” – Anna Freud

WIAW #32 – A Flurry of Finals

First off, HAPPY FIRST DAY OF SPRING!  Now, by the time most of you read this I will still have YET to take a final.  Ok, not entirely true as I presented a number of final projects and papers last week, but my first official test will be tonight at 6:30.  That being said, let’s jump into what most of you are here for…FOOD.

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