My And Rachael Ray’s Best Friend

Posted on May 17, 2010. Filed under: Health | Tags: , |

Before I dive into today’s subject, a quick recap from the weekend:

Today I’ve gone to my old high school’s graduation. I can’t wait to see the entire class I used to know, only younger, and all my old teachers. This reminds me of when I went back to my elementary school; I’m sure it will feel weird at first but be a blast in the end. Have you ever gone back to old places? Did things change or stay the same?

In the mean time, I wanted to draw your attention to something I can not live without: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or, as RR would say, EVOO.

First of all, what is it? Extra virgin olive oil is the oil from the first pressing of freshly picked, raw olives. It’s a dietary fat liquid at room temperature which contains 14% saturated fat, mostly monounsaturated fats, and about a 1:15 omega 3:omega 6 ratio. Extra virgin has the most pungent flavor and is the least refined of the olive oils.

Extra Virgin Olive Oils

Extra Virgin Olive Oils

Extra virgin olive oil was the only liquid fat I used  in my dorm, and I used it quite a bit. I love it to roast vegetables, as in my sweet potato fries, or simple broccoli. It’s great to heat in a pan and cook potato chunks, or to drizzle over a chickpea salad.

I mentioned in this post all the ways I like to save money by buying store brand. Olive oil is one of the foods that I would say you do not want to be cheap on. Splurge! A good bottle will last and it is worth the investment. I love bringing back olive oil from Europe whenever I’ve gone on vacation there.

Sicilian Olive Oil

Sicilian Olive Oil

This olive oil was recently 50% off at Whole Foods and I literally cannot wait to finish my old bottle and open this up. Each olive oil taste different depending on the season, the olives, the location, and every other factor. And extra virgin tastes moreso different because it’s the most pungent in flavor.

Grecian Olive Oil

Grecian Olive Oil

My own personal favorite olive oil comes from Greece(I suppose this was bound to happen being a Classicist). Don’t be afraid to try different olive oils to find the one right for you. Traditional practice has it that you dip bread in a saucer to give each a try, but I wouldn’t judge if you sipped a spoonful straight 😉

This post even has great tips on how to fancify your own oil.

Vegan, Gluten-Free Cake

Vegan, Gluten-Free Cake

And did you know that chocolate and olive oil pair really well together in baked goods? When I baked this cake, I made the curious substitution of EVOO for canola oil. Could you taste it? Yes. But it was in an absolutely beautiful way. Cocoa powder is naturally bitter(especially non-alkalined which I buy); it needs sugar to make it sweet and fat to make it rich. Olive oil lends a fruitiness to the chocolate.

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Unplanned Is Better Than Not As Planned

Posted on May 10, 2010. Filed under: Daily Update, Recipe | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

In case you missed the weekend:

I live off to-do lists and plans(you should see my to-do list for today. Yikes!). It should then be understandable that I’m no happy camper when things don’t come out 110% like I planned.

Vegan Tiger Fudge

Vegan Tiger Fudge

The “new recipe” I alluded to was vegan tiger fudge: a layer of vegan chocolate fudge with a layer of peanut butter fudge on top. After a few hours, the top never set, so while this was tasty, it wasn’t wholly “fudge”. Boo 😦 It’s back to the drawing board for that recipe. On the bright side, my vegan chocolate fudge tastes as good as ever.

As opposed to not-according-to-planned, things that are unplanned have seemed to have great success recently. Betty White never planned that she would actually get on SNL, and she was hysterical. Amy Adams in Leap Year didn’t plan to fall in love with the Irishman she hired to take her to Dublin(even though it was the most predictable plot-line ever), and that worked out for her. And this dinner, while completely made on the fly, was fantastic:

EVOO Seared Sweet Potato And Chickpeas

EVOO Seared Sweet Potato And Chickpeas

EVOO Seared Sweet Potato And Chickpeas

EVOO Seared Sweet Potato And Chickpeas

How could something so simple be so good? This was just sweet potato chunks roasted and then seared in a little olive oil with the chickpeas added at the end to finish them off in the oil, and heaped on spinach. It was 5 ingredients with the salt(gotta have the salt), and that was all this needed. Best of all, it combined two of my favorites: sweet potatoes and chickpeas. Love it! Anyone else want to boast a kitchen success story out there?

Oatmeal With Chocolate Peanut Butter

Oatmeal With Chocolate Peanut Butter

Cascadian Farms Organic Vanilla Chip Bar

Cascadian Farms Organic Vanilla Chip Bar

Maple Sugar Maple Leaf

Maple Sugar Maple Leaf

It was certainly unplanned that I turn in to the carb king between dinner and breakfast this morning(add in the tiger fudge from before and you’ve got yourself a few meals there). And I’ll admit: It had me feeling a little down. Until I realized what those unplanned carbs could do for me.

12.1 Miles In 1:46:48

12.1 Miles In 1:46:48

As a sort of “Last Hurrah”, I ran on the treadmill watching The Today Show and my other morning television for a strong and unplanned 12.1 miles. Hurrah! My entire gym set up is a luxury of convenience I will sorrowfully miss over the Summer.

Mighty Maple Oatmeal, Pineapple Chobani, Gingerade Kombucha

Mighty Maple Oatmeal, Pineapple Chobani, Gingerade Kombucha

After all that, I’m happy to be sitting and having a well-balanced, moderately-sweetened breakfast with Mighty Maple and a pineapple Chobani. And, yes, that would be a Gingerade Kombucha at breakfast no less. It’s the only thing keeping me sane today between my to-do list and walking up and down 3 flights of stairs to cook and do laundry.

What do you do when a recipe’s a flop? My gut response: Call the neighbors over. If it’s something bready, I can usually crumble it over yogurt and call it granola. But with anything chocolate and sweet, just hand me a spoon and let the pity party commence.

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Feel Good Fueling Well

Posted on March 8, 2010. Filed under: Daily Update | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I am so happy Monday is over; it’s amazing how much ended up getting done today and needing to be. And the prize? Kicking back with my feet up, scrapping to finish up work, trying not to think about the 6:15 alarm I have now. This week is packed! I have 6 engagements I wouldn’t otherwise have–some for fun, some having me looking for the exit–so I need to be fueling well all along(aka, there’s an interesting blurb from me at the end on fueling)

Gourmet Groceries

While I had tofu pressing and laundry spinning, I got an email to go pick up a package. Can’t it come to me? Well, I threw on clothes to go get it and it was the jungle peanuts I ordered. In fact, between shipments to home and here, I got a good number of fun foods in the past 48 hours. A little while ago I might have gone internet-shopping happy; all but the Tropical Traditions coconut creme were my own purchases, and the creme is to review. I can’t wait “playing” with all of these, though! Chia seeds sound so good and nutritious, and cacao butter will make some mighty chocolate if I can figure out how to use it.

Preparing A Burger

I had planned to have maple baked tofu for lunch(I even had it in the oven), but swinging by the dining hall for veggies on the way back to my dorm really had me craving meat. I believe my words were, “Screw tofu, this is burger weather.” I removed a frozen 90/10 burger I had from 2 weeks ago and cooked that from frozen. Really, for decent flavor and cooking, 85/15 is the better option.

90/10 Quarter Pounder With Ketchup, Roasted Broccoli And Sweet Potato Rounds With EVOO, Root Beer Zevia

Yep. It was definitely burger weather. The roasted vegetables with EVOO drizzled on top was just what I wanted. My only complaint would be that between this, Days Of Our Lives, and folding/putting away laundry, there wasn’t much sitting down and enjoying the meal :-/ Otherwise, I try to make it a point to eat slowly and savor each bite.

Wild Jungle Peanut Butter

With laundry done, I broke out the food processor to–you guessed it–make peanut butter with my wild jungle peanuts. I only used half the batch, and ground until a thick paste. I’m just glad no one dropped by to ask what the noise was 😉 As I was talking about with Gina, really, the greatest thing you can do for nutritional benefits in making your own peanut butter is keeping the skins on; I’ll be interested how “wild” these jungle peanuts taste.

Oikos Yogurt With Dark Chocolate Crunch Truffle

Like I mentioned, I didn’t sit down and savor much of that meal, so no surprise when I was hungry for a quick dessert. I added some NuNaturals alcohol free vanilla stevia(also included in the shopping spree) droplets to a plain Oikos and then broke up a ChocAlive! dark chocolate crunch truffle on top. Yum! I’m still not sure how I feel about stevia in yogurt instead of just sugar/when to use it, but whenever it is such I like the alcohol free vanilla flavor for a clean, pure sweetness. And the truffle was good because… well just when is chocolate not?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Amazing Grass Bar

I was hoping the dessert would hold me over through extracurricular appointment #1 and beyond. It did the first part but soon after getting back I grabbed this chocolate peanut protein Amazing Grass bars. I can not afford to keep these around because… well, I eat them. I think this was bought on sale, though. It was also my last one 😦 I would have thought all this protein throughout the day would have been more satisfying. I would have been wrong.

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

I’ve had this chocolate chia pudding gelling for a bit too long; I’d been avoiding eating it because… well, it scares me? But I was hungry enough that it didn’t even matter. I could only get through 1/3 to 1/2 of it before throwing it away; chocolate chia pudding is not for me. So then that wasn’t very substantial, which called for another bar.

Peanut Choco' Nature's Path Organic Bar

This time I went for a peanut-choco Nature’s Path bar. Sense a theme of flavors throughout today? Usually I reserve these for pre-run fueling, because they do have a good deal of sugar compared to other ingredients, but it was at hand and a tiny snack to hold me over while dinner was in the oven.

Roasted Indian Chickpeas And Broccoli

For tonight, I thought I’d try something Monica inspired. Would ya’ll believe I never have roasted chickpeas? I tossed these with EVOO and indian spice along with some broccoli. I know–this is the second time I ate roasted broccoli today. But while the oven’s on why not roast some broccoli? It’s that good. The chickpeas, on the other hand, will not be a new obsession; they just tasted… more stale? Oh well. They also felt more like finger food than any protein I know. I resisted eating them with my fingers, though, because I was at extracurricular #2. I try to have some manners.

Feel Good Fueling Well

Since I feel it’s my duty with a blog called Food Makes Fun Fuel to talk about fueling sometimes as opposed to just food, I will! Let me first assure you it’s easy for anyone in any walk of life to feel a little “blah” on days where they’re a bottomless pit. Today, I couldn’t help but get down on myself for how much random snacking I did.  I’d just rather I had sat down to a bigger, less-processed mid-day meal at some point(chocolate avocado pudding crossed my mind but non of my avocadoes are ripe :-(). But, regardless of snacking or meal-eating, you should always feel good fueling well.

Bottom line number 1: If you’re hungry for it, eat it. There’s no two ways about this one; if you’re hungry, even if it’s not within your “routine” schedule, it’s important to eat. Not doing so can actually throw you more off routine

How much is it really? Here, the key is thinking macro, not macro. Today I ran 12 miles this morning. OK, that accounts for some extra hunger. But also look at your workouts on a weekly schedule. I am running a lot more recently, and my body anticipates more running to come. It’s right! So it needs more fuel.

Want to avoid any guilt? Get away from knowledge–knowledge of calories that is. Depending your intent or method, this may not be for you. But personally I feel much better knowing as little about the exact nutrition content of my meals as I can, which also corresponds to eating whole foods. An apple doesn’t come with a calorie content! Today, I can pinpoint just how many calories/fat/protein/sugars were in my plain Chobani(100), oatmeal grains(105), Oikos(80), truffle(66), Amazing Grass bar(270), and Nature’s Path bar(140), and I can guestimate the 1/2 a cupcake(100). Beyond that, there’s plenty of foods I don’t know that much about, and I’m happier with those. Like I said, ideally this list would be even shorter, but today was an off day(ripen, avocadoes, ripen!).

I think that satisfies my “fueling” obligation for the week. Don’t forget to guess among my sea of lies! I’ll tell the truth tomorrow morning 🙂 But I’m loving the guesses, haha. And now, in honor of proper fueling, plenty of dishes are crossing my mind, not the least of which is this winner from breakfast 😉

Agave Sweetened Greek Yogurt With 1/2 Vanilla Cupcake And Jelly Beans

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