Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Butternut Squash, Spinach, and Ricotta stuffed shells

I don't like to admit it, but I kind of have a problem when it comes to browsing Pinterest. I guess I wouldn't call it a problem per say, but I go on there more then I would like. I just can't help myself. There is sooo much stuff on there to look at! I stick to the necessities though; food, fashion, and fitness. Sometimes it dawns on me that my browsing is a waste of time and I need to stop. Other days, like the day I found this recipe, I feel like the hour I just wasted to find a single recipe was well spent. I have pinned about 130 recipes, and this is the only one I have made. In reality, I probably will not make more then 5. I would really like to though, because it would be super hard to choose those 5! I will post the original recipe I found, but I did not fully follow it. I did not measure my ingredients or have a lemon, so I could not make the recommended sauce. I wish I had had a lemon though, I bet that would have been good! My version is posted after the original recipe.

The original recipe from: http://www.prouditaliancook.com/2009/10/butternut-squash-stuffed-shells-with.html

I modified it a little for my own preferences, but it is by no means my recipe.

Butternut Squash, Spinach, and Ricotta Stuffed Shells with a lemon sage butter sauce
jumbo pasta shells
1 butternut squash
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic – chopped
½ cup Fresh or frozen spinach- or more if you want
1 egg
Salt and pepper is optional
zest and juice of 1 lemon


1.       Peel, chop and toss squash olive oil, roast at 425F for 15-20 minutes.

2.      Cook your jumbo pasta shells according to directions.

3.      In a bowl add ricotta, parmesan cheese, garlic,  spinach, egg, your cooled down roasted squash, lemon zest. Mix together, will not be a uniform mix. You will want there to be some chunks of squash.

4.      Stuff the shells with the mixture and place in a buttered baking dish.

5.      Make a sage brown butter sauce by melting 1 stick of butter in a saute pan until golden brown and bubbly

6.      Add at least 10 sage leaves until slightly crisp. Turn off heat and squeeze in fresh lemon juice.

7.      Place your shells in a 400F oven until heated through around 20-25 minutes. When finished spoon your warm sage sauce all over and sprinkle with grated parmesan.
I did not use the lemon, egg, or sage. I also did not measure the ricotta cheese. Instead of putting parmesan cheese in the mixture (I only had a tiny bit of parmesan at home), I made a light sauce with it and poured it over the top. I also only used half of a butternut squash and a couple of handfuls of torn-up spinach.  I cooked about 14 shells, and had enough of the mixture to fill about 12. This recipe says it will stuff about 12 shells, but I think you can get a lot more out of it.
Here is my finished product:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Spinach and Parmesan Cream Sauce

This is my new favorite food. I think one reason I like it so much is because I thought of it all by myself! That doesn't happen very often. I was rummaging through my refrigerator one night trying to decide what to cook for dinner. I found: spinach and parmesan cheese. Pretty exciting, I know. I had a sweet potato sitting on the counter for about a week, and decided I needed to do something with it. Noticing a trend with the veggies sitting on my counter? Let me remind you. The spaghetti squash I used in my pad thai was borderline old. Anyway, I brainstormed for a mintue on what to do with a sweet potato, spinach, and parmesan cheese. I wasn't feeling baked or mashed sweet potato and adding spinach to that just sounded boring. The obvious choice was to make pan fried gnocchi. I had made it a few times before, but always made a carbonara sauce to go with it. Parmesan cheese is my favorite cheese to make cheese sauce with, and the spinach was just there and I had to use it before it went bad. So it was settled. Sweet potato gnocchi with spinach and parmesean cream sauce was about to be created. I am giving you my recipe even though it is a little vague. I was serious when I said I do not like to measure ingredients. I just add them until it looks or tastes how I want it. I really hope you try this, I am pretty sure it would be difficult to mess it up. I really don't know though, some peole are cooking challenged....

Sweet Potato Gnocchi
2 sweet potatoes – cooked and mashed (I poke holes in mine and microwave them, about 3 min on each side for 1)
1 cup of flour- start with this and add more as needed (until the dough is not very sticky)
1 egg
1.       Mix ingredients together until a dough forms. You want it to be a manageable, not too sticky consistency.

2.       Get a pot of water boiling

3.       Take small sections of the dough and roll it out on a floured surface. Roll the dough into long, thin snake-like shapes

4.       Cut the gnocchi into ½- 1 inch long sections. It gets larger when it is boiled.

5.       Add gnocchi to boiling water and cook for about 5 min or until it is cooked to your liking (I always try a piece before taking it out of the water) I usually have to cook it in a few batches. One batch will do if you have a huge pot.

6.       While gnocchi is boiling get a pan heated up with olive oil and/or butter

7.       Add gnocchi to pan after taking it out of the water. I cook mine until it has a little crunch to it and is golden brown

Ingredients for spinach and parmesan sauce:
Fresh spinach – tear it into small pieces, as much as you want. It shrinks when it is cooked.
Butter (optional; sometimes there is enough butter left on the gnocchi from pan frying it)
Milk and/or heavy cream
Shredded parmesan cheese

I do not measure any of these ingredients. I combine them all in a sauce pan together until they are well combined and the cheese is melted. You can also add the spinach to the frying pan and sauté it with the gnocchi if you'd like. When everything is ready I dump the gnocchi into the pot and mix with the cheese sauce. This makes enough to serve 2. Depending on how much you eat, there may or may not be leftovers. It is just as good reheated!
I am working on getting the pictures to be larger. In the meantime just click on it and it will enlarge!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Flourless Fudgy Brownies!

This recpie is not one that I have created, because I am awful at creating recipes for baked goods. I have no idea where to even start when it comes to figuring out how much of what ingredient to add. This is one of my favorite recipes I have found for a gluten-free treat. There are so many gluten-free products on the market right now, but a lot of them are made from potato flour, tapioca flour, rice flour, etc. (side note: new studies are finding rice/rice products contain tiny amounts of arsenic!! From now on I will only be eating rice when I have sushi, I can't not eat sushi!). I am not feeling that. It may be gluten-free but I think I would rather eat gluten from whole grains instead of these "white" carbohydrates that don't have the lowest glycemic index. I suppose that these brownies don't have the lowest glycemic index either, considering they do have sugar in them. Oh well. They still taste really good! Sometimes that is all that matters! Sometimes. Let's not get carried away.

I found this recipe at: http://www.health-bent.com/treats/paleo-fudgy-brownies . They are calling these brownies Paleo. But they aren't. They could be though, if you tweak the recipe and leave the sugar out. I think they mention that on their page. I have to agree with the people at health-bent, these brownies do taste A LOT like "real" brownies. By "real" I mean the awful for you ones that come from a box mix.


  • 1 c almond butter
  • 1/2 c canned coconut milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/3 c cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c sugar (optional or sweetener of choice)
  • 1/3 c chocolate chips (use the highest % cocoa you can find, around 70% is good)
  • 1/3 c chopped nuts ( I used walnuts)

  • Directions:

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 x 8 baking dish.
    In a bowl whisk together the almond butter, coconut milk, eggs, vanilla extract and salt. Then add the cocoa powder, sugar, and chocolate chips.
    Pour into the prepared baking dish and top with chopped nuts.
    Bake for approx. 18 minutes.

    Of course I do not have a picture for you! Suprised? You shouldn't be! I could have borrowed the one from health-bent's page but those are not the brownies I made, so I didn't.

    Monday, November 19, 2012

    Flourless pancakes!

    I have been going through an "anti-grain as a source of carbohydrate" phase. It has been on and off for the last 3 months, and there is no one reason in particular. I have been experimenting with cooking with different types of flour and no flour. I am really liking coconut and almond flours. Coconut flour has about 11g less carbohydrates in 100g than white flour does. Over half of the carbohydrates in 100g of coconut flour is fiber. Also, the glycemic index isn't too high. So even though coconut flour is a source of carbohydrates, it is a better source then refined white flour that will cause your blood glucose to spike and leave you hungry only a short while later. Coconut flour is also a more healthy option than whole-wheat/whole-grain flours.

    When I do eat foods made from "regular" flour, it is whole-grain, 99% of the time. Even though whole-grain flours are more healthy than enriched white flour, sometimes I still feel like they are "empty calories". I know that they provide heart-healthy fiber and some other semi-beneficial things, but for the amount of calories in bread, pasta, etc, I would rather be filling up on a lighter, healthier option. I really like bread, pasta, and baked goods, and I am super excited to have found healthier alternatives for making these foods.

     I don't think I would be able to fully eliminate bread, pasta, and some baked goods from my diet, nor do I have any interest in doing so. I try to eat whole-grains in moderation though, just because if I eat too many I feel bogged down and crummy. I am a pretty firm believer that it's fine to eat all foods in moderation. Some people, who do not have gluten intolerances such as Celiac Disease, willingly give up all types of grains for various reasons. People who eat "Paleo" are the main ones who come to mind. I know I have talked about Paleo eating on here in the past, and although I still disagree with some of the "facts", I am warning up to this lifestyle. I find the Paleo lifestyle very interesting, and am in love with some Paleo recipies I have found. When it comes down to it though, being Paleo is not a lifestyle that is for me. I am all about eating healthy and will continue to eat and cook several Paleo recipes, it is just not practical for me to all together eliminate grains (and dairy, but we are talking about grains today).

    I am constantly browsing the web for new recipies to try. I came across this one back in August, and I am in love with it (I forgot where I found it though, I've seen it on a couple of websites). Take note that after going on about coconut flour I am posting a recipe that uses no flour. haha.

    Almond Butter Pancakes

    1-2 ripe bananas (mashed)
    1-2 tbs almond butter
    1 egg

    Optional: blueberries and/or chopped walnuts

    Mash bananas in a bowl with a fork.
    Add in egg and almond butter, mix well. Batter will have some banana lumps.
    I use coconut oil to grease my frying pan, but use your choice of grease.
    Pour batter onto hot pan in about 3 inch round cakes (if they are larger they are harder to flip).
    Wait until bubbles form before flipping. Make sure they are cooked well and not gooey!
    I like to eat mine with maple syrup.

    I apologize for the crappy picture. I am not one to take a lot of pictures while I am cooking. The top left pancake has blueberries and walnuts, the top right has only blueberries, and the bottom one is plain. I think I like them with just walnuts, but of course I do not have a picture of that kind!


    Thursday, November 15, 2012

    Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai

    I have had a spaghetti squash sitting on my sideboard for the past two weeks. I have looked at the thing daily, but have been to lazy to make something with it. I knew what I wanted to make with it, just have not have the drive. Also for the last two weeks I have been eating more grains and carbs than what I would prefer. I go through phases with grains, like pasta and bread. Somedays I love them and other days I wish they didn't exist. I can do without them just fine, and feel a lot better and more energetic when I don't eat them. They are my "I'm in a lazy mood" go-to foods. I need to not be lazy and actually cook well-thoughtout meals. I love cooking and eating, and have so many meal ideas I want to make, but sometimes cooking is too time consuming. Atleast through all of this food laziness I have been getting in a workout daily.

    Last night I decided it was time to eat the spagetti squash and get out of my carb funk. I made spaghetti squash pad Thai! Whenever I go to a Thai restaurant, pad Thai is my go to. I cannot and will not get a way from it. I looked over a couple of recipes online, but for the most part I just did my own thing with the ingredients. I don't really like creating or following recipes. Maybe I just don't like to measure things. I didn't have some of the recommended ingredients either.

    First I baked the spaghetti squash in the oven. After it was cooked I separated the strands with a fork and set it aside. I didn't have a clove of garlic, so I just used garlic powder. I put some garlic powder and chopped scallions in a frying pan on low-medium heat. Then I added some shrimp. While that was starting to cook, I started to mix the pad Thai sauce in a bowl. I added about 3 tablespoons of fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, juice from 1 lime, and some water and vinegar. On a side note, fish sauce smells really bad. This was the first time I had ever cooked with it. It's also super salty. I do not like salty things and never add salt to anything. Also, I cut a nice gash in my thumb while I was cutting the lime in half. Anyway, I tried to stir the sauce together, but the peanut butter was making things difficult. I ended up just dumping it in the frying pan with everything else to soften the PB. Recipes online said to use sweet chili sauce. I do not have sweet chili sauce. I used a little bit of sirracha sauce instead. I also added some honey. After the sauce was blended together I added the spaghetti squash to the frying pan. I ended up adding in some more sirracha and water to tone down the fish sauce. I let everything cook together for a couple of minutes, just to make sure the spaghetti squash was fully coated with the sauce. Then I put it on a plate with some sushi I bought and dinner was served! I even used chopsticks to eat! I think the sauce I made was a little more mild then what you would get at a restaurant, but still very flavorful. It was delicous! Also very filling! I had my leftovers for lunch at work today. I will definitely be making this meal again!

    Thursday, November 8, 2012

    Adventures in Vietnamese Cooking

    So I had my first Vietnamese cooking lesson. I was at my father-in-laws house killing time with my husband, and my almost step-mother-in-law, Minh, was cooking lunch. She is from Vietnam, and is one of the best cooks I have met. I have been wanting to learn from her for a while, and finally was in the right place at the right time. I didn't think I was in the right place at the right time at first though. It started off with my husband leaving me alone with Minh. Don't get me wrong, she is great and I like her a lot, but she is a little difficult to understand. Ok, very difficult to understand. I think I get about 50% of what she says. But she is as nice as can be and does not seem to mind my ignorance. So when my husband left, I was thinking uh-oh. First we made lo-mein. Minh already had the noodles cooked, so we started off by cooking chicken to put in the lo-mein. Then we added scallions, garlic, butter, and a little soy sauce. While that mixture was cooking we put together the filling for the spring rolls, fresh rolls, I don't really know what they are called rolls. We cut up some shrimp and scallions and added them to a pot with water, garlic, and butter. Minh handed me some extra-long chop sticks to tend to the cooking. I was thinking, chop-sticks?! these are going to be helpful. Not. To make things a little more tricky, she added way too many noodles to the pot with the chicken. I was trying to toss and mix everything together without tossing the noodles out of the pan. Meanwhile, Minh was getting ready to chop up some fresh greens to add to the spring rolls. The only cutting board in sight was the one she used to cut up the raw chicken and shrimp. I was thinking, oh God, I am going to get salmonella and never going to want to eat her food again. Thankfully, she washed it. Now we were ready to put the spring rolls together. Minh told me to wash my hands before we started. When she repeated herself for the third time I caught what she said and obliged. At 5'3" I am not tall by anymeans, but next to Minh I feel like a giant. She asked me to get the rice paper down from a shelf she could not reach. After about 5 tries, I finally got the correct package down (she had a lot on the shelf and wanted the package that was already open). She did the first roll then let/told me do the rest. Rice paper is kinda hard to work with! I felt like I was working with clingy plastic wrap- you all know how fun that can be. She only laughed at me once and took one sheet of rice paper away from me after I stuck it to itself in about 16 different spots. There was no fixing that piece. Overall, the spring rolls came out decent looking. Minh made a "special sauce" to dip them in which is full of "secret ingredients". She did not teach me the "secrets". Maybe next time. She is big on sauce though. If you don't take some for youself, she will give you some. Whether you want it or not. So take the sauce. After eating, the four of us somehow got on the subject of gay marrige. Minh is all for it, which is cool. Before taking her naturalization test, she had a tutor to help her study. We learned that the tutor was a 42-year old lesbian who Minh thinks had a crush on her. Crush or not, Minh didn't mind, and some pretty funny stories. Minh said next time she will show me how to make banh xeo. Banh xeo is one of the few words I can understand from her, and it's not english. Go figure. I can't wait for that cooking lesson (for real; that is my favorite vietnamese food)!

    The finished products:

    Monday, October 1, 2012

    Foodie Penpal!

    Back in August I was roaming around the internet looking up food and food related blogs (typical) and I stumbled onto the blog theleangreenbean.com. The creator of this blog is interested in some of the same things as I am, such as eating, cooking, and fitness. And her name is also Lindsay! After browsing around the blog I found the Foodie Penpal section.

    Here is a little about it (from Lindsay's blog):

    FPP post Foodie Penpals

    -On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
    -You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
    -The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
    -You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)

    Lindsay has more information on her blog, and a link to sign up. The deadline to sign up is the 4th of every month, so there is still time to get a match for October!! I highly recommend doing it, it was so much fun! I was matched with a girl from Georgia, and another from Arkansas. I sent Dani in Georgia a box of goodies from Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts (I tried to stay local but got a little side tracked with new treats I found). Hayley in Arkansas sent me a box of goodies, and it was full of foods I had never tried/heard of! New (food) things are my favorite!

    Here is what I got:

    From left to right: homemade lemon-lime snickerdoodle cookies, mango habenero kale chips, grapefruit gummy candies, passion fruit and ginger green tea, coconut-lime sea salt (with its own grinder), and blueberry yogurt-covered prezels.

    I was absolutely thrilled when I opened this box. It was like opening a gift! I was a little hesitant at first about trying the homemade cookies, because I wasn't entirely sure if it would be safe or not. But you only live once, I love food, and I had never had, let alone heard of, lemon-lime snickerdoodle cookies. Three reasons I had to try them. The fact that they are cookies also helped. These were easily the best cookies I have ever had! The lemon-lime flavor added a certain refeshing feel to them. The cinnamon and sugar did not interfere in any weird way with the lemon and lime. Hayley was kind enough to send me a recipe for these little gems!

    I was really excited to try the kale chips. They are something I have been meaning to try for a while, but have not gotten around to it. For some reason I couldn't bring myself to buy them. This is not a flavor that I would have bought myself; I love mango, but not so much habenero or anything hot (I am a huge wuss with hot/spicy foods). The flavor was pretty good, but a little too hot for me.

    The grapfruit candy was so good! Very refreshing and flavorful. I am not big on eating candy, but would consider buying these if I could find them!

    The passion fruit and ginger green tea was also very good. Passion tea and green tea are the only types of tea I drink (other then Thai iced tea), so this was the perfect combination! I also love the colorful container :)

    I haven't tried the coconut-lime sea salt yet, but am looking forward to it! I love both coconut and lime so I am pretty excited about cooking with this. I am thinking coconut-lime shrimp or tequilla lime chicken will be in my near future.

    I am not a huge fan of pretzels or yogurt covered anything, but the blueberry yogurt covered pretzels were amazing! I would definitely buy these to snack on if I could find them. I am so glad Hayley sent these to me, they are something that I probably would not have tried otherwise.

    Except for the cookies, Hayley bought everything from Fresh Market. I really need to find this store! I was a little surprised to hear that Hayley is a junior in high school. I should not assume things, but I was expecting my penpal to be closer to my age. I think it is great that she is so interested in food and cooking at her age. She also wants to go to college to become a registered dietitian! Pretty cool if you ask me!

    Now a little bit about what I sent Dani in Georgia:

    Bottom left to right:
    Bob's Red Mill gluten-free all purpose flour- because Dani has a gluten-sensitivity and loves to bake.
    The True Nut maple coconut roasted almonds- these sounded delicious, and involve maple (very New Englandy).
    Marshmallow fluff- I heard that this is something that is either hard to find in the south, or non-existant. I also gave Dani my grandmother's peanut butter fudge recipe to try out.
    Blueberry honey- for a little taste of two foods that are common in Maine, both of which I love (and I like supporting local Maine businesses).
    Raye's Stoneground Mustard- mustard is pretty versatile and Raye's is the best (and made in Maine)!

    I hope you enjoyed reading about my Foodie Penpal experience! I look forward to doing it again in the future, and definitely encourage others to try it. It was a great way for me to learn about and experience new foods. I enjoyed learning about someone else's food interests and dietary restrictions. I had a great time shopping for Dani and browsing cool New England foods.

    Sunday, August 5, 2012

    Back on the Blog! Plus Paleo opinions

    It has been far too long since my last post! I have been back in Maine now since February, and now that I am cooking all the time again, I felt I should start sharing. Unfortunately, I do not have anything specific to post today. I thought about posting the gluten-free cauliflower pizza that I made the other day, BUT I was too excited to eat (as usual) that I forgot to take pictures. That means I will have to make it again...soon (yay!!).

    On another note, I have recently been looking into the Paleo diet/lifestyle. Not because I want to follow it, I am just curious. As a nutrition enthusiast I want to stay current/educated on trends in the nutrition world. I have been kind of skeptical of the "diet" thus far, and figured if I am going to continue to criticize things about it I should know the details. So far the diet doesn't look all that bad, but I do have my issues with it. The main issue I have is not with the diet itself, but with how Dr. Loren Cordain, author of The Paleo Diet, portrays dietitians and nutritionists, and blames the USDA's MyPyramid for obesity. In one instance he gives an example of a "typical American's" day of eating. This made-up person consumed mostly refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pastries. Dr. Cordain then goes on to say that nutritionists and dietitians probably find this to be acceptable because the person ate 6-11 servings of carbohydrates. To me that claim is absurd. NO dietitian or nutritionist would EVER think that a diet full of white-flour products is ok. Just because there may be several Americans out there who do eat like this regularly does not make it ok. Another issue I have with the Paleo diet is that fat-free dairy is excluded. I agree with their reasons not to consume full-fat dairy, but I could not find anywhere in the book where it gave reasons not to have fat-free dairy. It is low in calories, and high in protein. I guess cavemen did not milk cows. However, beef is allowed in the diet. So apparently cows were in existence. Lastly, by looking at more recent Paleo information, is seems as though bacon is allowed in the diet. In Dr. Cordain's book, and other Paleo books/blogs I have read, bacon is not allowed. Now people are condoning bacon by using the nitrate-free stuff. I wonder how many Paleo followers actually go for the nitrate-free type. I have also heard of these bacon eaters eating bacon almost daily and saving the grease to put in other Paleo recipes. That seems a little extreme to me, and contradicts the low saturated fat premise that is supposedly part of being Paleo. Don't get me wrong, I like bacon, and it tastes great, but it is not the healthiest choice out there.

    Now that my rant is over, I do have some pro- Paleo thoughts. I have found a few Paleo blogs that I like a lot. The recipes that the bloggers share sound amazing, and I plan to make as many as I can. I do like the Paleo idea of decreasing the amount of bread and pasta in one's diet. I only eat whole-grain products, but do feel a little bogged down sometimes. I look forward to start cooking with almond and coconut flours. I love how you can still eat carbohydrate items, but by changing the type of flour you use, the recipes becomes much more healthy. For example, using coconut flour instead of regular flour for pancakes and muffins (I made both of these today!). The Paleo lifestyle is overall extremely healthy, and I love that processed foods and bad fats are eliminated. I'm excited to start trying some Paleo recipes and eating cleaner! Wish me luck :)

    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    Eating Healthy in a Dorm Setting

    Throughout college I never lived in a dorm, so I never had to worry about this. Now that I am staying in a dorm-like setting while visiting Mississippi, it has become a reality for me. While in college it was common knowledge that students living in a dorm ate ramen noodles ALL the time. I am not completely sure why ramen noodles are so popular among dorm students. Maybe it's that ramen noodles are incredibly cheap, or maybe partly because the students' only means of cooking in the dorms are microwaves. Whatever the reason, there are plenty of other options available.

    While staying in Mississippi my room consists of a microwave, small refrigerator, a toaster, and counter and cabinet space. At first it took a little thinking on how I would go about eating healthy while staying here. I cook all the time when I am at home, and was not entirely thrilled to have to eliminate fresh seafood and pasta from my shopping list. The restaurants here are fantastic but I know better than to eat at them every day. The food is ok in moderation, and I would go poor very quickly. After getting into the swing of things my grocery list looks something like this:

    deli turkey
    cheddar cheese slices
    Greek yogurt
    instant oatmeal
    Kashi whole-grain pita chips
    whole-grain bread
    Kind almond and fruit bars
    chocolate milk
    Odwalla smoothies
    bottled water
    Kashi frozen meals
    dry roasted almonds
    The Laughing Cow mini Baby Bell cheese
    Starkist tuna pouches
    peanut butter

    This list is kind of a modified version of my shopping list while I am home. There is more processed foods on my list then I would like to have, but I am conscious of what they are and try not to go overboard. The processed foods on my list could be a lot worse. I am not an overall fan of frozen meals, but there are some decent ones out there. I like the Kashi Mayan Harvest Bake. It is a vegetarian meal and has 380 mg of sodium. Lately I have been having 3 small meals and 2-3 snacks throughout the day. I seem to feel more energetic by splitting my calories up and not gorging myself on large amounts of food at each meal. I try to eat protein with each meal/snack. Protein is good for your muscles and cells, and it helps prolong the feeling of satiety. Some of my favorite snacks are Greek yogurt, a handful of almonds and a banana, or baby bell cheese with a couple of whole-grain crackers. 

    You may have noticed there are not any vegetables on my grocery list. That is because I usually go to the cafeteria once a day for my veggie fix. I typically have a big salad for supper with carrots, broccoli, chick peas and cucumbers. Sometimes I add chicken breast or a hard boiled egg. If I do not eat salad as my meal, I still get a small side salad, or make sure to eat another type of vegetable (or two). I would frequent the cafeteria more often, but it has limited hours, and is super busy at lunch time. The Odwalla drinks that I buy are a great source of fruit, and replace the smoothies that I typically make at home. I stick with the Superfood line, and drink one for breakfast along with eating something small.

    Two new things that I have tried while being down here are dried fruit and dry roasted edamame. I have had dried fruit in the past and never really cared for it, so I decided to give it another go. I tried dried pineapple and mango, and it confirmed that I still don't like it. The edamame is ok, but I think it might be an acquired taste. I wanted to try the edamame because it is relatively low in calories and saturated fat, and it is high in fiber and protein.

    Along with eating healthy, I have also been going to the gym or running outside 5-6 times a week. About an hour before exercising I try to have some kind of small snack, usually almonds or an almond and fruit bar. During the workout I make sure to take a few water breaks to stay hydrated. After exercising I skip the Gatorade/Powerade type drinks and go for chocolate milk instead. Exercise scientist of University of Connecticut, William Lunn, PhD, says "The combination of carbohydrates and protein in low-fat chocolate milk appears to be "just right" for refueling weary muscles". Gatorade-like drinks typically do not contain protein, and they have around 14g of sugar per serving. Low-fat chocolate milk has about 8 g of protein per 8 oz.

    Tips to Eating Healthy in a Dorm Setting:

    *Avoid high calorie, low nutrient processed foods such as chips, candy, and baked goods.
    *Always eat breakfast!! A complete breakfast is made up of foods from at least 3 different food groups. 
    *Fresh and/or dried fruit make great snacks (watch out for added sugar on dried fruits).
    *Stay hydrated! Increase water consumption, decrease soda/sugary drinks.
    *Choose healthy options at the dining hall such as fish (not fried), lean meats, and vegetables/salad.
    *Limit "comfort foods" such as pizza, mac & cheese, french fries, and other fried foods.
    *If you have a craving for a not so good for you food, eat it in moderation. If you fight your urge you may splurge on it later on.
    *Make your own sandwiches instead of buying them pre-made, you have more control over what goes in them.
    *Turkey jerky makes a great snack and is low in fat and high in protein.
    *Nuts are great for you and make great snacks! Try almonds, pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, or Brazil nuts. Check out the link to see health benefits of those top five nuts: 





    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    The TatoNut Shop: Round 2

    We went back to TatoNut today!! These doughnuts are addicting. I have been thinking about them everyday for the past week. As I mentioned in my last post, TatoNut doughnuts are made with potato flour. I assumed that meant they are gluten-free, but today I found out they are not. The potato flour is the main ingredient, but it is blended with wheat flour. This does not change my mind about the doughnuts; they are still, and always will be amazing. However, I am sorry to anyone out there who cannot eat gluten.

    On another note, The TatoNut Shop also has a huge variety of gourmet coffee and smoothies. I had my usual caramel iced cofee, but couldn't help but notice the glass containers full of different flavored coffee beans. They give you the option to purchase the coffee beans, or freshly grind them onsite. Some the more unique flavors I noticed were German Chocolate Cake, Brazil Ipanema, Irish Cream, Tanzanian Pearberry, Cinnamon Butter Cookie and Creme Brulee. I have heard of creamers with some of these flavors, but not the coffee itself. 

    The TatoNut shop is located at 1114 Government Street in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Trip Advisor ranks TatoNut the #1 (out of 67) Restaurant in Ocean Springs.

    The long doughnuts in the picture are called the "Glazed Katrina", named after Hurricane Katrina. Ocean Springs was one of the many towns in Southern Mississippi that was affected by the hurricane. The doughnut on the front right is the cinnamon sugar cake doughnut and the one on the left is my favorite, the regular glazed.

    TatoNut has the classic doughnuts, as pictured above, but they also feature doughnuts such as maple glazed, blueberry cake, Persians (honeybun-like doughnuts), and powdered jelly-filled doughnuts.