Monday, February 28, 2011

I May Be Orange Forever

A few months ago I was hanging out with boyfriend, minding my own business, and thinking about how great he is and how he's so understanding of my feelings and careful about saying things I could take and run wild with and turn into insults in my head. He was holding my hands, and I was thinking, "This is so nice," when he abruptly asked,

"Why are your hands orange?"

I thought, 'What is he talking about? Is he right? Oh my gosh, is this a deal breaker? That diamond's not going to look nearly as nice on my finger if he's right. He's totally going to ditch me for a girl with normal-colored hands.'

And I said, "What?"

"Look at your palms, they're orange."

And he is right. Other people have since asked me why my hands are orange. My dad (a knowledgeable man, and a doctor) says they're "in the range of normal." Well that's good news. I guess boyfriend can't use that as an excuse to escape.

I'm reasonably confident I know why my hands are a little orange. It's my beta-carotene consumption. Don't get me wrong, beta-carotene is an awesome nutrient, dietary vitamin A, which we need for lots of things. But really, I eat a lot of it:
I eat carrots like I'm getting paid for it - whole, peel on, like Bugs Bunny.
I also love sweet potatoes in basically everything. And DIY sweet potato fries. Or roasted rounds.
And lots of spinach and pumpkin, also primary sources.

The point is to say that I have no plans to change soon. Why? Because Saturday night I made a very orange Curry Sweet Potato Stew, and it might just be the best thing I've made this year. The spice blend and lentils are inspired by a Veganomicon recipe, and seriously, I wish I could feed this to all of you. It's like a warm nutritious sweet and spicy blanket for your wounded soul. Or stomach. Both.

Curry Sweet Potato Stew
Makes 10 cups. 350 calories per 2 cup serving. 
1 tbsp oil
1 onion diced
5 carrots sliced
1 large sweet potato cut in chunks
1 tbsp curry powder (15 g - ok that's a little extra. I love curry.)
1/2 tsp turmeric (2 g)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (2 g)
1/2 tsp cumin (2 g)
1/2 tsp coriander (2 g)
1 tsp ground ginger (4 g)
1.5 cups red lentils
2 cups veggie broth
3 cups water
2 tbsp cilantro
Juice of 1 lime 

1. Sautee onion over medium heat a few minutes, then add spices, cook 1 minute.
2. Add carrots, give it a minute.
3. Add liquids (broth and water), bring to a boil.
4. Add lentils, cover and simmer 12 mins (they'll get mushy). 
5. Add potatoes, simmer about another 25-30 mins until potatoes are tender. 
6. Add cilantro and lime (or just do this bowl by bowl). 

Also, a chutney really takes this to the next level. I like the Mango-Ginger Chutney from Trader Joe's. What don't I love from Trader Joe's? I'll forget about those wasabi peas. 

All this to say, I'm orange, but I'm happy with my dinner. What's more important really?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

National Strawberry Day

According to various food holiday web lists, today is National Strawberry Day. It seems like a weird day for it, considering it's February and they're not in season, but they were on sale at the grocery store and I've never been one to pass up celebrating an obscure holiday. Or strawberries.

So a highlight of today's food was: Spinach Balsamic Strawberry Salad. Jiminy Christmas.

That said, I also ate a LOT of other food. It wasn't an overeating day, though I do have those, it was just a planned increase in intake. That's because I had a 9 mile run this morning to train for my race coming up, and I like to add in at least a few extra calories on those days to support the training. In fact, that salad was just a light afternoon snack.

Food 1: Post-workout pre-breakfast SIAWG.

What's a SIAWG? You may or may not be familiar with the acronym SIAB - smoothie in a bowl. 

Well this is a Smoothie in a Wine Glass. 

Maple Nut Smoothie
In the mix: 
1 tbsp almonds 
1/8 cup peanut flour 
1 oz. maple syrup
Big handfuls spinach
ice cubes
1/2 cup almond milk
60 g soy yogurt
guar gum

And topped with a tablespoon of walnuts. It has 8.5 g fiber and 20 g protein, and tastes like my favorite waffle toppings: maple and peanut butter. 

Food 2: Breakfast, leftover Pumpkin Crepes with Maple Banana Butter.

Food 3: Leftover Orange "Chicken" Quinoa Medley. This was the last of it, in case you're sick of this picture:

Food 4: I tried to eat some wasabi peas. I haven't tried them since I was a little kid. Yuck. Still awful. Anyone want some? I have a whole bag. 

Food 5: Baby apple.

Food 6: The above Strawberry Balsamic Salad.

Food 7: I unfroze the last batch of this Thai Red Curry and had it with Trader Joe's Thai Lime Pilaf rice. 

Food 8: Coming up still, some vegan hot chocolate. 

Besides the run, it was just a study day. This week is going to be pretty crazy. It really never ends does it?

I'm watching the Academy Awards now, and otherwise this evening I do have some more study ambitions.

Happy Sunday friends. Let's dominate this week. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pumpkin Crepes with Banana-Maple Butter

Today I woke up bright and early even though it's Saturday. I'll probably need a nap in the afternoon though, because I didn't fall asleep until kind of late. I did a little yoga with the rain outside (which has now stopped...sad face) and it was beyond relaxing.

I wanted to cook something new for breakfast, and Chelsea recently wrote about pumpkin pie pancakes, so taking some inspiration from there, I made some crepes. I've never mastered crepes the way my mom has. Hers are impossibly thin, but I've realized I rather like mine a bit thicker and fluffier; they really hold their own to blend with the toppings.

Vegan Pumpkin Crepes with Banana-Maple Butter
1. These aren't sweet crepes, which makes them a great wholesome vehicle (with whole wheat flour!) for a sweet banana topping like this one, but they would also pair easily in a savory dish. I'm thinking of trying a vegan sage cheese sauce...we'll see. 
2. I use Ener-G egg replacer in this one. If you're not vegan/allergic, you just need 2 eggs instead. 
3. This made 13 small crepes. I find it works best to make them little because too much batter will result in too thick a crepe. 

For Crepes:
(13 crepes. 50 calories each.)
All-purpose flour: 1/2 cup (60 g)
Whole wheat flour: 1/2 cup (60 g)
Powder for 2 Ener-G eggs: 3 tsp (8 g)
Baking powder: 1/2 tsp (2 g)
Salt: 1/2 tsp (2 g)
Vanilla extract: 1 tsp (4 g)
Pumpkin Puree: 1/2 cup (123 g)
Non-dairy milk (used Almond): 1 cup (8 oz.)
Agave: 1/2 tbsp (11 g)
Water: 1/4 cup (2 oz.)
Spices: Ground Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Allspice and/or Cloves totaling 2-3 tsp (8-12 g)
(The spices are easily customizable, or you can use Pumpkin Pie Spice)

For Topping:
(2 servings, 75 calories each)
1 banana
Ground flax: 2 tsp (4 g)
Non-dairy milk: 1/4 cup (2 oz.)
Maple syrup (I have sugar-free right now): 1 tbsp (1/2 oz.)

1. Combine all crepe ingredients in food processor, blender, or vigorously by hand. (If you're using regular eggs it's easy by hand, but the egg replacer doesn't mix in quite as easily, so some electronic help is nice). 
2. Scoop in scant 1/4 cup measures onto a pan sprayed with oil over medium heat.
3. Tilt pan to spread quickly, then wait for bubbles to form and edges to curl, a couple minutes
4. Flip, cook another minute. 
5. Continue cooking one by one. 
6. Meanwhile, combine all topping ingredients in a bowl and whisk/mash banana with a fork. It will thicken as it sets into sweet banana "butter." 
7. Plate. Love.

Now I'm ready to go on with my day, which may just include more cooking. I love Saturday. 
Tomorrow it's nose back to the study grindstone, so I'll enjoy it while I can. Also, nose to the grindstone is a weird phrase. Is it like, someone's working hard in a profession that requires a grindstone? Or is this hypothetical person's nose literally getting ground by this stone? Because that sounds awful. And feels like my life sometimes. But not today. Today there are crepes. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Happy Birthday Gennaya!

Tomorrow is my roommate Gennaya's birthday, but we got to celebrate today. She also just got engaged, which makes her awesome x2.

First, though, we had to have a normal school day.

Workout: 4 mile run
Breakfast: Oh my days what a delightful oatmeal bowl:
Maple Mocha Peanut Butter Oats
1 tbsp (1/2 oz.) maple syrup
1/2 tbsp (5 g) Ghirardelli Chocolate Mocha powder
1/2 tbsp (8 g) peanut butter 
4 g flax meal
Plus the usual 1/2 cup oats + 2 oz. milk + 5 oz. water

After 4 hours of class and a rather non-productive afternoon of coffee shop studying, it was time to head over to Color Me Mine for birthday celebration part I. It's one of those places where you buy a ready-made ceramic and paint it, and we had a seriously great time, all art inabilities considered. 

Molly, Laura, Katie

Johanna, Emily

Me, Johanna

The birthday girl + Matthew (the fiance)

My unfinished "Small tilt bowl"
I'm certain you'll be seeing this later, when it's finished and I put food in it. 

Post-painting we went to Qdoba (a burrito bar). Naked burrito = no tortilla:

Then home for celebration (Disney-themed) and cake! It's not vegan but I did eat a couple of the dark chocolate shavings off the top. It's chocolate with vanilla frosting, made by the loving hands of Matthew under the tutelage of Katie (who is a remarkable baker - I want to be like her someday). 

Happy Birthday Gennaya!

Orange "Chicken" Quinoa Medley

This has made great meals this week. It's inspired by a combination of the quinoa stir-fry boyfriend makes for me, and some flavor pairings from Vegan Planet. These amounts made about 5 me-meal-sized bowls. With the vegan chicken and the quinoa, it's high in protein, and the orange makes the flavors bright, but clean and simple.

Quinoa - 1 cup (170 g)
Veggie stock - 2 cups
Oil (for sauteeing)
Frozen corn - 1 lb (1 bag)
Onion - 1 medium, diced
Broccoli - 4 crowns, cut into florets
Vegan Chicken (used Trader Joe's Chickenless Strips) - 27 strips (1 package)
Soy sauce - 1 tbsp
Orange juice - of 3 oranges
Zest of one of the oranges
(next time, I would also add in some of the orange "meat" as well as the juice)

1. Place chicken and soy sauce in a bowl.
2. Squeeze oranges into bowl (aggressively - no juice left behind), let sit while continuing.
3. Place veggie stock in a pot and bring to a boil, and quinoa, cover and reduce heat. 
4. Simmer about 12 mins.
5. Meanwhile, heat oil over med/high heat in a (very) large pan, add onion, corn, and broccoli.
5. Cook about 2 minutes, then add chicken with marinade.
6. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
7. Mix in cooked quinoa and orange zest.
8. Plate, bowl, or scoop directly from the pan.

(I decided not to use the sugar, but it would have gone in the marinade)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What Do You Mean I Have Too Much Fun?

OR "what I actually do when I'm not dodging my studies and taking weekend trips"

I was talking to my mom last night (Happy Birthday again mom!) and she mentioned she really liked my blog, which is one of those wonderful things mothers have to say but it's still nice to hear.

But THEN. She said, "You have too much fun."

To be fair, she certainly would never begrudge me as much fun as I could possibly fit into my life, and was just making the observation that I seem to record mostly the playtime in my life, but it made me think, "Do I have too much fun?"

Somewhere between studying all the time and playing all the time is a balance that has to work. Sometimes I DO worry that I sit too far on the "well-rounded" side of my life and I should scooch myself over to the dead-in-the-eyes over-caffeinated never-without-flashcards-or-notes-even-while-driving, haven't-seen-a-TV-show-in-months, not-sure-if-I'm-still-in-a-relationship scary medical student way of life. Just a bit. Balance is EXTREMELY important to me, but I wonder sometimes if I use it as an excuse just to study less? Less than I should?

It's an ongoing battle.

Point being, I want to record a normal day in my life that is not too much about fun, and looks more like the actual non-slacker mildly knowledgeable medical student I intend to be. And I also want to prove to my mom that it's not all weekend trips up the coast.

5 am: Wake up. I have One Republic's "All the Right Moves" as my alarm song. It's dark at 5 am. Hit snooze once. I really shouldn't do that.
5:30 am: After a slow trip out of bed and a stumble into my running clothes, I made it out of the house for a 3 miler. I felt heavy and slow and blech. I might be getting sick.

6:30 am: Immediately after showering, getting dressed and my devotional, I remembered this:
All the laundry that I'd left to dry in the loft area a couple nights ago. 
So I put all that away and cleaned my room a bit while I was at it. 

6:50 am: Packed up the backpack, and headed down to the kitchen. I have a system, but before it could start, my general feeling of sickness and stiffness warranted this:
Again I have to thank mom for this one. In case you're not familiar with what this furry pink/purple amorphous blob could possibly be, it's one of those heated scented neck wraps. 2 mins in the microwave and it was melting away my pain. 
To the morning checklist:
Hot water on for tea - check. 
Pack lunch and snacks, in a Tinkerbell lunch tin - check. 
  Lunch: TJ's Carrot Ginger soup, Almond butter and jam on a sandwich thin.
  Snacks: 2 carrots, 1 apple, 1 serving cereal.

Make tea: 1 to drink, 1 thermos to go - check.
Make breakfast - check.
  1/2 cup oats, 3/4 cup frozen berries (Rader Farms from Costco), 2 oz. soymilk, 4 oz. water, 10 g agave

Why do I put things in green bowls when I know I'll be taking a picture? I promise it tastes better than it looks. 

Sit down and eat breakfast while studying (ok, sometimes I read magazines instead) - check.
Take multivitamin (I've been forgetting this), finish tea - check.

7:35: Go to school. 

8 am - 11 am: Class. Today we had a Team-based Learning exercise (TBL). I do think I learned. 

11 am: Chapel - only on Wednesdays. Tues/Thurs we have religion classes at 11, Mon/Fri it's just another hour of real lecture. 

12 pm: Eat lunch and study.

1 - 2:30 pm: Pharmacology of hypertension and diuretics case studies/quiz.

2:30 pm - 6:30 pm: Study. I like the Pathology lab for studying. Here's where the magic happens:

6:45 pm: Arrive home. Spend about 15 minutes doing dishes. Took out the recycling.
Empty dishwasher, emptier drying rack. It's the little accomplishments.

7 pm: Heat up dinner, leftovers from a new dish - Orange "Chicken" Quinoa Medley that I made last night. I'm planning a separate post with the recipe. 

7:05 pm: Realize food is far too hot to eat as usual. I'm an liberal microwaver; I'd much rather have to wait for my food to cool down than risk taking a cold bite. Spend a couple minutes reading this:
March Vogue. 

7:10 pm: Take my food up here, and sit down on my bed to write you this post. Somehow get a little distracted...because it's apparently taken me an hour? 
Also, my bed is a piece of memory foam on the floor. It's been this way a couple years...I'm planning to buy a bed really very soon. Expect an update on that. 

8:29 pm: Finish post. Wonder if I've convinced my mother.

(Now I'm getting crazy and speaking of the future)

8:30 pm: Go make some vegan hot chocolate (chocolate mint syrup + hot soymilk)

8:40 pm: Sit down for Study Time Part II - Boards prep.

9:30 pm -ish: Head for bed.

Despite it not seeming like that much time was wasted, I still feel like I haven't fit in enough studying. I wonder if that feeling will ever go away?