In Defense Of Carbs

To continue my proclamation of amor for my favorite food group, let’s play a little game of name that tune.

I love carbs, carbs, carbs, carbs

Carbs, I do adore

Sound familiar? No? Okay, maybe it’s not a real song. Maybe I just replaced the word carbs for girls in Jay-Z’s “Girls, Girls Girls.” But it’s catchy, no? Perhaps it’s time for a food-themed remix, jigga.

So you’re probably wondering: ¿por que are we still talking about carbs?

I don’t doubt that I effectively communicated the fact that I love my carbs on Friday. However, while most of you embraced my carby adoration, I did receive one anonymous carb-condemning comment.

It went as follows:

Wow you really eat alot of carbs. Ever heard of “everything in moderation”? I find it interesting that your studying nutrition yet promoting such a reckless dietary approach. Your clients are gonna be obese.

Lovely, no?

I usually let negative anonymous comments fall by the wayside—and I won’t bother addressing the grammatical mishaps (oh, wait…)—but I do feel obliged to come to the defense of my beloved carbs.

Dear Anonymous Carb/Me-Hater,

Yes, I eat a lot of carbs. (Some may even go so far as to call me carbzilla.) And, yes, I’ve heard that whole “everything in moderation” spiel. (In fact, it’s sort of the backbone of my food philosophy.) But who says high-carb equates to a “reckless dietary approach?” Sure, there are a lot of nutritional experts who preach low-carb, high-protein diets. But, for every R.D. telling you to put down that piece of bread, there’s another telling you to open up wide, chew that carby goodness and get skinny. My point is that there is no one right dietary approach. We’re all different. And we all have different dietary needs. My body happens to feel its healthiest when I give it lots of carbs. Yours may not (in which case, I send my condolences).

Carbingly yours,

Sarah a.k.a. Carbzilla

Don’t believe me on the high-carb thing? Let’s take a gander at what I studied en escuela this weekend.

IMG_3809

Well, what do you know? I’m not alone on this whole “carbs can do the body good” thing.

Can you imagine how excited I was to open my handout folder and find this at the top of the pile? Yes, the first order of business at escuela was studying the history, progression and validity of high carb diets. (This made me wonder if IIN has ESP/reads my blog?) Needless to say, I was fascinated and jotted down every word mi profesor said regarding the benefits of getting our carb on.

I also used this carbspiration as an excuse to wander down to Whole Foods during my lunch break and pick up some new carb goodies.

IMG_3808

(Yea, I shop at Whole Foods with a Trader Joe’s bag. Blasphemy.)

I can’t wait to experiment with these—especially the millet!

Among other topics like protein, calorie requirements and the macrobiotic diet, we also learned about the principles behind The South Beach Diet. (This further fed my suspicion that my school has ESP/reads my blog, as I just mentioned The South Beach Diet on Friday.) Our guest lecturer was Dr. Arthur Agatston, the author of The South Beach Diet. Despite having a not-so-fun personal foray into South Beach dieting, it was fascinating to learn about how and why he developed the diet. For the record, even Dr. Agatston addressed the benefits of carbs. Just saying… 😉

Since all this carb talk is only further perpetuating my carbzilla reputation, I will now switch gears to another (newly) beloved c-food: cottage cheese.

Since we last spoke, I’ve been through three containers of cottage cheese. In defense of cottage cheese/me, I really wanted to try out so many of your cottage cheese recommendations. All in the name of experimentation, mis amigas.

Let’s get to the cottage cheese creations.

IMG_3750

En el bol: 1/2 cup oats cooked in 1 cup almond milk with 1/3 cup pumpkin, 1/3 cup TJ’s high fiber cereal (random) and 1/3 cup cottage cheese stirred in at the end. Dressed in maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice and whipped crema.

IMG_3753

I’m not sure what inspired this crazy concoction—I was mostly just craving a ridiculously creamy bowl of oats—but I’m glad I went with it. I usually just cook my oats in water, but the almond milk, plus the cottage cheese addition at the end, created the perfect creamy consistency.

One more point for cottage cheese being the greatest thing ever.

More pumpkiny cottage cheese oats were had.

This time, eggs were added. And, OHMYGOD, make this now.

IMG_3762

The mezcla: 1/2 cup oats, 3/4 cup water, 1/2 cup egg whites. 1/2 cup cottage cheese and 1/2 cup pumpkin stirred in at the end.

IMG_3759

Okay, the abundantly eggy (almost custard-like) oats mixed with creamy cottage cheese and pumpkin gloriousness? I’m pretty sure my taste buds discovered new heights of ecstasy.

Onto some cottage cheese snack recommendations.

Almost all of you mentioned the cottage cheese + preserves combo, so I knew I needed to go there.

IMG_3789

Increible. In this concoction, I used put the raspberry preserves atop 2% whipped cottage cheese, per another recommendation.

I liked the whipped version—but I have to say, I really missed the little chunks/curds/whatever other gross term can be used to describe the consistency of cottage cheese.

Worry not, I got my curd fix in my next snack experiment.

IMG_3774

1/2 cup applesauce + 1/2 cup cottage cheese.

Definitely one of the most brilliant cottage cheese suggestions thrown my way. I’ve eaten this combo at least once a day since trying it—mostly because it sort of reminds me of cheesecake.

I also did a bit of savory cottage cheese investigation.

IMG_3770   

2 eggs stuffed with spinach sautéed in garlic + EVOO, 1/2 cup cottage queso and seasoned salt.

Another suCCess.

Lastly, we have the least photogenic—but possibly the most delicious—of my experiments in cottage cheesedom.

Cottage Cheese and Hummus Stuffed Portobello

IMG_3787

1 Portobello cap brushed with EVOO + sea salt on both sides. Baked at 400° for 5 minutes. Removed from oven and smeared with 2 tbsp. roasted red pepper hummus. Topped with 1/2 cup cottage cheese mix with 1 diced roasted red pepper. Returned to the oven to broil for 3 minutes.

IMG_3788

Broiled brilliance. I was pretty skeptical of how cottage cheese would taste post-broilage, but the crispy cottage cheese layer that formed was amazing.

The only fail was the fact that—due to aforementioned skepticism—I only made one. Muy triste.

Preguntas: I didn’t go into too much detail about escuela because I wasn’t sure how much you want to know. Do you want to hear more on what I’m learning? Or more about the experience as a whole? Oh, and, since you gave my such amazing cottage cheese recommendations last time, do you have any more that I must try? I’d be happy to oblige ;).

Hope you’re having a bueno you-kn0w-what día, mis foodies!

Amor,

Sarah

Carbzilla

¡Feliz Friday, foodies!

I almost opted out of posting today porque I have to finish up several writing projects and some tarea before the weekend commences.

However, Google Analytics (my procrastination method of choice) just changed my mind.

Yesterday, 13 people Googled the term “carbzilla” and landed on my blog. Thirteen people. Seriosamente.

This, in itself, was too hilarious not to share. But, upon perusing yesterday eats, I realized that I really am a carbzilla.

I’ve always realized that I have a very carb-centric diet. (I blame this on my stint with the South Beach Diet in tenth grade. I’m pretty sure my body consistently demands carbs to compensate for that period of deprivation. Lo siento about that, cuerpo.) But yesterday was a full-blown carbzilla día.

Allow me to illustrate.

For desayuno, I really wanted to try out one of the many mouth-watering cottage cheese concoctions you all recommended.

Unfortunately, in addition to being a carbzilla, I’m apparently also a cottage cheezilla. On my first day of cottage cheese consumption, I polished off almost an entire container. All that remained was—maybe—a half-cup serving.

Obviamente not enough for a breakfast base.

And so I turned to carb numero uno del día: Oat bran.

IMG_3672

This was, hands down, the most delicious and ridiculously filling bowl of oat bran I’ve ever had.

IMG_3673

En el bol: 1/2 cup Hodgson Mill’s oat bran cooked in 1.5 cups water with one egg white, 1/4 banana, 1/3 cup pumpkin and 1 tbsp. cocoa powder. Topped with 1/2 cup cottage cheese and cinnamon.

I just started using Hodgson Mill’s oat bran, and it is inexplicably way more filling and voluminous than Quaker’s oat bran. The grains are also bigger and chewier—buenisimo!

IMG_3674  

This fantastic creation held me over perfectly ‘til almuerzo.

At which point, all I really wanted was más carbage.

To quote the notorious Regina George, “I can’t go to Taco Bell! I’m on an allcarb diet!

I had a feeling it was going to be a día of veggie scarcity so I started with an ensalada before catering to my carby cravings.

IMG_3560 

En la mezcla: fresh spinach, cauliflower, butternut squash and grilled cebolla con seasoned salt and Newman’s Asian Sesame dressing.

IMG_3559

Veggies? Check. Now bring on los carbs.

I realize this below bol is rather aesthetically underwhelming, but I promise you it was one of the most delicious savory oat concoctions that’s ever graced mi boca.

And you know I’ve been around the block on the savory oats front.

Cheesy Butternut Oats

IMG_3561

La receta: 1/2 cup oats cooked in 1 cup water. Laughing Cow wedge and 1/2 cup mashed butternut squash stirred in during the last minute of cooking.

Bonita? No.

IMG_3562

Deliciosa? Sí.

IMG_3564

In my carbzilla defense, I did consume some fruta in the form of an undocumented apple and orange. They were eaten whole, in an entirely unphotogenic manner—which, if you’re a food blogger, you know grants you a get out of photographing free card.

I know that apples and oranges, too, are carbs. But these, mis foodies, are not the sort of carbs that earn you a reputation as carbzilla.

These are.

IMG_3319

Meet my carby cena: copious carby couscous and carby cinnamony starchy sweet potato.

I thought about veggifying the couscous—but all I really wanted was a big bowl of grainy goodness.

IMG_3320

With a simple side of sweetness.

IMG_3321

A few bites in, some of the starchy sweetness joined forces with the gloriously golden couscous.

IMG_3322

And then some glorious golden additions made their way onto the sweetness.

IMG_3323

I will not apologize for my copious carbage porque it’s simply what my cuerpo craved.

Oh, and I had plans to drink dance the night away at an amazing Mayer Hawthorne concert. So I needed the carby fuel :).

Post-concert, carbage continued. I may or may not have decided to bake a cookie pie at 2 a.m.

(FYI: Cookie pie is the term I use to denote any cookie recipe baked in a brownie pan.)

I found this incriminating evidence this mañana.

IMG_3749

Worry not, there were leftovers.

IMG_3743

This cookie pie happened to be of the oatmeal raisin chocolate chip variety.

IMG_3746 

I did manage a little healthification by using whole wheat flour, agave, golden raisins and dark chocolate chips :).

IMG_3748

On that carb note, I have to get back to mi trabajo/the rest of the cookie pie!

Are you a carbzilla? Have you ever ventured into the land of carb-restrictive diets? I’ll wear my carbzilla badge with pride because not only does my body crave carbs, it functions best when it’s carb content. I was miserable when I attempted the South Beach/Atkins way of life—and I ended up gaining weight. So, para mi, carbs do the cuerpo good.

Amor,

Sarah

By Now, I Should Know…

By now, I should know that cereal and I are futile breakfast partners in crime.

You see, when cereal and I meet en la mañana, we always do the same old dance. I dole out far too large a serving. I enjoy the soggy deliciousness but find myself still hungry. I refill with with more “heart healthy” servings. I continue to enjoy the soggy deliciousness ‘til el estómago tells me she’s full. I proceed to get hungry an hour later.

This story plays out the same way every single time. So, by now, I should know that, para mi, cereal is snack—not breakfast—material.

Yet, when I peer into my pantry and spy a mysterious addition of Honey Bunches of Oats’ new Vanilla bunches flavor, I immediately commence taste-testing.

It just so happened that, yesterday, I spied this newbie first thing in the A.M. And so cereal for breakfast it was.

IMG_3650

I attempted to change my standard cereal saga by eating out of my enormous new mugbowl—in hopes that pouring a larger than life portion would preclude my usual refillage.

IMG_3651 

I also added some organic dried bing cherries for a little healthification. A valiant nutritional effort, no?

This tactic backfired porque, as I said, my breakfast cereal saga always plays out the same way. Refills were had. Only this time, they were larger than normal since I made the brilliant call to eat out of a bowlmug bigger than my head.

Ah well, I embraced the necessity of refillage as an opportunity to try out a creation that’s been on my mind since it graced my Google Reader month’s ago.

This would be Amy’s brilliant cereal cake.

IMG_3653

I always eat my cereal soggy (to the extent that I stopped eating Kashi Go Lean Crunch because it simply won’t soggify)—so when Amy suggested essentially marinating cereal in milk until it reached a cake-like texture, I drooled on my keyboard knew I’d fall in love.

The method: Allow your cereal to absorb the milk for a few minutes. Drink the remainder of the milk out. Marinate the seductively soggy cereal in the fridge for 10 minutes.

The result: Cereal cake perfection.

IMG_3652

Cottage cheese, and now cereal cake? I’m falling in love with so many new-to-me double Cs.

By now, I should also know that grande breakfasts consumed shortly before pilates class makes for an uncomfortable hour of planks and rollovers.

Luckily, la profesora was the most entertaining Russian in all of Brooklyn. Yesterday, I found her particularly astute.

Mid-class, she said, “Come on, you can hold it for a few more seconds. You know you’re about to go home and eat a box of cereal.”

Way ahead of you, lady.

Come almuerzo, I concocted a beautiful ensalada.

IMG_3588

En el bol: fresh spinach, roasted butternut squash, cauliflower, grilled onion and sun-dried tomatoes. Dressed in Newman’s Own Asian Sesame dressing.

IMG_3589

‘Twas fantastic. The only problemo was that I really wasn’t in the mood for a salad. I only made it because I’m currently eating my way through a very produce-packed fridge.

By now, I should know that eating something I’m not in the mood for only necessitates a part dos of something I am in the for.

In this case, I was in the mood for something of the carby and hummusy nature.

I sought this out in a veggie burger.

IMG_3291

On a sandwich thin: mucho Sabra, black bean and rice burger (frozen from way back when), roasted red peppers and kalamata olives.

Since I know you want to see it topless…

IMG_3289 

Mucho mejor. By now, I should know to always what you crave.

I ran with this lesson when I got snacky and, shocker, was craving carbs and queso.

Not just any carbs and queso, Snyder’s sourdough nibblers and Wensleydale cheese with cranberries.

IMG_3647

I’ve always disliked sourdough anything—but apparently my transforming taste buds are really into these guys. Addicting.

IMG_3648

My food affair with that incredible white stilton cheese, on the other hand, has a history. If you ever see this cheese in stores (I rarely do), get it. I promise, you’ll fall in love (with me and the queso).

That little plato was snacktastic. However, it was a bit of a foodie fail because there’s something else I should’ve known by now.

When you have plans to feast with a fellow foodie, you shouldn’t do your own pre-gaming.

Mostly because if your dining companion is truly a foodie, he’ll expect some pre-game action, too.

Mildly full from the queso, I somehow managed to try the pre-feast goodies that my fellow foodie brought over.

The first being Trader Joe’s Pomegranate & Blueberry Flakes And Clusters Cereal:

IMG_3704 

He recently picked this up and, having a pretty good gauge of my foodie taste buds, realized I’d be obsessed with it. I am. Another cereal I’ll have to add to the breakfast snack roster.

We also noshed on leftovers from an incredible turkey chili he made this week.

IMG_3710

I looove chili but rarely eat it because I’ve never ventured into chili cooking. Anyone have a to-die-life chili recipe (preferably vegetarian)?

IMG_3711 

Ok, enough snackage. Let’s get to real cena.

We weren’t sure what we were going to make—but we knew it would involve this.

IMG_3707

Oh, just some pomegranate arils and TJ’s dried cherries that had been marinating in a balsamic, pepper and agave medley for 24 hours.

I decided to make this magical mix the star of a couple ensaladas enormes.

IMG_3717

In the mix: baby spinach, mozzarella, roasted cherry tomatoes, red bell pepper, onion, celery, cucumber and the dried cherry + pom concoction.

There wasn’t quite enough marinade left to dress both of our salads, so I mixed some extra balsamic vinegar and agave for good measure.

IMG_3720

BEST. SALAD. EVER. The noises I was making during the devouring process were really embarrassing/mildly inappropriate.

Next up, pollo!

IMG_3715

Chicken breasts, also marinated in balsamic, pepper and pomegranate, and then pan-fried.

IMG_3716

BEST. POLLO. EVER.

On the side, we had couscous. If you couldn’t guess, I’m going to go ahead and deem this the best couscous ever.

In all seriousness, this is my tried-and-true method for preparing couscous.

IMG_3722

This is how we do it: I cook 1 cup dry couscous in 1 cup vegetable broth. In a separate saucepan, I grill onions and sauté minced garlic in EVOO. In a small bowl, I pour warm water over about 1/2 cup golden raisins so they plump up. When the couscous is done, I combine it all and season with sea salt, garlic and cinnamon.

A tip to keep couscous on the lighter side: Never add the recommended amount of butter or olive oil while cooking. Its flavor will mostly get lost during the cooking process. To moisten and deliciously flavor your couscous, you need far less butter. And you can simply add it to taste to each serving.

IMG_3724

A tip to fall in love with your couscous: There is no such thing as too much grilled onion.

Despite singing cries of fullness after finishing this feast, we were somehow ready for dessert an hour later.

Not so bonita because it had been previously “tasted” by mi padre and mi fellow foodie—but this little box took delicious decadence to new heights.

IMG_3726 

The goodies hailed from Cafe Lalo in NYC.

First up was a plum and pear fruit torte.

IMG_3729

I’m not big on fruity desserts, but this was muy impresionante.

Not more so than la segunda: BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE.

IMG_3728 

I have a loyal love-love-love relationship with cheesecake, and this ridiculous creamy wonder definitely made it into my top five ever tasted.

IMG_3730

Clearly.

Do you have any food lessons that you feel you should know by now? I’m not sure I’ll ever fully grasp the “cereal does not keep me full” thing—but at least learning, and re-learning, that lesson is a delicious experience ;).

Amor,

Sarah

My Cottage Cheese Cherry

Happy día de hump, mis foodies!

Thank you so much for all of your supportive comments in response to yesterday’s  back to escuela announcement. I was grinning from oreja a oreja (ear to ear) all day as I read through your enthusiastic words. I’m so excited to be taking this "next step" en mi vida, and I’m even more excited that I get to share my journey with all my favorite foodies.

Before I write another essay, let us resume regularly scheduled Foodie Diaries programming. By that, I of course mean más food, menos philosophizing.

Martes morning, while characteristically cold, was uncharacteristically sunny. Since I was working from mi cama, beneath a wonderfully warm down comforter, I wasn’t so concerned with the frigid outside world’s temperature. I was just elated to have sun beaming through my windows.

En serio, yo amo el sol. You know how everyone swears by the exercise-endorphins correlation? I’m a more emphatic proponent of the sun-endorphins correlation. Sun, even more so than warmth, makes me ridiculously feliz. This may have something to do with the fact that I often embrace the presence of sol as a sign that I should be drinking iced coffee.

Such was the case ayer. 40° outside? Ain’t no thang when the sun is shining.

IMG_3676

Icy Godiva Hazelnut Creme Café. This was increible. In addition to my sun –> endorphin hypothesis, I’m also a huge proponent of the iced coffee-endorphins correlation.

That said, I should explain that the above mug-bowl hybrid held over three cups of café (and could’ve held cuatro!). So post-gulpage sippage, I felt like one of those drugged up, happy eggs from the Zoloft commercials.

Apparently good moods create delicious desayunos.

IMG_3642

En el bol: 1/2 cup oats cooked in 1 cup water, with 1/3 cup egg whites whisked in. Topped with a tasty triad of: 1/2 container Chobani, a sinfully grande scoop of Barney Butter and a “let’s see how much I can squeeze into my fist” serving of trail mix.

I have midget manos, so it took a lot to successfully transfer that much goodness from the trail mix container into the bowl. You gotta do what you gotta do.

IMG_3643

In le mix de trail: pepitas, sliced almonds, walnuts and dried cranberries. All good things.

The other two components of my tasty toppings triad were, I suspect, the culprits behind the unwavering fullness that followed this glorious bowl.

Perhaps it wasn’t the toppings themselves—but rather my heavy handedness with the Barney Butter scoopage.

IMG_3644

No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. My Barney Butter “scoop” is definitely the same size as my yogurt mound. Woops.

‘Twas a delicious “mistake” that, come lunchtime, left me too full for “real lunch.”

What’s a foodie to do? Eat fake lunch.

Otherwise known as a snack.

Here’s where we get to the title of this post.

Yesterday, I popped my CCCherry (Cottage Cheese Cherry)! Lo siento for the vulgarity—but I couldn’t resist the alliteration, acronym and pun potential of cottage cheese cherry.

IMG_3677

I know, I know. I’m the last person en el mundo to try cottage cheese, but, for some reason, I’ve always convinced myself that I wouldn’t like it. (Actually, I know the exact reason. At sleep away camp, during a sex ed talk, the counselor referred to cottage cheese when explaining a yeast infection. TMI? Maybe. But I’m sure you understand why I fomented a negative association with that chunky wonder.)

Moving along, I knew that my lunchtime snack was going to feature cottage cheese. But, CC novice that I was, I didn’t know the best way to eat it.

Wanting to ensure that my first time was both special and pleasurable, I sought out C.C.concoction suggestions from la princesa de CC.

She graced me with muchos options via tweetvice, so I just went with the one I’ve seen grace the pages of her blog most frequently.

IMG_3682

1/2 cup cottage cheese and cinnamon on an English muffin.

Be advised that the remainder of the cinnamon bottle was added post-photo op.

IMG_3685

¡AY, DIOS MIO! I had no idea that cottage cheese was so ridiculously thick and cheesy (go figure). I’ve always pictured it far more watered-down. This was so rich and sort of reminded me of ricotta.

IMG_3686

Just a forewarning. I’m pretty sure I’m in love with cottage cheese. As in, I sort of want to eat it for every single meal. I’m doing my best not do this. But lo siento if I can’t fight the urge.

I couldn’t have imagined a more delectable first time.

Since my plate was all cinnamon-coated, I decided to get double use out of it before throwing it in the dishwasher.

Enter manzana con canela y azúcar.

IMG_3687

I was going to slice it in a photogenic manner. But then I got lazy.

Eventually, the fullness afflicted by breakfast and fake lunch subsided, and I was ready for a real savory lunch.

IMG_3618

En el plato: 3 egg whites, queso americano, a flatulently grande serving of black beans and salsa.

I didn’t intend for this to be an open-faced omelet, but it was necessitated due to a heavy hand with the bean scoopage. Apparently I really like my beans and Barney Butter. There are worst vices.

Cena was a bowl duo of blogger staples that can be had sweet or savory.

IMG_3697

I opted for savory on both fronts.

First up, a veteran concoction here on The Foodie Diaries: savory oats.

IMG_3698

In the mix: 1/2 cup oat bran cooked in 1 cup water, with 1/3 cup egg whites whisked in. Topped with a heap of sautéed spinach and grilled onion. Dressed in soy sauce.

IMG_3699 

As always, the grilled cebolla was the star.

IMG_3702

And, as always, things got gloriously messy post-photo op.

Parte dos was on my mind all día.

After falling in love with my first taste of sweet cottage cheese, and perhaps having a few small scoops throughout the day…

IMG_3681

…just to be absolutely positive I liked loved it, I wanted to try a savory cottage cheese concoction.

This one was inspired by Miss Janetha.

IMG_3693

In the mix: 1 cup cottage cheese, 1/2 cup garbanzos, red bell pepper, celery, taco seasoning, chili powder and seasoned salt.

CC obsession confirmed. I’ll take it sweet, savory, any (legal) way I can get it.

IMG_3694

Much like my veteran savory oats, newbie savory cottage cheese had a star: garbanzos.

No, wait. The beans were bueno. But the cottage cheese was definitely the star. I think I just said that because the garbanzos were the most prominent part of the photo. Fibbery.

IMG_3700

In truthery, much like savory oats, savory CC gets gloriously messy post-photo op.

Nada new about dessert.

IMG_3703

Kettle corn with a side of Twitter in a sea of down=life is good.

So, por favor, tell me: What are your favorite ways to eat cottage cheese? Do you have a favorite brand? Also, there are so many different types (fat content, salted, unsalted). Which do you like best? I just grabbed a random brand and chose 2 percent because I didn’t know if fat free was gross/if 4 percent was too thick. Any CCadvice is greatly appreciated!

Amor,

Sarah

Tengo Hambre

Last we spoke, I left you all with a mild cliffhanger.

Then I disappeared for dos semanas. To address this, I can do no more than quote the timelessly eloquent Stephanie Tanner.

how_rudeSource.

Rude, indeed, mis foodies. But I am here now, ready to unhinge that cliff.

So what’s this exciting news that involves comida and vida?

Drumroll, por favor…

I’m going back to escuela to study nutrition!

I don’t know how exciting that seems to all of you, but I am puppy-love-top-of-the-Eiffel-tower ecstatic about this “next step.” I know that, with the exception of my about me page, I’ve not discussed my employment status or career plans much on the blog. This is mostly because I’ve spent the past few months ping-ponging between various “life plans,” tirelessly contemplating which one would best silence the redundant and boisterous “what do you want to do with your life?” mental nagging.

So what do I want to do with my life? I can’t answer that with any semblance of certainty, but I am sure that I’m taking a step in the right direction.

I truly hope so, any way, because tengo hambre.

En ingles, I’m hungry.

Given my foodie nature, I realize that this is not much of a revelation. I’m always hungry. Always. But, for once, I am not referring to my ever-present appetite. I’m referring to a non-food-related hunger.

I am starving for a career, for a life, that allows me to do what I love. What do I love? You all know the answer to this one. But, in the spirit of Gena’s incredibly insightful and inspiring post, I’ll profess a love I’ve professed many times before.

My name is Sarah, and I love to eat.

Since the Travel Channel has yet to call to see if I want to be the next Samantha Brown, I’m not sure I can finagle getting paid to eat. This is okay (until they call, of course ;)) because this love affair doesn’t end when I put down my fork.

I love all things food. Cooking it, talking about it, writing about it, learning about the science behind the deliciousness—occasionally photographing and blogging about it ;).

I am hungry for a career that allows me to explore, expand and celebrate my love of food.

So scratch that part about my hunger not being food-related. It’s entirely so. For a while now, I’ve known that the elusive answer to the whole “what do you want to do with your life” conundrum would involve food, creativity and writing. These are my non-negotiables.

So how is studying nutrition going to be my gateway to a food, creativity and writing-laden career?

Knowledge is power, and enthusiasm pulls the switch.”

Steve Droke

(Don’t worry if you don’t know who that is. Neither do I. And, apparently, neither does Google.)

This quote isn’t particularly profound, but I’ve always found it very true. You see, knowledge itself is only potentially powerful. Enthusiasm and passion are what drive us to put our knowledge to use, to empower it.

For example, I received my B.A. in print journalism. I graduated well-trained in the ways of political, finance, hard news, features, you-name-it reporting. Knowledge? Check. What I lacked was enthusiasm. I had no desire to write about the economy, or political scandals, or the top ten ways to make your man’s toes curl. (I wish that last one was hypothetical, but an editor actually asked me to write that story during a summer internship. Journalism at its finest…)

All I wanted to write about were food and nutrition. These are the topics about which I’m enthusiastic, about which I’m passionate. In college, I found a way to do this by focusing all of my policy assignments on school lunch reform and nutrition labeling, all of my features on health trends, recipes and social issues involving food.

Post-college, food and health writing did not come as easy. While I have the enthusiasm, I lack the formal knowledge. I’m not a professional chef. I’m not a nutritionist. I’m just a chica that loooooves to eat.

This is where studying nutrition lends a hand. Knowledge? Soon-to-be check.

I’m not sure I could turn my love for food into a career without further expertise. I’m not sure I’d want to. Whether I end up writing about food, talking about it for a living or consulting those who need nutritional advice, I need to know more. I’m hungry to know more.

Onto the details: Two weeks ago, I began a six-month immersion program at The Institute of Integrative Nutrition in NYC. At the end of the program, I’ll be certified by the AADP and SUNY Purchase as a holistic health counselor.

This is not an R.D. program. IIN emphasizes bio-individuality—the concept that each person has unique nutritional needs. Essentially, one person’s food could be another person’s poison. That said, IIN teaches a myriad of dietary theories—combining the knowledge of traditional philosophies with modern concepts like the USDA food pyramid, the glycemic index, the Zone and raw foods.

I know I’ve not divulged much about my personal health story (a separate lengthy story for a separate lengthy post), and I’ve only briefly spoken about my fascination with nutrition, but I am so excited to fully embrace geek mode and absorb every bit of foodie/nutritional knowledge I can.

My first weekend of classes was fascinating, invigorating, exhaustingly informative and, most importantly, reassuring. I’m so emphatically positive that studying at IIN is where I’m supposed to be right now. Am I certain where it will take me? Not at all. But, as I said earlier, I know it’s a step in the right direction.

Phew! That was a picture-less mouthful. If you made it all the way through, I commend you.

And I think you deserve some standard Foodie Diaries FOOD PORN :).

This batter here…

IMG_3565

…turned into these beautiful Cayenne Dark Chocolate Brownies.

IMG_3584

Recipe courtesy of Kristen, my fellow foodie and nutrition-loving amiga.

IMG_3587

Cayenne + dark chocolate = brilliant. Make. These. Now.

More on the chocolate front:

These ingredients joined forces with a little cream queso and bread.

IMG_3567

…which looked a little something like this.

IMG_3569

Until it got marinated in vanilla cinnamon french toast batter…

IMG_3572

…and ended up looking more like this.

IMG_3574

Cream cheese, barney butter and dark chocolate stuffed french toast.

IMG_3579

Oooooh my gah.

IMG_3576

With a side of leftover french toast batter scramble.

IMG_3583

I hate to repeat myself but make. this. now.

Since I just, uh, announced that I’m going back to school to study nutrition, I suppose I should show a little veggie food porn…

Loaded Eggplant Rounds

IMG_3636

I grilled eggplant rounds on the Foreman for 3 minutes on each side. Then, I topped half with hummus, and half with a cream cheese, garlic and sun-dried tomato mixture. That got topped with a garlic, spinach, olive and caper sauté. And then I topped the hummus rounds with more hummus ;), and the cream cheese and sun-dried tomato rounds with more sun-dried tomato. Next, I baked them at 400° for 5 minutes, and broiled for another 5.

IMG_3639

Veggie perfection. I usually make a variation of this recipe using eggplant “steaks”—but I liked this version because it was easier to mix up the toppings. Oh, and you got to eat more ;).

IMG_3638

Thank you all again for reading (or skimming, whatever ;)) my novel of an announcement. I’d love to hear any of your thoughts regarding my ambiguous career path! What’s your career story? Do you do what you love? Also, if there’s anything you’d like me to share more about, regarding IIN, what I’m learning in my classes, my career path, nutrition, etc., please let me know!

Amor,

Sarah

In Case You Were Wondering If I’m On a Nilla Diet…

…I’m not.

In part, porque I don’t believe in diets. In part, porque the Nilla supply ran out.

In all seriousness, yesterday someone Googled “nilla wafer diet” and landed on my blog.

Hmm, a nilla wafer diet? I feel compelled to address this.

Dearest anonymous Nilla wafer enthusiast,

While I clearly love the Nilla as much as the next chica, I do not advise constructing your diet around its sweet, wafery glory. If, however, you are set on doing so, see this post for some Nilla foodspiration.

Sincerely,

An advocate of Nillas-in-moderation

I realize my last post boasted a whole lot of Nilla, but I (sort of regrettably) assure you, Nilla wafers and I do not see each other on a daily basis. We’re more a one night stand that recurs every few years. And this, I believe, is for the best.

Need evidencia? I present to you a full day of no-Nilla, normal foodie eats.

Nilla-free breakfast: Black and White Cookie Yoatgurt

IMG_3522

El negro: 1/2 cup oats cooked in 1 cup water, scoop of almond butter, 1 tbsp. cocoa powder and Truvia. La blanca: 1 container plain Fage 2% con cinnamon.

You’ll have to take my word that there were no Nillas layering the bottom of the bowl.

This early Chinese New Year-inspired, yin and yang creation was the most delicious way I’ve started my día in quite some time.

IMG_3523

The only problemo: It was almost too filling. Have any other yoatgurt lovers found this? Perhaps I’ll have to 86 the nut butter or use 1/3 cup oats instead of 1/2.

This is not to say I didn’t fully clean this mess up.

IMG_3526

And enjoy every last creamy, chewy bite.

This was my first bowl of yoatgurt since Miss Janetha introduced it to blogland, but I’ve actually unknowingly been enjoying this so-called yoatgurt for years. For as long as I can remember, whenever I stay at hotels with continental breakfasts, I’ve combined a pack of instant oatmeal with a container of whatever yogurt they have on hand. I’m happy it now has a formal name because I’ve certainly gotten my fair share of “what are you eating?”s over the years. Now, I can smugly respond, “uh, yoatgurt” and witness non-food blogger confusion reach new heights. Bueno.

Despite feeling as though I’d never be hungry again, that was, shockingly, not so.

The star of lunch was my favorite veggie tuna mix, which, like pollo, I’d not had in over a month. No idea why. But I missed it.

IMG_3508

In the mix: 4 oz. tuna, 2 dollops of Fage, 2 tbsp. honey mustard, lemon pepper seasoning, krazy salt, red peppers, onions and celery.

…which was clearly too much for my dos pieces of  honey whole wheat toast.

IMG_3514

So an open-faced sandwich it became. Mi boca didn’t mind this, as I believe it thought it was getting dos sandwiches. My shirt was pretty feliz, too, as it didn’t leave the table decorated in tuna.

IMG_3509

Served con a whole lot of asparagus. A few green cheetahs. No Nillas.

Just in the nick of snack time, I stumbled upon this mouth-watering recipe and made the executive decision to step away from the trail mix and bake up a double-punch, fruit-and-veggie treat.

Roasted Butternut Squash Con Manzana

IMG_3548

Butternut stump, de-seeded and filled with one chopped honey crisp. Topped with 1 tbsp. water, 1 tbsp. maple syrup and cinnamon. Covered in tin foil and baked for one hour at 400°.

IMG_3551

Por favor, make this now.

IMG_3554

This is quite possibly the most delicious way I’ve ever eaten a butternut squash, and I’m mildly depressed that I discovered this just as winter squashes are going out of season. Triste.

My squash baby kept me full well into the dinner hour. But, come 10 p.m., I got hungry (and felt sort of gypped on the cena front). So I whipped up dinner in less than 5 minutos.

IMG_3324

Despite looking moderately sophisticated, this was actually one of my go-to college meals.

IMG_3325

1 bag Uncle Ben’s 90-second Brown & Wild Whole Grain Medley, topped with leftover roasted eggplant and a generous pour of Soy Vay!

This rice is the most flavorful, quickie brown rice I’ve found. And its ingredient list is pretty innocent, too. Bueno!

And the Soy Vay! You all know how I feel about Soy Vay. It has an uncanny ability to make anything taste better. Anything. But especially veggies.

IMG_3327

And since an entire bag of brown rice clearly didn’t meet my carbzilla requirements, I had half of a freshly baked, super fluffly whole wheat pita with melty Jarlsberg. On my finest china.

IMG_3328

Dessert was, oddly, not popcorn. Nor Nillas.

Rather, it was my new favorite super salty store brand mini pretzel rods and big scoop of creamy Barney Butter.

IMG_3467

Oh, sweet and salty flavor combinations, you never cease to woo me. Be mine?

Before I go, in an attempt to avoid another unannounced hiatus, I wanted to give you a heads up that I’m not sure what my posting schedule will be like next week. I haven’t mentioned this, but post-kitchen renovation, we decided to continue on and renovate the living room. So, for a good part of next week, I am being forced to evacuate the premises to allow los chicos to do the nitty, gritty construction stuff. In other words, I’ll be couch surfing and may not have my computadora and/or internet. However, when I return, I have some very exciting news to share. It involves comida. And vida. And those were the most pitifully vague hints ever, so you’ll just have to wait it out ;).

Feliz fin de semana! Feliz Dia de los Enamorados! Feliz Chinese New Year! Any exciting plans? Anyone attempting to combine Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year festivities?

Amor,

Sarah

Well, I Haven’t Eaten That In a While…

Reporting live from the NYC Blizzard of 2010,

where unwavering flurries are following DC’s trend.

En mi casa, en mi cama, is where this entire day shall pass.

Needless to say, I skipped out on my humpday pilates class.

This was probably for the best, as I’ve been under the weather.

But, today, despite the frio forecast, I’m feeling much better.

Still, the last two dias of eats bear little food blog allure.

Envision pita, hummus, sopa, pretzel and popcorn galore.

Not the healthiest choices, but my illness, they did mend.

For when I’m enferma, carbs are my friend.

But a lack of foodie photos is not something you should mourn,

As I’m about to bestow upon you mucho food porn.

These random weekend eats are uncommon to my standard foodie style,

And I kept thinking to myself, “Well, I haven’t had that in a while…”

First up, we have Nilla wafers, a childhood favorite of mine.

Topped with peanut butter and raisins? Even más divine.

IMG_3470

But what if those glorious components met wheat bread and a grill?

IMG_3472

Why you’d have a Nilla PB raisin panini— a foodgasmic thrill.

IMG_3483 

We’ll get to more Nilla lovin’ later, if you can bear the anticipation.

For now, I’d like to share another panini-pressed creation.

This one features something else I’ve not had in a while:

Pollowhich, for over a month, has been absent from my foodie file.

IMG_3479

And I’m muy feliz to have it back because this sandwich was amazing.

The corn, roasted peppers and melty queso are also worth praising.

The star ingredient, though, was one I newly came across.

IMG_3471

‘Twas sweet and spicy perfection in the form of sauce.

Next up, another goodie I’ve not had since I was a kid:

Pillsbury dinner rolls, which, in the future, I shall forbid.

IMG_3490

Delicious they may be, but when you consume more than two…

A bellyache will ensue, and, unlike the doughboy, you won’t be saying “hoohoo!"

Something else I haven’t tasted since I was a child?

Hostess cupcakes—though this version is upgraded and restyled.

IMG_3484

Mucho mejor than the infamous packaged treat,

This grande cupcake hails from Crumbs, on 42nd street.

It was a most delicious payment for the cooking session you’re about to witness,

Which was done with amor for mi amigo who hasn’t been eating his best.

You see, since living on his own, he’s not had a home cooked meal.

So I was happy to fix that. (Plus, cupcakes for cooking is my kind of deal.)

I whipped up enough comida to last him through the week’s end.

To quote Gretchen from Mean Girls, “it’s because I’m SUCH a good friend.”

Onto the goods: You may be wondering, what’s in that pot?

IMG_3491

My famoso fried rice. Only it’s not.

IMG_3492 

A healthified, un-fried creation that I’m dying to share,

I’m still perfecting the recipe, but its debut is near.

Let us redirect our attention to what’s cooking in the oven.

IMG_3494

Claro que si, it’s more pollo lovin’.

The first step was a pollo pan-searing party.

IMG_3498

Then it was broiled with increible jalapeño havarti.

I left mi amigo with a sweet finale—always a must.

IMG_3505

Cream Cheese Oreo Pudding Pie in a Nilla Wafer Crust!

On that note, I will conclude this impromptu rhyme.

Hope everyone’s hump-dias were sublime!