Monday, September 29, 2014

My Favorite 15-minute Meal (right now): Cheesy Pesto Zoodles (gluten-free, vegan-friendly)

These days, I don't have time to spend hours and hours in the kitchen to cook a meal. Between schooling, working, volunteering, studying, friending, boyfriending, and the occasional zoning out...ain't nobody got time for that. 

So lately, I've been keeping it simple. And I'd like to share my not-so-secret weapon for easy, quick, nutritious meals: the spiralizer (and this is the exact one I purchased).

Yup. It's back. It never left. And it's not going anywhere. Sorry (but not sorry) to my midwestern fellow.

My favorite meal right now is no-fuss, easy to throw together, and absolutely delicious! Here is how I make it happen in 15 minutes in my tiny kitchen.


The finished product


Side note: you could easily make this recipe by subbing spaghetti squash for zucchini noodles, especially if you don't have a spiralizer. But, I highly recommend getting a spiralizer - it's so affordable!

I spiralize my zucchini and create beautiful zoodles. I place them in a bowl, and heat them up for a minute to get some of the water released. Then, I take a paper towel and squeeze the zoodles as they release some water. This is the quickest/laziest way to get this done.



In a pan, I heat a tablespoon of olive oil and add chopped up a chicken sausage - this day, I used spicy jalapeño. I cook the chicken sausage while I finish the zoodles. 

I place a few dollops of pesto (store bought) on the zoodles and mix it in, gently; sprinkle in a few sundried tomatoes. Then, I place the zoodles in the microwave for another minute or so, and heat them until they are hot. 

Once the sausage is done, I put it on top of the zoodles, sprinkle with pecorino romano. Garnish the plate with some nutritional yeast for your extra B-vitamins. 




Voila! This meal is gluten-free, can be made vegetarian/vegan friendly by omitting the Pecorino and sausage, and is so good. Seriously. I've eaten it three nights in a row.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Journey to Become an RD: The First Month & My Biggest Challenge, plus the Winner of Honey & Soul Paleo Goodies Giveaway


Coffee shop studying essentials: green smoothie + gluten-free chocolate chip cookie

I've made it through the first month of my four semester, 2-year-long Dietetics program.  And guess what I am learning about? 


Patience. 

I don't consider myself a particularly patient person. Now my big sister? She's got all the patience in the world. Patience is tutoring your little sister, for free, every day after school so she can get an average score on the SATs and get into college. That, my friends, is patience. As well as big-sister unconditional love.

I am learning patience. Patience with finding a new part-time job (waitressing). Patience with learning said part-time job (seven training shifts, six in-depth food and wine tests, folks). Patience with my weird, shifting schedule of all my responsibilities that isn't set in stone. Overall, I am learning to be patient as things (school, work, volunteering) come together during this transition. 

Key part of that sentence above is learning. I never said I was patient yet. 

I am Type A. I want to know how all my puzzle pieces come together: my projected budget and income, my work schedule, my workout schedule (yoga is my jam!), my study schedule, my volunteer schedule, and then, on top of all that, my social schedule and my day (s) off. But this hasn't all come together quite yet. And I am realizing, that everything will come together when it just freaking comes together. So I need to be patient.

Figuring out a new life takes time, after all.

I bring this up because in the past few weeks, I have received numerous emails from people considering going back to school to become an RD. And I love getting these emails, because I was once the person emailing with such questions, and I was so grateful to anyone who helped me out. 

Going into this program, sure, I was worried about all the science (there is no escaping chemistry, organic chemistry, or biochemistry on the road to become an RD). But as I've said in emails to people, you just get through it, because you have to. (And you hire a great tutor, who is patient.) The biggest challenge for me, thus far, has been being patient as I find my new groove, which is so very different from my old one. And maybe I will never have as true of a routine as I did when I was working full-time, and that totally freaks me out, but it's something I will just have to embrace. 

Just like the organic chemistry. 

*Congratulations to Abigail P. - you are the winner of the Paleo goodies giveaway courtesy of Honey & Soul! Abigail, please email me at lauraduggan7@gmail.com - thank you to everyone who entered! 


Monday, September 15, 2014

GIVEAWAY: Honey & Soul Paleo Goodies

*Disclaimer: Honey & Soul sent me a goodie box with a few different flavors of their paleo-friendly cookies (gf). All opinions in this blog post are my own, as always.

I think it is safe to say that cookies are probably one of my favorite things to eat for dessert. And by dessert, I mean, after any meal at any time of the day. I never said I was perfect...

#cookiemonster



These days, with school, working, and volunteering, I am all about keeping my diet uncomplicated, realistic, nutritious, but totally enjoyable too. Because the best part of food is being able to enjoy it, right? And sometimes, when you are studying O-chem, or as I like to refer to it, "OH-NO-Chem," you just need a darn cookie.

I was lucky enough to receive a goodie box with a few different flavors of Honey & Soul's paleo cookies. Let's just say, the box didn't last very long in our apartment. 

Honey & Soul uses only real, high quality ingredients you can pronounce, so there's no fake stuff. Almonds, dates, maple syrup, coconut flour - just to name a few basic ingredients. The cookies contain no grains/no dairy/no gluten/no soy and are paleo-friendly.

The flavors I tried were: 
  • Double Chocolate Sea Salt Pecan Cookie
  • Chunky Monkey Banana Chocolate Chunk Cookie
  • Coconut N'Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookie (my favorite...big time)
I absolutely loved the Coconut N'Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookie. It had that hint of coconut, lovely oaty flavor, and then of course, big chocolate chunks that won me over. The boyfriend absolutely devoured a few of the Double Chocolate Sea Salt Pecan Cookies, even admitting "these are good for a gluten-free cookie." That's big. Trust me. I also just noticed they offer a cookie of the month subscription...danger. 

Winnie at Honey & Soul has very kindly offered to give one lucky She Eats Well reader a box of sample goodies (9 goodies!). I love Winnie's story and am all about supporting a fellow business woman. So, how can you enter? A few ways, because we're all about options here and the more you choose to do, the higher your chances. 

3) Follow She Eats Well on Instagram
4) Leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite type of cookie! 

If you do any of the above 1-3, please leave a comment letting me know which you've done and your favorite type of cookie!  I'll randomly select a winner by this Saturday 9/20.


Your inner cookie monster will thank you.




Thursday, September 11, 2014

Recipe: One Pot Red Coconut Curry with Vegetables (gluten-free, vegan, paleo)

Let me tell you a story about curry.

I love different types of food: Thai (I waitressed my way through college at a Thai restaurant), Ethiopian, French, Indian, and the list goes on. But goodness gracious, do I love me some good Indian food - especially that Chicken Tikka Masala. Well, the boyfriend isn't too keen on the Indian food. In fact, it's not that he doesn't care for it, it's that he is scared of trying it because of what he thinks it could do to his, shall we say, digestion.  

This is because one of his best friends ate Indian food a few years back (yes, years back) and had some, well, stomach problems immediately after. 

I think this is one experience, experienced by someone who is not my boyfriend. This single experience does not define everyone! But my boyfriend begs to differ.

Now, why on earth am I telling you this story? Well, one, because I think it is hilarious. And two, because, I truly love curry - whether it be Indian or Thai or whatever! It's delicious, flavorful, and warming, which can be great for digestion. And I especially love Thai red curry, which is spicier, when made with coconut milk. 

This curry recipe is made with Thai red curry paste and is fool proof. These days, I am all about simple, no-fuss, one-pot meals. I like to make a decent-sized batch of something so my fridge isn't sad and empty when I peek in during the week.

And lets just say, there were no accidents after eating this curry. This one-pot, Thai curry, is what I like to refer to as "Midwestern-boyfriend approved."

Amen. 

One Pot Red Coconut Curry with Vegetables
Gluten-free, vegan, paleo
4 to 5 servings

7 garlic cloves, chopped
1 - 2 tablespoons ginger, peeled & chopped
2 jalapeños (or 1 if you don't like a little heat)
1/2 large onion or 1 medium yellow onion
1 heaping tablespoon coconut oil
1 zucchini, chopped
1 1/2 cups squash (I used Kabocha and it was to.die.for)/sweet potato, chopped
2 bell peppers, sliced (doesn't matter which color)
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
3 1/2 tablespoons red curry paste
1 3/4 cup water
1 1/2 cans coconut milk (lite)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt, to taste
1 lime, to squeeze right before serving

*Just a note, you can really use any veggies of your choice, but I recommend having 1 starchy vegetable like squash or sweet potatoes

Chop the garlic cloves, peel and chop the ginger, chop the jalapeños, and slice the onion. In a soup pan, add the coconut oil. Then, add your base of chopped goods: garlic, ginger, jalapeño(s), and onion. Saute over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes, until the onions become translucent.


Then, add everything else in, except the lime. Bring the soup to a boil and then put a lid on it and let it simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the starchy vegetable (squash or sweet potato) is cooked (easily pierced with a fork). 


Stir and taste; you may need to add more salt. I added more salt and more chili powder in the end, as I prefer my curry spicy. 

Serve hot in a bowl and squeeze some lime on top; it makes a good difference so don't omit this step. Happy eating!

I like this curry because in each bite, you get hunks of garlic and ginger. I hope you love it too!


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

WIAW: On the Go

I did a tiny bit of food prep this past Sunday and boy oh boy did it pay off. I knew this week was going to be a very busy one, so I wanted to make sure I had a quick go-to meal in the fridge and at least one snack ready. I am starting to find a groove with this new life and feel thankful that I am also starting to create a routine. 

This week has been full of firsts! I took my first test in physiology. I had my first training at one of my new jobs. And I will also have (later this week) my first orientation at one of my volunteer jobs. The puzzle pieces of my life are coming together.

This morning, my boyfriend tried to leave the apartment without having eaten breakfast. I snapped at him (in the most loving way) and said "You can take five minutes for your health!" And I gave him a scary-fierce stare into his eyes. 

That's the last time he'll skip breakfast under my watch.

We become real busy, real fast. And when that happens, I think it's important to remember how a few minutes of slowing down to simply eat or drink some water will help us cope with the quickness that is life.

So on this What I Ate Wednesday, lets talk about easy, quick, on-the-go meals and snacks. I'm happy I did just a bit of food prep on Sunday night. So happy, in fact, that I plan to do even more this coming weekend; I want to get it down to a science. I want to have constant access to all the snacks!

I woke up bright and early to get in my favorite hour Vinyasa flow yoga class. Post-yoga, I sipped on a very hot cup of coffee, and made a breakfast that included the good ole' basics: two scrambled eggs with two pieces of gluten-free (Canyon Bakehouse brand) toast with butter, crunchy almond butter, honey, and flax seeds. This toast was full of healthy fats and those fats are what help satiate me. Adding a bit of salted butter on the toast before I add the real toppings is a game-changer. Don't be afraid of fat, folks - gotta rev up that metabolism. And oops, I deleted this photo accidentally...

I packed my afternoon lunch and snacks as I had to go to lecture, then drive to my Physiology evening lab. So, I packed the following: a Coconut Peanut Butter Green Smoothie (would you like this recipe?), Farmers Market grapes, hard boiled eggs, green tea (I randomly got this at my running group this weekend), and homemade chocolate chip Larabars.






Can we please talk about these homemade Larabars? These are genius. First, I have always loved the blog Oh She Glows. She creates vegan recipes. Although I am not vegan, I love that her recipes are so beautifully photographed and thus, she makes me want to eat allthevegetables. These Larabars took 10 minutes to prep on Sunday, and are in my freezer all week for when I want a snack or something sweet. And, they fit my (not-awesome) student budget much better than the regular ones I'd buy at Whole Foods.

Oh. And here was another snack. I don't know if I can buy these again. They are too addicting, in the weirdest way. They are what I like to call an "empty food" meaning they don't really have any nutritional value...not quite sure where those 4 grams of fiber come from.



After my Physiology lab, I came home and heated up a bowl of Coconut Red Curry with Vegetables, which I made on Sunday evening as well. Lets just say, I'll be sharing this easy, one-pot recipe with you all later this week. This curry was warming and hearty, full of fresh ginger, garlic, and lots of vegetables. And my belly felt good afterwards.



And then, for dessert, I dipped a spoon in some almond butter and added some chocolate chips. What can I say? We were learning about metabolism in Physiology. I really wanted to fully understand how my body digests and burns fats (beta-oxidation to any science geek out there). 

And that, my friends, is What I Ate Wednesday. Lets talk one-pot curry, soon!