Avocado Pesto Hummus

I’m loving the fact that it’s now light out until about 7pm.  What I’m NOT loving is that it’s still dark out when I go to the gym.  There’s nothing less motivating than waking up when it’s still dark out.

So while it’s still light out, I had all these hopes and dreams for magical creations I was going to make after work, photograph, enjoy and blog about.  Then I remembered that more cooking means more washing dishes and that suddenly sounded unappealing.  As much as I wanted to hit up Trader Joe’s for a box of Puffins for dinner, I decided to make something quick and easy.

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And seriously guys, this was all sorts of amazing.  You really need to make this, spread it on toast and stuff your face off.  That’s what I did.  Why should you?

Top 5 Reasons You Need to Make This:

    1. It’s healthy!  Lots of good fats from avocado
    2. It’s vegan! Let’s love the Earth a little bit more and eat less meat (especially if you’re in California.  There’s a drought folks!).  This spread still packs in the protein.  This whole recipe (which serves 4) has about 29g of protein!
    3. It’s crazy delicious.  Seriously.  So good.
    4. Avocado. Enough said.
    5. It’s ready in about 3 minutes, and you’re hungry so what are you waiting for?

BONUS REASON: It’s a great excuse to eat bread, not that you need one. Avocado Pesto Hummus 3

Avocado Pesto Hummus

1 can (15oz) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, pitted and peeled
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp nutritional yeast, heaping
1 small handful of fresh basil leaves (I used about 7 large leaves)
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or Vitamix (which is what I used).  Pulse until combined.  I wanted mine a little bit chunky so I didn’t pulse it too long, but if you want it smooth you can do that too.

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Spread on your favorite bread or serve with pita chips or raw veggies and enjoy!

Do you need any more convincing?  I’m not sure how else to tell you this is basically delicious and awesome for you.  Eat it up!

Are you an avocado lover? Please tell me you are!

Fancy Pants Rice Crispy Squares

I got into a Facebook fight today, and I’m only mildly ashamed.

With whom? Another blogger.  She posted something about how the Ban Bossy campaign was ridiculous.

If you haven’t heard of Ban Bossy, it’s a campaign by Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In organization and the Girl Scouts.  The whole idea is to stop using the word ‘Bossy’ to describe an assertive girl.   An assertive little boy is a ‘leader,’ but an assertive little girl is ‘bossy,’ and this affects the way girls develop in leadership roles.  The campaign really aims at developing leadership among girls and young women.

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I don’t think this campaign is ridiculous.  I actually think it’s a great idea.

That said, sure, the choice of marketing for this campaign is a bit silly (I love Beyonce, but she sort of sucks in the video).  The word bossy is just dumb, but I recognize its power.  Because of that, I was bothered by this bloggers comment and the subsequent comments to her post.  Mostly, they were people saying that being called bossy is a good thing, or examples of when their little boys are bossier than their daughters and how the word doesn’t mean anything.  Sure, I get all that.  To an adult, being called bossy is fine, but when you’re little things are different.  By the time we’re grown ass women, we know we’re more awesome than what some jerk says.  But let’s not forget that words have power.

So, Facebook “fight” ensued.  I argued that words are important and empowering girls is essential.  She argued that the campaigns message was clouded by bad marketing.

The feminist in me took over (p.s. I hate that to so many the word feminist is negative).  But then I just let it go, because if there’s one thing I hate more than people putting down people’s efforts to empower women, it’s women hating on other women.  Can we get a little female solidarity?

Overall, I get it.  Criticizing is easier than making a positive change, and as I emphasized  in my comments: everyone is entitled to their own opinion.  If you hate the Ban Bossy campaign, that’s fine.  But can you give me another way that we can start empowering girls to be leaders?

Regardless of how you feel about the Ban Bossy campaign, I genuinely hope we can all agree that empowering girls to be leaders is a cause worth talking about.  If only our Facebook interactions could be dialogues instead of arguments, we’d all be a tiny bit better off.

But in the meantime, before society progresses to that point, when someone tells you what you support is ridiculous, it’s my belief that you should kill them with kindness… the marshmallowy kind.  So ladies keep your bossy pants on and make yourself some fancy pants rice crispy squares.

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Fancy Pants Rice Crispy Squares

1/4 cup butter
4 cups mini marshmallows
3 cups puffed rice cereal
2 cups puffed millet
2 cups puffed quinoa
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1-2 tsp canola oil

Grease a 9×13 baking dish and set aside. In a large pot, met together butter and mini marshmallows.  Stir until well combined.  Add rice cereal, millet, quinoa and coconut.  Stir to combine.  Press mixture into 9×13 dish and allow to cool for an hour or two (you can put it in the fridge to speed up the process).  Once cooled, cut into squares using a large chef knife.

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Place chocolate chips in a bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir and microwave another 30 seconds.  Repeat until chocolate is melted.  Stir in 1-2 tsp of oil or enough for the chocolate to be runny.  Drizzle chocolate over squares and allow to harden.  Once chocolate is firm, serve and enjoy!

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Why are they fancy pants?  Millet is fancy.  Quinoa is like the black diamond of grains.  Coconut makes everything a little more exotic.  Also because I said so.

What are your thoughts on #BanBossy?  Feel free to give your actual opinion (even if you disagree with me, that’s cool!).

Food Snob

I don’t like to consider myself a food snob.  Some people wear that card proudly.  Not me.  I like fresh, whole foods but would be willing to enjoy some Pillsbury product if someone made me something.

That being said, I’ve had a box of Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancake Mix sitting in the cupboard since August 2009.

Now this pancake mix is supposed to be on the healthier side.

The ingredients are: Whole Wheat Flour, Whole Grain Yellow Corn Meal, Buttermilk solids, Dextrose, Leavening (monocalcium phosphate, baking soda) and salt.

I’ve made pancakes and waffles numerous times, always refusing to use the mix.

Why? I’m not entirely sure.  I guess it was the food snob in me turning my nose up at the box, reassuring myself that my own combination of flour, eggs, milk and baking soda would surely be a million times better.  This morning I decided to get over that silly attitude and use the box mix to make some waffles.

Because I can never keep things simple, I added blueberries to one and a tablespoon each of unsweetened coconut and white chocolate chips to the other.  Obviously they were topped with bananas.

Tasty enough.  I like the grainy texture.

At the risk of sounding like a food snob, I like mine better.  For some reason I always think box mixes taste salty!  When I was little I hated pancakes because my mom used to make them with Bisquick (and it wouldn’t surprise me if that box of Bisquick she used was expired), and they always just tasted REALLY salty.  Then I tasted non-Bisquick pancakes and fell in love.

Oh and I used Wegman’s Butter Flavored Light Syrup.  How’s that for not being a food snob?

What do you think of pancake/waffle/box mix?  Do you use it?  Do you like it?  Is it unhealthy?

Let’s Talk About Weight

A few days ago, Gracie, wrote a post about being “healthyfully correct,” which I thought was really interesting and got me thinking about the “healthy living” blog world.  Then a few days later, Katie wrote a post about her frustration with women complaining about their bodies.

Let me start by saying that I love healthy living blogs.  For the most part, I find them interesting and inspiring.  I’ve read them for years now.

I have one issue: I feel like I can’t talk about weight.

It’s a taboo topic.  But why?

I was looking at the big, popular blogs (you know the ones…) most of them started as weight loss blogs AND most of them started with calorie counting.  However, now they’re maintaining their weight and seem to be against calorie counting.  But what if you need to lose weight?

I was looking around, and I weigh as much now as most of those blogger weighed when they thought they were overweight (I checked we’re about the same height) and needed to (and started to) lose weight.  Really, go look at some weight loss/about pages…

I’m not trying to compare myself to others, and I don’t think I’m fat, but I’m technically overweight (by about 4 lbs… not a big deal in my opinion).  To some extent though, it’s a question of health.  Yes, you can be healthy but overweight if you exercise and eat right… BMI isn’t everything… Muscle weighs more than fat…, but to another extent I wonder if it’s an excuse to stay slightly overweight?

I’m not saying I want to start complaining about my weight or telling you all everything that’s wrong with my body.  That’s not what I’m saying. I actually like myself, and I think that’s particularly unbecoming of someone to fat talk themselves and so I avoid it in real life as well.

I guess this is an issue for me because I’ve been overweight the majority of my life.  I’m taking large… As in, I probably weighed as much in the 6th grade as I do now… I would love to say that my weight doesn’t matter to me now, but it does. In the back of my mind, there’s always the fear that if I don’t watch what I eat I’ll be severely overweight again and that’s pretty scary.

Sometimes I want to express my frustration about weight (since it is my blog after all) but I feel like I can’t because someone will get angry/offended.

Should I even be worried about this?

What’s your take on the situation?

What are some other blog taboo topics?

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

In the food blogging world, we’re all into the most exciting healthy, “real” foods.  A purple potato gives a sweet potato a run for its money.  A smoothie chalk full of spinach elicits a smile.  Kale is probably the most exciting things since sliced bread.  Outside the healthy food blog world, I don’t think this is particularly common…

This morning, I watched the first episode (or sneak peek, first episode premieres on Friday March 26th) of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.

I was really torn while watching this for one major reason: who is he to go into this town and tell people they need to change?  I don’t disagree that there needs to be a change, but can we really tell people that what they are doing is wrong?    I was so shocked when people in the town were so resistant to Jamie.  It made me question whether people can change.

In my field, we face similar issues all the time.  In all my classes, people spout out recommendations, and I’m always the first one to point out that you can’t change what people do.   Planners want people to live in high density areas, but I know that not everyone wants to do that.  Who am I to tell you that you can’t live in the suburbs?  Planners want people to use their car less, but I know that no everyone is going to take public transit, bike or walk. You can change people’s options, but you can’t make them do something they don’t want to do.

I value people’s right to choose how to live their lives, but obviously based on the field I’m in, I also want people to live better lives.  There’s a fine line between recommendation/suggestion and paternalism.

Is food the exception?  Should we be able to tell people that they are eating terribly because it is detrimental to their health and ultimately harming society?

Honestly, I feel like a little bit of a hypocrite saying food is the exception, but to some extent I see it as a life and death situation.  Although, I understand that for some sprawl and over use of cars is as well in terms of the environment.

Whether or not you’ve seen the show, what do you think is the best way to get people to change their eating habits?  Should we even bother?  Should we let those who choose to eat poorly (for whatever reason… economic, cultural, social, etc.) just eat what they want?  Should we be concerned about the health of others or is health a personal thing that we need not meddle in?

I’m interested to see the next episode this Friday.  It’s definitely a show that’s right up my alley.

Anyone else watch this or interested in watching this show?

Anyway, the fella is here so we’re spending some time together.  Blogging might be a little sparse this week.

Hope the weather is better where ever you are!  Have a great day!

Food Fight

Yesterday was the longest day ever!  After we last “spoke,” I went to class, prepared for my discussion section, had discussion section (went really well for the first time yesterday woo!), went to class again, met with a professor, worked on the demographic forecast from hell and went to see Food Fight!

Ok, let me tell you a bit about Food Fight.

It was an interesting documentary about local/slow food.  The documentary centered largely around the local food movement started by Alice Waters in Berkeley.  Watching the documentary was sort of exciting since a lot of it took place in Berkeley and a lot of the interviews were done in Chez Panisse (remember when I went in January?).

Basically, the documentary critiqued the federal government for promoting industrialized agriculture through the use of agricultural subsidies for specific products and consequently degrading the quality of our produce.

I thought this was really interesting.  It really got me thinking about who to “blame.”  I know some people don’t agree with this, but I have a hard time blaming the federal government or specific people for things.  I think things need to be looked at in the context of a larger system.  While this film promoted local farming, which I agree is great, I was torn because I understand the rationale for industrial agriculture.

In economic terms, I understand that industrial agriculture creates economies of scale which are more efficient.  However, there is a disregard for quality.

I guess what I took from this documentary was nothing particularly new: our food production system needs to change.

For me, the larger understanding I gained is that it’s easy to assign blame to the federal government or particular people (yesterday in my discussion section, a girl said she “hates Earl Butz,” which I think is a little crazy), but I think it’s important to understand the underlying assumptions and motivations to what people do.  I understand that lobbyists are an important part of this mix, and I’m not saying that this is okay.

Local food is a little elitist and expensive.  A lot of chefs in the documentary admitted it, which I thought was quite refreshing.  While they talked a bit about poverty and accessibility, I would like to see an entire documentary on access to good food by the poor.  Local and organic isn’t cheap, I’d be interested to know how we can change that.  Is “voting with your fork” enough?

Anyway, I recommend the documentary.  Unlike, Food Inc. and other documentaries on local/sustainable food, this documentary is centered on the idea of good tasting food, as in eat local/organic because it tastes good.  I thought this was an interesting approach.

Have you heard of Food Fight?  Any interests or thoughts?

Have a fantastic day!!

Stop Stress Eating

I mentioned earlier this week that I’m under considerable amounts of stress.  No where else is this more evident than in my eating patterns.  I’ve been a Snacky McSnackerson literally to the point of feeling ill many times this week.  I want it to stop. Not only is it causing weight gain (I was down 5lbs on my new leaf challenge.  I don’t want to ruin that), but it’s just not healthy (physically or mentally).

There are some people who don’t eat when they’re stressed.  I wish I could be one of them.  I’m the exact opposite.  I can’t stop.  I’m not talking about an extra cookie here or there.  I’m talking about a lot of extra eating when I’m not even hungry.

Honestly, this is a little embarrassing for me to write, since so many people I know in person read this, but I keep reminding myself that I write this blog for myself, not for anyone else.  Lately, I haven’t been posting healthy recipes I like, because I simply haven’t made any.  I want that to change.

I was reading a few articles on stress eating and a lot of the problems/solutions don’t really apply to me.  I don’t keep junk food in the house.  Whole wheat toast, almond butter, peanut butter, cheese, fruit, granola bars, beans and green monsters aren’t unhealthy, but too much of anything is not good.  Sure, I have junk food occasionally but for the most part, I eat very healthy foods.  After reviewing many suggestions for reducing stress eating and finding solutions that don’t really meet my needs, I’ve decided to devise my own.

Here are a few problems and solutions I have in mind for how to stop stress eating:

  • Exercise: One common recommendation to reduce stress is to exercise.  Working out isn’t an issue for me.  I exercise 5-6 days a week, but I’m still stressed (and still stress eat).  I’m going to keep exercising but when I’m feeling very stressed, I’m going to try to do some yoga.  I’ve never gotten into yoga as it’s been terribly boring each time I’ve tried it but on Netflix watch instantly there are a few yoga DVDs.  Worth a try right?
  • Balanced Meals: A lot of people recommend eating 3 meals and 2 snacks throughout the day.  I think every person is different.  For some, 3 meals works best but not for others.  Recently, my snacking problem has been after lunch.  I come home and have a snack simply out of habit, even if I’m not necessarily hungry.  This results in me snacking the entire night and never actually eating a balanced dinner (today was a perfect example of that).  Instead I’m going to try to eat 3 meals a day and only have a snack if I’m really hungry.  Expect to see more healthy recipes I try!
  • Schedule: Being in grad school means I have a very irregular schedule.  While I start class everyday at the same time, there after, each day is different.  This makes it difficult to get in the rhythm of a schedule.  I need to have regular exercise, study, eating and relaxing times.  I want to re-form all the healthy habits that I used to have.  I’m working on devising a daily schedule for myself, which I can share if anyone is interested.
  • Obsession:  I admit it.  I’m obsessed with the scale.  This is just my personality.  I’m not very good at half assing things (except maybe math…).  Am I okay with it?  No.  Am I trying to fix it?  Yes.  I started counting calories again in January, as I had successfully done before.  This time it backfired.  The more stressed I got, the more I ate and the more guilty I felt.  I would eat very few calories one day (around 1200-1300) then I’d be ravenous the next day only to overeat!  The following day, I’d try to make up for it by eating very few calories again… see the cycle?  I lost weight but was terribly unhappy.  I still think calorie counting is an effective tool for weight loss, but obsession is not.  I need to check myself and reassess the deeper issue: stress.  So for now, I’m concentrating on eating 3 healthy, balanced meals a day while avoiding mindless snacking.  I’ll worry about weight loss and calories once I’ve gotten this one down.
  • Finding Alternatives: I’ve realized that a lot of times I eat to put off work.  Instead of eating, I need to find healthy substitutes.  I mentioned yoga above, but another one I’m going to try is cleaning.  Every time I feel like eating something when I’m not hungry, I’ll clean/organize something.  If I really want it by the time I’m done cleaning, I’ll have it.  Cleaning should be a good enough break 🙂

I’m writing this because I want to be healthy.  Not just physically healthy but mentally healthy.  I’m sure there are a ton of people out there who don’t struggle with this and simply don’t understand, some may even think this is flat out stupid.  But I also know there are a ton of people out there who face the same issues I do. I’m not going to let a stage of my life control my happiness. I’m going to take control, overcome it and succeed!

Do you have any other suggestions to put an end to stress eating or to manage stress?

I’ll keep you all posted on my progress.  Have a great, relaxing night!

Lent

Thank you all for your very sweet comments on my post earlier!  I really appreciate the support!

Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent.  The past few days, and today in particular, I’ve read about a lot of people “giving something up for Lent.”  Most of these things included things like chocolate, baked goods, pastries, candy, etc. I’ve commented about this on a few blogs and thought I should write my own post on this.

Now, I am no hard core Catholic.  I did First Communion, but I don’t go to church and I’m not observing Lent.

I’m not entirely sure what I believe but I do have respect for religion.

I’m a little irked that so many people are taking a sacred 40 day period in anticipation of the resurrection of Christ and turning it into an excuse to diet.  Lent is supposed to be about sacrifice and redemption, not a guilt trip into putting down that cookie so you’ll look better at the end of 40 days.

What about the rest of the Lenten requirements: not sinning, abstaining from meat on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays…?

Obviously, bloggers don’t post their entire lives on their blogs so some may be very religious/spiritual.  I don’t mean to judge, but I’m a little concerned that this is a serious sacrifice for some while it is merely a tool for others.

*Stepping Off Soapbox now*

What are your thoughts on “giving up” things for Lent? Am I being a little unreasonable?

On to food…

I try not to eat frozen food too often, but I like to keep a frozen meal in the freezer for those days when I just absolutely don’t feel like cooking.

Today was one of those days.

Kashi Mayan Harvest Bake (image from kashi.com)

Oh goodness.  If you haven’t tried this, you should.  It’s AMAZING! Slightly spicy and has a great texture.  Also, if you love plantains and sweet potatoes, this entree is for you!

It was the perfect dinner after a loooong day!

Off to do more reading.  Have a great night!

Taste the Rainbow

Happy Tuesday!!

Did you all hear about Michelle Obama’s Campaign Against Childhood Obesity?

What do you think of this new Let’s Move campaign?

I had some colorful eats today and luckily they DID NOT include any of this:

For lunch, I had a DELICIOUS, COLORFUL and HUGE salad!

Isn’t it bright?! Lettuce, Cucumbers, Tomato, Carrot Ribbons and a sliced up string cheese with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar as dressing.  Along with a Morningstar Sausage Patty taco, which you’ve seen so here’s part of the tortilla process:

I would die without a gas stove!

After my scrumptious lunch, I went to class then I worked on Econ and Methods problem sets with people.  Ugh I need to learn to be more patient!

Then the highlight of the evening.. Dinner was pretty much the epitome of a fake and delicious makeover!

You know chicken parmesan? Served as such…

Forget that!  Mine was a million times better!

Boca Spicy Chik’n Patty topped with marinara sauce and cottage cheese (soo good!  If you’ve never mixed marinara and cottage cheese… go try it now! Creamy and delicious!), served with a side of spaghetti squash and broccoli, then sprinkled with some grated pecorino romano for good measure.

A dinner entree of Chicken Parmigiana at Macaroni Grill will set you back 1650 calories, 98g of fat and 2500mg of sodium!  Isn’t that nuts!

My version had a grand total of 405 calories and 12g of fat!  Much better and just as tasty and voluminous! Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of pasta (maybe because I didn’t grow up eating it?) but I understand that a lot of people do like it.  A serving of pasta still would make this a million times healthier than a restaurant version!

What’s your favorite at home dish makeover?

Ahhh Lost is on in a little over half an hour!  I have to read now so I can then glue myself to the TV!

Have a fabulous night!!

No Impact Man

In this blog, I probably come across as a person who is pretty concerned with the environment and climate change (see posts on environment by clicking “environment” tag on the side bar), but the reality is that relative to a lot of people I know (especially in my Master’s program), I’m not.

Yes, I care about the environment and climate change.  I turn off the lights.  I don’t eat meat.  I recycle.  I use reusable grocery bags, but the environment isn’t necessarily on the top of my agenda.  I try to do my part, but I wouldn’t call my myself an environmentalist.  I care about people, and people and the environment are undoubtedly connected.

This morning I woke up and opened a Netflix that had been sitting on the table for about a week, as I’ve been too busy to even open them to see what was in it.  It was the documentary No Impact Man.

In case you haven’t heard of it, No Impact Man is a documentary that follows a NYC family in their quest to live 1 year with no net environmental impact.  This means giving up all motorized transportation (including elevators), no electricity, no television, eating only locally, buying nothing, creating essentially no waste.

When I first heard of this documentary, I thought it sounded slightly ridiculous so I was interested in seeing it.  I often accuse extreme environmentalists of making the problem worse by alienating the masses and scaring people into thinking that the only way to reduce carbon emissions is by cutting everything out of your life… much like the family in this film did.

However, after watching it, this documentary and the family is much different than I expected.  They aren’t preachy; they don’t expect the world to live they way they did for an entire year, nor do they plan on doing so for more than a year.  I guess what I liked most was Colin Beavan’s point that it’s not about depriving yourself but rather finding ways to get what you need without harming the Earth.

Obviously, the family’s experiment was a bit extreme, but I enjoyed watching their lifestyle change.

I won’t bore you any more with my take on the film but I recommend it for a few reasons:

  • It was entertaining.
  • It makes you think about a lot of aspects of your life that you don’t always think about (i.e. toilet paper).
  • It sheds light upon the fact that cities can be sustainable and environmentally friendly. (I won’t get into this but since I’m in City Planning, you can probably imagine I have a ton to say about this.)
  • A large aspect of the lifestyle change revolved around food consumption, production and acquisition, which may be of interest to you all.

Have you seen or heard of No Impact Man?  Would you consider yourself an environmentalist?

I’m sort of at a loss for what to do the rest of the day.  I’m thinking I might go to a spinning class in about an hour but other than that, they day is free!  Kind of weird!

Happy Saturday!  Enjoy your day!