April 30, 2013

Call me Salvadorian...

... but every time I eat frijoles y crema (literally every time in recent memory), I think, "Holy crap, this has GOT to be the most delicious food on the planet!" Each time I take that first bite, it just tastes so, so good, I can't imagine anything tasting better.

Don't underestimate the humble black bean con crema, folks. Comfort food at its finest.



Especially when served con platanos fritos. Like this(!):

But twice more of everything, please! (via)
(Let the squishy foods continue...)

April 29, 2013

The Weekend

This weekend, I:

- Ate a lot of oatmeal and mashed potatoes. I'm still not up to eating actual meals... (Though I did eat a bit of pasta salad and frozen pizza on Sunday. And chocolate-chip blondies. I definitely ate one of those!)

- Played softball with the Utah alumni team! We lost both games, but the real story is what happened to one of our team members. She just had a baby eight weeks ago, and in the middle of our first game, she was playing shortstop and got hit in the face with a ball! Her sunglasses shattered, and the glass shards spread across her face. Needless to say, she was gushing blood (like... GUSHING. I was actually surprised to see how instantly red her face was from the blood... Not a sight for weak stomachs, folks. I was torn between fascination and marveling how much more blood she could have still in her.) and the diagnosis was that she'd probably need stitches. She's amazing, though; she didn't even cry! Not a single tear! She iced her face, her husband bandaged her, and she kept playing! And then, as if that weren't enough, she nursed her baby between innings! I guess compared to giving birth recently, a softball to the face was NBD? idk, but she's incredible!

Bucket list item: check!

- Rode my bike! 

On Saturday, for 4 miles (roundtrip) from the metro to the Mall for softball. 

Photos like this sure make me wish I could afford one of THESE helmets! My hair would look infinitely better...

And on Sunday, Stephanie and I rode 6.3 miles to church! In our skirts! (NOT in heels. They got to ride in my basket. :D)

Anyone have non-ghetto suggestions for how to properly attach my rigged bike basket?

- Took a 2-hour nap on Sunday. I think I overestimated my state of "getting better," and I wasn't feeling so hot on Sunday.

- Did a lot of homework... Being sick for an entire week means you lose a lot of precious time for schoolwork and real work. 

- Met with my friend's boss re: filling in for a bit as her personal assistant. She seems really nice, and I'm definitely grateful for the chance to make a little extra $$ (that Turkey trip sure isn't gonna pay for itself!).

- Tried to prepare myself for the coming week. This meant weekly planning (yep, like a missionary), errands (groceries, more drugs and such), cooking (pasta salad, beans, mashed cauliflower and potatoes (are you seeing the squishy food pattern here?), choc-chip white bean blondies), and committing to sleep at LEAST 6 hours (maybe 7?) every night this week. 

This is how I'm planning my life these days. Via tape and post-its on my bedroom wall. It's super helpful!

I have a presentation in class tonight, a final project/presentation for tomorrow night's class, a final exam on Wednesday, a final project due Friday, and a final exam next Monday. The end is in sight!! Wish me luck! Food/back massages/prayers welcome! ;)

Chocolate-Chip White Bean Blondies

Lately, I've been getting a kick out of finding "healthy" versions of familiar recipes. Finding ways to sneak extra veggies or healthy ingredients into my meals is just so thrilling to me, for some reason! It's to the point that sometimes, I wish I had kids just so I could "trick" them into eating healthy things! (Though if they're my kids, they'll probably enjoy healthy things to begin with.) For now, I'll continue to get a kick out of tricking my roommate Whitney (whose face alone was worth a million dollars the time I told her I used wheat flour to make the chocolate-cookies. Heh heh! There was also that time Whit, her brother, and I had dinner at home, and I didn't tell them that I snuck carrot puree into the pasta sauce. (Don't worr it's actually really delicious!) Hee hee!)

Here's my latest "healthy" (or at least "healtier") experiment chocolate-chip blondies made with BEANS! Yep! Beans! Don't worry. These were yummy, too! (If you don't believe me, Stephanie and Brynn can vouch for this!)

Chocolate-Chip White Bean Blondies
(modified from here)
Yummy!
INGREDIENTS

1 15.5 oz. can of white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 eggs
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2 1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 c. + 2T brown sugar
1/2 c. flour (I used white, bc that's all I had, but I bet wheat would work, too!)
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (I maybe added a few extra on top!)

DIRECTIONS

1- Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 9x9 inch brownie pan (or whatever pan you want to use).

2- In a blender (or food processor, if you have it), blend all ingredients together (except the choc-chips!) until smooth.

3- Mix in the chocolate-chips by hand.

4- Taste test the batter. Feel free to add a little more sugar if you'd like. )

5- Pour batter into pan and bake for 20-30 minutes (mine were done after 20, but maybe your oven is different).

6- Let cool in pan before cutting.

7- Serve with milk, and enjoy! Tastes just like a chocolate-chip cookie!

8- Relish the thought of fooling your loved ones by feeding them treats that are both healthy AND delicious! Laugh inside. (I promise if you don't know these are made with beans, you won't be able to tell the difference!)

what they look like while baking

April 26, 2013

Feed A Cold, Starve A Fever (But When You're on the Mend, Give it Some KFC, mmmK?)

I've been sick all. week. As in... Fever/cough/sore throat/congestion/etc, in mah bed, eating chicken soup (So long, Vegetarian April...), drinking tea, heavily medicating, not leaving the house for anything except class (and registering for ballet yesterday?), basically sleeping for four days straight... sick.

But tonight? Tonight my roommate ordered pizza! And suddenly, I was hungry! I wanted pizza, too! So my friend Myles drove me to Little Caesar's.... but it was closed. :( And I got KFC as a back-up (and for good measure, I picked up a Digiorno's for tomorrow), and I completely DE-molished the entire meal! My first non-soup meal all week!! Hallelujah, and choirs of angels and such!!

Now I don't know what it says about me that the second my body starts fighting illness, I crave junk food (pizza and fried chicken aren't exactly the world's healthiest meals), but I'll take it! (Also, I think my body was trying to say, "Who are you kidding? You're no vegetarian!)


And that is how I knew that after four days (FOUR. freaking. days.), I am finally on the mend. Here's hoping the underwater feeling goes away and I get the hearing back in my left ear tomorrow! :)



April 23, 2013

Some Things That Happened in March

School and other things have kept me extra busy these past few months, and my poor blog has been sorely neglected. Lemme take some time to catch you up on the month of March. This is what happened in March (besides my 4-year mission mark, Amish country, overboard Target-shopping, etc.):

I learned how to make bagels!!


I jumped on the "coconut oil" bandwagon. (Because it's apparently cool right now to slap this stuff all over your food AND your face.)



My sister GOT ENGAGED!!



I saw the David(-Apollo) WITH David.



I decked out our table for Easter, and the color yellow made me smile! (And Mara included this in one of her "yellow happiness" posts!)

yellow daffodils + yellow easter chicken = :D

I made a Union Jack cake for Stephanie's birthday!

If you look closely (and squint a little?), you can see the criss-cross of the Union Jack in the bottom photo.

I (finally) went on a date to Take 5! So fun! (It was on my DC Bucket List, remember?)



I braided my hair and matched my lip color to my shoes. (What? No one else does that?)

Cliche on SO many levels...

I applied for graduation and ordered my regalia!!

(and then I took a picture with George in my Utah gear after getting out of the gym.)

Shum Shum came to visit!



I went to a CHEESY 90's themed party with some friends.

They had a "glamour shots" booth! Clearly, I cannot keep a straight face...

We said auf wiedersehen to Torben, who finished his thesis early and moved back to Germany to work for die Gruene.



The weatherpeople said it was going to snow... and it actually DID!!

SHOCKED that the weatherpeople were right!
I baked cinnamon rolls for Easter brunch at Melanie's.

This was pre-baking & pre-icing

My visiting teacher was awesome.


After three years of living here, I finally made it to the National Kite Festival!

You can't see it, buuuut that's a Barbie kite! #notashamed

April's been good so far, too. Maybe I'll catch you up on it one of these days. ;)

April 18, 2013

Baby-Sitting and Beauty (The Story of Snoodlerella)

I baby-sat my neighbors' babies today (a 3-year old and an 8-month old). The 3-year old watched a little "Veggie Tales" on the iPad, and one of the stories was about Snoodlerella. It's a twist on the Cinderella story, where Snoodlerella... Well, here's a great synopsis I found on this website:

"A self- conscious Snoodlerella is the star of the ball after getting an extreme makeover. Her life of glamour is short-lived as the clock strikes midnight and her glasses, braces and insecurities return. Will she be able to see herself as the good King sees her—unique, beautiful and perfect just the way she is?"
via

A line from the video struck a particular(ly humorous) chord with me. The line was,


"Poor Snoodlerella, with her glasses and braces, 
Uncontrollable hair and cumbersome graces..." 

And as I sat there with my... glasses... (Invisalign) braces... and uncontrollable hair (today, in the form of a crazy curly braid), I thought, Hey, they're talking about ME! And it cracked me up. :)

Fortunately, all goes well for Snoodlerella, and while my self-comparison was intended to be funny (because let's face it -- it WAS), it was nice to see a kids' video trying to reinforce the message that inner beauty is more important than outer beauty. I was a little concerned when they started poor Snoodlerella out with a crazy fairy godmother makeover, but the story wrapped up well and was cute to boot.

RELATED: If you haven't seen this Dove video, watch it. The message is really important and much-needed in our looks-driven society. And remember: you ARE beautiful! :)

April 16, 2013

Boston

via
When I first saw the CNN alert on my phone yesterday about two explosions at the Boston marathon, I didn't really think much of it. I thought, Oh, thank goodness only two people... Because it could've been so much worse! And then I carried on with my taxes.

Not that it wasn't a big deal, but that I'm so desensitized to things like this that I didn't think much of it until I started seeing information about it EVERYWHERE. 

When I stopped later to read more about it (I still haven't seen video footage. I don't think I want to...), it hit me that I'm used to hearing about things like this... in OTHER countries. Not here in the U.S. And since then, I've had a whole range of thoughts/feelings. 

Why would someone do something like this?? WHO would do something like this?? Why Boston?? Where else?? (After the planes hit the World Trade Center, other planes crashed in DC, Pennsylvania, etc.) I knew they heightened security here in DC. I heard on NPR that they blocked off Pennsylvania Avenue between 15th and 17th. The usually annoying metro announcement, "Is that your bag?" didn't seem as annoying anymore. My Monday night class is just a few blocks (half a mile!) away from the White House, and in part because I didn't want to deal with riding the metro and -- maybe a tiny part because I was scared? -- I chose to drive to school last night instead of riding the metro. I've never seen so many police cars out in DC at the same time! They were driving on the streets; hiding in driveways, behind bushes, and in the middle of traffic circles; etc. I wasn't sure whether I should feel safer or more concerned to see so many of them out... (Unimportant/unrelated sidebar: I'll tell you this, though. One by-product of so many cops out is that I was late to class! I think everyone on the roads was afraid to drive even a mile over the speed limit, soooo it took me longer to drive to school than it normally would.)

We talked about Boston at school. I talked about Boston with my classmates after class. I talked about Boston with the guy in the elevator with me at Trader Joe's. And now that it's been a day, I'm still processing, but I'm still in shock. You know that Primary song, "Follow the Prophet?"  The last verse says, 

"Now we have a world where people are confused. 
If you don't believe it, go and watch the news.
We can get direction all along our way, 
if we heed the Prophets-- Follow what they say."

I feel like these words are so true right now. We are seeing the signs of the times, and it can be terribly unsettling. But I know that even when things are dark, and even when we face the unknown, God's hand is in our lives. Elder Cook's talk from LDS General Conference just last week spoke directly to this. He even referenced the terrible events of 9/11/01 and said:

"We all long for peace. Peace is not just safety or lack of war, violence, conflict, and contention. Peace comes from knowing that the Savior knows who we are and knows that we have faith in Him, love Him, and keep His commandments, even and especially amid life’s devastating trials and tragedies." 

I'm really grateful to know that we are not alone in this world and that we can find hope and peace in the middle of tragedies. I rode the metro to work today and decided to feel thankful for the police officers and police dogs I saw all over the metro. My prayers are with those in Boston, those directly affected, and all of us whose hearts are as heavy as if we were Bostonians.

P.S. If you want to HELP, find out how at this link.

April 04, 2013

Vegan/Vegetarian April

Two of my GSPM friends (Melissa and Courtney) are doing "Vegan April," and in a show of solidarity (also, why not?), I decided to join them... with a few modifications. Being a fond lover of milk (I go through an entire gallon of milk every week all by myself.), I just don't think I could make it an entire month as a vegan. (I'm also worried about making my body lactose-intolerant by removing all dairy cold-turkey and then re-introducing it a month later, but that's another story.)

So I'm doing Vegan/Vegetarian April! (Vegan the first week, and Vegetarian for the rest of the month.) In no particular order, here are my thoughts/observations so far:

Day 1 was rough. I hadn't fully realized how much I can't eat! (GUYS! No chocolate!! Unless it's dark chocolate or cocoa powder.) My cereal wasn't vegan, my pasta isn't vegan, HONEY isn't vegan... etc. etc. I stocked up on produce last Friday, but I was still very underprepared for my eating regimen. I spent the day hungry and feeling devoid of protein and calcium (and thereby, energy). In fact, I started nodding off in class (my FAVORITE class where I never, EVER fall asleep, even when I've only slept four hours the previous night!) on Monday. It was rough.

After class on Monday, I RAN to CVS (it was the only "food" store open near the metro)... And I realized all too quickly that CVS is NOT the place to buy vegan food. I found a container of unsalted, dry roasted peanuts (for protein) and a box of Special K (vegan-friendly!) and called it good. (And I even ripped off the corner of the Special K box so I could use the $1 off coupon right then... What can I say? I love a bargain. :D) I stuffed my face with peanuts (ahhh, protein!) on the metro ride home and started making "vegan" bread (I used this recipe but added wheat bran and flax seed for kicks) the second I got home. FYI, "vegan bread" just means you use water instead of milk and agave instead of honey. It's not some weird, hippie bread, and it turned out quite tasty, if I do say so myself. :)

Oh, yeah. During the day on Monday, I made a couple of soups. I made a black bean soup (I thickened the "broth" by blending black beans + garlic + water + spinach!) and a broccoli/spinach soup (which I magically thickened without the use of dairy! How, you ask? With potatoes! I blended two small potatoes with the rest of the soup, and voila! "Cream" of broccoli! I felt so brilliant! *Pats self on back.*) Sorry to not include recipes; it's mostly because I made them up as I went along. I'll just say that I was actually quite pleased with myself. :)

Day 2 was MUCH better! Being fully stocked on soup + getting to have my "normal" breakfast (PS I've already opened my third container of non-dairy milk this week, and I have to say that rice milk is my least favorite so far. It's too watery. Like skim milk *shudder*...) + BREAD!! Which meant PBJ! And bread with my soup! Annnd substance! And bread! That and my usual green smoothies have helped me sail on.

Day 3 (ie- today), I'm kind of already bored with what I have to eat. I guess that's the problem with being single and making soups in BULK: I have to eat ALL of it by myself!). I bought bananas and tofu last night (I've eaten more bananas this week than I did all of last month, probably.) I don't know what in the world I'm going to do with that tofu yet (I hate tofu, so I don't even know why I bought it. Well, yes I do... My body was telling me it needed PROTEIN.) Oh, AND! Life-changing discovery of Day 2 that I didn't mention... was THIS:

Mug brownie!! (read: CHOCOLATE!) (image via)

Day 3 also brought my first non-vegan, non-dairy craving (because, PLEASE, all the rice/soy/almond milk in the world won't cure that one!). Wanna know what the craving was for? A Junior Bacon Cheeseburger. Yeah...

A few final observations:


  • I shouldn't have baked cinnamon rolls the day before going vegan. Enjoy, roomies. Enjoy.
  • Eating vegan foods leaves me feeling full for LONGER.
  • Eating vegan food does NOT = a diet. (If you're questioning me right now, read THIS!)
  • Peanuts (which are not my favorite) have become satisfying, because all I can think as I eat them is "Proteeeeiiinnn!"
  • Eating vegan has me feeling good and pumped during the day but feeling devoid of energy at night. I think I need to add more protein. (Or eat more at night?) Maybe I'll figure out what to do with that tofu tomorrow...