Tag: easy

Beyond cookies: 6 homemade holiday food gifts you’ll be excited to share

Good morning, Washington!

There’s still plenty of time!

This collection of food gift ideas was hand-picked to fit the bill: they all feature seasonal flavors or scents, can be made in bulk, and are a step outside the box of the cookies you make every year.  (You should still make those too…I’m all about traditions that evoke those warm, nostalgic feelings!) So grab a friend or prep ’em solo – you can knock all of these out together in just a few hours…use individually as little host/hostess gifts, or make a elegant gift basket for a huge hand-crafted surprise.  Check out my Pinterest board for more versions!  Click the pics below for the full instructions, and see the spot I did on Good Morning Washington to talk about the recipes!.

1. DIY soup in a jar

You’re giving the gift of warm soup on a cold day…and it’s beautiful to boot!  There are lots of great recipes out there for these self-mixed dry ingredient jars, just remember if you go off book that everything you put in should have roughly the same cooking time (ie either all beans or no beans, look for quick cooking versions of grains, and always include some instructions in a note!).  Pro-tip: layer smallest ingredients first and the larger ones last; otherwise tiny pieces will slip through layers and mess up your stripes.  It has to be functional and beautiful!

2. “Artisan” dark chocolate bark

There are lots of pretty chocolate barks in stores now…and let me tell you, they’re pricey!  Here are the secret cheats: you be the artisan, and get a high-percentage dark chocolate bar (I like Trader Joe’s 73% dark bar; $1.99 – and over 70% is where the heart-health benefits are!) and add your own nuts, dried fruit, pretzels, coconut…check your pantry, I’m sure there are lots of things you could add!  A sprinkle of cayenne or salt, some leftover candies, or even peppermint tea leaves could be easy adds.  Skip melting chips, tempering, and dirtying bowls and just use a 300F oven to melt the bars right in their foil – 3-5 minutes is usually enough to soften!  Just make sure you press all the toppings in a bit so they stick.  See my full instructions here or do it the old fashioned way.

3. Rosemary-spiced nuts

Another easy diy that has about a million variations to choose from – I like this one because the rosemary is a unique twist, but of course there are gingerbread, cocoa-coated, and candied options that are equally delightful.

 

4. Coconut-vanilla salt scrub

I have a whole Pinterest page dedicated just to foods you can use for your skin too – but salt scrubs are one of my favorites because they’re SO easy, inexpensive, and darn effective!  This one is three simple ingredients: 1 cup of salt (coarser for a foot scrub, finer for hands), 1/3 cup of coconut oil (unrefined), 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.  I keep this one in my shower to use after the soap stage – just rinse with lukewarm water and towel dry for glowing, fresh (and beautifully smelling) skin!

 

5. Fruit & nut loaf (the REAL fruit cake!)

I wish I could remember who gave me this recipe…like most people, I was not a fan of fruit cake.  Especially the weird gummy bits!  But this recipe changed my view: they’re delicious and decadent when made with just nuts, dried fruit, and enough flour and egg to hold it together.  The recipe easily doubles, so you could churn out lots of mini loaves or a few big ones if you’re hosting.  So please, this season give a fruit cake a second chance (and just call it a nut loaf so people aren’t scared!).

Ingredients

  • 3/4 c all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar, light or dark
  • 3 cups roughtly chopped nuts
  • 3 cups coarse chopped dried fruit
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla

Directions

Mix flour, baking soda, powder, and salt. Toss nuts & dried fruit in flour mixture to coat. Add brown sugar and mix well, then add eggs and vanilla and use handes to work into a sticky dough. Spray a loaf pan or oil with canola oil, line with parchment, and spray/oil parchment too. Pack the dough into the pan, pressing down until even on top. Bake in oven at 300F for 1 hour to 1.5 hours, depending on size of pan. Cake is done when golden brown on top. Tent with foil if it starts to get too dark. Remove from oven, allow to cool,a nd remove from pan to wire rack. Slice when completely cool.

6. Frankincense scented salt-dough ornaments

This one I can’t take credit for…the lovely folks at Simply Earth sent me an essential oil subscription box to try and I simply LOVE it!  You can opt for a one-time box, a quarterly box, or a monthly box – all come with a variety of oils, recipes, and other goodies to make their concoctions.  This box was perfect for the season: the oils it came with were pine, rosemary, and frankincense, along with an orangey blend called “Happy Joy.”  I’m sharing their recipe for ornament dough here because it’s SO easy and the texture is amazing.  I decorated mine with stamps, paints, and some little plastic bedazzles.  Here’s the process, 5x faster than real time:

Ingredients

  • 15 drops Franckincense oil
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 3/4 cup water

Directions

Mix all ingredients together in a small sauce pan over medium heat.  Stir continuously and allow to boil until a dough forms.  Remove from heat and allow to cool completely (I cooled mine wrapped so it wouldn’t dry out).  Roll out dough, using extra cornstarch if it’s sticky, and use cookie cutters to make ornaments (I used a chopstick to make the ribbon hole).  Dry for 24 hours, flipping after 12.  (I also found you could bake them for ~10 minutes at 300F to dry them out enough to decorate; this can cause bubbles in some so drying is preferable!)

Some more shots of my ornaments are below; you should note that Simply Earth gives 13% of its profits to help end human trafficking (I love a company with a cause!) and they’re very passionate about their customer’s experience being positive and engaging.  So check them out!

School lunches made simple (+6 ways to use tortilla shells!)

August is upon us

While the weather is still sweltering here in the mid-Atlantic, belying the fast-approaching new school year, it’s almost time to start thinking about getting those kiddos back to class fueled up with the nutrients they’ll need to succeed.  And it matters a lot – kids who have better nutrition tend to get better grades and are less likely to have behavior problems (not even to mention the health benefits)!  Below I’ve put together a few guidelines for building meals, recipes, and tips for pulling it all off successfully.  What are your best tricks?  Feel free to add in the comments below!

Lunch: the approach

  1. Get kid’s buy-in: they’re more likely to eat what they participated in selecting.  But as the parent, you’re controlling what they chose from.

    • During grocery shopping, let them choose veggies – “do you want carrots or celery?  Green beans or broccoli?” There are an overwhelming number of choices so framing between two comparable selections keeps things simple (don’t just set them loose in the produce section!).
    • During home prep, let kids help pack…the wrap ideas below are all kid-chef friendly, and packing veggies in containers helps them to realize the work that goes into food prep.  It doesn’t have to be every single day – start weekly and go from there!
  2. Use these guidelines to make sure the box is balanced:

    • Protein + produce – whether it’s meat or plant-based, protein is a crucial meal component – beans, dairy, meat, eggs, nuts, and whole grains contribute protein, while produce like fruit + veggies complements with fiber.  The tortilla wrap combos below always follow this rule!
    • Veggies and fruits + dip = kids eat more produce!  A savory garlic & onion “ranch” dip made from plain greek yogurt works well for bell peppers, carrots, celery, and cucumbers, while creamy peanut butter dip is perfect for apples, bananas, and strawberries.
    • Sweet treats should be nutrient dense – ie, not cookies, cakes, or candies!  Save those for a special occasion and try energy bites (recipes below) or chia pudding (just put all ingredients in a lidded container and SHAKE & refrigerate!).  A low-sugar yogurt (like Siggi’s) with berries or granola (Michele’s is my favorite brand, while this is the best homemade recipe for granola I’ve found) is also perfect for a snack or dessert.

      (Energy bite recipes above from The Yooper Girl, The Creative Bite, and Gimme Some Oven, respectively.)

  3. Pack it up securely (and get that sharpie out to put names on anything you want to see again!)

    • Good Housekeeping has done the work of listing the best and 100 Days of Real Food has a small round up too…the ones below are Amazon-prime-ready to be at your door with no fuss, click to order! Target also has a wide selection – this is another great opportunity to provide 2 options for kids to choose between (after you narrow down what you want them to chose from!).
       

6 ways to use whole wheat tortilla shells

That word “whole” is crucial – if it’s not on the package, you’re likely holding a white-flour product, and minimizing refined grains in favor of whole grains is a great way to boost your fiber intake (which is dismally low for most people!).  If it says “100% whole” then all the better!  Easy to keep on hand (store in the refrigerator to extend shelf life) and dress up sweet or savory…there are countless combos and options (toast them to make chips!  Spread with sauce and cheese to make thin crust pizza! Breakfast wraps!) but here are six that kids will love:

  1. banana + Soom chocolate tahini spread (tahini is sesame butter; this brand is a great alternative to Nutella at 1/3 the sugar and only 3 ingredients!)
  2. apple + peanut butter (sweet enough for dessert, nutritious enough for a snack)
  3. turkey (or turkey meatballs!) + mozzarella cheese stick (microwave for a melt!)
  4. mexican cheese + black beans + diced peppers (microwave to bind into a quesadilla roll; serve with salsa)
  5. hummus + rainbow veggies (bell peppers, avocado, carrot, cucumber)
  6. cucumber + tuna with soy sauce (or just mayo if your child’s palate is less adventurous)

 Hope this helps!

Enjoy the end of summer and the fresh start of the fall…and stay in touch!  Find me on Instagram and Facebook…or stop by Potomac Vegetable Farms, where I’m working and learning how to grow the best food outside of Washington, DC.  I’m often working our stand at the Arlington Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings – come say hi!

7-ingredient sesame ginger noodle bowl sauce

What’s better in spring than a cold noodle bowl?

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FINALLY spring is here, and the fresh spring ingredients are starting to pop up on the shelves.  Crisp beans, tender asparagus, leafy greens…which all sound like great ingredients for a noodle bowl, if you ask me!  This month’s RecipeRedux theme is 7 ingredients or less, and my Asian-inspired noodle bowl sauce fits the bill.  I made them for Gracy’s self care group on Sunday, and used my go-to format of a make-your-own bar so people could choose which elements to add.  (And as always, I chose EVERYTHING!)

But the sauce!  It’s delicious. Savory, nutty, salty, and tangy – and very forgiving.  I often use rough measurements and it always ends up just fine…make a big batch and taste as you go to adapt it!

IMG_3360Sesame ginger noodle bowl sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/4 c sesame oil
  • 1/4 c soy sauce (can substitute soy-free aminos or homemade soy sauce)
  • 2″ fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 Tbsp almond or peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp tahini (double if skipping nut butter)
  • 1 lemon’s juice
  • 1 clove garlic

Directions

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor; mixture will be thick.  Drizzle in 1/4c -1/2 cup water until desired consistency is reached.  Taste and tell!  You could add a hit of hot sauce, a pinch of sugar, or more of any of the ingredients you want to play up.

Click the frog for other RecipeRedux 7-ingredient recipes for fast, healthy dishes!

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4 Turkey Alternatives (that will please any crowd!)

This morning I was featured on the local ABC7 to discuss alternatives to turkey for the holidays – my third DC area television appearance!  Check it out:

http://wjla.com/embed/features/good-morning-washington/turkey-alternatives-for-thanskgiving

Many thanks to the ABC7 team for making me feel so welcome and comfortable – they are as genuinely nice off the air as they are on it!

Want to learn how to do meal prep for healthy eating every week of the year with recipes personalized for you?  I offer personal nutrition assessment + cooking classes – check my package options to learn more!

Turkey Shortage?

A bout of avian flu in the midwest killed about 3% of the nation’s turkeys this year – though not before most of the frozen turkeys sold this November were already raised and frozen, according to the National Turkey Federation.  So prices may be higher ($0.59-1.99/lb for frozen birds in our area) but the supply is still robust.

To order a (DC-area) locally  raised turkey from a small farm, try:

But, since it’s unlikely that turkey as we know it was even present at the first Thanksgiving, why not buck the trend and offer something different?  Below are four ideas + recipes – each with their own claim to the place of honor as entree for the big day!

The other white meat: for meat-lovers who want something stuffed

A pork tenderloin is an impressive dish to serve, and could easily be stuffed with the same elements as a turkey – nuts, cranberries – and this recipe even include butternut squash!  The tenderloin has about the same amount of protein as turkey, and pairs nicely with similar ingredients.  Try this recipe by Gina (shes uses turkey tenderloin, but I used pork) – and don’t forget to visit your local farmer’s market to get higher quality, better-raised meats.

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The turkey shaped option: for visual effect

Cornish game hens are a breed or crossbreed of chicken; they’re very small, so these would make a nice individual-sized serving, or if on the larger side perhaps served by the half.  This recipe features some amazing fall flavors – lemon and sage – and Elizabeth shares my outlook on meat sourcing and portions to boot.

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The vegetarian/vegan option: for the meat-free

What would a holiday post be without something from Martha Stewart?  Her stuffed acorn squash includes beans, quinoa, and nuts for protein that the squash lacks with a beautiful outcome that any guest would be delighted to have.  It would probably go well with a bechamel sauce, too!

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The seafood version: a nod to our shellfish-eating forefathers

It’s likely that the early Thanksgivings included fish or shellfish, so serving a pescatarian option is very apropos!  Rosemary is one of my favorite cold-weather flavors, and oranges are in season now – added bonus, this dish takes under half an hour from start to finish: a big time savings so you can focus on side dishes.

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RecipeRedux: National Nut Day!

I guess there’s really a day for everything these days, isn’t there?  Really though, I try to encourage everyone to eat nuts on a daily basis – a handful is a serving, they’re high in protein, fiber, and unsaturated fats, and they can be stored at room temperature.  The perfect snack, breakfast component, and wonderful in dishes sweet and savory alike.   Easy to store and portion in the office, the car, your purse…and there’s got to be a seasoning mix to please everyone out there!  Ok – my ode to nuts is over, but definitely worth consideration if you aren’t already eating them regularly!

What if I’m allergic?

Turn to seeds – sunflower, pumpkin, chia, flax…these have generally the same nutrient profile as nuts, but are different enough that most people with nut allergies aren’t triggered.  Make sure to check with your doctor if you aren’t sure which allergies you have!

Back to nuts

This recipe packs everything that tastes good about fall into one bite: pumpkin, pumpkin spice, apple, and almonds!  Add chocolate chips if you want a sweeter treat, and sub maple syrup for brown sugar if you have it on hand.  Delicious enough for dessert, but healthy enough for breakfast (try enjoying with plain greek yogurt!) – my favorite kind of recipe.  Don’t forget to check out the other nutty recipes by clicking the blue frog at the end of the post!

Pumpkin spice almond bars

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups old fashioned (rolled) oats
  • 1 c slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 apple, diced (keep skin on for more fiber!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 very ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chunks or chips (optional)

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325° F.
  2. Spray an 8 inch by 8 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl combine the oats, quinoa, almonds, chocolate chips, apple, pumpkin pie spice and salt.
  4. In a blender combine the sugar, banana, and pumpkin puree until smooth.
  5. Add pumpkin mixture to oat mixture and stir until all the oats are coated.
  6. Place oat mixture into the prepared pan and spread to be flat and even, packing down with the back of a spatula. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown.
  7. Let the bars cool, and cut into desired size (makes 10 snack sized bars).

Back to the table: chunky market veggie gazpacho

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Produce, produce, everywhere

It’s getting to that point of the summer when I actually have more produce than I can handle around my kitchen…between bringing home a load from the market weekly and visiting my mom’s garden on Tuesday, I have a glut of cherry tomatoes, beets, corn, peaches, and peppers.  One of the best problems to have, right?  Since this month’s RecipeRedux theme is “back to the table,” I decided to put out a bunch of yummy dishes and have an al fresco smorgasboard for a friend visiting from out of town.  Summer dinners are much more casual, but convening around food at the end of the day is an important family ritual to keep up, even if you don’t need to use silverware for all the food!

A word about gazpacho

Gazpacho should be easy.  After all, it’s basically a vegetable smoothie that you eat with a spoon.  Some recipes call for blanching and deseeding of tomatoes, peeling cucumbers, and chilling overnight but that all seems overly complicated to me.  Yes, my soup will have more texture than a restaurant version, but that means more fiber and other nutrients.  This article reviews the “5 mistakes of gazpacho” – and I’m making that one on purpose!  My friend said it was the best gazpacho she’d ever had, and that she loved the texture, so it goes to show that a few extra peels never hurt 🙂

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Chunky market veggie gazpacho

Ingredients

  • 3-4 medium [fresh, local] tomatoes (or about 3 cups of cherry tomatoes)
  • 2 small bell peppers (yellow, orange, or red work best)
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove garlic (this may be the only thing you want to roast – left raw, it gives the soup a spicy edge!)
  • 1 small English cucumber
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • toppings: fresh basil, corn, croutons, parmesan cheese…try what you like!

Directions

Put all ingredients in a blender and pulse into chunks; puree to desired thickness.  Optional: add breadcrumbs for a thicker texture.

Farmer’s market recipe of the month: babaghanoush!

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This month’s RecipeRedux theme is produce from farmer’s markets or CSAs – my favorite kind!  I work for a farmer in my Columbia Heights neighborhood, and it’s one of my favorite parts of summer.  A place I get to talk about food, obtain beautiful produce, and share samples with people?  Sign me up!  Early on, I tried to provide handouts with my recipes on them, but copies are expensive and paper gets dirty/blows away/requires pre-printing, so I switched to sending out a monthly e-newsletter of all the recipes I sample (you can sign up here!).

This month, I made a tried-and-true favorite: babaghanoush!  It’s basically eggplant dip, and made with the same ingredients as hummus, but the cooked eggplant gives a delicious, silky texture.  Incredibly easy to make, and best served with cucumbers or even endive leaves (veggies on veggies!), this is a go-to for summer entertaining with a Mediterranean twist.  Also great as a spread for sandwiches or wraps! (Be sure to click the blue frog at the bottom to see all the ways Redux members used produce in recipes for some healthy inspiration!)

Babaghanoush

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1-2 Tbsp tahini or other mild nut or seed butter
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Directions

Slice the tops off the eggplant and then in half down the long side.  Sprinkle with salt, and grill, roast or microwave until the flesh is soft.  Puree with all remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor.

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Pantry dump & bake – with new Libby’s vegetable pouches! (+easy veggie casserole)

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I’m always on the lookout for new products – and sometimes, they come to me!  As  RecipeRedux member I get access to foods that might not even be on the market yet…like the new Libby’s Vegetable Pouches, which are easy to open, shelf stable, and cook in the micro wave in 1 minute.  They’re an alternative to canned veggies, and taste better in my opinion!

With the cold weather finally here on the east coast, tis the season for a warm, cozy, casserole – by using Libby’s vegetables, beans, and whole grain pasta, this is an all-in-one meal that reheats perfectly for lunches.  No pre-cooking, sauteing, or chopping here – just dump all the ingredients into a pan, bake, and serve.  While it’s in the oven, sneak in a workout, relax, or enjoy time with your family!

I received free samples of Libby’s new Vegetable Pouches mentioned in this post. I was not compensated for my time.

Easy Veggie Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 pouch Libby’s green beans
  • 1 pouch Libby’s green peas
  • 1 pouch Libby’s corn
  • 1 handful chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 15-oz can pinto beans
  • 3 c broth
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 c milk
  • 1/2 lb whole wheat short noodle pasta
  • 3 oz mozarella or cheddar cheese

Directions
Grease a casserole pan (mine is 8″ diameter and 4″ deep) and preheat the oven to 350F.  Drain pouches and beans, and fold together with a spatula with noodles, broth, parsley, egg, and milk in a mixing bowl.  Pour in to casserole pan, and bake for 45 minutes.  Sprinkle on cheese and bake for another 5 minutes until melted.  Serves 4.

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National Pasta Month (+pasta puttanesca)

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The best place for pasta in Columbia Heights

is Maple.  They make their own noodles in house and the sauces from scratch.  I’m also partial because they source some ingredients from the farmer I work for at the CoHi market on Saturdays…but pretty sure I’d be a fan anyway, anyhow.  It’s comfy and casual, yet feels elegant, has a small but diverse menu (of which everything I’ve had is delectable), and isn’t pretentiously priced – if anything, it’s one of the best values in the city for the quality of food.  I had the linguine puttanesca there a few weeks ago and my mouth has been thinking about it ever since.

Entre national pasta month

If you didn’t know, don’t feel bad…I wasn’t aware that October is pasta month either, until the RecipeRedux challenge (sponsored by the National Pasta Association – yup, that’s a thing, too) was listed.  Even though pasta isn’t a central part of my regular diet, it definitely has a place in the American diet for its versatility, ease of preparation, and potential health benefits.

Nutritionally speaking

pasta is a concentrated source of carbohydrate, our body’s primary fuel.  Because it is a plant product, it contains dietary fiber – as long as you get a whole grain variety!  Fiber content is very low in white flour pastas, and quite high in those that are fortified with wheat germ or oat – usually around 6g (out of a 25g recommended daily) for a serving.  Which brings me to portion sizing.  Many restaurants have totally ruined our eye for judging a single serving of pasta, which is only 1 c of cooked noodles.  Getting 2-4 times that amount when you eat out isn’t uncommon (another thing I like about Maple – it’s not a huge serving!) and therein lies the problem.  Over consuming carbohydrate causes a surge in insulin, which signals energy storage (ie, fat) and can lead to insulin insensitivity over time.  So the takeaway: pasta = good, too much pasta = not ideal!

Pasta Puttanesca

is a chunky, tomato based veggie sauce that is loaded with great briny flavor from anchovies, capers, and olives.  It’s easy and fast to make, and pairs perfectly with any meat over a perfectly cooked noodle.  Having a half cup (the serving size for sauce) will be hard to do…so have two!  Veggies are what we need more of.  This version will have you at the table in half an hour and absolutely delighted…especially if you can’t make it to Maple 🙂

Linguine Puttanesca (a la Sarah, via Maple)

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb whole wheat pasta
  • 3 large red tomatoes (I used one large and a pint of cherry, ~2lbs), diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 3 Tbsp capers, drained
  • 1 tin anchovies
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 poblano (or red bell) pepper, diced
  • 1/2 whole black kalamata olives, diced
  • 1/4 c red wine
  • 1/2 c flat leaf parsley, rough chopped

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Directions

Heat a large pot with water filled halfway on the stove until boiling.  Cook pasta per box directions until al dente (slightly firm).  Heat oil in a sauce pan (4qt); add onion, garlic, and anchovies.  Saute until anchovies start to break down and onions become translucent (~3-4 minutes).  Add the tomatoes, pepper, and wine, reduce heat and cook, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the olives, capers, and parsley, cook an additional 5 minutes.  Plate pasta, scoop sauce on top.  Garnish.

Click the frog to see the rest of the pasta contest entries!

Daily Protein Distribution (+oatmeal & yogurt fixin’s kit for teachers!)

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I’ve lived with a lot of teachers over the past decade – mostly by chance (I’ve had over 25 roommates from Craigslist!), but all of them have changed my perspective of what it takes to teach.  If I had any idea how hard my teachers were working outside of the classroom, I’d have given them a lot more love!  Living with them has also given me some insight to the barriers around healthy eating.  They’re often overscheduled, have brutally early mornings, and are constantly emotionally challenged by kids who have problems from continence to language barriers to raging hormones – and that’s before they even get to class! To be able to respond in a constructive, loving, effective way you have to be on your A-game, which means a foundation of sleep and good nutrition.

The idea of “eating for performance” is not just for athletes – it’s for everyone.

“Performance” for teachers means getting a protein-rich, nutrient dense breakfast that will carry them to lunch.  Unfortunately, in America we’ve gotten into the habit of backloading our protein so that dinner has too much and breakfast has too little.  Here’s a visual from the Egg Nutrition Center:

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Aiming for at least 20g of protein with a breakfast (that also contains fiber and fat) will ensure you don’t get hangry (hungry –>angry), and also give your metabolism a jump start.

Which brings me to the portable oatmeal & yogurt fixin’s basket.  I currently live with an amazing lady named Elise who is such a kick butt teacher that she is now the interim PRINCIPAL of a bilingual middle school…at the age of 27.  (Check her out.  BOOM.)  She and I were enjoying an amazing ScratchDC dinner on our deck earlier this week, and talking about how much we loved the service – they make it easy and fast to have a fresh meal ready to eat in 20 minutes.  “I wish they did breakfast!” she said.  “I need something I can throw together and eat on my way to school, or keep at my desk.”   After a few minutes, the Basket Bar was born.  Based on the concept of having a variety of shelf-stable options you can combine in lots of ways that I used to feed 20 people for a weekend yoga retreat, the Basket Bar was born.

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The Basket Bar:

Step 1: get a basket.  I got this on at Target, and made sure it would comfortably fit the jars.
Step 2: get jars.  I purchased 9 Ball canning jars of different sizes, and filled them as such:
Step 3: fill them with high-protein, fiber-rich, nutrient packed toppings

  • slivered almonds (L)
  • pecan pieces (M)
  • flaked coconut (M)
  • raisins (M)
  • craisins (or other dried fruit) (M)
  • sunflower seeds (S)
  • chia seeds (S)
  • dark chocolate morsels (S)
  • ground flax (S)
    (size indicates which jar was used)

I also threw in a measuring spoon/cup set for portioning, and a few bags of frozen berries.  Add that to a base of plain greek yogurt or steel cut oatmeal, and you have an awesome breakfast or snack.  The first day of school is coming up…do you know any teachers who need a gift like this? (HINT: get them one.)

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From Elise:

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Best day everrrr”

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workinnn'”