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Pimento Cheese Grits

Serves 8
2 ½ c water
2 ½ c milk
1 c white grits
2 c pimento cheese
s&p

Procedure
1. Bring water/milk to boil, add grits, reduce heat, simmer 20 mins
2. Stir in pimento cheese, s&p to taste
3. Serve immediately
4. Can chill & reheat in casserole, 350° for 30-45 mins

Love Food, Love the Experience

After reading Loving Your Food, I thought long and hard about my current eating habits. While I enjoy the process of cooking, I admit the pleasure I derive from eating pleasure is less than desirable. My eating life has turned into a multi-tasking marathon; it is far easier for me to stand up and complete unfinished tasks as I mindlessly shovel food in my mouth (OK, maybe not shovel, but certainly not eating in the most dignified manner). Obviously, as an RD, this is certainly not good practice as half the time I don’t even realize what I am eating. This article was a good reminder that the act of eating is one of pleasure that should truly be enjoyed. When we rush and multitask while consuming food, that pleasure is gone. Furthermore, we miss the benefit of making mindful choices that not only taste good, but also are also good for us.

The last few days I have tweaked some of the habits that crept into my daily life. I actually sit down and look at my food., I take the time to drink water throughout the day & am taking time to make foods that I alone enjoy. I’m rediscovering that eating is for sustenance and pleasure.

Resolve to Be Resilient

The love of your life has died suddenly. Can you imagine feeling joy ever again?
Sheryl Sandberg went through this experience. She’s written a book about it, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resistance and Finding Joy. She believes resilience is like a muscle and can be built up, that life is never perfect, and doesn’t always go according to plan. “We all live some form of Option B.”

An FBI Agent (and former “fancy department store buyer”), shares her thoughts on resilience – discovered from her earliest experiences at the FBI Academy:

  • Accept that it’s not all about you. “You don’t need more mantras or affirmations; you need a better way to look at your world.”
  • Refuse to play the blame game. “Life is hard. Pain is inevitable. Growth is optional.”
  • Bring it on. Getting knocked down is part of life…getting back up is, too.
  • Stop trying to be happy. Happiness is an emotion that draws its power from others. Joy is an attitude that depends only on you.

The gym is crowded in January. This muscle can be exercised anywhere.

A Resolution You Can Stick With

Yesterday, as I browsed through various mailers, I came across a store ad featuring a woman clad in a skimpy fitness outfit. Inside the flyer were various specials for fitness equipment. I found myself shaking my head at the irony of this ad; given less than a week ago mailers were featuring glutinous amounts of food (and toys). New Year’s resolution season has officially hit. As discussed in a precious blog. I am not big on the all or nothing mentality of New Year’s resolutions, as they often set us up for failure. As I was contemplating the year of resolutions, I came across this article The Only Way to Keep Your Resolutions which has a completely different way of looking at how we make resolutions. After decades of being told to practice self control (eat less, spend less, exercise more) we have failed miserably. The article goes on to say the way we have viewed self-control is wrong. The real key? Social emotions. “Unlike reason and willpower, they naturally incline us to be patient and persevere. When you are experiencing these emotions, self-control is no longer a battle, for they work not by squashing our desires for pleasure in the moment but by increasing how much we value the future.”

My recommendation for a resolution this year? Read this article and as the author states “reflect on what you’re grateful to have been given. Allow your mind to step into the shoes of those in need and feel for them. Take pride in the small achievements on the path to your goals. Doing so will help ensure that every future New Year’s Eve will have more to celebrate than to regret.”

Ask Yourself

The busyness of the fall is swiftly followed by the buzz of the holidays.
But take a moment to reflect on how you and your team are functioning.
Is your team running on all cylinders? Are you operating with minimal chaos (and drama)? How is everyone’s attitude? How is yours?

Comfort Pho Bowls

Choose 1 from each grouping:
1. Grain: rice, noodle, quinoa, farro, barley
2. Protein: chicken, shrimp, pork, beans, egg, tofu
3. Veggie: broccoli, squash, brussel sprouts, mushroom, eggplant
4. Greens: kale, spinach, bok choy, swiss chard
5. Broth: chicken, veggie, pork, fish
6. Spice: hot sauce, herbs
7.Crunch: carrots, cucumbers, cabbage, kimchi, scallions, peppers

Per serving, layer in order in wide mouth bowl:
⅓ c cooked grain
⅓ c cooked and chopped protein
⅓ c roasted or steamed veggie
¼ c julienned greens
½ c+ hot broth
spice to taste
top with shredded or chopped crunch

Great way to use leftovers, any combo works!

Minty Chocolate Beet Pudding

Serves 6

1c coconut milk, full fat

4 sprigs fresh mint

½c beet juice**

2c chocolate chips, bittersweet

2t cornstarch

3t water

1/4c sugar

1/4t salt

1t vanilla extract

 

1. Heat coconut milk, on med, to simmering

2. Remove from heat, add mint, cover & seep 30 mins

3. Combine cornstarch & water in bowl, stir to mix

4. Strain coconut milk, discard mint leaves

5. Reheat coconut milk, med heat

6. Add cornstarch mixture, stir until thickened, 2+ mins

7. Stir in beet juice, vanilla, chocolate; mix until smooth

8. Pour into 4oz ramekins

9. Serve warm or cold

**Note: beet juice at Whole Foods, or other specialty

Talk is Not Cheap

Humans are (still) social creatures wired to connect. It’s true. And since in addition to loving food, we love people and serving others, we will always keep the conversation going about how to have a better conversation: one that leaves you and the other person feeling inspired, engaged, and basically — really good. Watch this short TED Talk: 10 ways to have a better conversation (It’s not just about eye contact…as she says: there’s no reason to show you are paying attention…if, in fact…you are paying attention!) 1. Don’t multi-task (physically or mentally). Be present. 2. Don’t pontificate: if you want to state opinions without discussion, write a blog! Enter every conversation assuming you have something to learn. 3. Use open-ended questions: what was that like, how did that feel, what do you think. 4. Go with the flow – meaning, let thoughts come as you are listening but let them go. Don’t check out of listening because you’re cueing up that random thought or story you want to share. 5. If you don’t know, say you don’t know. 6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs. All experiences are individual. 7. Try not to repeat yourself, it’s condescending and boring. 8. Stay out of the weeds. That detail you are trying to remember (exact year or place) really isn’t that important to others. 9. Listen. This is the most important skill humans can develop. No man ever listened himself out of a job (quoting Calvin Coolidge). 10. Be brief. Do all of these and be prepared to be amazed.

Holiday Hazelnut Maple Biscotti

In an effort to simplify my life this holiday season, a theme that resonates with me every year, I have been thinking about ways to pare down my life. This thought started with a simple trip to the grocery store where I noticed the shelves were filled with an overabundance of holiday food items, that sadly, go to waste. It goes without saying that we live in a world of abundance, particularly when it comes to food. Of course, this is not a blog about world hunger, but it certainly gives you something to think about in this season of plenty.

Obviously, being a nutrition professional, I have a love of food so I am not going to totally forgo the joy of baking, just stick to my favorites that I know will be savored by family & friends alike. My personal favorite holiday treat is Hazelnut Maple Biscotti; nothing beats this divine combination of chocolate and hazelnuts.

So, I will savor my biscotti and all the simple pleasures the season has to offer.

Hazelnut Maple Biscotti
Hazelnuts (a tree nut) are a good source of folate & dietary fiber.

½ cup pure maple syrup
½ cup hazelnut butter (I ground my hazelnuts which is actually pretty simple)
¼ cup butter
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1-teaspoon vanilla
1-tablespoon hazelnut liquor (optional)
3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
½ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup lightly toasted hazelnuts
Semi-sweet or Bittersweet Chocolate for drizzle

Preheat oven to 325. Line cookie sheet with parchment or silpat. In a medium bowl, cream together maple syrup, hazelnut butter and butter. Add eggs, vanilla and liquor, blending well. In a larger bowl, combine flours, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir to blend. Make a well into dry ingredients, add egg mixture and mix until incorporated. Add nuts. (Knead by hand if necessary). On a lightly floured board, divide dough into half and roll into 2 14-inch logs. Place logs on prepared sheet, then flatten about 1 inch high. Bake for 25 minutes or until loaves spring back when touched lightly. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Reset oven to 300. Slice cookies on the diagonal. Place slices flat on baking sheet, and bake for 25 minutes (a lot of this process is trial and error; I like my cookies crisp so I bake longer). Remove from oven and let cool. Drizzle with chocolate (or dip in chocolate) if desired.

Pumpkin Hummus

2c rinsed garbanzo beans

½c pumpkin purée

1/3c olive oil

1T chopped Italian parsley

1½t apple cider vinegar

½t+ chopped garlic

1½t maple syrup

½t cinnamon

to taste s&p

toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

chopped fresh chives

 

1. Blend all (except chives) in food processor until smooth

2. Add a little hot water to thin to desired consistency

Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds, chives & maple syrup drizzle

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