PB Flax & Oat Breakfast Cookies

As a self proclaimed chocoholic at the age of 3 (“Grampa? I’m a chocoholic” is a family favorite quote from my childhood), a boyfriend-identified peanut butter addict last week (guess I should cut back a little?), and a lover of healthy and delicious treats…These cookies are the besssssstttt!

Easy to whip up, delicious to chow down, and nutritious to boot – these little drops of protein & salty sweet heaven will be sure to please! Eat them in the morning, afternoon, or evening – no guilt necessary because you deserve this treat and your body will thank you!

PB Flax & Oat Breakfast Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar packed
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg (vegan? try 1 mashed banana or 1tbsp ground flax with 3 tbsp water)
  • 1 cup rolled oats (I supplemented half Coach’s oats that are cut different)
  • 1/4 cup flour (spelt, whole wheat, white, or GF will work. I used white this time!)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the peanut butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract & coconut oil together with a fork (or standing mixer if you have one). Soften coconut oil in microwave if necessary.
  3. Stir in egg (or egg replacement).
  4. Add oats, flour,  and baking soda. Mix well!
  5. Sprinkle in flax and chia seeds. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Take a golf ball sized amount of dough into your hand, squeezing it together so they are dense and round – place on greased or parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes, keeping an eye they don’t get too brown. They should be soft when you take them out – they harden up as they cool. Optional: While still warm, push down softly with a fork to spread them out a bit, being careful not to smoosh them so much they fall apart!
  8. Enjoy!!!! 🙂
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Overnight Oat Bowls

Lately, I’ve been really into breakfast bowls with overnight oats and different combos of toppings. I realized that I’ve been posting them on my Instagram (see below) all the time but haven’t put anything on the blog!

As someone who has cooked my oats for the last 25 years…it was strange to try soaking my oats to soften them instead. But it is so easy! I have leisurely mornings since I work 11am – 8pm, but for those of us who need to eat breakfast on the go, this is perfect! You prep your breaky the night before and it’s all ready to take to work or eat in the car.

Overnight Oat Bowl

Basic Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 cup milk of choice (almond or coconut is my fave!)
  • 1 tsp of maple syrup or honey to sweeten
  • Optional: 1-2 tbsp of yogurt!
  • Mix-ins of your choice (nuts, seeds, nut butters, dried fruit, etc.)
  • 1 jar or small tupperware to store overnight
  • Toppings of your choice (fresh fruit & berries, additional nuts, etc.)

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients (except fresh toppings) in your jar
  2. Shake to mix thoroughly
  3. Put in fridge and go to sleep. (ZZZZzzzzzz)
  4. Wake up, add additional fresh toppings, and eat!

Easiest thing ever!!!!

Some of my favorite combos so far? Click the pics for descriptions. And follow my Instagram to never miss a breakfast bowl post!!!

Shakshuka!

I had never heard of Shakshuka until I started following a bunch of instagram foodies. Then, all of a sudden, it was in my Insta feed…seemingly every day, all of the time, everywhere I looked. At first I was curious what it was, then I was intrigued about making it, then the other day I was like I HAVE TO MAKE THIS NOW!

So…that’s what I did.

However, I was so impatient about trying it that I didn’t want to wait and go to the store to buy all the ingredients. I had a full fridge, so it seemed silly to go buy some additional ingredients to make this one specific dish.

In true Emie fashion, I decided to make some substitutions and just go with the flow. I used a recipe for guidance but then used whatever I had and threw in some ingredients I wanted to use up or thought would be a tasty additional!

If you’re trying to make an authentic Shakshuka? Not the way to go. BUT if you’re trying to make something delicious and convenient – adding and substituting things that you have on hand is perfectly acceptable!

Shakshuka

I used this NYT Recipe for inspiration. It is also a somewhat untraditional rendition of the dish, because it calls for feta crumbles on top. I love feta and had some on hand, so it was a perfect addition!

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 zucchini, chopped (wanted to use it up, so I threw it in)
  • 1 tiny clove of garlic (I have a garlic sensitivity and get stomach aches if I eat too much – feel free to add the 3 cloves the recipe calls for)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (didn’t have sweet paprika)
  • Cayenne pepper to taste (we like spicy!)
  • 1 fresh tomato, diced + 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 large leaves of chard, chopped finely (wanted to add greens and use them up)
  • salt + pep
  • healthy sprinkling of feta cheese (vegan? ditch the feta, it would still be tasty!)
  • 4 eggs
  • Homegrown chives & oregano for garnish (they use cilantro)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat oil in cast iron pan. We didn’t have an onion so we skipped that step and jumped right in to the bell pepper. We cooked it for 10-15 minutes until soft. Then added zucchini and garlic, sautéing for 2 min and then added the cumin, paprika and cayenne. After a minute or two, add the tomatoes and season with salt & pepper.
  3. Simmer until tomatoes have thickened. NYT says 10 minutes but it took mine a little longer. I add the chard in right near the end to let the leaves soften. Then stir in the feta – we just eyeballed it, stirring in less than the recipe called for but still a healthy amount!
  4. Crack eggs in over the tomatoes, careful to note break the yolks, and season with more salt & pepper.
  5. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the eggs are just set. Recipe says 7-10 minutes but our egg whites were still jiggly when we moved the pan. We left it in another 5 minutes, checking periodically. When we removed ours, the yolks were a little harder than we would have liked, so next time we will remove ours a minute or two before we think they are done!
  6. Season with herbs and serve with hot sauce. We served ours with buttered sourdough toast – though pita or challah bread is more traditional!

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Enjoy! We were ooohing and ahhing over every bite. It’s such a fun experiment to try a new recipe and realize you LOVE it. We will probably end up making this on a regular basis now! I encourage you to experiment and throw in what you have in the fridge – who knows, maybe you’ll like it even more than the traditional version of the dish!

Follow me so you never miss a post! Also check out my Instagram @emiesfoodforthought below!

Earth Day on the Daily

Today is Earth Day! Today is a day when many people spend time outdoors, volunteer for environmental projects, or simply take time to honor our planet with thoughts. In my morning yoga class, we focused on grounding ourselves – sending energy to our legs and feet with our breath and poses. My legs certainly feel grounded now…they’re hard to lift because they’re so tired!

Earth Day has become a day for environmental activism – providing a platform to elevate concerns and wishes for our treatment of the planet. But let’s not allow our concerns and conversations about the environment halt after today – there are plenty of things we can do and think about on the daily to ensure we are better stewards of the planet.

While in a college class about the History of Environmentalism, I learned about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – an island the size of Texas, completely made of plastic, chemical sludge and debris. It urged me to write an essay about the need to reduce our material consumption throughout our society in order to properly address our problems with waste. (Perhaps a post for another day).

It also urged me to be more conscious of my consumption of plastic waste that is unnecessary. Two easy things you and I can do to reduce plastic consumption?

  1. Buy a reusable To-Go mug and never leave home without it 
  2. Bring reusable bags with you everywhere you go

My hope is that this is not new to most people. In the state of California, plastic bags are banned in all grocery stores and paper bags cost 10 cents. I see more and more shoppers coming prepared with bags and more people in line at coffee shops with their own mugs and tumblers. What a relief! It’s catching on.

Alex and I always bring our own bags to the store. We never head to the market without our totes and we’re pretty good about stocking our cars with extras in case we make an impromptu run for groceries.

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Yet, we wanted to take it a step further. In January, we decided to avoid produce wrapped in plastic. It kills me when vegetables are unnecessarily wrapped in plastic – TRADER JOE’s…cucumbers don’t need to be shrink wrapped!!!!! And while we had grumbled about it for a long time, we never really did anything about it until…We went online and ordered mesh produce bags – amazing! And so easy to do.

Since buying our mesh baggies, we have been careful to buy vegetables from Von’s or Farmer’s Markets where we can more easily avoid plastic wrappers. It’s still sometimes difficult. It’s especially tricky when the organic produce is wrapped in plastic and the conventional produce isn’t. I never know which to choose – pesticides in the soil/water/my body OR plastic in the landfill/ocean! (Any thoughts on which is the better choice? Will research this and get back to you.)

So, think twice when in the produce aisle and make decisions with the planet in mind! Be sure to take your cup when you go to get your iced chai and don’t leave home without your bags (or baskets!). ❤ #environmentalistonabudget

earth-day

 

 

 

 

Pantry Must-Haves

 

I made cookies the other day on a whim. I was on the self-declared food committee for a girls’ outing & picnic at a winery. I woke up that morning and realized we needed cookies. Duh. So I threw together oatmeal & tahini & chocolate chip cookies for us to nibble on with our pink wine and classy picnic.

My best friend was so impressed I made cookies in the morning before picking everyone up. She kind of laughed and asked if I just have everything I need to make cookies at all times. The short answer?* Pretty much…

The secret to preparing foods at home is making sure your kitchen is well stocked. If you get the urge to make something, it is the worrrssstttt if you don’t have a simple ingredient you need. Most of the time, you’ll probably just end up ordering pizza or going out to a restaurant to eat the meal you were craving! At least, that’s what I do.

With that in mind, I have put together a list of the things I have found essential. These are things I think every kitchen needs and I highly recommend you have them on hand so you don’t find yourself needing to make runs to the market every time you want to make a batch of cookies or a simple meal!

*The long answer? I get creative to avoid the things I don’t have. For my cookies on Sunday, I didn’t have eggs, so I mixed up flaxseed with some water to create a sticky binding paste, and mixed it in. I didn’t have enough butter, so I looked up a recipe for inspiration that used tahini in it. I also could have also used coconut oil (you saw my instagram of the HUGE tub I just bought at costco). Having the confidence and creativity to make some substitutions goes a long way in ensuring you can throw food together with what you have at home. But first – make sure you stock up on pantry essentials so you have most of the items you need!

Ready your kitchen, with these essentials:

  1. Essentials:
    • Salt & Pepper
    • Flour (We always have spelt & regular all purpose flour)
    • Sweet: Raw sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup & honey
    • Vinegar: balsamic, rice, and red wine
    • Condiments: Soy Sauce, Sriracha, Spicy mustard!
  2. Oils/Fats:
    • Olive oil
    • Butter
    • Canola oil
    • Highly recommend: Coconut Oil
    • Peanut butter
    • Tahini
  3.  Grains:
    • Rice (white and brown)
    • Rolled Oats
    • Quinoa
    • Pasta
  4. Canned:
    • Garbanzo beans
    • Black beans
    • Coconut milk
    • Chicken/veggie broth
  5. Spice cabinet basics:
    • Basil
    • Oregano
    • Cumin
    • Coriander
    • Paprika
    • Cayenne
    • Cinnamon
    • Ginger
    • Garlic
  6. Baking basics:
    • Vanilla extract
    • Baking powder
    • Baking soda
    • Yeast
    • Unsweetened coconut flakes
  7. Seeds / Nuts (I find them essential – we usually have the following on hand)
    • Raw almonds
    • Pepitas
    • Flax seed (ground or whole)
    • Sesame seed
    • Chia seed

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There are a lot of lists out there. Many of which have more items.This is what I truly find essential to have all the time.You can of course go out and buy specialty ingredients when a recipe calls for it, but it’s great to have these things in your back pocket for when you need them. If you stock up on these items, it will give you flexibility to make something on the fly. And if you want to make one of my recipes (please do!), having these basics will certainly help you be prepared! 

Coming soon:
A grocery shopping guide. What we buy every week to ensure we can make well rounded meals vs. the items we buy sparingly for specialty recipes! Tips for shopping smart & green.

Thanks for reading, loves!

 

 

The Açaí Bowl

I’m not going to lie, when I was studying abroad in Brazil, I did not care for Açaí…Which is a bummer really, considering Brazil is the Land of Açaí. Men (in tiny bathing suits) run down the beach carrying coolers on their backs shouting “Açaí, Açaí, Açaí!” and if you call them over, they pull out a small bowl of the purple superfood and a pack of granola, selling you the nutritious and hearty treat to enjoy while you laze and tan (read: burn) in the hot, Brazilian sun.

I didn’t like the stuff. Something about the taste put me off, not sure exactly what it was. I wanted to like it so I kept trying it, but it wasn’t my thing so I focused on other Brazilian treats (sooooo many pão de queijo) and didn’t think much of it.

Fast forward a few years and Berry Bowl opened up in Highland Park on York Boulevard. After a few months of avoiding it because the smoothies seemed insanely over priced, I walked in with a friend, enjoying a leisurely morning and was tempted by their Açaí Bowls. They mixed in other fruits and tastes to switch it up, offering a lot of different renditions of the original açaí na tigela from Brazil. As a sucker for Peanut Butter, I obviously went for their PB Açaí Bowl.

I am now an açaí convert and will never turn back. Mixing these power packed berries with other fruits and flavors was a game changer. I quickly became addicted and needed to be able to make them at home. I wanted to save the money, the plastic cup, and some calories, since I can control what I put in and how big I make my bowls!

Unlike other berries, açaí is fairly high in calories and higher in fats than other fruits so I do not recommend eating this on the regular, or on days when you are just sitting around the house, catching up on (read: binge watching) your netflix shows. But when paired with an active lifestyle, this can be a wonderful breakfast to refuel and I love it after a workout for a boost!

You can buy Açaí puree in certain grocery stores. I buy mine at Vons. Make sure you get the UNSWEETENED variety – otherwise it is packed with unnecessary sugar.

The Açaí Bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 pack Sambazon Pure Unsweetened Açaí
  • 1/2 banana (I like it frozen, but it takes longer to blend up!)
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • Approx. 1/4 cup almond milk (incorporated slowly)
  • Optional: 1 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • Toppings: 1/2 banana, berries of your choice, granola, coconut, nuts, anything!

Directions

  1. Remove your pack of açaí from the freezer and run it under hot water for 10 seconds so it softens slightly. Break it into pieces and put in your blender. Add your other frozen fruit and pour a LITTLE bit of the almond milk.
  2. Blend until it stops and is too thick to continue. Stir a bit, scrape down the sides, add a little more almond milk. Continue blending.
  3. Continue adding more milk and scraping down the sides if necessary to get it blending. Try not to add too much milk at once because then you’ll have a smoothie and not a bowl (not the end of the world).
  4. Once blending successfully, add the Peanut Butter if you want. Blend to mix and then stop.
  5. Pour into a bowl. Top with your favorites and serve. Alternative? Put it in a jar and take it on the go! Just keep cold until you eat it!

Other potential add-ins? Flax powder, chocolate hazelnut spread , almond butter, frozen strawberries, frozen mango…the possibilities are endless! I’m excited to try a bunch of other combinations too.

What are your favorite açaí toppings???? 🙂

Vegetarian Sushi “Tacos”

Alex grew up making open-faced sushi at home. His mom’s side of the family is Japanese and despite being in the United States for quite a few generations, they enjoyed preparing the cuisine of their ancestry (who wouldn’t…Japanese food is amazing!).  Sadly for me, sushi was not in my family’s cooking repertoire. I did, however, grow up feeling jealous of my friend Annie who brought seaweed rice balls to school for lunch and homemade sushi rolls to potlucks (inspired by her family’s time living in Japan). Her sushi rolls would have simple but delicious ingredients: tuna fish, cucumber, carrot sticks, avocado, sprouts, etc. I remember being so excited each time I got to try some of her homemade rolls, but for some reason I never even thought about making it at home.

About a year ago, Annie came to visit me and Alex in Los Angeles. She had just come back from teaching English in Japan and we had a great time catching up. To repay us for crashing on our couch (like she needed to pay us back – it was a treat to have her), she wanted to make us dinner. Lucky for us, she prepared sushi tacos with lots of different fillings and toppings so we could assemble our own at the table. It was wonderful and seeing it prepared as an adult, I had a realization…it’s not hard! I wish I could go back in time and tell my high school self to give it a try – I spent so many years being envious of Annie’s lunches only to realize now that I could have made it myself.

Since then, Alex and I have made Vegetarian Sushi “Tacos” on a pretty regular basis.  Despite having sushi rolling mats, we like to stick to the open-faced variety – it’s less hassle, easy to do on the fly, and just as tasty. Just hold on to them tight as you dunk it in the sauce (or play it safe and pour the sauce on top) – if you get sloppy with your technique, the toppings tend to pop out!

Vegetarian Sushi “Tacos”

Ingredients

  • Seaweed squares *
  • Half cucumber, cut into spears
  • 2 large carrots, cut into spears
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 cube tofu, cut into thin rectangular slices
  • 2 eggs, scrambled
  • 2 cups white rice (+ 1sp vinegar & sprinkling of sugar to make sticky)
  • Dipping sauce: Soy sauce & rice vinegar mixed.
  • Sriracha

*We buy large ones and then cut them in 4. You can find them in Vons next to the other asian cuisine ingredients. You can buy the seaweed snacks that come in the little boxes too. They will be slightly smaller and there’s more plastic packaging which is why we buy the bigger ones.

Directions

  1. Cook your rice in a rice cooker or on the stove, as you would normally.
  2. While it is cooking, heat up a frying pan with 1tbsp of oil (coconut or veg). Place your tofu in a single layer and let fry. Check the bottoms and once browned, flip them to the other side. Once browned on both sides, remove from pan and place in a bowl.
  3. Scrape out any tofu pieces that are left in the pan, and then heat the pan again. Pour in the scrambled eggs, swirling it around so it’s a thin layer all around. Let cook until firm, and lightly browned on the bottom side, then flip carefully with a spatula. Turn off the burner, let the bottom side cook in the hot pan for a minute and then remove from heat. Cut the egg pancake into rectangular strips. (Note: if your pancake rips and falls apart a little bit, that’s fine. Just make sure it is thin and gets firm on both sides.)
  4. Prepare the dipping sauce with 2 parts soy sauce & 1 part rice vinegar.
  5. When rice is done cooking, stir in 1 tbsp rice vinegar and sprinkle 1 tsp of sugar. Use a piece of paper or an oven mitt to fan the rice while you stir it so it cools slightly and the vinegar/sugar mixture makes it sticky.
  6. Cut your seaweed squares and serve all toppings in the dinner zone – dinner table, kitchen counter, floor in front of TV (no judgement here!)
  7. Assemble your tacos as you eat them, switching up the toppings in each one savoring each bite! I recommend spreading the rice in a thin layer and then layering on the veggies & protein. Top with sriracha, pour a little sauce on top (or try to dip it…just be careful not to lose your toppings!) and enjoy!

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Multigrain Mushroom Risotto

Alex and I went to CostCo yesterday to stock up on some of the ingredients we use all the time. Now, I get overwhelmed in shopping malls & IKEAs like nobody’s business, but when I walk into CostCo, my anxiety melts away and I’m like a kid in a candy shop. Seriously.

We got the most ginormous container of FAGE greek yogurt at half the usual price in the store. We also bought a vat of coconut oil the size of my head for like $20 which is incredible considering the small jars usually cost $8. IT’S AMAZING!

One thing we use a lot of is quinoa, so we like to buy it in bulk at CostCo instead of buying small bags at TJs that we go through in two weeks! This time though, we decided to buy the multigrain mix that has quinoa, millet, and amaranth.

Amaranth is an ancient grain that I had never heard of until I worked in Mexico as a volunteer with Amigos de las Americas. It was cultivated and widely used by the Aztecs but then it stopped being grown (I didn’t know why, but Wikipedia says the conquistadores banned its cultivation during their conquest of the Aztec nation…weird!). It is very nutritious and easy to grow in central america so groups, like Amigos, are working hard to reincorporate it into the local diet to improve health and reduce hunger! Meanwhile, a woman at a grain stand at the Atwater Farmer’s Market, described millet to me as the quinoa of Africa and Asia. It is very easy to digest (and gluten free) so it is often recommended for sensitive stomachs!

Anyways, the multigrain medley looked wonderful and nutritious, as well as cheaper than the pure quinoa, so we went for it. We cooked some up yesterday in a mushroom risotto and it was amazing. Loving it!

Risotto typically calls for arborio rice, but we often use regular rice or quinoa to make it and it works wonderfully. It’s the full flavored taste that is important, and cooking quinoa longer than usual definitely gives it time to soak up the different tastes. Making risotto with quinoa also amps up the protein. You can serve this risotto as a hearty side dish OR as a main course. I love eating the leftovers for lunch, paired with a green salad.

Multigrain Mushroom Risotto

Ingredients

  • 2 cups quinoa/millet/amaranth mix
  • 1 cup chopped white mushrooms (crimini would work too)
  • 1/2 zucchini chopped
  • 2 green onions diced, white part separated from green
  • 3 cups water, veggie or chicken broth + 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 table spoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup grated/shaved parmesan cheese
  • Optional: 1 tbsp fresh sage, minced
  • salt & pep

Note: if you do not use broth, I highly recommend adding some additional herbs and spices. We used sage because our stoop garden is thriving. We also added a sprinkling of celery salt. Add your favorite spices to up the flavor, though the white wine and parm are the stars of the dish.

Directions

  1. Heat up your rice cooker OR medium pot (over medium heat). Add your olive oil and half the butter and stir together. Let the fat get hot, then add the white parts of your green onion and let cook for 2 minutes until fragrant.
  2. Add the grain and the mushrooms to the pot and stir so they get coated in the butter and begin to cook a bit. After a minute or two, add your 3 cups of liquid and stir to combine. Add salt & pep. Then cover and let simmer until most of the liquid is gone. Check occasionally to be sure it isn’t boiling over but try not to keep opening the top and letting out the steam.
  3. Once most of the liquid is absorbed, add another cup of water, the white wine, and the chopped zucchini. Stir and continue simmering until the water is mostly gone.
  4. Add the final cup of water  – stir and then cover to keep simmering.
  5. Once the quinoa has absorbed most of the liquid and is puffed up and soft, add the sage (or other fresh herbs), parmesan cheese and the rest of the butter. Stir to incorporate, letting the cheese melt!
  6. Garnish with the green tips of the onions, salt & cracked pepper. Serve immediately!

We paired our Multigrain Mushroom Risotto with dry rub salmon and spicy green beans stir fried with pepitas!

 

 

 

 

Exercising Kindness

I’m pretty kind when it comes to others, but it’s a completely different story when it comes to myself. I think we all have a tendency to be especially unkind to ourselves and our bodies when it comes to thinking about exercise, fitness, and diet.

This is something I’m consistently working on. It’s easy to get mad at yourself for not going to the gym or it’s easy to feel guilty about not eating as healthy as you feel you should, but those negative feelings are just as detrimental to your body’s health as the piece of cake you’re regretting.

Recently I have realized just how exhausting it all is. When I was 160 pounds, I wanted to be 140. Once I reached 135 pounds, I wished I were 130 and consistently worried about putting the weight back on. It’s forever, it’s tiring, and it’s unnecessary. With this in mind, I have been trying to shift my focus to health instead of appearance. I think this slight change in mindset has really helped relieve some of the pressure and has enabled me to be more kind to myself.

By thinking in terms of what my body wants and needs, I am loving it more fully. To me, loving my body means eating balanced meals, getting outside & getting active a few times week, but also giving my body space to relax. It means I can treat myself to a brownie and not calorie count in my head to try to reassure myself it’s okay. It means if I don’t want to push myself to go to the gym, I can just go on a walk in my neighborhood and feel like I did something equally as beneficial and restorative for my physical (and emotional) wellbeing!

I think this change in mindset is crucial when trying to stick with a healthy diet or fitness plan. Whether you love your curves or are eager to get in better shape – it is important to think in terms of health. Both big and small can be beautiful, as long as the body is treated right. So instead of thinking about size, think about your body’s wellbeing and what it needs to thrive. If you’re feeling discouraged because you’ve tried to lose weight for a long time, I know it is easy to convince yourself that the healthy diet is not working and therefore you should just eat what you want. But don’t give in! Whether you’re seeing the results you really want or not, eating right has incredible effects on your body that may not be visible. Your body can’t change overnight but as soon as you start changing the habits, there are tons of other health boosting effects you may not notice right away.

Reality check: Unfortunately, you (like every other human) are not immune to needing exercise. We cannot be sedentary and miraculously live healthy lives. So at some point, we all have to love our bodies enough and decide to put in some effort and find some kind of activity we enjoy doing! There are a lot of things to choose from, so get out there and try something to find what activity can keep you healthy. As you age, this will be incredibly important. SOOOO many studies link health to movement – doesn’t really matter what you do but physical activity is what keeps us all agile and strong.

For me, I’ve always been fairly active because I enjoy sports and working out but there are times when it is rough to find the time or the energy – we all have that. I try to find a healthy balance of playing frisbee, doing yoga, taking walks or runs in the neighborhood, doing stretches and home aerobics work outs, going to the gym, or hiking. Yet sometimes I drop the ball. For example, I hadn’t been to yoga in so long that my classes expired. I was so bummed I almost didn’t go back to the studio, but today I got my act together and went in to ask for my classes back. They made me pay for one class today, and in exchange I got all ten classes back and can use them for the next 3 months! I am so excited to get back into my yoga practice and am so glad I didn’t use this as an excuse to keep putting off yoga class…

When thinking about my fitness, my diet, and my body’s health, this shift to focusing on wellbeing instead of appearance has been enlightening.I’m lucky to have the support of an incredible partner who lifts me up on the daily, whether I feel like the most beautiful and healthiest being on the planet or whether I feel guilty for not treating my body better. It’s a consistent up and down but keeping health and wellbeing at the center, relieves a lot of pressure that is otherwise an exhausting cycle of self destructive thoughts and actions. So break the cycle and love your body by treating it with the respect and kindness it deserves.

 

Thai Red Curry

On nights when Alex and I are lazy and don’t want to cook – we order thai food. It’s become kind of a routine. I’ll text Alex as I’m leaving work at 7:30pm about how I’m starving and exhausted and don’t know what to make for dinner. If he agrees, I immediately call up our go-to Thai spot and place an order for delivery – fresh spring rolls with peanut sauce, pad see ew with veggies, and panang curry with chicken. We spend over $25 so I also remind them to include our complimentary Thai iced tea. I sign off by telling them that no, we do not need rice for our curry, at which point I have Siri text Alex and he starts the rice cooker so it’ll be ready once our food arrives.

By the time I’m home, in comfy clothes, and have a glass of red wine in my hand, the food has arrived and the TV is cued for whichever show we’re currently watching – making it a perfect evening to end a busy and tiring day at work.

In this way, Thai has become a comforting meal for us. And we love this as our Plan B for when we really can’t get it together to make something at home. BUT it has some serious draw backs. Styrofoam containers being at the top of the list, with cost being a secondary concern.

So for those nights when we want something comforting but we’re not ready to throw in the towel and give in to ordering take out, we have learned how to make our own version of Red Thai Curry at home. It’s not too difficult, it’s probably healthier than the authentic Thai curry, there’s usually leftovers for lunches, and there’s no styrofoam involved. Serve with white or brown rice, quinoa, or your favorite grain!

Red Thai Curry

Ingredients

  • 1 eggplant sliced in rounds (Chinese variety is our fave – long, thin, and light purple)
  • 1 red bell pepper cut in thin strips
  • 1 small head of broccoli cut into medium sized florets
  • 1 inch chunk of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion chopped
  • 1/2 package extra firm tofu cut in cubes  (dried with a towel to get excess moisture out)
  • 2 tsp Red curry paste (available in most grocery stores, with other asian cuisine ingredients)
  • 1 tsp natural peanut butter
  • Optional: 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • approx. 1 cup water
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp raw sugar or maple syrup
  • fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil OR vegetable oil
  • salt + pep

Directions

  1. Heat a medium or large sized pot over medium heat. Add the coconut oil. Once oil is hot, add the ginger and onion and sautée for a few minutes until fragrant. Be sure the oil is not so hot the ginger and onion burn.
  2. Add the coconut milk, curry paste, and peanut butter to the pot and whisk it well. Add lime juice, fish sauce if using, sugar, some salt and pepper, and continue stirring. We also add some cayenne pepper for spice!
  3. Add eggplant and bell pepper. Add in 1/2 cup water to ensure the veggies are completely covered. Let simmer 10-15 minutes, until eggplant is soft but not falling apart.
  4. During this time, taste the curry (without burning your mouth…) and add whatever it needs. We often end up adding more lime juice or curry paste depending on the size of our veggies and the amount of water we added. It’s an experiment so just taste and add what you think it needs – follow your taste buds!
  5. Once the eggplant is pretty soft, add the tofu, broccoli, and a sprinkling of fresh basil to the curry. Add more water if needed to cover the veggies – keeping in mind you’ll need to add more seasoning so it’s not bland! Simmer for about 5 min – keeping an eye on the broccoli. We try to cook it just enough so its soft but still bright green.
  6. Dish up rice or quinoa into your bowl and top it off with a healthy portion of curry. Garnish with fresh basil (I also like cilantro on mine) and a drizzle of sriracha.

Notes: You could definitely make this recipe with chicken if you prefer. We’ve also done it with tofu, sweet potatoes, and kale – not your traditional panang curry veggies but it’s delicious. It’s also great with carrots in it! I highly recommend making enough to have leftovers for lunch – the veggies continue soaking in the delicious coconut curry and taste even more flavorful the next day. You’ll make all your coworkers so jealous!

Try it out, switch it up, and make it your own 🙂