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What I Ate Wednesday #148: How the Light Gets In

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Good morning! How’s your week going? My inner clock is a bit confused from working Friday through Monday, so today is sort of like my Sunday this week. Whatever works, right?

This actual past Sunday was gorgeous in New York. Waiting for the bus in the morning felt almost like spring. While scrolling through my Instagram feed, I noticed a post from Foodtrainers featuring a quote from one of my favorite Leonard Cohen songs: “There is a crack, a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in.”

That line has been in my head since then. It’s the kind of thing that, when you sit and think about it, takes on more meaning and depth. The way I respond to it certainly has changed and evolved since I first started listening to L. Cohen when I was 18, but in other ways, some things remain the same.

Anyway, light has been on my mind a lot in general, mostly because I’m getting a lot more of it in my day to day life. I mean that in the most literal sense of the word. After spending almost nine months in a windowless office, I’m still not over the novelty of sunlight as I eat breakfast at my desk. Today’s What I Ate Wednesday post will feature Sunday’s well-lit meals and snacks. I definitely notice I need to eat more snacks to get me through work days, especially at this new place, where I feel like on my feet in a way I haven’t been since I was a dietetic intern. I can’t lie, though—I kind of love it. As always, many thanks to the lovely Jenn of Peas & Crayons for hosting the weekly link party—take a little trip over there to see more WIAW from other bloggers!

  • Breakfast: Overnight oats made with Greek yogurt, 1 tbsp flax, 2 tbsp oats, cinnamon, and berries—simple and satisfying
  • Lunch: Big salad with roasted veggies, black beans, and half an avocado
  • Snacks: Green apple, Trader Joe’s teriyaki turkey jerky
  • Dinner Part One/After-Work Snack: Sprouted grain toast spread with nonfat ricotta and topped with roasted eggplant and a sliced hard-boiled egg
  • Super Bowl Party Snacks: I was pretty full from my snack/mini-dinner, so I munched on some carrots and hummus
  • Dinner Part Two: Red lentil chili (again—I have lots in my freezer) when I got home from the party and realized I was hungry. Working hours that are different from other people’s “normal” means weird meal times occasionally, but as long as it all works out in the end, no harm no foul.
  • Chocolate Fix: I had a square of this before calling it a night. This chocolate is basically my wildest PMS dreams come true.

Actually, I think my wildest PMS dream of late is a recent one about trying to froth coconut water, mostly to see if it worked. Long story. Paging Dr. Freud.

Do you have natural light in your workplace? What’s your wildest PMS dream? Any good Super Bowl eats? 

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Late to the Cage-Free Party

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The other day as I was going to deliver some light mayo packets to a patient because they didn’t trust the kitchen to send them up, a different patient who calls me Blondie started singing “Heart of Glass” down the hall. Now that I’m in the very last days of my “old” job, I’m acutely aware of the things I will and will not miss about the place. I’ve also started noticing little things that never struck me as funny or weird before. For example: Cage-free mayo is a thing?

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Apparently it’s been a thing since 2008 in Europe, and since 2010 in the States. Unilever, which owns Hellman’s aims to go totally cage-free by 2020 in their products. According to the press release on the company’s website, creating the formula for the 30 million jars of Hellmann’s Light® Mayonnaise, this involves sourcing ~3.5 million pounds of eggs from an estimated 125,000 hens. That’s a lot of mayonnaise. And a lot of loose hens. There’s probably a joke there.

On the one hand, cool.  On the other, cage-free, doesn’t automatically mean the hens are raised more humanely or without antibiotics and hormones. In some ways, it seems like a gimmick to distract consumers from the fact that they’re eating whitish paste in a tube that has a lot of other crap in the mix. This is to say nothing of what they’re putting the mayonnaise on. Adding health-halo cage-free mayo to your s*** sandwich isn’t actively making you any healthier.

Anyway. I’ve never been a mayonnaise fan—it’s the flavor and the mouthfeel that just don’t do it for me, even when we made it from scratch back in the food lab in grad school. I’d rather spread hummus or avocado on my sandwich or use Greek yogurt to make a dip. However, I suspect I’m in the minority. For those of you mayo-lovers out there, here’s a recipe for a homemade version.

Do you like mayonnaise? What are your favorite sandwich ingredients? 

Thursday Things

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1.) The other day I overheard a patient say, “I just need a pina colada—something to help me sleep at night!” The person they were talking with suggested a hot toddy.

Though I like the concept of a hot toddy, in practice, it doesn’t work so well—the alcohol may put you to sleep quickly, but it’s usually a fitful sleep full of disruptions. You might even say that the relationship between alcohol and sleep is a tricky friends-with-benefits setup that doesn’t actually benefit the sleeper in the long run. Call me old fashioned, but I like real, secure sleep that leaves me feeling refreshed and energized rather than sheepish and shaky the next day. And still wanting more (sleep). Of course, were it not for a period in college where I had terrible insomnia winter and only slept once every three days, I might not appreciate an honest night’s sleep quite as much. We all learn things the way we learn them.

2.) When it comes to sleep aids, I like melatonin, which can be helpful in establishing a sleep cycle (as opposed to knocking you out). It’s actually the only hormone that can be sold without a prescription in the U.S., mainly because it’s present in some foods and can be considered a dietary supplement, weird as that sounds.  It’s generally considered safe with few documented side effects. However, I’ve noticed I have especially trippy dreams when I take it. Case in point: the other night, I dreamt about participating in an art class that took place in a hot tub. Everyone had to bring a bouquet of flowers, and I was really concerned about how much space my arrangement took up. We turned on music and painted along, though a lot of folks wrote with the paint. I can’t remember what I made, but the guy next to me wrote someone’s biography in black paint on a purple background.

3.) It snowed the other day. Holy hell. I had to bust out my down-filled people costume:Photo on 1-21-14 at 3.35 PM #2

4.) Caramelized onions are my new favorite food—I could eat this by the bowlful. However, to avoid appearing conspicuous, I have instead been enjoying them in things like salad and stir-fry. Also amazing in omelets. Jan 20 salad

My favorite description of caramelization comes from Wikipedia, and actually makes it sound a lot like love: “Caramelization is a complex, poorly understood process that produces hundreds of chemical products.”

5.) Speaking of love, I need to stop listening to this song before my neighbors stage an intervention. Of note: You could probably create a drinking game around how many times a Lumineers song includes the line, “When we were young” or makes reference to being younger/getting older. Basically, you could just drink your way through the album. Not that you should. See #1 above.

What are your things for this Thursday? Do you have a favorite sleep aid? Caramelized onions—yay or nay? What song are you hooked on lately?

Snow Day by Default

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quinoa egg white bowlGood morning and happy weekend. How’s everyone faring in the snow? I was hearing all this talk on the radio yesterday about “snow-induced boredom,” but I can’t say I experienced any of that. I actually happened to have the day off from my clinical job (taking my last vacation day of 2013), so I spent it doing things like cleaning and catching up on emails (how did 600 messages pile up in my inbox?). I somehow managed not to go out until the evening, when I had drink-and-dinner plans downtown. Of course, the day involved savory breakfast: leftover quinoa salad with kale, roasted veggies, egg whites, and goat cheese. 

I also thought I’d share a new playlist, since it’s been a while since I’ve posted one. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I hate working out to music. Or more like, I love it, but I inevitably start dancing along to whatever’s playing, which is seriously embarrassing. I’d much rather humiliate myself like that at a wedding, where everyone is drinking. The only exception is yoga, which is the perfect setting for music. Remember that time I went to Pink Floyd yoga

So far, this playlist has been  great for powering through a busy workday or cleaning the bathroom or just putting something on in the background on a cold winter afternoon. Enjoy! 

  • I Am A Rock-Simon & Garfunkel
  • Clean Slate-M. Ward
  • Classy Girls-the Lumineers
  • Just Like A Woman- Bob Dylan
  • Requiem on Water-Imperial Mammoth
  • Changes-David Bowie
  • Substitute-the Who
  • Elenore-the Turtles
  • Houses-Vetiver
  • Winter in my Heart- the Avett Brothers
  • Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues-Bob Dylan
  • I Don’t Care if there’s Cursing-Phosphorescent
  • Lost in My Mind-The Head and the Heart
  • Watching the Wheels- John Lennon
  • Bring it on Home to Me- Sam Cooke
  • You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere- Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard
  • God Made Man-Young the Giant
  • Mr. Tambourine Man-the Byrds
  • Northern Lights-Bowerbirds
  • Sunlight in a Jar-the Lucksmiths
  • Buckets of Rain-Bob Dylan
  • Shine a Light-the Rolling Stones

What songs are you loving lately?

Songs I Overplayed in 2013

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I forgot to do this last year, but usually, I make a playlist of songs from the year past. As 2013 begins to wind down, I’ve revisited this tradition and come up with a list that is at once dark, funny, and wonderful. Some of this year’s top tunes  (sorry, neighbors) were:

The last of these fell into rotation during the summer, mostly because of the line, “Feathers fall around you and show you the way to go.”

Feathers have become an odd sort of motif in this second half of 2013, always showing up in strange places when I need a little reminder that I’m not alone in this crazy journey of a life. Tuesday afternoon I actually broke out in a surprised, grateful smile when, after a very trying day at work, I followed a fresh path of feathers to the subway and found more feathers when I got off the train and reached my destination.

So yeah. This week. There was a full moon, which explains a lot.

I laughed, I cried, I went to a wake that was held in a church to make room for all the people who came by. I made plans, I ate caviar, my pager at work became possessed. I said All the Things. Some of those things were words that started with F. Some of those things were “death is a part of life” and “That’s bulls***.”  Half my Pinterest recipe board is probably soup and things that go well with soup.

In short, it’s been one of those “count your blessings” weeks.

Speaking of soup, at least Thursday’s sad desk lunch was a little less sad thanks to some delicious homemade soup and this sesame Savory Bar my mom gave me. soup and savory

Speaking of my mom, I was sitting next to her at a family gathering the other day when my dad snapped this picture because he was so startled by the resemblance. mom and jess dec 18 13

Anyway, this week has reminded me that the only thing you can really ever count on is unpredictability. Don’t be afraid to see something for what it is. You will question and you will struggle with doubt, but trust the signs and yourself and your intuition.  Celebrate the good. Say thank you. Always always always.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend ahead.

What are you thankful for right now? What songs did you overplay this year? 

Say it with a stick blender this holiday season

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This article on the How About We blog cracked me up last night as I was taking a break from wrapping presents to procrastinate on the internet. (Sometimes I think I should actually try How About We‘s dating services since I dig their blog so much, but that’s a post for another blog that does not exist.)

Anyway, the author of this post makes the case that an immersion blender is basically the perfect gift for anyone on your holiday gift list. Here’s an excerpt:

You are giving the gift of blended cold drinks, soups, sauces, batters, and smoothies. And yes, you can absolutely blend all of those things with a normal, standing blender. But would you want to? An immersion blender lets you blend whatever you’re blending right in the container you made it in — bowl, pitcher, pot, whatever — which means you don’t have to pour anything, which means you don’t have to spill anything. Transferring soup from pot to blender back to pot makes soup essentially not worth making. But with an immersion blender, that isn’t necessary, because you do your blending right in the pot. Or the bowl. Or the pitcher. Whatever.

Hand blender

The point is, it’s easy, it’s basically instantaneous, and most importantly, it requires virtually no cleaning, unlike your standing glass monolith. With an immersion blender, you just pop the blending head off the base and rinse it. You’re not just giving an immersion blender, you’re giving the gift of time.

I actually received a stick blender as a gift after finishing my dietetic internship from my aunt and her husband. I think I need to use it soon to make some rosemary mashed potato soup—the secret-ingredient white beans add a nice dose of protein and fiber. I think even Nora Ephron would approve of this version of her favorite comfort food.

I also have to note that the title of this post makes me think of this Rolling Stones song—not Christmas-y at all, but if you can’t say it with a stick blender, you can always say it with dead flowers. It took  me a long time to be able to listen to this song because I used to sing it with an ex all the time (all kinds of weird, I know)—thank god I outgrew the cringe-phase.

Do you have an immersion blender? What do you like to use it for? 

What I Ate Wednesday #139: Birthday Edition

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Happy Wednesday. I hope you’re enjoying a wonderful week so far. Ready for a little birthday-themed What I Ate Wednesday? As always, many thanks to the lovely Jenn of Peas & Crayons for hosting the weekly link party. Take a visit to see more WIAW from other bloggers!

I don’t know about you, but over the years, my birthdays have been so different from one another. Last year was a lot of fun, and the year before was nice and relaxing. 25 was just kind of sad and bizarre—I knew I wanted some big changes to happen, and I knew those changes were not going to be easy—even if I made it sound all sunshine & vegan rainbows in my post about it. If memory serves, 24 was objectively lame, but surprisingly, I didn’t even mention it on ye olde blog. Haha that means it must have been pretty awful! I do have to say that it was a real trip for me to go back in time and see how this site has evolved over the years!

This year started with an early hot yoga class with my mom. Part of me was annoyed that the instructor (who opened the class by rapping—I kid you not) kept picking on me, but I told myself that her comments were intended to be helpful, not hurtful.  I actually managed to surprise myself a few times with poses I’d never been able to get into before, so hey.

After getting packed up and ready, my mom and I headed into the city, where we grabbed lunch at Le Pain Quotidien and then set about working on a few things around my apartment—hanging pictures and a couple wind chimes and brainstorming some ways for me to rearrange the furniture to improve the flow of energy. I know, I know, but I think that stuff can make a huge difference!

A little later, we met up with my dad and sister for dinner at The Smith, where we enjoyed a lot of delicious food and drink. My dad got a kick out of the fact that I have a favorite bourbon. My dad barely drinks at all, but he thought it was so hilarious, he said that if I got a bourbon he would get a shot of tequila. So that happened. At the end of the meal, they actually got away with telling the server to put a candle in the cake. And a lollipop—nothing says, “You’re getting old, kid” like a glorified bank lollipop.

After dinner, my sister and I hit up the sale at Urban Outfitters and went to a concert. It was the perfect way to spend my birthday this year. And here’s the reason d’être of this post: what I ate.

  • Breakfast: Made some pumpkin cranberry oatmeal at my parents’…and poured it into a too-small bowl. Whoops!
  • Snack: Leftover squash & greens 
  • Lunch: My mom and I split two salads: one was the quinoa tabouleh, and the other was a smoked salmon one—so good!
  • Snack: Split this chia pod with my mom. It was new to both of us, and we agreed it was delicious!
  • Dinner: Started with prosecco, oysters, and fried calamari with marinara; For my main course I enjoyed filet mignon with salad and some of the brussels sprouts we ordered for the table. Oh, and bourbon. I like mine neat.
  • Dessert: A few bites of this delicious chocolate cake. I also tasted the toffee pudding (I think that’s what it was) my sister ordered.

All in all, it was a really good day, complete with delicious food.

What’s been your favorite birthday so far?