winter

Call for Guest Posts!

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follow your dreams Good morning and happy Saturday! I’m off to my last day at the conference and am looking forward to some great lectures.

Can you believe we’re in the last week of February? We’re also only 4 weeks away from the official start of Spring!

Looking ahead to the coming season, I thought it would be fun to hear from you guys. I’d love to feature a few guest posts in the last weekend in March. Send me an email at keepingitrealfood(at)gmail(dot)com if you’re interested!

Have a great weekend!

What are you looking forward to this Spring? 

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Halfway

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Anyone else relieved we’re halfway through February—and thus, another month of winter?

V-Day red wineDespite the snow, I can’t complain so far about this winter. I also actually had the first enjoyable (aka conflict-free) Valentines Day I can recall since, well, ever. After an amazing, headache-clearing massage, I spent the afternoon working in my favorite coffee shop before meeting up with a girlfriend for a glass of wine.

There was a lady at the bar teaching her clueless man-friend how to eat oysters. It kind of made my night.

I’ve been working a lot of Saturdays at the hospital, so a mellow Friday evening with an early  bedtime suited me just fine. Besides, full moons make me tired.

Speaking of full moons, have you heard about the lunar/werewolf diet yet? Or excuse me, Moon Diet. Though I can get on board with the idea that our bodies might be more inclined to retain—or get rid of—water during a particular phase of the moon, I don’t really see why fasting is necessary. You could do just as well being mindful of sodium intake and filling your plate with bloat-fighting foods that are rich in potassium. Also, losing 6 pounds (of water weight that you’ll probably just gain back) in 24 hours isn’t exactly healthy. Just my professional opinion, of course…

Anyway, happy weekend.

How did you spend Valentines Day? What’s the craziest diet you’ve ever heard of? 

 

10 Ways to Love Yourself this February

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follow your dreams Because Valentines Day falls right in the middle of February, love is a big theme of the month. As I mentioned a few days ago, it’s important to remember other kinds of love besides romantic love. This post is all about self-love. It’s not even just about dating yourself—though that’s a good one too. I mean in the most basic sense. I always like to go back to the fact that on airplanes, you’re instructed to put on your own oxygen mask before helping those around you. In a culture that puts a lot of emphasis on workaholism a strong work ethic and selflessness, it can be hard to remember that we really do need to help ourselves before we can help others.

1.) Cook yourself something nice. It could be something simple as a fancier-than normal breakfast instead of cold cereal or a beautiful fresh piece of fish at dinner. What would you make for company but not think to fuss over for yourself? Give yourself permission to tune out distractions like the computer, chop the hell out of some veggies, and enjoy. Wine (or mimosa, if it’s brunch) totally optional.

2.) Prioritize sleep. No apologizing, no excuses. You deserve a good night’s rest. If you have a hard time settling down, write your thoughts in a journal or make a to-do list for the next day to clear your head before it hits the pillow.

3.) Be physically active. Whether you hit the gym, the slopes, or simply walk around your neighborhood, enjoy the endorphin boost and the just-flew-in-from-somewhere-awesome glow.

4.) Treat yourself to a massage, manicure, or some other pampering that makes you feel relaxed. 

5.) Buy yourself flowers. Even the $2.99 arrangements from the grocery store count.

6.) Write yourself a thank-you note for all the good work. If you have to, pretend you’re writing to your best friend or a beloved family member. Set it aside to open at a later date when you’re in need of some encouragement.

7.) Give yourself permission to let something go.  Be it a toxic friend or lover, an old idea that doesn’t serve you well anymore, or even a to-do list item that really doesn’t need to be done—say goodbye and don’t look back.

8.) Hydrate! It’s easy to forget to drink enough water when it’s freezing cold out, your body needs enough H2O to do its job. Bring your own bottle and keep it by your desk or somewhere else you’ll see it throughout the say as a reminder to drink up.

9.) Try a probiotic. Invite the good bacteria to the party to help ward off illness and GI upset. You can also make a conscious effort to consume more yogurt, kimchee or try kombucha, a fermented tea drink. My favorite flavor is ginger.

10.) Choose your own adventure. Whatever it is you’re thinking of, go do it!

How do you show yourself love? 

What I Ate Wednesday #144: Snow day

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Welcome to the first What I Ate Wednesday post of 2014. Or okay, the first one about food actually consumed in 2014. Ironically, this week I’m giving you a look at last Friday, on which I took my last vacation day of 2013.  Whatever works, I guess. It was “use it or lose it,” which is why I took so many random days off in November and December. I am and am not looking forward to working full weeks at my clinical job now that the new year has started. On the one hand, it was nice to have the extra time to do other things, but on the other, it was really stressful to squeeze in as much as I could on the days I was there. So this was a nice way to spend a snow day, and I got to eat a lot of delicious things. As always, many thanks to the lovely Jenn of Peas & Crayons for hosting the weekly link party—hop on over there to see more WIAW from other bloggers!

  • Breakfast: Quinoa with kale, roasted veggies, egg whites, and goat cheese
  • Lunch: Leftover red lentil chili; salad; a toasted whole wheat sandwich thin with hummus and roasted eggplant
  • Snack: Plain Greek yogurt with cinnamon, cereal, and fig & ginger jam
  • Dinner: Shakshuka at Hummus Place in the West Village, along with some mezze I shared with my friend Anna. We had falafel, roasted eggplant in tahini, and roasted cauliflower. And about a gallon of mint tea, which our server kept bringing. She even sent us each home with a cup to go, on the house. So nice! The restaurant also serves wine and beer, but as I’d had a glass of red wine at a nearby bar before dinner, I was more than happy to sit hot tea. It was the coldest night in 20 years, according to the chitchat on WNYC.
  • Dessert: One of these chocolate-covered cherries my aunt and her husband brought back from Seattle. So delicious!

Man, I could eat shakshuka pretty much every day and not get sick of it. Naturally, Saturday morning, I had to buy eggs and canned tomatoes so I could make my own. Traditionally, you poach the eggs in the spicy tomato sauce, but I usually make a short-cut version in which I just top a mix tomato sauce and veggies with a poached egg. Not exactly authentic, but super-satisfying.

What food could you eat every day and not get sick of? 

Polar Vortex

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Holy polar vortex, batman! I wish I could just stay inside and make soup.

In case you’d like to do the same, here are a few of my favorites:

I’d also like to wish a very happy birthday my mother, who taught me how important it is to follow your passions and listen to your intuition. Love you!mom and jess dec 18 13

Stay warm out there!

Red Lentil Chili

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Yesterday was cold.

I had the day off from my clinical job, but I had some other work to do that was going to require some time in front of the computer. Because I had day-off brain, I kept finding things to do instead of sitting down to my to-do-list items. Naturally, one of those things was to make soup.

Red Lentil ChiliI was thinking about making red lentil soup from this recipe, but I was also sort of in the mood for chili. So…this happened. Because red lentils cook so quickly, this comes together in no time at all. It’s the perfect weeknight dinner for the wintertime.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 medium butternut squash, cut into small cubes
  • 1 c red lentils, dry
  • 4-5 cups water or veggie broth
  • 1 24-oz can crushed or diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted)
  • 3 c spinach, fresh or thawed from frozen

Directions: 

  1. Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, garlic, and celery. Cook a few minutes until fragrant and onion begins to turn translucent. Add spices and cook another 2 or 3 minutes.
  3. Add squash and lentils. Toss well. Cook a few minutes to coat and then add water. Raise heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat and allow to simmer 10 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes and spinach. Simmer another 15-20 minutes.

Enjoy hot topped with a little goat cheese—or, you know, slightly more traditional chili toppings. This would also be great over brown rice or quinoa.

What’s one of your favorite cold-weather weeknight meals? 

Home for the Holidays

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wallpaperWhen I arrived at my parents’  house on Monday night, my old room was in a state of disarray, thanks to my dad’s latest home improvement project. Even though I haven’t lived there in 10 years, it was still weird. I tried to view the mess/transition as a metaphor, and that actually helped. In a way, I also kind of loved seeing the old retro wallpaper 16-year-old me had wanted to paint over when the family moved in.

Christmas Eve morning, I went to hot yoga with my mom, sister, and aunt after interviewing someone for a writing project I’ve been working on. It was a great way to start the holiday. A little Christmas pre-tox, anyone?

Oh, and it snowed. Someone enjoyed that. dog on table

Christmas Eve dinner was fairly low-key this year, as it was just my immediate family. For some reason, sushi is the traditional appetizer in our house, and though we usually do Greek lamb, this year that was saved for Christmas Day, so we enjoyed salad and some items from a local Italian market. After my mom played us all her favorite parts of last week’s SNL episode, we traded a couple gifts and had dessert. I enjoyed a mini chocolate cake my mom made from a friend’s recipe—it was like a mini soufflé!

My sister and I always exchange our gifts on Christmas Eve. Remember when I posted our text conversation about dinosaurs? Now I know why she was asking my favorite. dinosaur planter

I think this guy is going to be a planter…or maybe a holder for incense once I put some little rocks in him.

Christmas morning I was up at the ass-crack of dawn because I heard my mother walking around. I read on the elliptical machine in the basement to kill some time until the rest of the house was up. We opened presents, had breakfast, and did stuff around the house until my mom’s side of the family came over.

As always, the food was delicious. I enjoyed an assortment along with wine.

It was a mellow Christmas holiday—no complaints! It’s always good when, at the end of the night, you feel like everyone had a nice time.

What did you do for Christmas? Any favorite food items?