Soup to cure the winter blues

Curated, Food, Recipes

We are smack dab in the middle of winter, and it makes me want to fly a few thousand miles south to somewhere warm, or at least spend all day in a fluffy blanket drinking all the coffee in my kitchen.

But since I have a job to go to and don’t have quite enough miles for a last minute vacation, I have to find other ways to cure my winter blues.

That brings us to soup.

Soup is comfort in a pot. The act of cooking something warm and nourishing automatically makes you feel better. It forces you to slow down, and makes you feel good just knowing you are taking care of yourself.

Here is some soup inspiration for you. I can’t wait to get home and get one of these recipes cooking.

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Potsticker soup. Toss your favorite frozen potstickers and veggies in a flavorful broth. Yum. (Recipe here)

Potsticker soup
(via)

Pea and lettuce soup. Easy, healthy, delicious. The recipe suggests serving with a ham and cheese tartine (ham and cheese melted onto a roll of crusty bread) and I couldn’t agree more (although I might make mine with turkey and cheese). (Recipe)

Pea and lettuce soup

Chicken and rice soup. Classic comfort food. I want some now. (Recipe)

Chicken and rice soup

Quick spicy sriracha ramen noodle soup. A homemade take on instant ramen. And it’s spicy. Yes, please. (Recipe)

Spicy ramen

Miso soup with mushrooms and soba noodles. A little more complicated, but it’s vegan, healthy, and oh-so flavorful. Plus, mushrooms. I die for yummy, brothy, mushroomy soups. (Recipe)

Miso soup

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Let me know if you try any of these recipes! Do you have any favorite soup recipes? How else do you stay warm in the winter?

Get cooking! -L

Gluten-Free Eating For Those Without the Allergy

Fitness/Health, Food, Recipes

The “Gluten-Free craze” has really taken off in Seattle and I’ve heard the trend is catching on in other parts of the world too. Even naturally gluten-free foods are starting to advertise the fact they are gluten-free (I’m looking at you Chex cereal). I grew up with my Grandma having celiac disease so she would bring her own disgusting, crumbly bread to Thanksgiving and usually had few options at restaurants. Now I have lots of friends and family who are at least gluten sensitive, there are gluten-free menus at restaurants, and whole aisles of alternatives are sold at grocery stores.

There is some controversy over this craze. People do it to be healthier but some food has to make up for the fact it is missing gluten by adding other ingredients that actually make the food less “healthy” (whatever that means). You can definitely find gluten-free foods at Whole Foods, your local natural markets (PCC in Seattle), and even most larger chains are starting to carry gluten-free foods. When starting off, make sure to try everything and look at what they put in to make it not taste “gluten-free”.

I myself have tried a month of gluten-free eating (twice) and have tested a lot of my sister’s and roommate’s gluten free options. Now, I try to do gluten-free whenever I can even though I don’t have a strong sensitivity. But, I only eat things that I believe taste good so I decided to compile a list of recipes and items you can get at the grocery store that I enjoy. They are good options to try if you want to give gluten-free eating a try. I chose ideas that traditionally have gluten like pastas, breads, and cakes! Some of these take a few tries before it seems normal so don’t give up on the first try!

Overnight Eggnog French Toast Casserole Recipe

This is not a gf recipe, but we made some with gf bread and actually preferred it to regular!

Most Everyting Udi’s

GF breads, cookies, brownies, and lots of other options!

Bionaturae Pasta

Between my sister, my roommate, and myself– this is our favorite GF pasta from a grocery store!

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Recipe

Most people couldn’t tell it was gf!

The Cravings Place Allergy-Free Mixes

Brownie and Pancake mixes are amazing!

Spaghetti Squash

I don’t use a recipe for this– just cook and add a little bit of marinara sauce and veggies. I cook whole and in the oven– takes about an hour but it is worth it!

I am no expert on gluten-free eating but these are some great suggestions. If you guys have favorite grocery store finds or recipes let me know! — J

Favorite Holiday Baking Recipes

Curated, Food, Holidays, Recipes

During the holidays, I get my oven mitts and cooling racks ready for lots of baking. Not only does my family have a cookie baking night every year, I have my sister’s birthday cake to make! I have acquired lots of great recipes over the years and here are a few of my favorites.

cookie

Snowball Cookies (a.k.a Mexican Wedding Cakes)

These cookies are part of our yearly tradition. Not too sweet and easy to make. We make them early in the holiday season and freeze them to make them last the whole season!

peppermint-ice-cream-cake-1134120-xl

Peppermint Ice Cream Cake

I made this for my sister’s birthday, which is on Christmas Eve, a few years back and it was a hit! Everyone was impressed and assumed it was a hard recipe. It takes a bit of planning and time but there is nothing complicated about it. The frosting was the easiest part and super tasty– I never have used whipped cream for frosting before but it works well with the ice cream cake!

cookies2

Chewy Sugar Cookies

Break out the cookie cutters for this one! For years we tried different sugar cookie recipes for decorating cookies and we finally found “the one” a few years ago. These are chewy but also are great for decorating. Pro Tip: To do intricate frosting work, put it in a small ziplock bag and cut off the corner!

Hardworking Lunches

Food, Recipes, Workplace

I have always struggled with lunch.

Breakfast? Savory, sweet, whatever you’re serving, I’m in. Dinner? You can be sure I’m having seconds. But lunch has always been my least favorite meal. I think it’s because once I hit a stride — a long day of classes or cubicle-sitting — I don’t like to interrupt it. It may also be that my typical diet of carbs and cheese tends to make me crash if I eat that way in the middle of the day. This means that your typical sandwich for lunch doesn’t cut it for me.

Over the years I’ve struggled with spending too much money at lunchtime, and eating too much and ruining my afternoon productivity. Now I can finally say that I have some lunch staples that are cheap, healthy, and don’t sap my energy level. Below you’ll find some examples, plus some good sides to add on to any lunch.

You might notice that my examples are all vegetarian and mostly vegan — this is just because I gravitate toward lighter fare for lunch. I love cheese and I do eat meat, but when I’m cooking for myself I end up eating a lot of vegan meals purely because they are easy and make me feel good.

Lazy and cheap:

Bagel and cream cheese. Hold up! I thought you said carbs and cheese were bad? Well… yeah. This is not a shining example of a healthy lunch, but I do not want to give the impression that I bring a healthy, homemade lunch to work every day, because that is just not true. Personally, I’m happy with myself if I bring a lunch at all. Even if it’s not the healthiest, I’m happy to save money and to have my life together enough that I can do some advanced planning the night before. So, if I am feeling really lazy and cheap, I will bring a lunch that requires no cooking at all, just a little foresight at the grocery store.

Cheap and simple:

Beans and rice. This meal is full of protein and has endless possibilities. Here is an easy example that I might make on any given night. But you could easily spice it up with avocado, pico de gallo, a little lime juice, whatever you want. Simple, filling, and definitely cheap.

Healthy and flavorful:

Quinoa tabbouleh. Tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern salad typically made with bulgar or couscous, parsley, mint, tomatoes, onions, and lemon juice. I like to use quinoa instead of bulgar or couscous because of the added protein. I am also not crazy about mint so I usually skip that. The tomatoes, onions, and lemon make this dish really flavorful. I also love to add diced cucumbers, green onions, and cilantro. Here is a great recipe.

Hearty and healthy:

Quinoa with asparagus and mushrooms. Really, this could be called quinoa and veggies, because you could easily throw together quinoa and whatever veggies you have on hand. For example, you might add kale, spinach, onions, or peppers. I love quinoa with asparagus and mushrooms because it’s filling, easy to prepare, and because asparagus and mushrooms are two of my favorites. This dish is very versatile and hardly requires a recipe at all, but here is a nice one to get you started.

On the side:

Fruit – berries, banana, plum, pear, satsuma orange, grapes
Baby carrots
Sliced cucumbers
Cherry tomatoes
Cookie
Pretzels
Pita chips
Hummus (to go with the veggies or chips)

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That’s it! I’m not a lunch expert yet, but I’m doing my best. What are your lunchtime staples?

Thanks for reading!
-L