For me, asparagus is synonymous with spring, and more specifically, Easter. It’s one of those vegetables I really didn’t discover until I was in my twenties, and then wondered where I had been the last two decades. I love it, and even more so when it’s roasted.
I didn’t forget about Power Food Fridays, I just, well, haven’t posted one in awhile . . . I think it’s been over a year. Maybe two.
Okay, so I’m not the most consistent person you’ll ever meet. But I’m trying to turn that around.
Anyway, onto business . . .
Beets are a serious power food. I mean, look at their color! Usually, the more colorful a fruit or vegetable is, the higher in nutrients it is.
They boast beta-carotene, folate, Vitamin C, iron, and fiber. Don’t you just feel good about yourself when you eat them? I love them in just about anyway that you can serve them: roasted, juiced, canned, pickled, sliced, and in cake. Yeah, I pretty much love beets. They might even be my favorite vegetable. What do you think about beets? Are you a lover or a hater? What about your kids?
Have you seen the latest November issue of Martha Stewart Living yet? I’m quoted in the Kashi ad for their Original 7 Grain Sea Salt Pita Crisps. Here is what I said about them, along with a little recipe for that mediterranean salsa:
Eating healthy always tends to present a challenge for me, especially as a food blogger. When I write a post on something naughty . . . let’s say, for example, those maple bacon pecan bars, I have a tendency to opt for the naughty food over regular meals. There’s a crazy part of my brain that thinks that since I made the maple bacon pecan bars, then I am somehow entitled to every . . . last . . . one. And furthermore, why would I make a salad or throw together a quinoa dish when something is already in the fridge—right there, ready to be eaten? It’s all very dangerous.
Have you ever had one of those phases in your life when you were trying to redefine or rediscover who you are? That’s me right now. Writing the cookbook was one of the most satisfying and challenging things I have ever done, but it also made me a little fat. Now I’m trying to change that.
I started by walking. Just for an hour everyday. I would drive to BYU, park in visitor parking, and walk as fast as I could to the top of the hill behind the Provo temple. Then I’d sit on the lawn, meditate for about thirty minutes, and walk back to my car. I did this for a few weeks, and then I added weights—just three pound weights in each hand. That slowly changed into walking for most of the way and then running part of the way.
But you may already know, I hate running. Always have. But I don’t know, something is happening to me. I’m actually starting to like it. Just a little, though. Now, since moving closer to Salt Lake City, I live near a great trail and have been running almost as much as I’m walking.
Exercising has somehow changed the way I eat, too. I don’t eat so many cupcakes anymore, and I’ll go several days in a row without eating sugar—a miracle for me.
As with any change for good, I have that nagging angst that if I let up for just a second, I’ll slip back into my old ways. And why wouldn’t I? It’s what I’ve always done in the past. So, I’ve been trepidatious about writing on my blog and posting recipes, knowing that desserts are always most popular. Of course, I can post healthy recipes, and write more about books, but everyone knows it’s the recipes like red velvet cupcakes and raspberry lemonade bars that draw people in. I’m hoping I can find a balance between creating amazing healthy recipes during the week, and then more fun, show stopping recipes on the weekends. What do think? Maybe if you all eat healthy with me, it will be easier for me to stick to it. The true test of a friend is whether or not they’ll go on a diet with you. I’ll try to post delicious recipes, and then you can tell me they’re better than my brownies, okay?
For now, here is a hummus recipe I made, which I hope will serve as a promise of good things to come, even when they’re healthy.
I recently received an email asking if I wanted to try a jar of Hot Cilantro Chutney from Bollywood Chutneys. When it came, I put it on the shelf, promising myself to get it out when I made something Indian. But then, on a Sunday afternoon, we had some avocados to use up, some corn chips, and a lime. I knew I’d be dreaming about guacamole into the night if I didn’t make some right then, but we were out of fresh cilantro. I then remembered the cilantro chutney, and within a couple of minutes, we had a perfect guacamole. Even my daughter liked it.
Jarred cilantro is now my new favorite invention. Whenever I buy cilantro fresh, I only use a sprig or two for one recipe, and then have to throw the rest away after it turns into liquid in my fridge. Then surely, a day later, I need to buy another bunch of it for another recipe. The brilliance of this chutney is that it even has hot chilies added in, so I don’t even need to try to find a wilted jalapeño at the bottom of the vegetable drawer.
Every cookbook library should have a nice, sharp pencil handy. So often, the best recipes are the direct result of improvising on another recipe.
The seasoning I used for this blackened chicken is made up of the ingredients I had in my cupboard: paprika from my local Indian store, ground dill and thyme.
You could, by all means, make a rub with a more cajun flavor, using white pepper and onion powder. It’s up to you. But I didn’t have those things, so I made it my own way.
I tried making roasted artichokes in the past. That was a pain in the you-know-what. It’s like battling a rose bush. Even though I remember loving steamed artichokes when I was a kid, my first experience cooking them turned me off to a second attempt for years.
Then I went to Costco. That place can convince you that you need just about anything. New windshield wipers. A bullet blender. Six pounds of granola.
Well, a few weeks ago, four spiny orbs smiled up at me and begged me to buy them. Since they were in the refrigerator room, I had to decide fast. That’s on purpose, you know. Not many stores put a whole section of products in a room that registers below 40 degrees. You go in thinking, Okay, I will only buy a flat of strawberries. And if blueberries are a good price, I’ll buy them, too. Oh good there they are. Wait, quick, I better get some snap peas while I’m here. I’m freezing. Oh, and I wanted to buy some mini cucumbers! Only five dollars!
By the time you exit, you have rounded up twenty-five dollars in impulse buys in less than forty seven seconds. Forget buyer’s remorse—you’re mostly just happy to be warm again. Buyer’s remorse would mean going back in there.
Then your three-year-old tells you she has to go to the bathroom. The one strategically placed on the exact opposite end of the store. Once you’ve woven through the families waiting in line to get the dinosaur chicken samples (hasn’t everyone already tasted them? I mean, come on, people!) with a cart that has the maneuverability of a dumpster, you’ve walked practically a quarter of a mile to that potty. By then there’s no chance in _____ you’re going to put that produce back.
Pure marketing genius.
I’m so happy today. I’m sitting at my new iMac.
I’m not new to Macs—I’ve been using them since college when I was a design student. After that, when I lived (very briefly) in Montana, I bought my own. I remember taking it out of the box—giddy and overcome with art.
My laptop, which I bought four years ago to start my career as a novelist, has been unfailingly loyal. When I put my writing on hold and dove into blogging like a crazy person, my little white box held on while I ran Adobe programs almost constantly. Sadly, it is now too slow to do what I need it to do, and today was claimed as the “kids’ computer” by my five-year-old.
To add to my happiness today, it rained. For the first time this year, it really felt like spring. Oh, we’ve had warm days here and there, but today, when the rain didn’t turn to snow, or chill me to my bones, I knew that spring has finally arrived.
I made this risotto, full of fat asparagus spears and peas, to celebrate the season which could not be anymore welcome.
A while back, I was on StumbleUpon (I think), when I saw my friend Julie’s recipe for easier french fries, which she learned from America’s Test kitchen. Basically, you place the sliced potatoes in a pot, cover them with oil, and bring them to a boil in the oil. Apparently, they’re supposed to absorb less fat. Whether they do or not—which certainly would be a nice bonus—they’re impossibly easy to make.
Actually, I had never even planned on making them anytime soon—it isn’t like I need french fries—but then, when I was heating up the oil for my fried goat cheese, I was thinking how much I hate waiting for oil to heat up. Then I remembered the fries that Julie talked about, so I chopped a potato up and tossed in the oil.
Within a few minutes, I had hot oil ready for making my fried goat cheese, and a whole serving of perfectly cooked, perfectly tasty french fries.
The big game. I am writing this post specifically for Weight Watchers, so I don’t know all the laws about saying words like super and bowl in the same sentence. But you know what I mean.
My mother-in-law always made a big slow cooker full of this fantastic bean dip. I thought there would be no better thing to make with Weight Watchers Natural Four Cheese Mexican blend, especially for the big game. As healthy as the beans are, the recipe’s major downfall is the large amount of cheese you are supposed to add. So I have lightened it up, and used the Weight Watcher’s cheese for the perfect compromise.