Chilli Days

January 13, 2011

49 out of 50 states are covered in snow right now.

Mine is no exception.

Yesterday afternoon morning, Roomie and I woke up to a blanket of snow and ice outside of our window and were thrilled to find out that classes were cancelled. Glorious. Sledding > studying.

Of course, being the cheap college student I am, I don’t have a sled. Or the proper footwear. Lucky for me, my RA is a genius and informed me to wear rain boots. She also provided me with a sled.

Fabulous.

Yes, my ghetto ass sled was a box. No shame.

 

Come on, you didn’t think I managed to stay on, did you!?

My RA isn’t the only genius around here though. My brilliant neighbors discovered the most innovative sledding solution of this still very young century. Can you tell what it is?

No? Well, it’s a cookie sheet! I’ll tell you what, if you have a spare anywhere and you’ve still got snow on the ground, you need to get your toosh on that cookie sheet and find a hill to speed down. I am doubly sure that I would singlehandedly own any and all of my competition in Bobsledding. London 2012, anyone?

After two hours of intense sledding, we were pretty frozen. My hands were numb, my sweater was filled with ice, and I had muddy smears on my peacoat. I may or may not have looked like I peed my pants. I knew what was in order: a warm, comforting, warm, delicious, warm, and filling lunch. That was warm. Enter one pot chilli!

Chilli To Warm Your Bones

This delicious chilli is easy to prepare and perfect for heating yourself up after a romp in the snow. The spices are completely versatile, so you can adjust the heat to your taste and use whatever ones you want or have on hand. Serves 4-5.

You’ll need:

2 cans of beans, your choice. I used kidney beans.

1 onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

2 cups TVP, hydrated*

1 can of no-salt added diced tomatoes, with the liquid

1 cup vegetable broth

1 tablespoon chilli powder

1/2 tablespoon cumin

1/2 tablespoon onion powder

1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

 

*TVP, or textured vegetable protein, is pretty easy to rehydrate. Click here for the 411.

To start your chilli, heat up a large pot (large enough to fit everything) with a drizzle of good olive oil. I feel like Ina Garten when I say that.

From foodnetworkhumor.com

Once your EVOO is heated (Oh God, now I feel like Rachael Ray!), toss in your onion and, if you’re feeling saucy, go ahead and toss in a tablespoon of minced garlic. Once the onion is translucent, add your TVP and bell pepper and cook for a few more minutes. Heck, you could even roast the pepper beforehand for even more deliciousness. Crazy talk.

Now you’re at the point where you need the TVP to absorb all of your spices, so go ahead and add them in before you add in your canned tomatoes and vegetable stock. If you want to be even more of a risk taker, you could pour in a bottle of Blue Moon. Hey, I won’t tell, especially if you live in a dry dorm. 😉

Once everything is in your pot, bring it to a boil. Then let it all simmer and hang out for as little or as long as you like. The flavors will intensify and meld and become the most comforting chilli you ever imagined. It’ll warm you up enough to go play in the snow some more.

Just be sure to wear the right shoes.

How did you spend your snow day(s)?

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Goals

November 26, 2010

I’m not one for New Years Resolutions. I never keep them, and I can’t help feeling like I’m setting lofty goals and impossible standards for myself and never matching up. It’s not that I’m not good at doing what I put my head to, because I went vegetarian and vegan overnight, and I happen to think I’m a pretty good “go getter.” But in all honesty, I think New Years Resolutions are just a way for gyms to up their membership quotas and for Lean Cuisine to make a crap ton of profit.

That’s why I’m making a promise to myself.

I don’t want to pursue some unattainable goal, and my promise doesn’t involve being X size or losing Y amount of weight. First off, I’m going to stop wearing myself so thin. I’ve got 2 jobs, classes, I’m a member of Eta Sigma Gamma (the national health education honorary), I have an active role in my dorm as the food/events committee head, I’m the vice president of my school’s vegetarian society, and on top of all that, I still try to work out 6 days a week and have a social life. Because of all of this, I’ve learned so much about myself in the past few months. I’m stronger than I think I am, and I shouldn’t be afraid to get out there and try new things. I believe that the learning never ends, which is why I’m making leaps and bounds with my bucket list…

That’s right I’m in the market for a half marathon. There will be no time goals or pressure. I’m not trying to finish under anything other than my best and the only thing I want to walk away with is pride. I’m going to begin training once I’ve picked my race, which will hopefully be in the spring of 2011. Good timing, because in July and August I’ll be packing my bags…

My university offers a service learning course in Zambia. There’s a crazy interview process, not to mention this trip ain’t cheap. But if all works out, I’ll be doing clinic work, treating TB and HIV/AIDS patients, teaching adult literacy classes, and throwing myself headfirst into an entirely different culture. I’m going to immerse myself into the people, the lifestyle, the culture, and drink it all in.

I’m going to experience life again.

So what is this promise to myself? It’s simple. I want to live each day to the fullest. I want to live without regrets, explore, and I want to let go of things that are out of my control. Life goes on. I don’t have to exercise or obsess over something silly like food, and I certainly shouldn’t feel guilty if I take a rest day. My life doesn’t depend on how much I eat or how my pants fit. I shouldn’t let these things determine how I live each day. I promise to live beyond the scale and nutrition facts. There’s a world beyond my own, and it doesn’t rely on what I eat.

So I’m going to let it go and know that I can handle whatever comes my way.

And I’ll let my Lean Cuisine stock pay for my flight to Zambia. 😉

Defining Delicious

November 8, 2010

de·li·cious

[dih-lish-uhs]
–adjective
1. highly pleasing to the senses, esp. to taste or smell: adelicious dinner; a delicious aroma.
2. very pleasing; delightful: a delicious sense of humor.
Used in a sentence: “Holy crap, that was a delicious pancake.”
Example of deliciousness: Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter!
There is a LOT of passion in this picture.
I’ll do anything to save money. I’ll avoid using the air conditioning in my car to save money on gas, I’ll bum laundry soap off Roomie until I cave and buy my own, and I’ll only buy organic when I absolutely have to. But I have no problem shelling out $10.99 for a jar of this magic:

The reason I have two jobs.

Now that boyfriend’s outta the picture (his loss anyway), Justin can have my heart. Actually, he stole it long ago. Back when I experienced Whole Foods for the first time I spotted a squeezie pack of this “Nutella knockoff” and nabbed it. I saved the little pouch of chocolate-y goodness until it was perfect weather: a rainy night in need of some chocolate. It was love at first bite.

I thought living as a vegan meant I’d never be able to drizzle Nutella on my pancakes or enjoy it straight up. Of course, I also thought it’d mean I would have to give up Bailey’s, but I didn’t…. Anyway, back to the point, Justin is a genius. A true hero. And if it means I have to go without gas for a week, then so be it. 😉

Is there a certain food that you’ll “splurge” on when you buy groceries?

Living on campus sure has it’s perks. It’s hella convenient to get to classes because I’m smack dab in the middle of everything, I love my dorm, and I love feeling like I’m involved on campus. But it also sucks majorly. Maybe it’s the lack of parking for residents on campus, or perhaps it’s the overcrowded dorms and the fact that I now even wear shower shoes when I’m at home. You know, I don’t think those things are the worst. Living on campus would be just perfect if it wasn’t for one thing…

a required meal plan. Meals look like this:

We all know what that means. Burgers, fries, pizza, white pasta, and a salad bar with greens that have been out for far too long. Any vegetable in sight has been bastardized in one way or another: it’s creamed, mashed up with cheese or bacon or, to top it all off, has been deep fried. We don’t get much say in what’s available that day – what they’ve prepared is what you get.

So what’s a healthy college kid to do when they’re not craving fries and ice cream all day long? Here are my tips for healthy dining in an unhealthy dining facility.

1) Look for whole grains. Got a pasta bar? Then there should be whole wheat pasta somewhere. If not, request it! In fact, go on a whole wheat requesting spree. Ask for whole wheat bread and bagels for toast, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice.

2) If you’re going to have a salad, choose spinach over lettuce. Darker greens = more nutrients. Plus, they taste better.

3) If you go to the dining hall for breakfast and choose the make-your-own waffles or pancakes, bring your own maple syrup. I’m talkin’ 100% pure here, folks. Here’s a secret: the syrup the dining minions use is just sugar with flavorings, and is reused. How gross is that?!

4) See if there is a gluten-free section. In my dining hall, there is and generally I’ve found that gluten free cereals on offer are also vegan, whole grain, free of refined sugars, and are deeeeelish. That’s better than Lucky Charms.

5) Avoid going to the dessert or pizza bar every day. Sure, it’s great to enjoy these things if you want to, but just remember that moderation is key.

6) Get creative! Make a salad and then top it with vegetables from the hot bar, or get a whole wheat bagel and top it with veggies to make a sandwich. It might sound gross or weird, but the most delicious creations can be made if you think outside the box.

7) This is my most important tip: talk to the dining hall staff! Most of the time, they love to hear your feedback. They won’t know something is wrong unless you tell them. Don’t be afraid to say so. See if you can talk to the head of the staff, he or she is usually there during the day. Tell them you want more options, healthier fare, fresher fruit, etc. They will listen.

8 ) Drinking soda with your meal? Only fill your cup 3/4 full and top it up with water. The same goes for sugary drinks like punch or juice.

9) Whatever you decide to eat, put it on top of a bed of spinach or leafy greens. Yay for extra nutrients!

10) Don’t eat the meatloaf. Just don’t.

11) Keep healthy snackage in your room! Some days, you just don’t feel like going to the caf for dinner and I don’t blame you. Have fruits and vegetables (think bananas for snacks and potatoes for baking) as well as cereal, oatmeal, boxes of pasta, and frozen/canned vegetables.

Did/do you live and dine on campus? What are your tips for healthy eating when you’re not the one preparing the food?

 

One of Those Days

October 17, 2010

Sometimes, you wake up and it’s one of those mornings. Whether it’s because you had a long night at work, pulled an all nighter in the library, or because you had one too many glasses of passion fruit rum/apple schnapps/vodka/OJ. Not that I did that.

Either way, there’s a great solution to a crappy morning. And it involves chocolate. Seriously, could life get any better? A lot of people that I know turn to junk foods when they’ve got a hangover..maybe now I can convert them. I rely on green monsters to get me through rough mornings, but sometimes a girl just  needs herself some chocolate.

The Ultimate Hangover Cure: Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes

Serves two hungry, lazy, hungover friends

1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup chocolate flavored non-dairy milk (I used almond)

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 T pure vanilla extract

2 T maple syrup or agave nectar

1 t baking powder

cocoa or carob powder to taste

1 banana, sliced

a handful (or two or three!) of chocolate chips

 

Slice up your banana while you heat up a non-stick griddle or skillet. Put it at about medium.

The batter is insanely easy. Just mix everything together (sans bananas and chocolate chips) and then pour it onto your griddle. Once you’ve done that, press in your bananas and chocolate chips. They’ll get all melty and delish as they heat through. Cook the pancakes for five minutes on each side, or until the bottoms are cooked.

Top with more chocolate chips and maybe a dollop of fantasticness.

Just don’t put any vodka in the batter and you’ll be set.

What’s your favorite drinkie and what’s your go-to hangover meal?

My Life in Pictures

October 2, 2010

Somehow, I’m managing to fit in a heavy classload, work, working out, yoga, meetings, a social life, dorm responsibilities (we’re a “living and learning community”), my boyfriend, aaaaaand every day tasks like laundry. Okay, well, sometimes. Unfortunately, blogging has taken the backseat. I’m posting a lot less and I’m sorry for that. I promise I’ll get my act together soon. Until then, here’s a glimpse into what’s been happening lately…

Laundry out the bahookie.

“Oh my god, the bend and snap!”

Too many dishes to wash..

Mario Kart > studying

Dying Roomie’s hair!

Boyf 😀

Cupcake baking for dorm events.

Eta Sigma Gamma – Professional Health Education Honorary induction!

It was just an excuse to wear 3 inch heels 😛

But none of this.

Okay, maybe a little…

How involved with campus life were/are you? Are you still busy – how do you find the time to fit everything in?

College 101: Grocery Shopping

September 24, 2010

Let’s pretend for just a minute. It’s the weekend and you’re sick of the food on campus, but you certainly don’t want to order Chinese. It’s nearing supper time, but you’re not jonesing for “normal” college eats like pizza. You want something fresh, something healthy, something you can recognize (and we all know that doesn’t come from any cafeteria on campus). You want to (brace yourself) cook something! But how can you do this?! How can you afford to buy tasty treats when you’re on a budget? Besides, aren’t grocery stores for moms and their screaming kids in the carts?

Give me cookies, woman

Well, my friend, never fear. There’s a way you can buy groceries on a college budget so you can safely satisfy your craving for recognizable, tasty food. Here are my top tips for anyone (not just college kids!) to reduce your grocery bill so you can afford tuition and textbooks.

1) Don’t go to Earth Fare or Whole Foods. Okay, I know this one’s a bit obvious. We know these stores are more expensive from the get go. If you don’t need to buy specifically gluten free or organic products that you can’t find anywhere else, then don’t go there. You will be sucked in by the hot bar. Or the vegan cookie dough.

2) Buy local, local, and local. You know what’s fun? Going to the farmer’s market! It’s a great way to spend a Saturday morning (as long as you’re not nursing a hangover… *cough*) and it’s a good money saver. I bought 6 local, organic, hugh jass cucumbers for a dollar once. It made me a happy bunny.

3) Clip coupons. They’re not just for your grandma anymore.

4) If you have a roommate, see if they’d be interested in chipping in and buying food to cook together. This works especially well if you live in an apartment and have more than one. You guys can totally make an awesome meal and split the bill at the supermarket. Even if you only make a joint meal once or twice a week, you’ll save some cash.

5) Talk to your parental units. Even if you’ve got a job, money can be tight. Parents (usually) understand this. Ask if they’d be willing to send you a monthly stipend to help cover some food costs. A little goes a long way.

6) Buy frozen veggies. I know, I know, fresh is always better. But if you’re in class all day long, then go to work, then have epic parties and occasionally fit homework somewhere in between, your veggie drawer might be a little neglected. If you don’t have time to always cook fresh picked produce, go for frozen ones (with no salt added!). They’ll keep for longer and they’re cheaper so sometimes you can even go organic. Woah, slow down now…

7) Canned veggies are okay, too! I regularly stock up on green beens, canned mixed vegetables, diced tomatoes, and beans. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

8 ) At the supermarket, go for the store’s own brand. Depending on the chain, their own knock-offs are usually pretty darn tasty. Plus, if they have reward card programs, you can score sweet deals such as buying 2 cans of green beans and getting 3 free. I may or may not have bought 10 for the price of 4. Hey, I was set.

9) Look in the clearance. Yeah, I said it. I went there. No, don’t you dare buy those apples that are bruised just because they’re .50 cents. I’m saying really look through that clearance section. You can find some good stuff for killer prices on a good day. We’re talking anything from hair care to lady things to produce. People get to the register and realize they actually didn’t want that asparagus. Employees will throw the food away or if they’re not feeling lazy, it’ll go on the restock or clearance shelf.

10) Don’t buy organic. Shock and horror, I know, that’s probably the worst advice you’ve ever gotten. But seriously, if you can’t afford organic produce, it’s not the end of the world. To be honest, I can’t afford to buy all organic all the time and I don’t know many people who do, so I do what I can. I use this rule of thumb when buying fresh produce: if it has skin that you’ll eat and comes from underground, buy organic. After I check the frozen section.

So there you have it. Ways to be super cheap when you’re buying groceries. I can’t help you with the whole “wanting to slap that screaming kid” problem, though.

What’s your number 1 money saving tip?