Sweet & Sour and Delicious

December 8, 2010

It’s finals time. You know what that means. The next few weeks usually involve many late night cram sessions, 23 quiet-hours, and lots and lots of stress. The truly devout college kids lock themselves away in the study rooms of the library tower, a cup of coffee in one hand and a ridiculously thick textbook and highlighter in the other. But what happens at 1:30 AM when you’ve finished studying? You’re hungry and there are no options on campus. But don’t you dare pick up that phone and order crappy takeout.

MSG, anyone?

I’m proud to say that I’ve survived my undergraduate career (so far) without having to pull a single all-nighter and I haven’t succumbed to a Chinese takeaway dinner. I’ve found that planning ahead really helps, whether it’s getting by from week to week during the regular semester with two classes, jobs, clubs, etc or whether it’s during crunch time at the end of a semester.

One thing I like to buy that’s super cheap? Brown rice!

I bought this bag for $1.39 and there’s quite a few servings in there. What more could a cheapass broke college student want? Brown rice is one of those things I’ll make a big batch of on Sunday night and eat with steamed veggies and such during the week.

Obviously it’s not quite instant rice (brown rice takes 45 minutes to cook), but this recipe here really is all about planning ahead. In addition to letting the rice simmer for a good hunk of time, you’re also going to need to press some tofu. More on that in a minute.

Better than Takeout: Sweet and Sour Tofu

Serves 3-4 hungry, studious people

This ultra simple recipe is something you can make any night of the week. It keeps in the fridge wonderfully, and the leftovers only get better because the flavors have time to hang out. Trust me on this one, you’ll want to buy quality sweet and sour sauce. It costs a little bit extra, but it tastes amazing.

What you’ll need:

1 block of extra firm tofu, pressed

1 cup of brown rice, uncooked

1 onion, diced

1 cup sliced peppers

1-2 cups broccoli

a jar of good sweet and sour sauce

~1/3 cup of flour (optional)

The first step to this recipe is to make sure you’re done studying for the day. Why? Because you need to press your tofu.

What’s under there, hmm?

In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have put this on my printer.

That’s how I press my tofu because I’m too cheap to buy an actually Tofu Xpress or whatever they’re calling it these days. Who knew there was an actual use for textbooks?! ūüėČ Just kidding! I read them!

Let your tofu chill underneath your pile’o textbooks for as little as 15 minutes. I let mine sit for a few hours, only because I’d never pressed tofu before and wondered how firm that sucker really could be. Oh boy. Let me show you…

That hunk that’s missing was a “test slice” to make sure it was firm enough. ūüėČ

How did I wait this long to press tofu? The texture was delicious. It made me fall in love with tofu all over again. I’ll eat the stuff straight up, and in its pressed form, it’s even better.

Once you emerge from your pressed-tofu-loving coma, let it marinade in about 3 tablespoons of your sweet and sour sauce for as long as you have time.

Heat up a pan and oil. If you have it, use sesame oil. If not, olive is fine.

Saute up your veggies and then add in your tofu and as much or as little sauce as you’d like.

Saucy.

Here’s where that flour comes in to play. I didn’t cook my tofu before my veggies because I didn’t want it extra crispy. You can if you want to – instead, I scattered in handfuls of flour until the sauce got thick and the raw flour taste had cooked out. I know it sounds odd, but it really worked.

Now you’re ready to devour!

And maybe study some more?

When you were in college, did you make late night runs to a local restaurant or fast food joint a lot?


Advertisements

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. ūüėČ

Defining Delicious

November 8, 2010

de·li·cious

[dih-lish-uhs]
‚Äďadjective
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. ūüėČ

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?

 

Lucky Me

October 24, 2010

**There is a naughty food picture in this post! Just warning you now. ;)**

 

 

What is it with me and finding oddly shaped potatoes? I really have some odd lucky when it comes to produce shopping. Whether it’s a face in a pepper or a¬†Siamese-twin pair of carrots, it will always find its way to me.

Remember this little guy?

I swear it came like this.

My parents recently came up to my school to visit, and because they are good and generous souls they brought their starving child some food from Earth Fare (extra bonus points for organic!). Well, in the potato bin there was a little guy just waiting for me…

I heart carbs. Literally.

I wonder what shaped potato I’ll find next…

Ever gotten a weirdly shaped veggie?

Vegan Nutrition Basics

October 23, 2010

Ever had a question about vegan nutrition and fitness? Here’s a guest post from Sasha Britton to answer your questions.

We know that foods derived from animal products (meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products)¬†aren’t¬†necessary to live a long and healthy life- in fact, quite the contrary. But these protein sources aside,active people especially should take care to get enough protein into the diet. After all, when one istraining, one is breaking down muscle tissue (you know this is happening when you feel the “burn;”this is caused by the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles, which causes them to break down) andprotein is necessary for the recovery and rebuilding process. Vegan athletes have to pay more attentionto dietary choices and food combinations in order ensure the absorption of enough high-quality protein.

What May Be Missing
In addition to protein, vegans may be missing the following nutrients in their diet:
ironcalciumvitamins B-12 and Dzinc
‚ąí‚ąí‚ąí‚ąí
Iron is quite important for building muscle and endurance. If you aren’t going to get this from beef,you’re going to have to make sure you’re eating the following on a regular basis:
whole grain cereals fortified with ironlegumes (beans, peas and peanuts)dried fruit (especially raisins)cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage)
‚ąí‚ąí‚ąí‚ąí
In addition, you will want to combine these with foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits andberries; this will aid your body in absorbing and utilizing iron.
In lieu of dairy products, instead load up on fortified soy products as well as leafy greens to keepbones strong with sufficient calcium: mustard, kale and chard are powerhouse foods in this regard, aswell as dried figs. Sesame seeds are also a decent source of calcium; a unique form of nut butter madefrom sesame, called tahini, is available in many Middle Eastern specialty stores and combines wellwith sweet as well as savory foods.

Protein
Rice and beans together make a complete protein ‚Äď or almost any combination of grain and legumes.However, peanuts (which are actually legumes, not nuts) and soybeans provide complete proteins thatare of the same quality as that derived from fish, poultry, dairy or eggs. Most tree nuts are also goodsources of protein, and provide the additional benefit of healthy oils, such as omega-3 (also found inolive oil).
The Tough OnesVitamin B-12 is essential for metabolism and making use of the energy stored in food. Unfortunately,the only reliable source of this nutrient is in animal-based foods. Whole grains cereals and soy milk areoften vitamin B-12 fortified, but one would have to consume a great deal in order to get this nutrient
in sufficient amounts from these vegetable-based sources alone. Therefore, vegan athletes may need totake B-12 supplements.
The same is true of zinc, which is vital for healthy respiratory and digestive functions. Fortunately,these supplements are not expensive ‚Äď so make certain you have these on hand, especially when intraining.

By Sasha Britton, for Gym Source, provider of treadmills, arc trainers and home gyms for over 75 years.

What are your top nutrition tips?

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?