Homemade Miso Soup

It’s been cold lately. Obviously, we just had a giant snow storm. Leading up to the winter wonderland though, it was just cold all the time. I am not a fan of the chilly weather and can think of nothing better than curling up on my couch everyday after work with blanket upon blanket. And Reggie, of course he helps keep me warm.

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His favorite place to sit. Anywhere on top of me.

In order to keep myself from freezing these days, I decided to make Miso Soup. It’s pretty much the easiest soup on the planet and its oh so delicious.

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Miso Soup:

1 Tbs Miso Paste

3 Cups Water

Bring to a boil and add in any chopped veggies you want. I used: 2 Scallions, 1 Red Pepper, 1 cup of chopped mushrooms, and some grated ginger.

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Next added in some baked tofu and rice noodles. DO NOT FORGET TO RINSE THEM AFTER THEY ARE COOKED. I made that mistake and they turned out pasty. And topped with Sriracha sauce and a handful of fresh basil. The broth keeps for a few days so you can make again later in the week.

For the tofu: I pressed the tofu and then chopped it into cubes. I marinated it in a blend of equal parts Rice vinegar and Soy sauce with a pinch of Sriracha powder and chili paste. If I had thought about baking my tofu ahead of time, I really would have marinated it longer (a few hours would probably be ideal). Throw in the oven at 350 and check after 20 minutes. Flip over to ensure it browns equally.

I hope you enjoy this tasty and simple recipe as much as I did!

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Peanut Butter Banana Bread Cookies

Southerners are crazy. Although I grew up in the South, I still claim that I hail from Philadelphia since, technically, I was born there. Considering both of my parents grew up there and I spent a large part of my childhood in South Jersey/Philly visiting family and friends, their habits and traditions rubbed off on me growing up. Therefore, I like to claim I’m not from the South. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely has its charm and I love living in Charlottesville but there are certain things about the South that I still can’t wrap my head around.

For instance, their ability to handle snowstorms. As I sit here typing this blog post, there’s a blanket of snow on the ground. It’s only been snowing for an hour but by the way people have been freaking out all week, you would think the world ended three days ago. Everyone claims that we don’t get snow in the South but I doth protest. In the past few years we’ve had some of the highest recorded snowfalls on record. IT DOES SNOW IN THE SOUTH. Why have we not figured out how to handle it?

Apparently a neighboring county closed schools yesterday.  Like before any precipitation had even been predicted much less appeared. And apparently traffic was so bad in Washington D.C. that it took my best friend 7 HOURS to get from the grocery store to her house (12 miles away). I tell you, people around here are nuts.

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For my part, I woke up this morning and got a quick workout in at 9Round (for the first time since being a nurse I had the snowstorm off) and then ran next door to Giant to pick up some fresh produce that I was running low on. Of course, it was packed and apparently out of potatoes? Like I said, it’s a snowstorm-not the apocalypse. I got home just in time to park my car before the flurries hit and warmed myself up by baking the most incredible cookies ever. Here you go:

Peanut Butter Banana Bread Cookies

1 cup almond flour

1/2 cup oats

2 Tbs dehydrated peanut butter powder

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

1 ripe banana

1/3 cup almond milk (I used 1/2 cup but it was a little too much)

1 tsp vanilla

1 Tbs chia seeds

1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

Mash the banana in a medium sized bowl and add in almond milk, vanilla, and chia seeds. Once that’s mixed up add in the rest of the ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees for 9 minutes.

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They may not look like the prettiest cookies you’ve ever seen but don’t let that fool you! The taste is like any great peanut butter/banana/chocolate chip combination should be. In retrospect, baking cookies may not have been the best decision when I’m going to be stuck inside all weekend…

Refrigerator FAIL

I got home from work Tuesday to find my refrigerator completely warm. I noticed the night before that our freezer temperature wasn’t quite right and submitted a maintenance request to my landlord immediately. By the time I got home from work the next day, there was a temporary fridge waiting but everything in the freezer was completely room temperature. Yuck. Luckily, I only had some frozen produce and quinoa as well as a few baguettes leftover from last week’s Wineworks customer appreciation event (perks of the job, free baguettes and wine after every event).

I salvaged the bread and we’ll see about the frozen fruit and veggies. I’m thinking they may refreeze well enough for smoothies but I’ll have to test out a batch and see. Anything leafy green went right in the trash (including an unopened bag of asparagus from Costco that I was really looking forward to eating). As far as my fridge went, I was able to save everything! One of the perks of eating a plant based diet-fresh produce won’t go rancid in a few hours. Unfortunately for my roommate, we had to throw out most of her food as it was in contact with meat and definitely not worth risking getting sick over.

The one good thing that has come out of this though, is that I can completely reset the food I have at home! I threw out some of my less healthy options in the process of cleaning and have made it my mission to only stock healthy plant based foods in my kitchen going forward. I also managed to free up a lot of room in our fridge and am going to try my best to eat more minimally going forward. There’s no reason to have heaps of food in the fridge waiting to go bad.

Curry Creations

It’s cold outside. Finally. Growing up in Virginia has taught me that there is no rhyme or reason to Mother Nature. Seriously, where else in the world does it go from 60 degrees one day to 30 degrees and back again? Oh well, I guess I should be used to it by now.

This week I kept myself warm by cooking up the most tasty curry I’ve ever made. I adapted the recipe from plant-based on a budget. I used green onions and omitted the coconut oil. Because I was trying to cook without the coconut oil, I forgot how quickly garlic burns and immediately destroyed the bottom of my largest pan. I tried to get the burnt bits off by running the pan under water and of course, let out a cloud of smoke that set my fire detectors off (at least they work right?).

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Luckily for me, I had only used half of my green onions and was able to start over although I had to use a different pan (I was starving and didn’t want to take the time to fully clean the original pan right away). Because of this, I omitted the carrots and snow peas but I did add in some fresh basil and sprouts right at the end. The basil really enhanced the flavor. I also used coconut cream instead of coconut milk but this was only because that is what I had on hand. I do like using coconut cream in my curries although only every now and then as it is very high in fat. In the future, I’ll stick to buying coconut milk.

All in all, this curry is amazing. The only change I would make to the original recipe is that I would leave out the salt. It may have been the curry powder I used (I had a curry powder mix from a local cooking store) but the saltiness was a little overpowering in my version.

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I apologize for this post being later than I had expected. The newest ios update for Macbook apparently is is not compatible with my camera. It took a few days but I figured out that I CAN upload my pictures from my camera to my phone and then share them in iCloud to my computer for blogging purposes (annoying and super frustrating, but effective). Hopefully Sony will send out a new update for their app sharing soon as this is sure to drive me crazy.

Adventures for the New Year

Last weekend was jam packed full of activities for me. After spending all of New Year’s day relaxing, I met my parents at the movies to watch Concussion. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out. As someone who works in neurosurgery, is a huge football fan, and has suffered more than one concussion in my life, I found it especially thought provoking.

On Saturday, I traveled to Fredericksburg to visit my best friend Audrey. She lives in Maryland so Fredericksburg is a good “half way” meeting place for the two of us (although, I have to admit I have a much better end of the bargain. My drive is filled with beautiful horse farms whereas she’s normally battling traffic on I-95). We met at 25 30 Espresso which was a really cute coffee shop I had never been to. I thought it was funny that Audrey had found this local shop I’d never heard of. I spent almost 16 years of my life there, how could she know downtown better than me? After catching up over breakfast, we wandered the streets and browsed the stores for a few hours before saying goodbye.

On Sunday, two of my good friends and I headed to Skyline drive to ring in the new year with a fabulous hike.

We ended up doing 9.8 miles in 4 hours and 20 minutes (and that included stopping for lunch and photo-ops)! I haven’t been able to motivate myself to workout since then but that’s also probably related to the fact that winter finally showed up around here on Monday. Yesterday, I walked to work in 18 degree weather! I know its January and should be expected but just two days ago it was in the 50’s on top of a mountain!

I hope everyone is finding ways to stay warm this week! I found solitude in developing a new recipe which I’ll post later this week.

Welcome 2016

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HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2016 is finally here and I can’t wait to see what it brings. I love this time of year and this holiday is one of my favorites. I think its so important to challenge yourself and to always aim for improvement. It’s something we should be doing year round, not just in January.

I’m pretty sure that I’ve made the same resolution every single year (lose 10-15 pounds). BORING (also, I actually did it this year). This year however, I’m changing my tactics. My resolutions are more about filling myself up than deprivation.

In 2016 I plan to:

  1. Treat my body with kindness and loving words. This body is mine and I’m definitely my biggest critic. I don’t trust most compliments I receive simply because I don’t compliment myself enough. So this year will be about changing that. I plan to work on speaking kindly to myself daily and accepting genuine compliments that come my way.
  2. Go to 5 new places this year. I’ve always love traveling to new places and experiencing new cultures. I’m not very well traveled though and I want to change that. That begins with my trip to South Africa and Zimbabwe in  TWO MONTHS. We’ll see what other stops I add to fulfill this goal as the year goes on.
  3. Step out of my comfort zone. Be it through starting conversations with strangers or just staying busy during the work week, I want to stretch myself this year.

I plan to come up with monthly goals that will help me stay on track throughout the year and I’ll try to update them here to keep me motivated.