Really Eating

My Favorite Snacks

Posted in Ingredients, Lists by Bethany on November 8, 2011

I’ve always been a snacker (like most girls). That can be a good thing when you’re trying to eat more smaller meals throughout the day, rather than 3 big meals without any calories inbetween meals. On the other hand, it can be a big area of weakness when you’re already eating 3 big meals… doh.

Over time I’ve been trying to evolve and graduate my snack preferences away from super-processed, sugary/salty snacks and more toward healthier, energizing snacks, especially when I sit at a desk for more than 7-8 hours/day. I still love my cookies, cupcakes, chips, and Cheez-Its (so addictive!), but on a regular basis, I try to reach for these kinds of snacks instead:

  • Greek yogurt (when on sale, you can find Chobani brand for $1 each)
  • Costco trail mix (I can’t deny I love finding the little chocolate pieces in it)
  • Cereal (Honey Nut Chex is my favorite)
  • Baby carrots and peanut butter
  • Fresh, seasonal fruit (right now-apples and grapes)
  • Pudding cups (when I *have* to have a little bit of chocolate)
  • Costco edamame packets (brand: Madame Edamame, toss them in a microwave and voila!)
  • Carrot-orange juice (sometimes juices/drinks are great snacks too! I mix the organic Boathouse Farms carrot juice at Costco with Simply OJ)

What do you snack on? Suggestions? Favorites?

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Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Everything

Posted in Grocery Shopping, Ingredients by Bethany on October 22, 2011

I didn’t grow up a huge fan of pumpkin-anything. I never understood (or even noticed) that pumpkins were for more than pie (yuck) and decorations (eh). Maybe it had to do with the fact that I wasn’t a huge fan of the color orange? Who knows.

As I’ve been growing and adjusting more and more to the idea of eating seasonally, I was strangely intrigued by one of the pumpkin products in the Trader Joe’s “Fearless Flyer” we get in the mail–super premium pumpkin ice cream (what can I say, I love ice cream).

Quick background: I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with Trader Joe’s, mainly because I find myself annoyed at how quickly I can spend money on things that aren’t *necessary*. Ex: sparkling pink lemonade. Water would be just fine, but I can’t resist their sparkling lemonade! Does anyone agree with this sentiment?? I do find myself buying some actual ingredients there from time to time (mushrooms are typically cheaper than any other grocery store), but a lot of times I feel underwhelmed. For example, bread I buy at TJ’s often molds more quickly than I would expect (even more quickly than the expiration tags dictate). Another example, a lot of their products aren’t that much better for you than those at a conventional grocery store (when it comes to meat/produce/etc).

That being said, I LOVE their ready-made salads as lunch alternatives to eating out at work when I don’t have leftovers to eat. I am constantly tempted to buy their chicken tikka masala frozen entree (it is SO. GOOD. I think the free sample lady sold me on this one too…). I am also constantly amazed by all the unique things they can cover in chocolate–soy nuts/sesame seeds/potato chips/______(fill in anything here)… and you get the picture.

Anyway, in true Trader Joe’s fashion, I was lured in to buy super premium pumpkin ice cream ($3.99, d-e-licious) and then the free sample lady sold me on pumpkin bread/muffin mix (I swore off cake mixes but couldn’t… resist… the… pumpkin… bread…). BTW: the pumpkin bread is delicious. I bought some canned pumpkin the other day at Albertsons and am committed to using it to bake something or other before the season’s out. I have yet to actually buy a pumpkin and do anything with it (big. orange. scary.), but so far, my taste buds are telling me that they like pumpkin flavored things. More to (hopefully) come!

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Kale Smoothie

Posted in Ingredients, Recipe Fail by Bethany on February 24, 2011

It felt like I all-of-a-sudden started hearing about kale all over the place. I honestly don’t remember what I was reading that made me feel surrounded by kale propaganda, but it influenced me enough that I stuck a bunch of pretty green kale in my bag when I was at the farmers market and felt mildly confident that I’d be able to use it… somehow.

Then I came home and since it was a warm January weekend in LA (I know you’re jealous), I decided to attempt a smoothie of some sort. I referenced two recipes- one from Joy the Baker and another from the then-recent issue of Real Simple. For reference, here are the different ingredient lists:

Joy the Baker Kale Spinach & Pear Smoothie

  • 1 heaping cup spinach leaves
  • 1 heaping cup chopped kale leaves
  • 1/2 pear
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 1/2 cups cold almond milk (or soy milk or orange juice)
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Real Simple Kale Apple Smoothie

  • 3/4 cup chopped kale, ribs and thick stems removed
  • 1 small stalk celery, chopped
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

So, if you couldn’t already tell, this is a RECIPE FAIL post. I created a new category for these types of posts because I figured it’d be fun and somewhat cathartic to lament my failures in the kitchen along with the successes.

Mistake #1: I bought the wrong kind of kale. In my absolute kale naivete, I would protest that I didn’t realize there were different kinds! Apparently I bought a variety called “black kale” that looks more like THIS than THIS. I honestly don’t know if they taste different, but I would say that the problems started with that.

Mistake #2: My close friends know that I’m very much a believer in “follow the directions” cooking and I stray far far far away from improvisation in the kitchen. This was one instance that I foolishly thought I could just throw things together in the blender by somehow combining the two recipes…. but… that was a bad idea. I should have followed the directions.

Mistake #3: Instead of using a frozen banana, I used a couple over-ripe bananas. I guess you can’t use over-ripe bananas in smoothies like you can in banana bread…

I think I ended up using the following ingredients:

  • 1 heaping cup spinach leaves
  • 1 heaping cup chopped kale leaves (ribs and thick stems removed)
  • 2 bananas (over-ripe)
  • 1 peeled/cut up apple
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • 1 tablespoon honey (plus a lot more after tasting it)

You can see that I really tried to combine the two recipes… I thought it’d be a fusion of sorts. I had some second thoughts as I was cutting and dumping ingredients, but I remained optimistic until I tried my first sip. I somehow convinced myself to drink an entire cup full of the stuff, but ended up throwing most of it away.

Recipe, fail.

Pioneer Woman Asparagus

Posted in Grocery Shopping, Ingredients, Recipes by Bethany on February 2, 2011

This is a quick, simple post to accompany an equally simple recipe.

Asparagus is technically a spring vegetable, but since we live in the great desert of Southern California, it’s available much more often. At the farmers market I believe they were $2.50-$3 per bundle and generally thinner (although they may thicken as the spring comes). At the conventional grocery store, I only buy asparagus when it’s on sale, even though it is imported from Mexico. This week it was $1.49/lb (the lowest I’ve seen it) and it’s $1.99/lb every so often. Since we’re always trying to frugal and I do my best to keep track of prices and sales, I thought it’d be helpful to include those prices and will do my best to continue to do so when appropriate!

I actually haven’t cooked asparagus any other way than the way below. I think it’s super easy and quick (minus the preheating oven time). I give myself bonus points for the days when I’m already baking something in the oven and I can multi-task-bake.

Original recipe & pictures here: Pioneer Woman Oven-Baked Asparagus

Ingredients

  • 1-2 bunches Asparagus
  • 4 Tablespoons (up To 5 Tablespoons) Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt To Taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Wash asparagus thoroughly, then snap off the ends. Ree (PW) cuts them, but I kind of enjoy the snapping. A lot of people have opinions and theories on this… but whatever. Do whatever you’d like!

Spread out the asparagus in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Pat it as dry as you can, as you don’t want any water to “steam” the asparagus in the oven. I’ve actually put more than one layers worth of asparagus and it turned out fine.

Begin by generously drizzling olive oil all over the asparagus and then sprinkle the asparagus generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. It’s better to be cautious at first because once or twice I’ve put too much and then it ended up being too oily.

Roast the asparagus for about ten minutes. The secret here is for the oven to be very hot so the asparagus can begin to brown on the outside without overcooking and getting too flimsy. You want the finished asparagus to still have a bite to it. Delicious!

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Sugar Substitutes

Posted in Ingredients by Bethany on December 7, 2009

Because regular cane sugar is a step up from all that junk in processed goods (corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, etcetc), I don’t really feel guilty baking with it. However, friends and the blog world have mentioned a few natural substitutes like agave syrup/nectar and Turbinado sugar.

Any thoughts? I’m positive that these alternatives are more expensive but I’m curious about the end result. Would it taste the same? Better?

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