muddy footsteps

Good To Be Back

Posted in Breakfast, Food & Recipes, Location by nicolejanaye on August 20, 2011

It’s not as if I’m continuously boozing the nights away while I’m abroad or that I’m carelessly shoveling my mouth with McDonald’s, but it seems that with each return to the states I sincerely crave an immediate detox. I want to rid my body of all the toxins that I might have consumed while in Italy. I want to flush my system so that I feel more energized, cleansed and obtain a healthier and happier wellbeing.

I was on vacation. A 3 week trip to the beautiful, delicious country of Italy. Turin, Pisa, Florence, Sicily, Cinque Terre were just a few of the many visits I stepped foot on. Let me just admit this; if you currently weren’t aware, I’m a very healthy eater. I eat a hefty amount of vegetables and fruit, drink gallons of filtered water, fill up with protein-packed and fiber-full grains like quinoa. I rarely consume desserts. I just don’t have the cravings for them. I exercise on a daily basis and enjoy taking in many of the numerous benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. However…

This vacation was a different story of how I was going to interrupt my daily lifestyle. I wanted to take advantage of everything I had available to me. I wanted to set aside my traditional eating habits, for once, and feast among some of the incredible food that other parts of the world provide. I wanted to divulge in desserts without feeling the least bit of guilt. I wanted to take joy in a complete vacation and feel happy about it.

So this brings me to the very beginning of the trip. 23 Day Gelato Challenge! Seriously? Uh huh. This isn’t the least bit in my character to even do a week gelato challenge, but this trip was going to be different. I was going to step out of my comfort health box and dive into anything and everything Italian. Keep posted on the blog for the infamous gelato post where I will company each day’s gelato flavor with a reciprocating photo. Trust me, It’ll be a good read.

Not only was I implementing a hefty amount of creamy, dairy-rich gelato into my diet, but I was lavishing in an endless supply of focaccia bread, an infinite assortment of pasta, as well as a complete lack of consideration on the time that I’m consuming these foods. Needless to say, it was all amazing, it tasted great, but I’m more thankful than ever to be back to my traditional food lifestyle.

With that being said, let me introduce the guinea pig of meals that would make its way back into my diet. This was my first healthy breakfast to get my body back on track and feeling better than ever. Before spooning into this lovely treat, I downed quite a bit of lemon water and numerous cups of green tea to get my digestion rolling.

This is a simple yet highly nutritious breakfast full of incredible flavors. The base, which isn’t too visible, is a coconut yogurt. A mountain of fresh blueberries and strawberries find their way to the bowl along with a variety of nuts and seeds. Almonds, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds are combined with the tart flavor of cranberries. A perfectly ripe banana was the last ingredient to top off this belly-filling breakfast.

It’s been roughly two days since this dish and I’m already feeling internally and externally cleaner, more energized, and lighter on my feet. I had an incredible time out there, but it’s good to be back.

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fruit and choccolato fondente

Posted in Breakfast, Location, lunch by nicolejanaye on July 30, 2011

I noticed this the first time I came to Europe; the use of utensils and plates for fruit. Instead of shoveling our faces with fruit and having the sugary liquids run down our chins, Europeans use simple forks and knives. Clever idea, huh? Except for the fact that fruit is such a perfect on- the-go snack. Swoop a banana into your purse for later devouring or carry a cherry red apple in your bag for when you are parched. Either way, knife or fork or nude hands, fruit is just plainly delicious.

So far Jake and I have kept up with our gelato goal. Todays choice was choccolato fondente, meaning dark chocolate in italian. Besides traditional gelato being more creamy than its international relative, ice cream, this fondente was so thick and creamy you might need a glass of milk to follow it down. It was wonderful and possibly one of my favorites so far out of the bunch that we have tried. I still am looking for tiramisù. It is on our Italian check list.

Cheers!

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Vegan Overnight Oats

Posted in Breakfast, Food & Recipes, gluten-free by nicolejanaye on July 21, 2011

Why am I just finding out about Iron and Wine? I tend to be known for melencholy music and the likes of it. I enjoy all kinds, I just happen to have the majority of my ipod filled with it. Anyways, dinner last night, breakfast this morning and currently I’m being entertained to the lovely voices of this band. Love Vigilantes seems to be the favorite so far but there are hundreds of other songs that await my listening. On to breakfast.

I’ve seen twitter messages and endless blog posts about vegan overnight oats time and time again. I’ve never tried them but I’ve always been slightly curious. The process is to soak raw oats with a mixture of dairy-free milk, chia seeds and a smashed banana. Leaving this overnight will result in a thick batter that is pleasurable for the pallet and awaiting a load of toppings. The chia seeds add a punch of nutrition, the oats fill you up, the non-dairy milk combined with the two give you plenty of protein and fiber to keep you going through a busy day.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup almond or soy milk
  • 1/3 cup raw oats
  • 1 banana; mashed
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Add wet ingredients and whisk.
  3. Cover and place in a fridge overnight.
  4. In the morning, top with any kind of ingredients you think are plausable. Roasted sunflower seeds, walnuts, pecan halves, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, almond butter, cinnamon, blueberries, strawberries, honey, maple syrup, agave…

Have a great day!

 

Spicy Quinoa Cakes with a Sweet Mustard Sauce

Posted in Breakfast, Food & Recipes, gluten-free, Health/Nutrition by nicolejanaye on July 18, 2011

As easy as it sounds, it’s hard for me to have days where I do absolutely nothing. I feel as if a precious day has gone by wasted, floating in the sky in a numerical assortment. I have this sense that life is so short and that I need to spend every waking second doing something I can take mental photographs of. As much as this is true, sometimes you just need a day off.

Today was that day and I did it well. Some movie watching was in order, along with remaining in my pajamas to wee hours of the evening. I did manage to make it to the gym and sweat a gallon or two. Not only was that a successful act but I created a new recipe. Something that I’ve been testing out and trying to perfect.

It’s delicious. It’s high in protein, satisfies hungry bellies and kitchen cravings, has a spicy kick and is enjoyable to any vegan, vegetarian or meat lover alike.

For me, quinoa has somewhat of a mute flavor. I prefer a nutty wild rice but the benefits of quinoa outshine any type of grain on the market. This godly grain contains all essential amino acids and is a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus. I’ve found a recipe that embraces the wonderful flavors that quinoa provides. The combination of ingredients and the cooking method gives these cakes the most desirable flavor.

I failed to mention earlier that these lovely quinoa cakes are not only packed with flavor and nutrition but they are gluten-free as well. By making homemade bread crumbs with gluten-free bread you are saving money and making the cakes easier to digest for those who are intolerant. One important thing to mention is the process of soaking the quinoa prior to cooking it. Soaking grains, nuts, and legumes not only removes the bitter flavor but it allows the body to digest the food and absorb the minerals more easily. Many grains, dried beans, nuts, and seeds contain phytic acid. This acid, also known as the ‘anti-nutrient’ bonds to certain minerals and blocks their absorption in the small intestine. Which means, all of the nutrients that you think you are getting, you are getting less of if not none at all. However, the good news is that soaking helps remove the phytic acid and increases the bioavailability of the minerals they contain. It’s best to soak your nuts/beans/grains for 12-24 hours, but 30 minutes will work if you’re in a time crunch. I prefer to soak overnight so that I can wake up and begin cooking right away.

Ingredients:

Cakes:

  • 1 cup of quinoa; soaked (I prefer red but white will work or a combination of the two)
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs *
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 large red pepper
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 4 0z. diced jalapeno
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
Sauce:
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

  1. After your quinoa has been soaking,you want to rinse thoroughly through a small strainer. If you don’t have a strainer with small enough holes, lay a cheese cloth on top of the strainer and rinse through that.
  2. I like to cook my quinoa with a 1:1 1/2 ratio. Some recipes call for more or less water at a desired time, but I find that this gives the grain a perfect consistency. Depending on how long you soaked your quinoa for, your measurement will be different because of the absorption of water. If you soak your grains overnight, you will have a larger measurement. I ended up with 2 cups of soaked quinoa. Combine your quinoa with water, according to the ratio 1 quinoa: 1 1/2 water. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Combine quinoa and eggs and mix thoroughly in a large bowl.
  4. Add bread crumbs to the mixture and toss lightly.
  5. Next, add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  6. Make 2 inch cakes and cook on a frying pan for 5-7 minutes on each side or until golden.
  7. For the sauce, simply combine all of the ingredients and whisk together.
  8. Drizzle the sauce on top of your cakes and dig in!

*To make your own gluten-free bread crumbs combine 8 slices of gf bread and bake in your oven at 350 for 10 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and then process in a food processor. I like to use the ends of the bread because I think it gives a better texture but any slices will do.

Serving size: 2 inch cakes

Servings: 52

 These cakes are everything delicious. The sweet and tangy mustard sauce pairs perfectly with the spicy kick to the cakes. It’s just the right amount of heat that keeps your mouth tingling. Don’t be frightened by the list of ingredients. It’s mostly spices that can be altered to what you have in your kitchen. Quinoa is fairly inexpensive and goes a long way. Use this recipe as a start and experiment with different flavor combinations. Try cooking these up and sandwiching them in between a rustic bread for an interesting twist to a veggie burger. Or simply slice up a thick beefsteak tomato and stack on top of the cake with a drizzle of the sweet mustard sauce

Cheers!

simple living

Posted in Breakfast, Food & Recipes by nicolejanaye on April 9, 2011

How to explain the things rambling through my mind…These last few months have been a whirlwind. It’s weird but I’ve slowly been sinking into a life of monotonous agendas, routines that I could do blind folded, and eating food that my stomach recognizes so intently that it could cook itself, blind folded.

Moving back to a ‘city’ where a car is needed to get from A to B and all the way to Z is somewhat exhausting. I dislike driving, I always have. I don’t like the idea of dropping $50+ in that tub of oil that is fueling my vehicle to puff out fumes and exhaust in the streets. I would much rather be riding my bike, walking, heck even jump roping to do these routines. But in a city where I live twenty minutes driving distance away, have hills that when you climb them you can see your gas tank drop, and gym bags full of shower care to clean me up after I sweat a pound or two, it’s difficult to manage all that while rollerblading to school or work. It’s not just driving that has gotten to me, but the technology that is consuming my life.

I think I’ve fried my brain of technology. To be honest, I don’t watch tv. I think it’s a waste of time, makes you lazy and should only be used for limited pleasure, on occasion. However, the computer and internet consume a lot of my time. I don’t like that. I tweet, facebook and check my email too often to be true. This glow on my computer screen has practically turned into a night-light. I used to be this adventurous girl, rafting class 5 white waters, climbing 200 foot walls in between a high flowing waterfall. I used to ride my bike everyday to class, use the outdoors as my gym, play softball and football on a regular basis. My closest connection to the outdoors is nature sounds radio playing on my phone as I fall asleep. I’m extremely blessed to be in a beautiful home, a room to myself, my own bathroom and fireplace, warm blankets and an amazing view to come home to every night. Not that I’ve taken advantage of this lifestyle, but I think I’ve lost my appreciation for it and forget that I’m lucky to have a roof over my head. 

I’ve had debates about today’s technology numerous times. I think it’s amazing the things that our world has created, developed, and we continue to push the limits. However, I think most of us have abused the technology. It’s here to make our world easier but not to consume us.  Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler helped create the first car, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, Charles Babbage was the first to conceptualize the computer, and without these inventions we wouldn’t be where we are today. But this isn’t for us to take over our lives. It’s to help make things easier, more convenient, and let you run the rest of your day with ease.

This past week I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. I took a day to myself and went in search for inspiration; inspiration for my life, for my future career, for my education, and for today. I was guided in the right direction and began to explore it. I found this saying, “the secret of a better life is: eating right, working out, sleeping well, indulging responsibly, and reading.” I would have to add laughing often, to complete it.

My goal from here on out is to focus on school. I need to finish my college education so that I don’t need to be working out a coffee shop any longer. I’m going to limit my computer time for school, the occasional blog post and indulging in the social media in small amounts, well smaller than what I’ve been doing. Riding my bike to school and work isn’t an option for me right now, but I’m going to try to minimize my driving time as much as possible. When I eat, I’m going to eat. I’m not going to check out twitter, update my facebook status, drive, put on make-up or do anything else but focus on what’s happening at that moment. Now don’t think I’m turning into this crazy hippie, I’m just trying to get back to my roots, to things I truly enjoy in life, and feel better about the way I chose to live my life. I’m working on an article for a magazine my school is creating. The title is ‘simple eating’. If I strive to eat foods with simple, healthy ingredients, shouldn’t I be living my life that way as well?

Today is a new beginning and now it’s my turn to focus on the present. I want to leave you all with a quick meal that I whipped up for breakfast. After I submit the ‘publish’ button, it’s my time to get the day going.

Cheers!

High-protein breakfast scramble

Ingredients

  • Eggs (cage free & organic) *
  • Black beans
  • Quinoa
  • Garlic oil or sun-dried tomato oil (optional)

Directions

  1. Cook your quinoa as directed on the box. Near the end of the cooking process, I like to add garlic oil to the quinoa. If you roast garlic cloves in a baking sheet, covered with olive oil, it will emit a wonderful liquid that can be used as you would olive oil. Plus, it has an incredible taste.
  2. Whether you choose to use a can of black beans (rinsed, of course) or cook your own, heat them up in a separate pan, drizzled with your choice of oil. Don’t be afraid of olive oil. I use a small amount, but it’s healthy fat. People are so afraid of avocados, olive oil, and nuts but decide to eat a snickers bar sometime during the day. Our bodies need healthy fat. Don’t be afraid of it.
  3. Combine the black beans and quinoa and crack an egg or two over the mixture. Sometimes I scramble them and other times I keep them sunny-side up.
  4. Top with fresh basil.

*You can find this list somewhere on the internet but there are 10 foods that should ALWAYS be consumed organic. Eating 100% organic is amazing but not many people can afford to eat this way. However, eggs made the list and should always be consumed as organic.