Cooking and Composition

adventures in discourse and dinner

The Struggle with Breaking my Fast — January 25, 2014

The Struggle with Breaking my Fast

Does anyone else have trouble eating breakfast?

As part of my “get healthy” goal right now, I’ve been trying to do a better job at eating breakfast. When I don’t have anywhere to go, this isn’t a problem. I get up, a spend a little time laying around, and I have a hot tea, a banana, and a breakfast sandwich.

When I work, I don’t get such a leisurely morning. I teach at 8:00 three days a week, and I like to leave by 7:15 or so in order to get to work in plenty of time to park, go to my office, and get my thoughts gathered before I have to start entertaining my students.

botlhouse farms
I really love drinking Bolthouse Farms, but they can be really expensive! Especially on the days when I don’t drink them all.

Lately, I have been getting up around 5:45 in order to eat breakfast and get ready to go. But this is not working out for me. Sometimes I have a sandwich and a piece of fruit, sometimes I try to eat a granola or similar breakfast bar. This past Friday, I had peanut butter on toast.

I just have a hard time with breakfast. If I don’t brush my teeth before I eat it, I usually end up throwing it all back up.

Disgusting, I know.

And it’s here where I meet my conundrum. I find that easy, on-the-go breakfasts are better for me. It’s a lot easier for me to eat a granola bar or a breakfast sandwich while I’m driving to school (not the safest, sure, but whatever) than it is for me to get up even earlier and make real food for breakfast. But everything I’ve been reading lately points to the benefits of eating whole foods over processed ones.

What’s a girl to do?

I keep seeing commercials for Belvita breakfast things, and I found some at the store to try for the next couple of weeks. Nutrition-wise they don’t seem awful, and the ads claim that the energy should last through the morning. If it lasts me longer than the two hours my breakfasts are usually staying with me, I’ll be happy. I think.

I’m going to give it a try and see how it goes. But how do you do breakfast quick, easy, and healthy? Is it even possible?

Quarter Life (Health) Crisis — January 14, 2014

Quarter Life (Health) Crisis

One of the most exciting things about the collaborative research project I’m doing with my students is that we aren’t just writing collaboratively; we’re actually learning collaboratively about an important issue in our society.

I chose to investigate the question posed by Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel Durst, “Is Fast Food the New Tobacco?” As much as I wanted to give my students some stake in this project, I also wanted to have a schedule set when the class started. Fortunately, everyone seems at least mildly interested, and so far the readings have been thought-provoking.

So thought-provoking, in fact, that I’m engaging in my own critical reflection on my own health habits.

Cue yet another aspect of my quarter-life crisis.

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2013: A Year in Review — January 1, 2014

2013: A Year in Review

Happy 2014!

I hope everyone had a safe, fun New Year’s Eve, however you chose to celebrate.

I just found this picture in my phone.

Happy New Year!

I can only imagine I took it as the First Selfie of 2014?

Today, I want to say thanks for following, reading, liking, and commenting. To celebrate the first day of the new year, here’s a reflection on some of my top posts from 2014, and a look ahead to the new year.

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So Much Grazing, So Little Time — December 27, 2013

So Much Grazing, So Little Time

I have received four GRAZE boxes already, but I have not been keeping up with sharing my reviews of them. I think I did maybe two.

I have eaten a lot more Graze than that.

So here’s a little rundown/synopsis. If you are at all interested in Graze. . .or mail-order snacking. . .or my (probably very strange and particular) opinions on snacking, read on!

Box 1: Cracking Black Peppercorn, Honeycomb Crunch, Super Berry Detox, and Fruit and Seed Flapjacks.

Box 2: Dark Rocky Road, Fruity Mango Chutney, Chili and Lime Pistachios, and Pomodoro Rustichella.

Box 3: Raspberry and Coconut Muffin, Jalapeno Fiesta, My Thai, and Tropical Daiquiris

Box 4: Summer Berry Flapjack, Bonnie Wee Oatbakes, Graze’s Chocolate Orange, and Coco Paradise

Some I love, some I like, some I could definitely do without, and some I am saving or avoiding eating.. As you will see.

Must Have Them All Right Now:

  • Honeycomb Crunch. Easily one of my favorites. Chocolaty, crunchy, yummy.
  • Pomodoro Rustichella. I’m surprised how much I liked this because it’s tomato-y and I don’t really like tomatoes. At all. But it was wonderful.
  • Chili and Lime Pistachios. Love pistachios, and these had the right amount of kick.
  • Summer Berry Flapjacks. A chewy, rolled-oat bar with berry-infused cranberries. Yum!

Eat-It-Again Worthy:

  • Fruit and Seed Flapjacks. Like the Summer Berry ones but with seeds and dried fruit.
  • Super Berry Detox. A nice mix of berries with those delicious white raisins!
  • Dark Rocky Road. You can never go wrong with chocolate. The chocolate drops are a little big, which makes it hard to eat a bit of everything at once, but the flavors themselves are nice.

Still Not Sure How I Feel:

  • My Thai. Soy puffs with a sweet chili sauce. I think the dipping sauce was pretty good, but it does have a fairly intense flavor. It reminded me a big of an egg roll dipping sauce from a local restaurant.

No Thank You, I Will Do Without These:

  • Cracking Black Peppercorn. I wanted to like these. But I just didn’t like the taste of the puffed rice. It was almost chemically to me.
  • Fruity Mango Chutney. Black pepper dippers and mango chutney dipping sauce. Not a big mango person (don’t eat it much because a few times I’ve had allergic-like reactions to it). Mostly did not like the black pepper dippers. Probably for the same reasons I didn’t like the cracking black peppercorn.
  • Raspberry and Coconut Muffin. I also wanted to like this, but I’ve never been a big fan of coconut, and it ruined this for me. I tried to pick around the dried coconut pieces, but it was a little hard. The amaretti drops, raspberry-infused cranberries, and almond slices were good. If I could eat coconut, I might like this a little more.
  • Coco Paradise. I didn’t get this “trashed” before it was sent, so I’ve set it on the table in hopes someone in my family will it eat. My mom likes coconut, so we’ll see. I’m sure the cranberries and chocolate drops are delicious, I just don’t feel like digging through it.

Graze has a really wide variety of snacks, and I’m excited to keep getting more (and try the couple I have sitting in my box, waiting to be eaten)!

Another nice thing about Graze is you can influence what comes in your snack box. Don’t like something? Trash it. Don’t like a particular ingredient? Graze makes it easy to search for any snack that includes that ingredient.

In my opinion, Graze is definitely worth the $6/shipment. Even though I haven’t loved all of the snacks, I don’t regret trying them and I have been surprised by a couple!

Graze Box #1: Honeycomb Crunch — November 16, 2013

Graze Box #1: Honeycomb Crunch

I think I was the most excited about trying the honeycomb crunch in my Graze Box because CHOCOLATE.

I seriously cannot get enough chocolate; Graze only sends it seasonally, so I am pretty glad I joined at a time when they are shipping chocolate products. It is the only reason I am excited about the weather changing and cooling off.

UntitledHere it is, looking so delicious! The mix has milk-chocolate coated honeycomb pieces, almonds, and raisins. Even though I have never had honeycomb (until a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t even know it was edible!), I knew as soon as I opened my box that I was going to love this snack.

It definitely did not disappoint.

There’s not much to say about the almonds and the raisins. I like both of these on their own.

But, oh, chocolate coated honeycomb.

I can say that I honestly didn’t know what to expect. But the honeycomb had a nice crunch with a sweet punch to it. It was reminiscent of honey but it wasn’t such a strong flavor.

The texture of the honeycomb also paired really well with the almonds and the raisins. There was just enough crunch, but the chocolate coating on the honeycombs helped soften it so that the raisins didn’t feel out of place. (In case you are wondering: yes, I have weird texture issues when it comes to my food.)

Verdict: A+ I love love loved this, and I really hope it comes again soon!

Honeycomb Crunch

Graze Box #1: Super Berry Detox — November 11, 2013

Graze Box #1: Super Berry Detox

Today’s NaBloPoMo post is brought to you by my delicious afternoon snack.

I mentioned over the weekend that I was super excited to finally (finally!) receive my first Graze box. If you didn’t check out the post, you can find it here. And if you don’t know about Graze and want to learn more, you should definitely check out their website.

Today, I brought the Super Berry Detox to school with me. Here it is looking yummy and delicious in its packaging.

Untitled

I resisted the urge to have it for breakfast and with my lunch. I knew that this would mean I would be starving by the time my office hours rolled around, which is, sadly, my prime snacking time. And since Halloween I’ve had a steady supply of candies waiting for me in my office. I originally signed up for Graze to start bringing some healthier snacks into my life, and I wasn’t going to end up eating a bunch of Snickers with Almonds or Reese’s Cups this afternoon because I decided to eat my snack for my breakfast.

I’m glad I waited.

Overall, the smell of Super Berry Detox reminded me mostly of Craisins. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because dried cranberries is one of its four ingredients. Paired with the cranberries are green raisins, goji berries, and blueberries. They are a colorful mix!

Untitled

I liked this mix a lot and would definitely eat it again. I’m not sure how well I really enjoyed the dried goji berries (which are the reddish/orange looking things). They had an almost pungent taste to them, to me. They tasted fine when I ate them with at least one other of the berries, though.

The ingredient that really stole the show for me, however, was the green raisins. I love green (white!!!) grapes. They are crisp and refreshing, and the dried version of them did not let me down. I’ve never had green (white!?!) raisins before, and I have a fairly ambivalent relationship to raisins as most of us know them, so I was pleasantly surprised that they were so good. I even saved a bunch of them to eat when the whole mix was done so that I could finish with the taste of them.

Other people do that, too, right?

Graze’s websites says these are only 133 calories for the whole pack (woo!) and that it is 27% of the DRV of iron (based on a 2000 calorie diet).

Verdict: A-. This mix is delicious enough that I would definitely eat it again, but I don’t think I would ever go out of my way to locate it. My snack craving DOES feel satisfied (for now) so that is a definite plus.

In the Kitchen: Goat Cheese Pasta Bake with Chicken — November 10, 2013

In the Kitchen: Goat Cheese Pasta Bake with Chicken

So, last week Lovie and I had a marathon writing night for NaNoWriMo, and I posted (albeit briefly) about making this delicious pasta bake. One of many things that Lovie and I have in common is our love of both chicken and carbs, specifically in the form of pasta and potatoes.

Normally when we cook, we go for chicken and noodles, especially now that Lovie has perfected it as a crockpot meal. But this week, we were in the mood for a little something different. Thanks to Pinterest, we got it stuck in our heads that we really needed baked macaroni and cheese, but we couldn’t quite find a recipe that we really wanted to follow. So we decided to make one up.

NaNo Sprint Night!

Making up a recipe has never worked out so well.

Ingredients

  • about a pound (1 box) of pasta
  • about 1 cup of half-and-half
  • about 1 cup of milk
  • 6 ounces goat cheese
  • 6-8 ounces shredded Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago cheese
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red pepper flakes

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Bring water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. While pasta cooks, prepare the sauce.

3. Cut the goat cheese into smaller pieces, then combine with milk and half-and-half in a saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat.

4. As goat cheese melts, add in about half of the shredded cheese blend and stir. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. Reduce heat to allow to thicken without overheating.

5. Prepare chicken breasts as desired. We grilled it on a George Foreman Grill for about 10 minutes with just a little salt and pepper.

6. Grease an 8×8 or 9×9 square baking dish with butter (or cooking spray, if you prefer to be healthier).

7. When pasta is done cooking, drain and set aside.

NaNo Sprint Night!

8. Cut chicken breasts into strips or small pieces as desired.

9. Assemble all the ingredients in the baking dish, stirring together to ensure the cheese sauce coats the noodles and chicken. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese blend.
10. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until cheese is golden and melty.

11. Eat too much of this delicious meal, spend the next five days thinking about making it again.