1200 Calories

Absolutely had to share this amazing and insightful post by Sophieologie. It seems bonkers that messages like “toned means muscle”, “don’t skip meals”, and “eating well and being healthy is about more than calorie intake” aren’t the messages women get from the media, etc. but I agree, the misinformation has to stop! Love this whole post. Pass it along!

Sophieologie

I don’t know why “1200” managed to be the magic number of calories women should consume if they want to lose weight.

I don’t even know how I know of this number. Only that I know it, and my friends know it, and my mom knows it. Somehow, somewhere along the road, I was taught that if I want to have a flat stomach and tight tushy, I need to limit my calories to 1200 a day and do cardio. I don’t know how it got in to all of our collective brains, but somehow it did (if any ladies remember how or when they first heard the 1200-calorie rule-of-thumb for losing weight, please let me know via comment box).

What I do know is that 1200 is the general number of calories health professionals say women cannot drop below without suffering negative health consequences.

Interesting, isn’t it? 1200 calories. The…

View original post 2,040 more words

Advertisements

How to Make a Worm Compost Bin at Home in 8 Easy Steps

I’ve mentioned before that I use my food scraps to feed squirmy little worms that live in a plastic bin in my backyard.

IMG_1789

I have a special little affinity for these guys. I talk to them, and I care about their diet. If I feel like I’m giving them too many onion-heavy feedings, I change up dinner for a few weeks to try out some new foods. (I do like onions, and although the worms don’t really have brains, I feel like they know it).

Anyways, you too can have little worm friends in your backyard! Or wherever you want to keep them. Here’s how you make a worm bin, or vermicycle compost bin for yourself!

Step 1: Get yourself some red worms. It’s SO important you don’t try to start a worm bin by using regular worms you might dig up while gardening. Red worms, or “red wigglers”, are earthworms that thrive in decomposing organic matter like the stuff you’ll be giving them.

IMG_1785

Step 2: Find a large Rubbermaid-type bin with a secure lid. This one’s from Wal-Mart. Drill four to six large holes on the underside of the bin, and additional holes around the top as shown below. This is to allow air flow and drainage because as the worms consume the food and create waste, liquid will also be created and need to drain out to keep the bin environment healthy.

IMG_1784

Step 3: Find a second, larger bin that can house the compost bin. You’ll need to fit the compost bin inside this larger bin, and elevate the compost bin so the liquid created and drain out and collect in the bottom of the larger bin. I used upside-down plastic flower pots to support my compost bin.

IMG_1787

Step 4: Now it’s time to start filling your compost bin to make a home for the worms! First, collect newspapers and tear them into strips. Be careful not to use any colored images – just use black and white prints because the color print can be toxic to the worms. Once you have strips of black and white newsprint, dampen them and line the bottom of the compost bin.

IMG_1779

Step 5: Sprinkle a layer of coffee grounds over the damp newsprint. Coffee grounds are an amazing addition to your compost bin because they are high in nitrogen and considered “green” material. In a compost bin, it’s critical to balance the amount of “green” nitrogen-rich material (food scraps) and “brown” carbon-rich material (paper).

I pickup up a bucket of used coffee grounds from my local coffee shop, which they filled to capacity in under an hour. It’s a great way to recycle and do some good for the environment! Plus, it lasts forEVER.

IMG_1780

Step 6: Add the food scraps. First of all, NEVER feed your worms citrus, dairy (although egg shells are OK), meat, candy, or alcoholic beverages (that one I feel is a given).

I like to grind everything up in a food processor first because that makes it so much easier for the worms to consume and digest. Since I cook a lot, it’s nice that they can go through the scraps so quickly so I avoid having food scraps pile up while I wait to be able to feed them again.

IMG_1781

IMG_1830

Step 7: Finally, on top of the food scraps you want to add a layer of damp brown paper strips. I just use the brown paper from grocery store bags or from that wine I bought at the liquor store. Like the newsprint, make sure the brown paper doesn’t have any colored writing or anything on it.

In the image below, I just laid the brown paper strips out on the ground and sprayed them with a hose to dampen.

IMG_1782

The layer of brown paper gives the worms a “roof” for their home that they can nestle underneath to feel protected. These worms hate sunlight so they will burrow very quickly when exposed.

Step 8: Add the worms! Like I said, they’ll burrow right under the brown paper as soon as you put them in.

IMG_1786

Cover the worms, place on top of the flower pots and keep in a cool, shaded area. I keep mine in my backyard, but you can also keep it in your garage, or mudroom, or wherever makes you happy (with exceptions of course. They’re not bed mates).

To keep these worms alive, you should check on them once each week. Here are some important bullet points to keep in mind:

  • Always make sure the balance in the bin is even between “greens” and “browns”. It’s fairly easy to do this – just don’t overfeed them. Feed the worms about once each week, especially if you’re grinding up the food as they will go through that faster. Don’t add more food if there is still a substantial amount left in the bin. As they create more organic matter (soil) you’ll need to add additional strips of paper to keep the balance equal.
  • If the bin appears dry, you’ll need to water the worms. Yes, like plants. You’ll have to poke around to judge the dryness or dampness of the bin, but the worms don’t bite and if you go so far as to have a worm bin in the first place, you probably don’t mind poking around inside one.
  • It’s normal, if you keep your bin outside, for other bugs to join your worms. Especially flies. After all, you’re basically putting trash outside. But it’s ok – the bugs help stimulate the environment and won’t bother the worms. If you see anything out of whack, though, feel free to message me. I’ve seen a lot of weird things since I started this worm bin a few years back, so I can help!
  • Sometimes plants will grow in your worm bin! Seeds from vegetables will thrive in this nutrient-rich environment, so don’t be surprised if you see some growth.
  • You can use the nutrient-rich liquid the worms create to water your garden or potted plants. It’s like a delicious meal for plants.
  • It’s worth it to invest in an odor-free compost bucket. I keep mine under the kitchen sink and add to it every night when I cook. No smell, and super easy to collect your scraps before it’s time to feed the worms again.

IMG_1831

Happy worm-binning!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

My kitchen hasn’t been calling to me lately. It’s a weird feeling, and it’s a constant struggle to open the fridge and realize I’m going to be piecing together a lunch of crackers, cheese and tomato slices.

IMG_1836

Finally, I jumped on this cauliflower pizza crust bandwagon to end the home-cooked meal drought.

IMG_1820

It was tasty! And the gluten-free part is pretty awesome. It’s not every day you can shove multiple slices of pizza into your mouth and be eating mostly vegetables. Well, and cheese, but there’s nothing wrong with cheese.

IMG_1825

Needless to say, this pizza didn’t last long at all. I would highly recommend doubling this recipe if you’re feeding more humans than just yourself and/or if any of you have even an inkling of an appetite.

IMG_1832

What You Need:

  • One head cauliflower, florets chopped off
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 oz. goat cheese
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1 tsp. dried basil

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 400F

In a food processor, lightly “pulse” the cauliflower florets to create cauliflower “rice”. It’s best to add the florests one batch at a time to ensure they all get chopped up.

Now it’s time to cook the “rice.” In a medium saucepot, boil about 3 cups water and add the rice. Cover the pot, and let cook about 5 minutes.

IMG_1824

Drain thoroughly using a fine mesh strainer.

Transfer the drained cauliflower rice to a clean dish towel or several paper towels and pat well to dry.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the rice, egg, cheese and spices and mix thoroughly, kneeding with your hands until it forms a dough.

Now it’s ready to be made into a crust!

Sprinkle cornmeal onto the surface of a pizza stone and lay the dough ball on top. (If you don’t have a pizza stone, still use cornmeal and see below for alternate baking times).

Smooth the dough ball out with your hands, flattening to make a crust about 1/4 of an inch thick.

IMG_1819

Bake for about 20 minutes if using a pizza stone, 30-40 if using a baking sheet.

Remove from oven and cover with your favorite toppings. I used sliced zucchini, minced garlic, jalapeno slices, tomato slices and cheddar cheese.

Then, bake for another 5 minutes for a pizza stone, or 10 minutes for a baking sheet.

Slice it up, and serve!

IMG_1834

Honey Lemon Quinoa and Brussels Sprouts

I’m on a not-so-silent crusade to get a cat.

IMG_1741

We have a dog – Madison, who is wonderful and fun. Also, she is super cute. BUT. I really want to get a cat.

IMG_1737

I used to have mixed feelings about cats, but part of my day job entails looking at cat photos online for hours at a time, so it’s kind of hard to resist falling in love with those funny little fluff balls.

IMG_1743

There’s only one small problem, which is that Mike absolutely refuses. He will not budge on this one, which gives me no choice but to quietly plot the adoption of a cat while he is at work, or in the shower or something. I figure once the cat is in our home, there’s nothing he can do. I get a cat, he gets yummy meals. It’s a win-win right?

What You Need:

IMG_1736

  • 1 lb. Brussels Sprouts, stems cut off and sliced into quarters
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 cup dry quinoa, cooked according to package directions
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp + 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 350F

IMG_1739

Combine the Brussels Sprouts, red and green bell peppers and shallot in a large baking dish.

Pour water over the vegetables, cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes or until veggies are fully cooked.

In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, honey, thyme leaves, black pepper and olive oil and whisk until well mixed.

When vegetables are done cooking, pour into a large serving dish and mix thoroughly with cooked quinoa and cranberries.

Pour the lemon-honey sauce over the entire dish and mix well.

Top with crumbled feta and you’re good to go!

IMG_1740

 

Apple Cider and Dijon Chicken Lettuce Wraps

One of the best things about a change in seasons is the shopping.

IMG_1592

Every store is offering a coupon or a discount, everything’s on sale and all the spring-y clothes look so fresh and glamorous on the rack. I want to own a top in every shade of pink in existence.

IMG_1580

I want all the animal-print flats, strappy sandals and flowing sundresses ever made. The way I see it, the next few months of warm weather is just a multitude of outfit options spread out before me. I love it. Some people in my household would argue I do not need these things, but I think we all know the truth.

What You Need:

IMG_1581

  • 1 tbsp olive or coconut oil
  • 4-6 boneless chicken cutlets
  • 1/4 cup apple cider
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 head romain lettuce with large leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Rice (optional as a side)

What You Do:

Heat the oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat.

IMG_1584

Sprinkle the pepper over each side of the chicken and place the chicken in the pan.

Sear each side of the chicken, flipping after about a minute. Remove from pan and set aside.

Pour the apple cider and vegetable broth into the hot pan and bring to a simmer. Scrape the pan to loosen any bits stuck to the bottom. Simmer until thickened (about 5 minutes). Whisk in dijon mustard.

Add chicken back into the pan and cook on low for about 2 minutes.

Peel off 4-6 lettuce leaves and rinse to clean. Lay open on plates.

Slice the cooked chicken into strips and place pieces on the lettuce wraps.

Top with cilantro and drizzle with the thickened cider sauce. Serve with rice and enjoy!

PS. A quick note to apologize for the running blog post I accidentally published to THIS blog last night. I’m in an ongoing battle with technology, where technology usually wins. I am starting a running blog, but it has nothing to do with food, so don’t be alarmed. 

 

 

Maple Acorn Squash and Spinach Pizza

My best friend and I just took a weekend trip to New York City. Honestly, the food options in that place are more overwhelming than the crowds of people.

IMG_1528

I could spend 5 days there just trying different restaurants. Of course I would walk from one to the other to burn off some of the calories.

IMG_1517

We packed a lot into a day and a half. Empire State Building, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, riding Citi Bikes (aka flirting with certain death), a run through Central Park, meandering through Highline Park and dinner/drinks with friends and family. It was perfect.

IMG_1526

Probably the best thing I ate was the Crepe Suzette we ordered for dessert at Les Halles, the restaurant owned by Anthony Bordain. The chef made it right in front of us and it was delicious.

IMG_1716

This trip also taught me that I can’t afford to eat fancy NYC food all the time. So instead I made this pizza at home and pretended it was fancy city food.

Inspired by Smitten Kichen’s Roasted Acorn Squash and Gorgonzola Pizza.

What You Need:

IMG_1522

  • 1 small acorn squash, halved, seeded and sliced into half moons
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or melted coconut oil, divided
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • Pizza dough (I used a gluten-free pre-made dough)
  • 2 tbsp cornmeal
  • 1 cup raw spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 375F

In a large mixing bowl, toss the half moon slices of acorn squash with the half the oil, the red pepper flakes, maple syrup, salt and pepper until thoroughly and evenly coated.

IMG_1521

Lay the squash out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 20 minutes or until soft and golden.

Roll out your dough using the other half of the oil to keep it from becoming sticky.

Sprinkle the cornmeal over a pizza stone or your baking sheet, and lay the dough out over the cornmeal.

Once the squash is cooked, gently peel off the skins.

Lay each half moon over the pizza.

Top with gorgonzola cheese, spinach and Parmesan, and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until crust edges are golden brown, cheese is melted and spinach is wilted (but not dry!)

Slice up and chow down!

IMG_1527

 

Italian Chickpea “Meatballs” with Herbed Tomato Sauce

IT’S MARCH MADNESS BABY!!!!

IMG_1355

I’ve gone completely off the deep end. Mike doesn’t even know how to handle my new-found love of all things basketball. But tell me there’s $100 at stake, and I take shit seriously.

IMG_1311

I joined the NCAA pool at work, and in my determined fervor to not lose, I spent (no joke) 3 hours cramming college basketball knowledge into my previously sports-neutral brain. I studied stats. I read player analysis and game predictions from various sports writers. I compared different brackets online and looked into why a team was chosen over another and whether it was the best choice.

IMG_1334

What this experience teaches us is that I am highly motivated by prize money. I won’t say how my bracket is doing, because I’ve also developed a bit of a serious superstition problem, but I will say I’m going through withdrawals at the moment since the games don’t continue until Thursday. Like I said, Mike is wondering who I am and what I’ve done with the real Jen.

IMG_1347

But really – she cooks AND she likes basketball? He’s not complaining.

What You Need:

  •  1 spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
  • IMG_135315 plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 medium eggplant cut into cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp ground sage
  • 1/2 tsp ground thyme
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

IMG_1348

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 400F

Combine the tomatoes, eggplant, onion and garlic in a large dutch oven or baking dish and bake, covered, for about 45-60 minutes. It’s done when the veggies are soft and cooked through with their juices at the bottom of the dish.

In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, egg, all the spices and the cornmealand blend until well-combined. This is your “meat”ball dough.

Scoop the dough out of the food processor and form into small round balls. Set aside.

IMG_1344

Once the tomato and eggplant mixture is done baking, scoop out the veggies using a slotted spoon to separate them from the juices.

In the food processor, blend the tomato and eggplant mixture until it becomes a chunky sauce.

Pour the sauce into a slow cooker and add the chickpea balls.

Cook on low for 1-2 hours (I cooked for 2 hours and kept on warm for another hour while I was at work).

Serve over baked spaghetti squash and top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

And I will say that some of the “meat”balls did break apart in the crock pot (just a bit) but all that happens is the tomato sauce turns into a delicious “meat”sauce. YUM.

IMG_1360