plate method

Honestly I often do use MyPlate to plan my meals, because I don’t want to be a total hypocrite when I recommend it to my patients, and because it does a solid job creating a satisfying and nutritionally balanced meal.

Here’s an example:

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Another collaborative meal with the man. Chicken sausage (1/4 of the plate is protein), corn on the cob (1/4 of the plate is starch), and a lovely selection of cucumbers, tomato/basil salad, and cabbage with vinegar and herbs and peanuts (1/2 of the plate is fruits and/or vegetables, skewing toward vegetables ideally especially if you have blood sugar issues).

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Let the record state that the manfriend made the cabbage and I never would’ve come up with the combo and it was great. Let the record also state I went back for more chicken because the portion was rather small.

Another meal made by the boyf, this one all him with me doing NO WORK.

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Grilled cheese (bread= starch, cheese= protein, and uh of course fat haha), soup with veggies, beans, and a bit of meat (more starch, more protein, a bit of veg), and big salad (veg).

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I’ve made Smitten Kitchen’s crispy rice bowls a gazillion times in part because they are so nicely balanced. Brown rice (starch, and a whole grain to boot), fried eggs (protein), and lots of nice cool vinegary veggies. Plus healthy fats and a bit more veg from the dressing.

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A simple work lunch- kale salad (veg, plus a bit of protein and starch and fat from nuts and cheese and crispy breadcrumbs) leftover baked tofu (protein), cornbread (starch).

Here was a nice little thing I did with farmer’s market carrots:

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I followed-ish a recipe that recommended roasting them with thyme and olive oil and then topping with crumbled goat cheese.

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Rounded out that veggie/protein/fat serving with smoked fish (more protein), cornbread (starch) and more of the kale salad above.

Another celebration of farmer’s market ingredients:

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Transplanting Traditions is a great local farm that supports refugees. They tend to have some interesting crops. This particular week I tried water spinach, which the farmer gals recommended making into a stir fry with soy sauce and garlic. I added some sweet onion as well, and some shrimp for protein, and some rice on the side for starch. It was smashing! Though man does spinach shrink when you cook it!

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A dreamy salad: farmer’s market greens, peaches, goat cheese, homemade vinaigrette. Fruit and veg with fat and a hint of protein.

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Rounded out with roasted chickpeas for protein and starch.

Yeah, this was DEFINITELY not a big enough meal haha. Went back for more snacks of some kind.

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I had some leftover chipotle honey marinade from another cooking project so I sauteed some shrimp (protein) and zucchini (veg) with that and then had rice on the side. Simple and good!

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Quick weekday lunch: toasted bread (starch), roasted cherry tomatoes with olive oil (veg, healthy fat), and veggie burger (protein, starch).

Occasionally I am extra virtuous and only want a salad for lunch (very very occasionally haha)

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Smitten Kitchen’s kale salad.

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And here is cauliflower gnocchi from Trader Joe’s (surprisingly good as long as you ignore the package directions and do not add any water. Just sautee in oil/butter). I have it with sage from my yard!

And now we depart from the theme and simply acknowledge that sometimes I eat All The Carbs.

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Pancakes, one with sauteed peaches and one with peanut butter.

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Trader Joes tomato basil burrata ravioli (swoon!) with blistered tomatoes

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Homemade panzanella- leftover cornbread, tomatoes, basil, buttermilk-ish dressing.

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Pasta alla Norma from Ottolenghi simple. Such a lovely celebration of fresh summer produce. The eggplant was uh-mazing.

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And crispy peach cobbler from Smitten Kitchen. I confess it makes a great breakfast!

emerging

Smitten Kitchen’s bolognese was one of the better things that came out of spring 2020. Highly recommend. (I goofed and got a can of whole tomatoes instead of tomato paste and there were no adverse effects whatsoever).

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I do recommend making it the night before you eat it just because rather a lot of beef fat collects at the top and it gets a bit greasy. (Note that I got 85% lean beef- she tells you to do 80-85% so if you do the former it will be even greasier). But the fat is easy to scrape off once it’s chilled.

Spaghetti and meat sauce and salad is really one of life’s perfect meals. My boyf is indifferent to pasta but likes meat sauce very much.

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My boyfriend has kids so he always has maraschino cherries and reddi whip at his home. CAN YOU EVEN?! I went through a phase where I was having like, daily, albeit tiny, ice cream sundaes. V thrilling.

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Speaking of sugar I went and did a backyard hangout with my friends who have two young kids. Their youngest has been losing her mind a little bit (she is a frenetic extrovert). She was thrilled to have a visitor and had tons of fun making loud announcements to me, such as, “I HAVE A BELLY BUTTON.”

The mama of the family just graduated with her masters (!) so I made the whole crew a batch of these nutella muffins. Dreamy!

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Another day I had lettuce from the boyf’s deck (!) plus some herbs and snap peas from my friends’ garden (!) so I made the loveliest freshest little salad and had it with some cheesy whole wheat crepes. I did not hate this classy French-ish meal! (Went back for another crepe or two I think, and knowing me spread it with peanut butter).

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Farmer’s market kale makes lovely salad. Tried this one from Smitten Kitchen. Garlicky bread crumbs are never a bad idea.

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A more basic salad (a kit from Trader Joe’s I think), a veggie burger, and some roasted sweet potatoes. Not all meals are glamorous haha.

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Smitten Kitchen crispy rice bowls, the dish I make more than anything else.

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I had an avocado turn brown and nasty so I threw it out into the bed at the side of my back patio. An informal composting system (lol) I’ve created. The squirrels LOVE me and turn out to love even brown and mushy avocados.

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My friend had a small backyard gathering (!!!) and the world felt almost normal for a little bit! A hot dog on the grill! A Coke Zero! Such treasures I never have in my house!

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I was suuuuuuuch a dietitian and brought two types of salads. In my defense they were great. Summer squash ribbons with oregano, basil and lemon (a long time favorite which is yellow squash’s highest calling) and a basic arugula salad with homemade vinaigrette and walnuts.

On the fitness front, I took a barre class with my friend Lesli.

The setting was absolutely lovely- we had some unseasonably pleasant days and with shade and breeze the outdoor class was perfect. It’s in a random shopping center by a highway that has the most beautiful courtyard ever that all the surrounding businesses share.

And there is a CAT COLONY! I lovingly observed them before the class started.

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As in previous times I have been suckered into taking barre classes, my hip flexors began spasming uncontrollably not long after starting the ab work. There’s something about holding myself in a boat pose that my hips just hate. Argh. The class was still good though.

Other exercise has happened in the park. I already knew to be vigilant for little snek friends, but an enthusiastic neighbor has made (and laminated!) these very wholesome signs.

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A tangent: my employer, Duke, in the light of George Floyd’s death and ensuing events, held a Living While Black event. Duke students, profs, staff, etc. shared their experiences and we heard from some really badass speakers.

Some visuals that stuck out to me:

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For the people who don’t believe in white privilege:

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If you think being color blind is enough you aren’t paying enough attention.

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Now for something very different and very cute…

the boyf’s lil girl graduated from preschool. He made her a unicorn cake.

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And for the proud big brother, a lego cake.

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I can’t even. He sent me pictures of them with a #nailedit hashtag 😂

A fun evening with the boyf… collaborative dinner!

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I brought all the random leftovers from my house. Another incarnation of the sale kale salad as above, roasted sweet potato wedges, mac n cheese with roasted tomatoes, red lentil dal, roasted golden beets.

He made turkey sandwiches. They were BY FAR the best part of the meal hahaha. I need to stop being so extra sometimes and just stick to the basics.

Another amazing basic the boy makes:

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Homemade Caesar dressing. SWOON! Plus croutons (which he made from frying stale BISCUITS, oh boy. He’s a true Southerner) and diced hard boiled egg.

Aaaaaand… the lettuce was grown on his balcony!

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I sent him this post from Wholefully on starting a pandemic garden and he friggin ran with it!

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It is now too hot and the lettuces have bolted but the peppers are still crushing it.

And the squash blossoms which are just the cutest.

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Another day I was sort of losing my mind freaking out about missing out on the joys of summer- my favorite season!- due to this friggin pandemic.

So I made N have a picnic with me.

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Chicken salad, 1/2 a tofu banh mi, watermelon feta salad, ants on a log, corn on the cob. YES.

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visiting

A few weeks ago I got to visit my mom in Virginia and it was the BEST. She was on the phone with her manfriend at one point during our visit and went, “I didn’t realize I hadn’t really been able to relax since the pandemic began, but now I feel relaxed!”

It was the same for me.

Mind you, Sheila has never had any issues relaxing.

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Both my mom and I were really, really careful to be extra responsible prior to our time together, following all state/local regulations involving masks and so on. Everyone is continuing to disappoint me in regard to the basic human decency that ought to compel people to just wear a damn mask to protect the vulnerable people around them. But since my mom and I were both soooo careful we gave ourselves permission to open our circle to one another! I also was very pleased with myself because due to restricting fluid intake to an hour before I got in the car to drive to DC, and with the blessings of the traffic fairy who prevented any too bad road issues, I was able to go straight from NC to VA without having to make any stops.

Mom and I spent most of our time walking (socially distanced) and eating, a mix of homemade and take out items. I didn’t capture all the pictures but know Ethiopian food and Vietnamese food and Korean food were involved. All the DC area essentials. Oh and in one magical moment my mom was making cookie dough and putting it in the fridge to chill and just delivered me a large spoon of cookie dough. Family love, man. There is nothing like it.

I had lots of fun going through the family cookbook my wonderful auntie put together. Look at my gorgeous grandparents, and read the hysterical lie my grandma used to tell about how they met!

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My mom went to the farmer’s market and got this ridiculously huge tray of seconds tomatoes (probably about 15 lb?) for FIVE DOLLARS.

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So I got to work on a blanching/peeling/seeding station to make my all time fave, Smitten Kitchen’s Naked Tomato Sauce.

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Which also involves slooowly infusing oil with basil and garlic and red pepper flakes. (Basil also from the farmer’s market!)

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The tomato operation took kind of a ridiculously long time (it was, as you can see, at least 50 tomatoes!) but it was quite the merry, good smelling ritual. We also worked in a Facetime date with my aunt Jeanie.

After I at last processed the tomatoes and the sauce got a chance to simmer for awhile, I dug into some excellent snacks…

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Dreamy crusty bread from the farmer’s market, topped with delicious, almost no filler, wild smoked salmon spread. Ahhh.

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My mom has been getting grocery delivery and they accidentally gave her heavy cream when she’d wanted Mexican crema for a recipe… so I made cream scones from Smitten Kitchen. Heavenly!

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Sheila did an excellent job supervising all the kitchen activities.

When the sauce was done it looked like this:

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When it went on the pasta it looked like this:

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And when it actually got eaten it looked like this. Mm mm mm. Summer freshness.

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Since with no real intention I had accidentally scheduled a visit to my hometown over Father’s Day weekend, it would’ve been kind of dickish to not see my father.

My stepmom works retail and I don’t know the extent to which they’d been distancing, so I just suggested we hung out on the deck in the fresh air. And that ended up being rather heavenly, actually.

More pleased animals.

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Jasmine

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And Bodie, who’s an old man now!

Fun tangent:

My last night at home I found my old high school yearbook. Any RuPaul’s Drag Race Fans out there? I went to high school with Tatiana, and got to see the earliest version of her persona 🙂 Even in high school we knew that Joey made a gorgeous, gorgeous lady alter ego.

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On the way back to NC I was passing through Richmond and reached out to my pal Claire from grad school. We agreed to meet up in a park for an outdoor, socially distanced hang.

I got there before she did, so I went in the woods in part because I needed to pee and there were no visible public bathrooms and I was scared of them anyway due to coronavirus risk and discovered some blackberries, which I picked!

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Meanwhile Claire was awesome enough to bring donuts! We went 50/50 on a Red Velvet and each had a Samoa. Swoon!

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Leaving all of my favorite people was very hard, to come back to NC and have to be a grown up alone in a pandemic. Let’s hope things get better soon. (You know how things can get better? WEAR YOUR MASKS)

hunker downer

I love that different neighborhoods have had people putting teddy bears on display. I thought this one, displaying mask safety, was particularly great.

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(I have been out and about and seen WAY TOO MANY PEOPLE not wearing masks… at grocery stores, in line for takeout at restaurants. It is THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY to protect others. My coworker’s best friend, a girl our age with no preexisting health conditions, has spent the past week in the ICU with COVID. FFS, wear a mask. Don’t be a parasite on society!)

Anyway. Flowers!

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Provocative graffiti hahaha. I would like to meet the person who wrote this.
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Not okay: I encountered TWO COPPERHEADS IN ONE WEEK.

I legit almost stepped on this guy and did a really elaborate one legged dance while gasping.

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Then later, on a TOTALLY SEPARATE WALK IN A GEOGRAPHICALLY DIFFERENT AREA, another one!

I was trying to observe social distancing so walking on the side of the trail to avoid getting to close to passing walkers. WELL. This guy had other plans for me.

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Eating and drinking…

When this thing began Harris Teeter had a special on these eerily shelf-stable cold brew cans. I bought a few four packs and have them when I’m jonesing for a coffee shop (well honestly I am jonesing for a coffee shop every day but it is more the experience- people watching, interesting background music and ambient noise, a pleasant change of scenery to do work).

They are like rocket fuel.

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Smoothies! I don’t have a full size blender and word to the wise you can make terrific smoothies for one if you have a good immersion blender.

I made this guy a couple times- a small pear, 1/2 a small avocado, and a big handful of kale (I put the stemmier pieces in the smoothies and they get broken up quite nicely. They are often too chewy in salads!)

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I made this yeastless beer focaccia I used to make all the time, for the first time in a minute. It tasted unnervingly of beer. I gave some to my pregnant friend who likes beer, hahaha.

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Focaccia was served along side some mussels which I made with:

  • mushrooms
  • coconut milk
  • fresh mint (basil would be good too)
  • lime juice
  • canned diced tomatoes
  • fish sauce
  • hot sauce
  • think that was it?

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Another simple meal… edamame, salad kit, half an avocado with some fab Everything But The Bagel seasoning. Note that this did not contain enough carbs so I snacked after it. But it was a solid vegetable dose!

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One of my dearest friends, Andrea, was essentially evacuated from her home in New York City to her parents’ place in NC. I drove to see her, bringing her a birthday cake and some coffees (getting coffee was quite a bit more dicey than I thought it would be haha!)

We socially distanced hung out on her parents’ porch and it was lovely.

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Another friend outing… the Maple View country store has a very well run drive through operation. We got ice cream cups and then sat in the parking lot in the field across from the store and looked out into the countryside, eating banana pudding ice cream. It was great.

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Lola has been enjoying spring and summer, as all cats do.

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I was trying to read a magazine on my front stoop and Lola screamed at me from the front door til I let her out too. She did rounds.

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I ordered some new masks from Etsy and was letting them sit out in the sun to take advantage of solar disinfecting powers. Lola had to inspect them.

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Another day it was cold and gloomy and she managed to wrap herself up like this.

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On that gloomy day, I was lucky enough to have another (wooden and crazy but not as horrifically difficult as the previous one) crossword puzzle on loan from a friend.

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Finally, I sent N this guide from Wholefully on making an emergency pandemic vegetable garden and man he RAN WITH IT!

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I am so jealous of his incredible balcony lettuce! He gets lots of good sunshine.

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Several different varietals. The spinach bolted but everything else is looking terrific.

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lately

A grand total of No One On Earth is rushing to my blog to get my thoughts on the latest shitstorm of events in our country.

However, I sometimes read old things I’ve written in this blog as a reminder of where I was and what I was doing in a moment of time. So here are a few for June 2020.

  • I found this list of resources to read to be really useful and address specific questions I’ve been asking about myself and others.
  • I haven’t protested yet, though I want to show up. The social distancing limitations make me nervous. If I do it, it’ll probably be in Durham or Chapel Hill as the Raleigh police have been… awful. And perhaps you heard about Asheville?
  • Since the pandemic began I’ve tried to be intentional in, when I do get takeout, supporting small businesses.
    Recent events have brought me to feel curious and community-minded regarding what restaurants are owned by black owners. As my boyfriend pointed out, the link between policy brutality and where you get your takeout is weak at best, but I think there’s something to be said for going to a new neighborhood and supporting the business of someone that doesn’t necessarily look exactly like you. Moreover, the spot I went last week, Zweli’s, did something truly awesome when a local public housing community was evacuated due to carbon monoxide leaks. Moreover moreover, their collard greens and piri piri chicken and plantains were all PHENOMENAL
  • My mom pointed out that at my day job I help people in need and I help with health inequities (don’t believe in racism? Read about health disparities by race. Here’s just one example). I continue to be grateful to talk to my patients every day and play at least a small role in helping things get better.

cheering things

In these difficult times, here are some things that have cheered me:

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I did a Treat Yo Self Friday the first week after Lent ended and went nuts on a hamburger from my beloved Venable. Then I impulse-purchased chocolate mousse for dessert. A delicious, delicious choice.

My friend Lesli loaned me The Hardest Puzzle In The World

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Everything was a crazy shape. There is no traditional border to make an edifice on which to build. And essentially everything is light blue. Whew. I lost years of my life finishing this puzzle. It distracted me from work rather badly.

Oh here’s something terrific:

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The boyf and I got our exercise and sightseeing on at Occoneeche Speedway in Hillsborough which is a fun little destination.

Then we went to my fave Mexican place in Hillsborough, Restaurant Ixtapa, and I had some killer chicken tinga tostadas.

Between the fun outing to a new place and the Mexican food picnic (albeit seated six feet apart) it almost felt like real life!

Another day we took a lake walk and saw one of my all time greatest loves, sunbathing turtles. (Also an unpictured blue heron).

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Another staff meeting, another sassy coloring book page…

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For a few days one week in April I found myself feeling rotten. Was it The C Word? Probably not. I had a similar period in March. I think at a certain point in allergy season my immune system just gets overwhelmed/exhausted/haywire and I have to just go out of commission and take three hour naps at 5pm and it’s all real weird.

I find Chinese soups- specifically, egg drop and hot and sour- to be soothing to the scratchy/sore allergy-afflicted throat. Imagine my delight when I discovered on Doordash that there was a within-delivery-range restaurant near me that provided Chinese AND Indian food!

I got a small hot and sour soup, a large egg drop soup and a vegetarian sampler with dal and saag paneer and it also involved wee dumplings and basmati and naan and the most spicy tomato chutney.

SOOTHED!

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On a walk I saw these kitties, one of whom had gotten a rather embarrassing summer haircut. That beard. I just can’t.

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From reading Hungry Hungry Hippie I learned about iHerb and got her discount code to use. They have one of my favorite things in the land, Tea That Tastes Like Dessert, for v reasonable prices. Also their walnuts were quite a good deal. I got two bags to meet their free delivery minimum and was reminded how much I enjoy walnuts.

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This stuff. OH MY GOODNESS.

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My sweet friend Marina is a superstar home baker and offered to bring me one of her loaves. She gave me the choice between rye or sourdough and I was all “Hi, I’ve never met a bread I didn’t love.”

She brought me the rye, which she makes with a homemade starter. She said she loves a strongly flavored, caraway flecked rye but since she’s baking for her one and four year olds, she has been making a more mildly flavored one.

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IT WAS SO INCREDIBLE. LOOK AT THOSE BEAUTIFUL SPONGY BUBBLES.

I made ambitious plans to do all kinds of elaborate sandwiches and things with this bread but honest to God all I did was eat it toasted with butter. I singlehandedly demolished the loaf in… 3-4 days?

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Bread, Caesar salad, pepper slices and imitation crab dip. Sure.

I got another outdoor visit from a friend. Instead of bringing a loaf of bread she brought… an angel. A gift from heaven.

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LOOK AT THIS SWEET PRECIOUS BOY’S BOW TIE! My friend Emily was watching this newly-adopted pupper for the weekend before he got passed off to his new family.

He is SO SMALL and so new to the world he’s kind of bad at walking. He loves everything, and at one point picked up the shovel above in his mouth and tried to go scampering away with it.

He was so good for snugs.

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Almost as great as the puppy, something else miraculous happened one day..

My friend Shaylen gave me these homemade chocolate poptarts with chocolate filling and chocolate frosting….

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… and she didn’t even know it was the first day of my period!😂

I took a walk on one of my fave trails by my old place, and went a bit further than usual. And I saw this hawk! On the branch just above and to the left of the red bucket. So cool.

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And I went into the most dizzyingly green little section. It felt a bit enchanted. I loved it!

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Finally, lest you worry that my cat is stressing at all due to the pandemic…

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Easter n more eats

The week of Greek Easter, I could not experience the usual lovely church services, quality family time, delightful rituals like dyeing eggs red and having brutal battles of egg tapping until one egg defeats them all.

But I could make Greek salad.

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I could live stream the midnight service. Actually they started the service early this year, which means I was finished before midnight (the sermon as usual was the highlight. Done the same at every Orthodox church in the world and so beautiful and perfect). First time ever I got good sleep for Greek Easter!

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I also connected with the fam near and far via video conference. I screenshotted but since several of us were blinking (#classic) I will not share it here.

Easter morning I woke up and instead of Easter eggs I made a rare takeout purchase (I have really been focusing on cooking at home and, go figure, it’s saving me a lot of money haha) and got a tomato, egg and cheese at Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen. Ridiculously huge. Only ate 2/3 in the first go round.

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Another thing I could do to make this weird quarantined occasion feel more like my favorite holiday: I could make my favorite Greek Easter cookie, koulourakia, and make deliveries to several friends to spread cheer!

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I stopped by several households like a little cookie elf and had nice chats with friends through doors and things.

A definite highlight was when my friend’s three year old licked the sliding glass door😂

My last stop of cookie delivery was my friend Lesli’s, where I planned to share cookies with her in her backyard and maybe gab a little outdoors.

Well imagine my surprise to discover that she’d cooked me an (outdoor, socially distanced) GREEK FEAST!

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I am such a lucky girl! My friends are amazing! She made spanikopita, pita with tzaziki, a really excellent orzo veggie feta salad (it was one of those that when it sat overnight it was even more delicious on day 2, and she was nice enough to give me leftovers!), and KEFTEDES! Keftedes are Greek meatballs my grandma used to make all the time but I haven’t had in years. Hers were extra herb-y and garlicky and so freaking amazing.

Other foods..

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The randomness award goes to:

  • Spicy greens salad blend from the farmer’s market with goat cheese and homemade vinaigrette
  • deviled eggs
  • leftover polenta

An exciting creation:

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Warm chickpea bowls with lemon yogurt sauce and fennel salad

I would’ve come up with the roasted chickpeas and cauliflower, maybe, but the combo of warm, spicy chickpeas and cauliflower with cool lemony yogurt and crunchy herbaceous fennel was quite special indeed.

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This mushroom pizza was not especially special but was quite good. Trader Joe’s herb crust.

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A clean-out-the-fridge frittata:

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  • eggs (duh)
  • smoked turkey
  • mushroom
  • green onion
  • cheese of some kind
  • think that’s it?

Workday lunch:

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Avocado toast ‘n baked beans.

Another workday lunch:

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Tuna melt on toast with roasted cauliflower with kalamata vinaigrette that I made with the leftover cauliflower from the bowls.

Batch cooking…

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Tomato, goat cheese caramelized onion quiche made with the basic quiche proportions I learned from Mark Bittman (6 eggs to 2 c milk; or 5 eggs to 1 2/3 c milk if using a smaller pie plate that isn’t deep dish, as I usually do)

Muffins:

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I use this vegan muffin recipe all the time when I have milk/almond milk/etc to use up. Just substitute whatever fruit and/or nut I have for the mixins. This particular time it was bananas and walnuts.

Another unphotogenic work lunch:

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Aforementioned muffin, salad kit from Trader Joe’s, more baked beans.

Another work lunch haha:

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Baked sweet potato, 1/2 a tiny tiny avocado, some baked tofu with a tahini marinade atop (I tend to save random little leftover salad dressing bits from salad kits and use them to marinate tofu, pro tip).

As was the case with many of my work lunches, this didn’t fill me up (and/or, in all honesty, I didn’t feel like going back to work yet and wanted to continue eating) so I also had some trail mix.

A rare pic from the breakfast category:

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I’ve been making overnight oats with kefir and HECK it’s good. Roughly 1/3 c oats mixed with 1 c plain kefir overnight, then add whatever toppings in the morning. Nice and creamy and filling.

Another pizza night:

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1/2 with salsa, avocado, tomatoes and cheddar. The other 1/2 with mushrooms and goat cheese.

And finally, a most virtuous lunch:

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I was CRAVING KALE SALAD, can you imagine such a thing?! So I made a quick vinaigrette with maple syrup, dijon, olive oil and apple cider vinegar, then massaged that into some kale, then added some apple slices and cheddar. Plus more apple slices with (*swoon*) the first of a new container of almond butter on top.

cooking and entertaining

Worry not, I am not chronicling my violation of my state and local stay at home orders in this post… I am simply posting things I cooked in February/early March😬

First, some Thai noodles…

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This recipe from Cooking Lightboasted a MUCH higher veggie content than your typical noodle dish. Shiitake mushrooms and baby bok choy are a deeply inspired combination.

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The finished dish was good… which is good cause I ate it for several days haha.

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One evening I had the boyf over (again, pre quarantine). He is off the sauce and is thus experimenting with various non alcoholic beverages such as this hops seltzer. I don’t get it even a little bit (beer, blecch. Hoppy beer, extra bitter blecch). But he liked it.

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I cooked us homemade pizzas, a salad, and my all time favorite steamed artichokes. Plus we made spritzers with unsweetened cranberry juice and fizzy water, v refreshing. And then N brought some kind of ridiculous rocky road brownie we split for dessert.

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Another meal I cooked for him- salmon with some kind of herb/panko topping (not too exciting and I also cant find the recipe I used), roasted potatoes, and salad with arugula, goat cheese and strawberries. V springtimey meal!

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I took this picture to demonstrate to my patients that I do often honest-to-God use MyPlate to plan my meals, so it is honest-to-God is a useful tool!

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V colorful and good and healthy. Mm.

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I combined those leftover potatoes with fried eggs, arugula, and Trader Joe’s pepita salsa. V ugly, v delicious!

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The boy cooked for me and holy cow he went a little nuts.

He made us turkey burgers that contained feta, lots of herbs, onion, etc… and then on the side had All The Toppings In The World… and CURLY FRIES AAAGH! This was a fabulous meal.

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A few yummy things I made by myself…

Braised Belgian endive. This was a signature dish of my grandma’s and every time I make it I think of her! Mine is never as delicious.

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“Fish tacos” the lazy way- tortillas with Trader Joe’s frozen mahi mahi burger sauteed in a bit of oil, plus avocado and pepita salsa. And a random salad kit.

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More random salad kit plus something yummy I threw together involving Israeli couscous…

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I love Israeli couscous but it’s basically impossible to find a whole grain version so I find you can up the health factor and lower the simple carbs by mixing it with cauliflower rice, which is a similar shape and texture. Plus tons of fresh herbs, plus goat cheese. This was actually really good, and I veeeeeery rarely am inclined to say such a thing about cauliflower rice based dishes.

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Another day I made bread and soup. The bread was Cooking Light’s brown soda bread, an old favorite. The soup involved canned fire roasted tomatoes, canned kidney beans, chopped butternut squash, homemade veggie broth, and lots of smoked paprika and rosemary plus some onion and garlic. So so good.

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And finally, the last meal I hosted before quarantine! Brunch with my friend Lesli!

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I made tempeh bacon, scrambled eggs, and hazelnut and date scones, plus coffee and a fruit bowl. My friend Lesli brought fruit salad with fresh mint (! swoon!) and a yogurt topping.

Such a great meal. Someday I will get to make yummy collaborative meals with pals again.

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pre-quarantine life

Looking at these pics I took throughout February and early March is just wild…

On an especially lovely and temperate day, I got after work drinks and snacks with a work friend! Remember sitting outside on patios with sangria and guac?!

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I went to a friend’s child’s birthday party! Remember birthday parties?!

Also, can we get over the delight of a six-year-old requesting a demagorgon birthday cake? 😂 To be clear this family is not screening wildly inappropriate TV for young children… apparently Stranger Things is just the talk of the first grade class. One of the other kids thought the Demagorgon was a “pretty flower.” SO CUTE.

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I really REALLY miss doing coffee shop work dates with a pal. So much easier to slog through spreadsheets with company and the occasional gabbing interlude. Also, can we talk about Cup A Joe having a Star Wars themed special menu?!

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More coffee shops! I miss coffee shops! (Though I confess quarantine life has made me realize how much of my discretionary income goes to coffee and baked goods and generous tipping at such establishments… it’s… a lot.)

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BRUNCH! Being a basic white girl, of course I miss brunch. I took the boyf to my fave place, Monuts. He got the biscuits n gravy. I got the Turkish Eggs, with creamy yogurt and spicy zhoug sauce and dreamy foccacia… ugh they are just incredible!

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MY GODDAUGHTER! Holy heck I miss visiting with my cousin’s family. My cousin in her cute dangly earrings. This squishy wee one year old…

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Let’s take a moment to admire this incredible first birthday cake.

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Don’t worry, there were also cupcakes and macarons in abundance.

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Please note the unicorn motif.

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Chase, my cousin’s three-year-old, is very passionate about the color pink right now and picked out a great unicorn sweater to wear to his little sister’s party. Since all children’s birthday parties have to be Impossibly Loud, every child got a noisemaker and they all went nuts. Here Chase is being deeply adorable with his grandfather.

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Another thing I miss… dinner dates with the gals! First sushi…

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… then what has become mandatory post-sushi dessert at Dulce.

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I got an alfajor (my new passion- dulce de leche filling, mm), and a passion fruit macaron (there are not enough passion fruit flavored things!)

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Remember Fun Weekend Adventures?! I and various friends of mine make an annual pilgrimage to Celebrity Dairy for Open Barn, their event in which they invite the public in to see their baby goats (!!!)

I love seeing goats and alpacas hanging out companionably

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And snuggling with playful baby goats!

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And watching them snuggle each other!

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This was my last sit down restaurant meal til God knows when. I met up with my friend Shaylen at B side and we went ham on cocktails and appetizers.

Shishito peppers with smoky yogurt sauce (yesssss)

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And bread and veggies with dreamy cheese fondue.

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I took these last few pictures as spring was just beginning. I thought, “Gee, it’s so nice being outside again!” Well it’s a good thing I like it, since it’s basically the only place I’ve been able to visit since then haha.

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things that have helped me through quarantine life

  1. Leslie Jordan’s Instagram
  2. Daily exercise- a combination of outdoor walks (alone or with others six feet away from me), yoga (Down Dog app is free for students and health care workers right now; other good options include Yoga with Adriene on Youtube), and cardio/strengthy things (Daily Burn is currently free for a month, or I like some Fit Sugar stuff on Youtube).
    Scenes from NC trail walks…
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  3. Some Good News
  4. Having a well stocked fridge and cooking and eating what I feel like in the moment, even if it’s just whole wheat double chocolate banana muffins rather than something more balanced haha. I’ve definitely been baking more, since there is something deeply comforting about the smell of baking bread permeating through your home.
    I’m reducing my grocery shopping trips to once every ~1.5 weeks, which is pretty remarkable since I’m usually more of a 3-5 days a week girl haha.
    Here I am looking like a huge dork in my homemade face mask (made following the CDC directions). Muchas gracias to my mom who sent me a proper one.
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  5. Regular happy hour dates with my best gal pals. (Pro tip: Facebook Messenger has been most reliable for us. I’ve found Facetime is inconsistent in group chats- you aren’t always able to see everyone. House Party is a fun app if you want to play games with people- they have pictionary and trivia and off-brand Apples to Apples).
  6. Regular Facetime dates with the boyf. He made homemade from-scratch Caesar salad dressing whilst Facetiming me and it was really freaking cute. Like being at afancy restaurant where your fancy salad is made tableside.
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    Another time he and I did Facetime yoga together. We are (lovable, I hope) dorks!
  7. Loving on my kitty. She seems to’ve had some allergy issues and as a result was compulsively scratching behind her ear. As a result, I looked aorund the house to see what I might have that would help, and started rubbing her ears with coconut oil. Well, she LOVES it, both the massage and the coconut oil residue left behind that she licks off. What a weirdo. Here she is eating my bedroom curtain.
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  8. Other animal sightings
    First, an owl that visited in my backyard for like twenty minutes one afternoon!
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    Next, a baby bunny I saw on a walk that was seriously a perfect sphere. So fluffy and sweet.
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    I am trying not to think about the whole circle of life and how for my owl friend to live, cute fluffy things have to die. Oy
  9. Baked goods exchanges! Next weekend being Greek Orthodox Easter, and me being away from my family for literally the first time in my life on that wonderful holiday (*sob*), I’ve already planned to make a batch of my favorite Easter cookies, koulourakia, and make no-contact deliveries of them to my loved ones.
    This has been inspired by the lovely exchange I’ve had going with my friends Kyle and Shaylen, who live near me and who’ve been inviting me along on cute walks with their cute dogs.
    First I gave them thai noodles and they gave me orange cakes. Then I gave them oat scones and they gave me coffee cake. I keep getting cake! Lucky me!
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  10. Finally, if anyone important in your life has a birthday or special event coming up, and you want to do something special for them, heads up… People LOVE having a project to work on right now! They are trapped in their homes and are seeking connection to those they care about! And creative outlets!
    With that in mind, I recruited a number of family friends and relatives to make a truly epic birthday tribute to my mom. I won’t mention how old she turned on April 8th but frankly you will be able to tell from the song choice. Have a watch, and enjoy.

A few more food scenes from quarantine life…

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Lunch involved yogurt, homemade no-knead bread, and arugula salad (farmer’s market arugula; ours is still running and they’ve put in lots of smart social distancing precautions) with cheese and homemade vinaigrette.

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Chocolate craving satisfied with ramekin chocolate fudge cake. I halved the two-person recipe (lol) and it was quite rich and formidable so still lasted me two servings.

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Lazy fish tacos- Southwest salad kit plus corn tortillas with Trader Joe’s frozen fish sticks (haha!) and pepita salsa.

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Lazy huevos rancheros… corn tortillas with eggs fried on top, pepita salsa, avocado, cheese.

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Two toasts, one with smoked herring (Lola got the leftover oil from that can and she was stoked!) and one with avocado. Grapefruit on the side.

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So perfect I had the same thing the next day, except with a side salad (bitter greens from the farmer’s market) instead of the grapefruit. Note both days I probably noshed afterwards on something like trail mix, as is my habit.

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In gourmet-er ventures, roasted tomatoes on yogurt from Ottolenghi Simple, with homemade bread on the side.

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Shrimp, avocado, and grapefruit salad (used green onion instead of shallot and dill instead of tarragon)

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Another from Ottolenghi simple, pasta with chickpeas and zaatar. YES!

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