workweek

Hiya strangers!

Here are some workday eats I’ve been having:

  • Homemade frittata with spinach and onions
  • Cooking Light recipe for buttermilk biscuit (as discussed before, you can’t compare them to real unhealthy biscuits but if you compare them to normal dead they’re pretty good)
  • Homemade cafe au lait

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Homemade lasagna! Made on a gloomy rainy day.

Preboiled whole wheat lasagna noodles, dumped on Trader Joe’s tomato sauce, made “ricotta” from cottage cheese, tofu, egg, parmesan, various dried Italian-ish herbs… probably more but I forget.

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Lots of sauteed spinach, mushrooms, and garlic, then repeated the layers…

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Til it was tall. Then more tomato sauce and lots of mozzarella on top. Then green salad on the side because lasagna and salad is such a classic meal.

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Then I went “Oh dear God what have I done I have an 11 by 15 pan of lasagna and I live alone.”

Fortunately, Colton and his sisters were randomly in town so they came over and I fed them lasagna and we made fun of Colton and all was well.

THIS! WAS A REALLY GOOD SALAD!

Arugula, grapefruit, avocado, walnuts, and homemade dressing made of lots of grapefruit drippings, tiny bit of honey, dijon mustard, bit of olive oil, salt and pepper

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With leftover cottage cheese from making the lasagna. What a spa meal.

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I made this salad from the new Moosewood cookbook that I got for Christmas that involved quinoa, dried apricots, celery, olives, fresh herbs, dressing… pretty good. Ate it for a few days.

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Breakfast for dinner is so reliably great. I think I’d just gone rather hard at the gym so I was starving? Frozen/thawed pancakes (I alternate between Trader Joe’s excellent seasonal pumpkin spice pancake mix and Kodiak cakes protein pancake mix) topped with peanut butter and jelly, and an arugula salad with fried eggs and balsamic reduction on top.

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Bread! I made the New York Times no knead bread, using 50% whole wheat.

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Had it with homemade broccoli cheese soup (livened up a bit with lots of paprika on top) and some strawbs.

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Had it with homemade mussels- OMG THIS RECIPE. The smell in your house. Do it. You will be so happy.

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Then more arugula+fried egg+balsamic reduction, with the homemade bread and avocado smashed on top. My default meals are basically eggs+ something green and avocado toast. And apparently for this meal I combined those things!

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Then of course I continue to go out to eat too much. Thank God I hardly ever go to bars so that at least somewhat helps. This was really lovely curried butternut soup and focaccia from Mad Hatter.

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This was the TREMENDOUSLY delicious “Turkish Eggs” from Monuts. I will quote their menu’s description: “lemon-garlic yogurt, green zhug (parsley and cilantro hot sauce), Aleppo pepper chili oil, two farm eggs, side of za’atar toast.” IF YOU GET A CHANCE, FRIENDS, GET IN ON THIS. Their menu changes a lot so I don’t know how long it’ll be there but fortunately there is always something new and absolutely wonderful on their menu.

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It was Pi Day and Registered Dietitian Day (March 14th!) so I got this fruit tart at Guglhupf. It was large. I felt a bit stuffed and packed full of sugar and saturated fat afterwards. But we have to celebrate these things.

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Another night I got wine and apps with my friend Shaylen. I did not photograph the food because… Shaylen brought Bu. Bu is her and Kyle’s new dog. Bu is a PRECIOUS ANGEL.

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She doesn’t particularly care for sitting around outside patios so she kept wandering into the bushes. At one point Shay went and sat with her in a motherly way I MEAN CAN YOU EVEN WITH THIS PICTURE?!

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More updates soon probably maybe hopefully. Lots of transitions in my life right now! Lots to share.

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celebrations

I have had quite a fun series of celebrations over the past few months.

First, it was Chinese New Year! Ish. So I went on a dumpling date with my friend Leesie.

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We initially got to be friends by having the weirdly uncommon thing in common of both having Taiwanese stepmothers and having spent time in Taiwan (Leesie actually lived there and taught English, I just visited for a bit).

Okay, above are veggie dumplings.

Then scallion cakes (YUM)

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Shrimp dumplings

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Soup dumplings (with broth sealed inside, OMGSOGOOD)

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Annnnd a TOWER of cold sesame noodles. We doused these with a sesame seed hot pepper oil that was on the side. Yum!

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Another celebration! One of my best kiddo friends turned four! Her grandma decorated these UH-MAZING cakes for her. She took a cake decorating class when her kiddos were young which is such a deeply cool thing for a parent to do.

Parents may recognize these television characters portrayed on the cakes? I do not.

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A birthday gathering for a bigger human… my friend Shaylen turned 30! We had a lil potluck (her birthday is the day after Valentine’s day… thus the cute plates 😀 )

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As you’ll see above, dips and cheese and carbs were well represented.

Shay made these little sweet potato stacks with craisins and goat cheese and nuts- SO good.

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My contribution was birthday cake (note that is a comical novelty sized huge wine bottle next to it. Use the chair for contextual clues about the size of everything.)

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When I asked Shay what she looked for in a cake she said moist and chocolatey. Which quickly led me to this Smitten Kitchen recipe. Yes, another friend’s birthday, another Smitten Kitchen cake. That blog has never steered me wrong- her recipes are reliably delicious and error proof.

This cake was essentially intense, dense, moist chocolate crumbs barely held together as if by magic. Plus marshmallow frosting. AGH SO GOOD.

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Another thing to celebrate… my dear friend Myra is currently gestating a sweet little girl! We held a baby shower for her and her hus Alex. I offered to take some pictures of them in the ADORABLE Air BnB her friend Whit rented for the party, to remember this time in their lives. Obvi, Myra is a super cute pregnant person!

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Also, renting an Air BnB for a party is a seriously brilliant idea if you have a small home. Whit rented this spot and it had a gorgeous porch, fully equipped kitchen for prepping food, a lovely open living area for the party, two bathrooms, etc. One of the bathrooms had a gorgeous clawfoot tub and I did briefly consider just leaving the party for a bit to take a wonderful bath. I resisted.

Foodstuffs!

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So Whit bought some gorgeous cupcakes from some local artisinal whatsit baker. They were amazing. She also made a bean dip.

And then I went NUTS at the cheese counter at Trader Joe’s (what else is new)

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Aren’t those labels so so cute?! They were a Christmas gift from Santa 🙂

The cheese were all pasteurized so the pregnant lady could eat them and they were accessorized with baguette, gluten free crackers, dried apricots, pistachios, and little date-nut bites.

And then I also made these cookies. Mmmm. We had a lot of gluten free options because Tiff, one of the co-hostesses, can’t do the gluten. As you can see, it’s not a real hardship when options like this are available.

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The party involved a silly game, lots of painfully cute baby gifts… and me briefly yet intensely feeling sorry for myself for being the last single person left on Earth and questioning if I am going to live my life alone. Classic. I got over it.

One last shot of the happy couple. Yay babies!

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They thanked me with this absurdly cute thank you note!

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Another thing to celebrate was a randomly very generous tax refund (?!) It’ll never happen again (I overpaid for Obamacare cause I overestimated what my income would be, I paid off a lot of student loan interest, etc.) but it was nice to have a little extra spending $

First (heavily supplemented by some store credit courtesy of my mom at Nordstrom) I got a new hippiefied duvet cover. LOVE IT.

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I also got a new microwave, which I realized was a super good idea because:

  • I got my old one my junior year of college… in 2008
  • I got it from my dad, who had had it for God knows how long
  • Guaranteed my dad got it at a thrift shop (or, seriously, wouldn’t be surprised if he had gotten it on the side of the road. Graham loves him a bargain)
  • Plus it had started being REALLY loud and had a piece that seemed to be sticking out on the side?!

I also got a new stainless steel skillet because Teflon freaks me out and my old pan was starting to peel.

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And I also spent a bit of a refund to go out for an AMAZEBALLS Italian dinner at, I’m saying it, MY FAVORITE RESTAURANT, Gocciolina.

I arranged to meet that dude I sometimes hang out with after work on a Friday night at around 6:30. I got there a bit early to put in my name and they claimed the wait was an hour to an hour and a half… butttt that we could wait at their lounge next door and have a drink and apps. NO PROBLEM, FAM! (Also it was like a half hour wait, tops)

The lounge had the promised drinks, along with housemade potato chips (swoon) and the goofy pasta sculpture you see in the background there.

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For apps we ordered the chickpeas. They were perfectly textured (clearly made from dried, no canned) and came with a wealth of olives, olive oil, tomatoes… and some melty perfect other things. Seriously, they might’ve been my favorite item of the evening (and this is in spite of the fact that EVERYTHING WAS REAL GOOD).

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We also, I think, actually ordered something else with anchovies… but what they brought us were these anchovy wrapped olives. OH HEY SALT YOU ARE GREAT.

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Washed down my tasty apps with some yummy red wine (a montepulciano blend)

So Gocciolina is really designed so you can eat a meal in the Italian fashion… antipasti, pasta, and entree. We didn’t quite do that but we did do two apps, two entrees, and a pasta.

The bloke got a steak, because he was excited to see a fancy grass fed steak on a menu for $15 (smaller portions= smaller prices! This meal wasn’t *cheap*, but it was freaking incredible for what you paid)

He was very very happy with this.

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And I got the North Carolina grunt (guys why did no one tell me there was a fish called grunt?! So silly! It was a white fish, kinda halibut-esque), which came with a lemon butter caper sauce (MY HEART), and black rice.

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And then we split the spicy seafood pasta which was just… just… incredible. Just SO MUCH FLAVOR condensed into that sauce. And perfectly al dente pasta. Ugh. Incredible.

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We were quite satisfied indeed, so no dessert. The bloke got limoncello (BARF- it’s so funny, I’m a sugar addict but hate sweet drinks). I got a decaf espresso.

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What have y’all been celebrating lately?

the work week

Truthfully, the job has been rather… intensely lately. As in I went to bed at 7:30pm last Monday.

The other dietitian in my organization retired at the end of October, and since then I have been doing two jobs… mine and hers. It’s involved driving all over North Carolina (seriously, there was one Monday my driving exceeded 200 miles… to see three or four patients).

Oh, there’s been a lot of sitting in seemingly endless construction traffic too. Oh joy.

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Thank goodness for my indispensable true crime podcasts to keep me amused on my drives.

Despite my griping, though, the rural counties the other dietitian is supposed to cover have been interesting places to visit. I’ve met interesting people, and I’ve had the delight of witnessing various adorable farm animals, including this guy just hanging out in a front yard:

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But I am very, VERY pleased that they have finally hired a new dietitian. Of course, in the short term I am thoroughly wiping myself out training her… but in the long run, it’ll be worth it. Right? Right?!

Anyway, here are some things I’ve been eating during the work week. Hint: lots of big batches of things.

I was jonesing for enchiladas so I combined a lot of recipes to make a big batch. I started with sauteeing lots of onions and zucchini. Once the absurd amount of water in the zucchini had evaporated and they had begun to brown at least a little, I added some green chiles…

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Plus black beans, spinach (thawed from frozen) and light cream cheese.

Then I made some homemade enchilada sauce and started layering corn tortillas plus sauce in the dish.

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Then my veggie filling..

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Repeated the layers a few times, ending with tortillas ‘n sauce, and put a generous amount of cheese on top.

These were GREAT on day one but honestly got progressively less interesting as the week progressed.

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Another big batch of stuff (I gave some away to my friends who are imminently having a baby, and some more to friends who had their fridge bust and had to throw away a bunch of food)- vegan tikka masala! I mostly followed this recipe. Except I didn’t cook it in the slow cooker, used a 16 oz package of tofu, and used a 28 oz can of tomatoes (<< this was too much, use a 16 oz can).

Y’all could definitely make it as written and enjoy it a *lot*. The spice blend is LEGIT.

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Plus I had some basmati, made in my rice cooker, on the side.

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I made a big batch of biscuits from Cooking Light. If one were to compare them to the butter and/or Crisco packed biscuits that are ubiquitous across my state, one would be disappointed. But if one were to compare them to regular bread, one would be pleased. Take that advice accordingly. Also they do freeze nicely. One can pull them out when one is craving a brunchy meal and have them with eggs and an abundance of Trader Joe’s corn salsa.

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This gorgeous container of homemade Indian food was bequeathed to me by my roommate’s friend’s student’s mom (did you catch that?) It came to me very indirectly but God bless this sweet woman because everything on here was amazing and it lasted me a couple meals.

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Sometimes I go to the gym and I go hard and I get home starving and I eat like a six year old. This was such a day- I had frozen meatless buffalo chick’n nuggets and a quesadilla (made with cheese, the aforementioned corn salsa, and some leftover black beans).

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I was really craving Cuban sandwiches. Since I don’t really eat pork, and Cuban bread is (perhaps unsurprisingly) in short supply in Chapel Hill, NC, I bought the following items:

  • baguette
  • havarti cheese
  • Tofurkey “ham”
  • pickles
  • mustard

And turned them into three tasty sandwiches, smushed between pans and griddled in a bit of oil.

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Served with salad (I still rely on salad kits *so much* because I just do not make salads for myself most of the time).

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So that was some home cooking but honestly I do sometimes get meals on the road.

As I’ve mentioned healthyish places to eat are often in short supply in the rural counties I’ve been covering, so one of the best options was Cracker Barrel 😀 Honestly I love that place.

They have some pretty legit steel cut oatmeal with fruit and nuts, and I got a side of scrambled eggs. Plus tea.

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And then when I’m down in Durham I can go to my beloved Monuts! They switch up their menu seasonally and this dish- The Toastest with the Mostest- has been a recent obsession.

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Three toasties with hummus plus additional toppers; one with cucs and spices; one with (mega garlicky!) kale pesto; one with (most delicious!) pickled beets, avocado, and riccota salata. YUM.

Another day I had a nutrition webinar and I was between appointments so I stopped at a Panera to watch it. It was miserable out and their broccoli cheese soup was seriously everything I desired. Plus a half Mediterranean veggie sandwich, and an apple.

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Finally, sometimes I meet up with frens in the evenins to make the work week more pleasant.

Went with that guy I hang out with sometimes to a pho place and tried this noodle bowl- with tofu and a bazillion vegetables. I did not make that much of a dent in it, heh.

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And one Friday night I went with Shay to Radius Pizzeria and we split my favorite little salad there (with goat cheese, peanuts, craisins, and roasted sweet potatoes, plus champagne vinaigrette) and build your own pizzas (mind had onion jam, wild mushrooms, oven roasted tomatoes, goat cheese, and arugula- YUM!)

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What has everyone else been eating during the work week?

Super Bowl snax/homemade gumbo

It was Super Bowl Sunday. A native Louisianan taught me how to make gumbo. Observe:

Celery:

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Green onion (this was surprising to me- I thought the “trinity” for gumbo involved white or yellow onion, not green)

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Plus bell pepper (1 red, chopped) which completes the “trinity” of traditional New Orleans cooking.

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Set that aside.

Oh also some garlic in there.

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Then you get your andouille sausage. Slice it rather thin.

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Then render it (cook it slowly in its own fat) until it looks like so:

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Now we have reached the most time consuming and essential aspect of gumbo preparation: the roux.

At its simplest, roux is an equal mixture of flour and oil (A used coconut oil this particular time. One can use butter but it must be clarified).

As A told me, in Emeril Lagasse’s recipe, the step preceding the step in which one makes the roux is Step Open Up A Beer. Because it’s a lengthy process and you must stir the roux CONTINUOUSLY. At a certain point I was allowed to stir but was first given a tutorial of first doing swishes up and down, then side to side, then around the circumference, so as not to miss any spots.

Note as well that this was done in a giant all cast iron pan. Like a witch’s cauldron. I dug it!

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Lots of time passed between the picture above and the picture below. Lots of stirring. Lots of tiring out one’s arms. It was nice tag teaming it because then we could take bathroom breaks/drink breaks/football watching breaks (lol just kidding I don’t care about football).

Anyway, the roux moved along and darkened and got richer and richer smelling. The goal, according to A, is to get the roux peanut butter colored or even a bit darker.

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Then the vegetables go into the roux and produce THE GREATEST SMELLING THING IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. How does flour+water+vegetables produce something this extraordinary?! It was kind of mind blowing.

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After they’d cooked a bit, in went some broth. Then we nestled some chicken thighs in there to boil.

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And because men have ridiculous kitchen tools, A used his meat claws to shred the chicken. Good grief.
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The shredded chicken went back in, along with the rendered sausage, along with generous amounts of this:

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And then after all that I did not get a picture of the finished dish hahaha. I was sent home with a batch and promptly stuck it in my freezer, where it will surprise and delight me later (gumbo is kind of a Mardi Gras, pre-Lent food so it makes sense to wait til after Easter!)

To be honest, we both had rather small portions that day,  because there was a lot of nibbling on other Super Bowl food whilst waiting for the gumbo to cook (it is not a slow process). A is doing some home brewing and got into that. Also got some random dips at the store.

I made something for which I suddenly developed an intense craving, buffalo chicken dip. Found a random recipe online that wasn’t really good enough to shout out that y’all should make. But still got the job done. Yummy with celery sticks and crackers dipped in.

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And then the day after the Super Bowl, I had an all dip lunch (!) of leftover buffalo chicken dip with celery and leftover baba ghanoush with (so so buttery and crumbly and rich and delicious) Carrs whole wheat crackers.

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As you have no doubt realized, the way I connect with sports is through tasty nibbles. Any recipes I should be making for March Madness? (GO CAROLINA)

basket of sun

My awesome mother got me a Sun Basket gift card for Christmas!

Sun Basket is a meal kit delivery service like Blue Apron/Hello Fresh/etc. but their claim to fame is that they are the hippie version. Organic produce, sustainable seafood, humanely raised meat, cage free eggs, etc. My jam. You can also select from a variety of meal plans- Paleo, gluten-free, “lean and clean”, vegetarian, Mediterranean, etc.- but I didn’t really bother with that. Each week I just picked from the available recipes/kits what sounded most appealing to me.

My feeling about meal kits (which was confirmed to be true in my experience) was not that they save you any money (and I really think the manufacturers should quit trying to make that argument) nor that they particularly save you a lot of time (yeah, you don’t have to go to the grocery store to buy ingredients but the recipes are still rather ornate).

HOWEVER. If you are looking to get some inspiration in the kitchen and to basically have a built-in activity for an evening, meal kits can be fun. Thus far I have gotten a delivery two separate weeks. Each week I got three meals, each meal with two servings.

Meal 1: Seared tuna poke bowl

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Brown rice, seared tuna coated in sesame seeds, seaweed strips, shredded carrots, cucumbers (which you salted and tossed with vinegar for a bit), green onion, etc.

Though I received two servings of this meal (using Sun Basket, you can either sign up for a two-person or four-person plan) I made just the one and saved the other components for later in the week.

Meal two: nice red juicy STEAK!

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You will quickly figure out that I wanted to get a bang for my buck with sun basket so I ordered the most expensive meals I could 😀 That meant lots of seafood and red meat.

I also used my cast iron skillet a LOT more, since most of the recipes advised cooking your proteins on medium high heat, and you really aren’t supposed to get your nonstick skillet (my usual cookware) that hot.

It reminded me that most proteins taste most delicious when you throw ’em in a hot pan and get a good sear on ’em. Just another example of why restaurant food tastes so good. (Also, bearing in mind that because of this restaurants don’t use nonstick pots-> there is going to be a LOT of oil used to cook your food).

I actually had a fella around (still hanging out with A some) so I did various side projects while he seared the steak.

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It ended up perrrrrrrfectly medium rare. It was topped with chimichurri (with some special fancy chilis). On the side was a salad with walnuts, bitter greens, and mandarin oranges with a yummy vinaigrette.

Of note is that this meal is paleo.

Though, uh, I think the red wine on the side isn’t so much lolol.

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Next meal (#3) was REALLY good and special: spicy roasted shrimp with kale and ajo blanco sauce.

Started with just simply sauteeing some greens (sometimes the menu is slightly switched up based on market availability, so I got mustard greens instead of kale) (Note also that a bunch of the mustard greens were not in good shape. I sent Sun Basket a message and they quickly responded, apologized, and gave me a $5 credit. There were still enough mustard greens).

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Then, I tossed together a parsley lemon apple slaw.

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Then I cooked the shrimp: I tossed them with oil and Urfa chili peppers (! I had not known what those were. They had a sort of floral flavor and weren’t too spicy) and tossed them in a hot oven for a quick roast (! Had any of yall ever roasted shrimp? I had not. Interesting technique!)

And I mixed together the sauce: they sent an ajo blanco sauce base (consisting of garlic and almond milk) and I mixed it with the sherry vinegar they also provided.

Here is the finished dish (note that I actually stretched it to feed three people by using my reserved tuna steak from earlier in the week, making extra apple parsley slaw with ingredients I had around the house, and serving pasta on the side. Thus making it very non paleo hahaha).

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Okay but for real this dish was LEGIT.

DANG.

The almondy garlicy sauce on the bottom was SO flavorful and amazing. I never would have thought to combine shrimp, greens, apples, and almond sauce but the flavor combination was something I would’ve been stoked to get at a restaurant. The shrimp were perfectly tender and tasted really fresh. I was just VERY VERY PLEASED, as were my two friends I shared my meal with.

And the apple parsley slaw was so simple and good I then made another batch of it and tossed it with some orange squash. It was another nice flavor combo!

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So then I took a few weeks off. I wanted to stretch out my experience. I wanted to wait for a week where I was STOKED about all the options. Plus, there is a certain amount of labor and drama to making these meals so I wanted a week where I had at least a reasonable amount of time to prepare them.

The problem is you have to confirm by ~6 days prior to your delivery day whether you are not getting the meals, so by the times I got the ones for this particular week, I had come down with a rather miserable cold.

My delivery arrived Tuesday night but I didn’t actually start making things til Thursday lunchtime. The good news is that the ingredients stayed fresh and good til I finished with them Sunday night (and obvi I was strategic and made the thing with the salad greens first!)

Okay SO: Meal#4- tempura shrimp with honey walnut sauce, charred romaine, and broccoli.

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So the portion was HUGE! Lots n lots of big fat juicy shrimp plus fiber rich veggies to fill up your belly. “Tempura” is a bit of a misnomer because shrimp tossed in arrowroot powder (which made this a gluten free dish) and cooked in a small amount of oil don’t taste like shrimp battered and deep fried. Duh. They were still good though (though they got a bit singed  on the outside when cooked at the recommended temp). The sauce was sweet if not particularly remarkable.

The broccoli didn’t have any fatty component to its dressing (just lemon and green onion and things) but was actually really good. Yes, Ileana, you won’t die if you make a vegetable without olive oil or butter.

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Next was Meal #5: a tasty dinner of burger and fries!

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First, in the foreground, a generous pile of oven fries seasoned with Sun Basket’s herb blend that’s an homage to Old Bay.

And then in the background there, there’s a salmon burger… the salmon patty was SO GOOD and well seasoned and cooked to perfect tenderness (for which, of course, I the chef deserve credit but also a tasty recipe). Then that patty was topped with a dreamy remoulade that also involved capers (something I love and should eat more), arugula tossed with a bit of oil, and fresh cucumbers peeled and tossed with lemon and salt and pepper. And it was on a tasty chewy dense whole wheat bun.

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YUM. YUM. YUM. Like yes, it seems rather silly to go through the production of a meal delivery service to literally make a sandwich from bread and a premade patty… and yet all the components were excellent and though I might be capable of making this on my own… I haven’t. I got to borrow the creativity and legwork of this meal delivery service so all I had to do was throw this together in a matter of minutes.

My final meal I’ve cooked (so far) was Meal #6: sesame crusted salmon with carrot orange mint salad.

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This was one of their “lower calorie” options. I liked it! Simple and good. The sesame crust made it feel more glamorous than typical salmon made at home.

And look at this pretty pretty salad! The salad was quite large for two so I definitely had more of the carrot/orange mixture than pictured on my plate above.

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Okay here is my big picture view of Sun Basket (and meal delivery kits in general), listed as pros and cons:

Cons:

  • It’s stupid expensive. Anyone who says that using one of these services saves you money is talking total nonsense. I mean, unless you routinely go out for meals that exceed $10 every night. And if you are, lucky you, you don’t have to worry about money.
    The way, hilariously, you save money is by recruiting your friends (it saves them money too). If you get a $40 off deal for your first time trying the service (which I gave my friends and in turn got for myself- you have a chance at the bottom, too) it comes out to $5 a meal and is much more reasonable… but that’s only your first time. Unless you go on to recruit other people, which continues to save you money.
  • The packaging is wasteful. Duh. Though at least they have some useful containers (see below)
  • You have to know if you’re going to have time/energy to prepare a bunch of fancy food and which foods you’d like to eat a week in advance. This was a bummer the week I got sick.
  • The recipes are rather time consuming for a weeknight. And require a certain amount of brain power which I can’t necessarily muster every time I’ve done three patient home visits in a row.
  • The meals are rather high in calories. I blessedly have become a rather intuitive in recent years so if I eat a higher calorie dinner I kind of shrug and figure that I’m less inclined to snack later in the day. It’s also the kind of meal one eats more mindfully so that’s a net benefit for intuitive eating/satiety/etc. But, some of the meals are up in the range of like 700-800 calories which I know is a lot for some folks. As noted below, the portions are generous and you could definitely feel satisfied on less than one serving as defined by them (and lots of these would’ve made for tasty leftovers).

Pros:

  • By and large, the recipes are REALLY GOOD. I enjoyed all of my meals and some of them had particularly excellent components- the salmon burger and the roasted shrimp (THAT GARLIC SAUCE!) were probably my favorites. And there are some surprisingly chef-y touches. New and interesting spices. Etc.
  • The recipes are also chef-y. They remind me to actually make the effort to use my good heat conducting cast iron skillet. Yes, it takes a little longer to cook than my nonstick pan but it gets a beautiful sear on my proteins.
  • It’s built in entertainment. If you like to cook, it’s an activity for the evening that’s fun and creative and pleasing to multiple senses. It’s also a nice way to treat a friend/date/whoever to a nice dinner without having to go to a fancy restaurant (and okay fine only in this case it might be more economical).
  • It’s a nice way to shake up your cooking style. If you find yourself buying the same things over and over, this introduces something new. If you find yourself making the same meal pattern over and over, it can help with that.
    For me personally, it was a good reminder that, really and truly, I don’t need to have some enormous serving of starch with every meal. Like, yes, I can be satisfied without half a pound of pasta or whatever. Yes, a protein and fiber-rich vegetables will fill up my belly and give me sustained energy. Riveting, I know.
    Yes, I am a registered dietitian, ay yi yi.
  • The portions are generous. I gave one of my coupon codes to a friend from work and she said her hus usually complained about the portion sizes with some of the other meal kit delivery companies and she said they were both happier with the Sun Basket portions.
    There were moments where I was like, “Holy *** there is more shrimp on my plate than I need!” I think it’s a safe bet that many of us have not often had that experience.
  • It is nice getting the EXACT RIGHT AMOUNT of food to make a recipe. As someone who’s by and large cooking for one, it can be sort of anxiety-producing to have an entire heart of celery, or an entire 1/2 gallon of milk, or other such large quantities of perishable things. I don’t hate that when you get the fixins for these meals you don’t have extra things languishing in your fridge for which you feel responsible/guilty.
  • The plethora of containers is ridiculous BUT some of them are pretty high quality and have twist on lids and are handy for reusing as salad dressing carriers for work lunches and so on.

Anyway, that’s my experience and I’m curious if other have folks have tried these and have any other points to make about them.

Also, should you desire to try it yourself you can get $40 off your first delivery by going through this link (I get $40 off too for recruiting you, as noted above. Capitalism!)

the end of winter- this n that

Honestly, as I start writing this post, it is February 24th and it is 76 degrees outside. Winter is done in NC. It was real short.

Here are some brief chronicles about what I got into when it was (sort of) real winter.

Hot beverages, OBVI- here’s a nice bit of latte art at Guglhupf.

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Here is the BEST MUG OF ALL TIME in which Kyle and Shay fed me hot chocolate

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And here are snow day pictures! We got ELEVEN INCHES of snow! Nobody could believe it! Because my town is the best, everyone was playing outside. I fortunately have a flexible enough job that it’s NBD for me to work from home (just do lots of phone assessments/education with my patients) and I can also be flexible when I do so (ex take a longer lunch and do a magical snow walk before going back to work and working a bit late).

Look at these adorable woodland creatures (aka Nicole and Alli) who accompanied me!

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I just love the whole demeanor of this snow person (person? Alien?) made by my neighbors.

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Lola was cold and she tucc herself under this shawl and just… I can’t even. I wept it was so cute.

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When the weather is cold I always really feel for dog owners and parents of young children. My cousin is both. Look at these pictures of her kiddo and just try to imagine how it must’ve gone for her and her hus when they were stranded inside…

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He is just kind of a blur. Also for the record that is marker on his face, not blood. Is he supposed to play with markers? Not really. Does he mainly just try to eat them? Absolutely.

I got some GREAT new cookbooks for Christmas! Including The Moosewood Restaurant Table from my aunt and uncle. Maybe some of y’all have the old school Moosewood cookbooks (the restaurant/collective has been in business since the 70s)- well, this one is the new and updated and snazzy.

It has an ENTIRE CHAPTER on GRAIN BOWLS. It is hippie food at its finest.

I had some frens over (entertaining at home is always nice when the weather is miserable)

For the occasion I made African bowls (millet, roasted sweet potatoes, veggies, coconut herb dressing, peanuts) and veggie burgers (shredded sweet potatoes, Indian spices, chickpeas, cashews- THESE WERE EXCEPTIONAL)

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After our eating we played Celebrity, which was fabulous.

Another day I fortified myself with brunch with one of my girlfriends. I got this sweet potato bowl which is so reliably delicious:

  • spicy cornbread fritters
  • sweet potato mash
  • scrambled eggs
  • black beans
  • spicy sauce
  • feta
  • avocado
  • tomaters

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Wintry weather also calls for comfort food cooked for oneself at home.

Sometimes that’s simple stuff like scrambled eggs (with garlic, tomatoes, and soy sauce- so ugly but so good!) and quesadillas

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I made this meal for my sister- chicken sausage, mashed sweet potatoes, and green beans (with garlic and bleu cheese- delicious but stunk up the whole house for >24 hours).

It’s funny because I use the plate method with most of my diabetic patients and this really does a good job approximating it- 1/4 of the plate lean protein, 1/4 of the plate starch, and 1/2 the plate non starchy vegetables!

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Lola entertained our houseguest while I cooked (oh how she loves to smack! It’s funny though because she’s so soft and gentle about it so she’s “fighting” you but it just feels like getting tapped with soft furry paws. She is so precious)

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A final fun cold weather activity…

It began with me, Shay, and Sara piling into a car, intent on taking a serious road trip. Hilariously, despite the fact that Sara and I are both registered dietitians, our mandatory first stop was for greasy and amazing biscuit sandwiches at Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen.

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Then we drove two and a half hours (!) to Lynchburg, VA, to arrive at a room filled with these:

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Because we were going with Shay to buy her WEDDING DRESS!

Facts about wedding dress shopping:

  1. I believe that as someone accompanying a dear friend on a wedding dress shopping trip, my job is to be helpful and compliment the bride-to-be incessantly. I do not understand the nutters on Say Yes to the Dress who have a whole agenda of their own and criticize other people’s wedding dresses. IT’S NOT YOUR DRESS! MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS! YOU ARE THERE TO MAKE YOUR FRIEND FEEL GOOD ABOUT HERSELF AND PROVIDE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT!
  2. All wedding dresses are freaking beautiful. It’s not like going to a normal store where some clothes are nice and some are fugly or poorly made or whatever. All wedding dresses are made of gorgeous fabric and ornately put together and meant to make whoever dons them look beautiful. Plus Shay is a beautiful girl with a committed relationship with Orange Theory Fitness so this was doubly true for her.
  3. If you are within, say, three hours of Church Street Bridal and in search of a wedding dress, it is worth a visit. The shop is actually a nonprofit connected with the YWCA. They have relationships with fancy dress designers and get donations of dresses that have been worn in fashion shows and so on… so, they aren’t 100% new and pristine but they also haven’t actually been worn in a wedding (which to me is key- I don’t want someone’s used wedding dress! What if they got divorced?! What if the bride murdered the groom, or vice versa?! Too much juju!) And for that reason, they are waaaaaaaaaaaaay cheaper than these kind of dresses normally retail for. As in, the dress Shay ended up choosing was $350 when we looked it up and it retailed for $1,000-$2,500.

This is not The Dress, but it’s pretty, no?!

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A final fact: due to the emotional nature of the process, and the bounty available, wedding dress shopping takes… awhile. Wear comfortable clothes. Fuel yourself appropriately!

Okay those were some cold weather adventures. Now that we get into spring/warmth/allergies/etc. I’ll have more to share.

weekday meals

I am super sick and gross (no surprise as being a home visit dietitian amounts to spending all day every day with sick people!) so I am gorging myself on potato chips and popsicles (the only things that make my poor throat feel better) and catching up on blogging. Please excuse any typos or non sequiturs.

Breakfasts: Check out THE NEW ESPRESSO MACHINE MY EXCESSIVELY GENEROUS STEPMOTHER GAVE ME FOR CHRISTMAS!

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Sometimes I just make coffee. Sometimes I make cafe au lait. Sometimes I make cafe au lait with a bit of maple syrup and black pepper (!) or vanilla extract and stevia or almond extract and stevia (that last one was less good because almond extract drips out of its container too fast and flavors a beverage far too strongly. Consider yourself warned).

Sometimes when I feel sorry for myself for working from home and not having good company I remind myself that I can make myself fancy weekday breakfasts sometimes. Toast (fancy bread from Weaver Street Market), scrambled eggs, pear.

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Avocado toast and a hard boiled egg plus Trader Joe’s Everything-but-the-bagel seasoning.

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Lunch:

Sometimes when I’m already in Durham and have an awkward time gap between patients that doesn’t really give me enough time to go to the office (and deal with the parking kerfuffle, lengthy walk to and from the car, etc.) I opt to get lunch at Guglhupf.

This was a lovely persimmon and goat cheese salad.

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With secrete pomegranate seeds!

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Another day I stopped at Weaver Street Market and got a bunch of veggie-y things.

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And sometimes, I’m driving all over rural North Carolina. That is a story called The Other Dietitian Who Covered The Rural Counties Retired. And They Still Haven’t Replaced Her.

Working in the rural areas has been super interesting, but it is QUITE different from Durham- I can’t just pop into some cute coffee shop with wifi. On the rare occasion that I am actually near civilization, it is more often a Burger King or the like.

One day, I found myself starving and baffled over options. I ended up throwing together this hot mess at Food Lion:

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To be fair, dried apricots dipped in peanut butter are underrated and delicious. Note that I did not have a spoon for that yogurt, which was quite an adventure.

Then I camped out in my car in my patient’s driveway, waiting for her to get home. Taking selfies in the meantime.

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Dinners are mostly pretty boring (I could sincerely eat avocado toast- plus sometimes a protein and/or vegetable- three meals a day)…

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(that’s tomato red pepper soup and baked tofu)

However, I’ve had some fun weekday evenings out.

Went to Bartaco for my friend Jessie’s birthday. I got a mushroom taco (boring), shimp po’ boy taco (FAB), tuna tataki taco (fine), and a spicy cauliflower taco (solid!)

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Jessie just got hired to do cool and inventive nutrition things for Google (!!!) on their California campus. I will get to say I knew her when.

Another day I did a roomie date with Alli at our usual sushi spot. We are both creatures of habit and got our usual items- in my case, a bento box with sashimi (salmon and tuna) and a crunch roll. Reliably great.

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Now this, THIS MEAL WAS SPECIAL.

My friend Roxanne is married to a guy named Kareem. I love them, I love their love story, I love their energy. As it happens Kareem is Frawnch and so once they got married there was a certain amount of green card hoop jumping for them to do. Roxanne texted me one day like, “Agh, can you write a letter verifying that you have witnessed our love?!” and I said “Of course!” because they are good ones. I got all verklempt writing about seeing Kareem with Roxanne’s son and watching them learn from each other and build a life together and… *sob*

And then, because Roxanne is ridiculous, she thanked me by taking me to a fabulous weeknight dinner at Lantern.

First we had wine, then we had their famous fried shrimp (omg) and fried dumplings for appetizers.

Then, JUST LOOK at our gorgeous entrees:

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First we have:

CRISPY WHOLE BLACK BASS CHÂ CÁ LA VONG
hot chile, fresh turmeric, dill, fried shallots, roasted peanuts,
spicy heirloom carrot salad, jasmine rice

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Then we have:

LEMONGRASS GRILLED LOCAL PORK CHOP
spicy green papaya salad, roasted peanuts, fried local farm egg, steamed jasmine rice

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We shared both (though as y’all know I’m not a big pork eater… but since there was an absurd amount of food I did just fine. Also the pickled veggies with the pork were REALLY good!)

Good grief everything was amazing. We both had wine, we gabbed about our respective careers… when I met her I was about to be accepted to UNC and she was hard at work on nursing school. Now she’s an RN at Duke and I’m an RD at Duke! So fun to look back at everything that has happened in our journeys!