on the road again

Despite just getting back from a 5 day trip to California on Sunday, we are now in Iowa for another track meet! Luckily, this hotel is much nicer and more centrally located. After yet ANOTHER Subway foot long Veggie Delight last night (of which I have eaten no less than 5 in the past few days), I made it my mission to brave the sidewalk-less bridge that stood between our hotel and the grocery store. I decided to just scout it out while I ran and end my run at the store because I find that it is easier to deal with traffic when running than when walking. It totally ended up being easier than I thought with a wide median I could walk down.

With a little planning, it really isn’t all that hard to eat well on the road. We have a fridge and a microwave in our room, but I think I still could’ve done OK without those as well. First up – pre-cooked rice and quinoa!

These don’t have to be heated or anything and are the perfect base for a healthy meal on the go. I figured I could eat one tonight and then take one to the track tomorrow to have for lunch. You never know when or where the bus might stop, so I have found it’s best to just be prepared or else I end up starving and eating whatever I can find at the first gas station or random restaurant we stop at on the way home :/ This doesn’t just apply to track trips though – these ideas work well for any meal away from home, whether that be a road trip or just a day at work or school.

To go with my grains, I got some black bean soup.

This was only $3.50 and I can definitely get 2 meals out of it (with a little creative storage of leftovers in a coffee cup with lid πŸ™‚ ). There were also “just add hot water” options, but the price per ounce would have been much greater (grocery shopping nerd alert). I also didn’t think I’d be able to get hot water on the bus or at the track if that is where I decided to eat this.

To go with my bean + grain mixes, I also grabbed a jar of salsa and some guacamole, which was cheaper than the pricy, unripe avocados. I always have salsa on hand at home anyway, so it will be an added bonus to have some left.

For another meal, I got this:

I haven’t had this exact one, but their other varieties that I’ve had are awesome. And I figured that, if worse comes to worse, it wouldn’t be terrible if I didn’t get to heat it up first. Room temperature Indian food > random gas station/fast food any day.

For snacking, I grabbed baby carrots, a HUGE box of strawberries ($1.88!!), 2 mangos ($0.68!!), a few bananas, 2 Greek yogurts, and some granola. Oh, and some sparkling water πŸ™‚ There was also a great salad bar, so I grabbed a small salad for lunch today and was so impressed that I managed to not go nuts and end up with a $15 salad. Kept it at just over $4! With some of the homemade bread I brought from home + fruit, it was a great lunch! And much better than yet another $5 foot long from Subway.

Maybe I got some weird looks walking down the median in my running clothes with hands full of groceries, but I definitely saved money and the hassle of trying to find something decent to eat.

In the few days I was actually at home and able to cook my own meals, I came up with a great chickpea + potato curry dish that I’ll share soon! I have some leftovers and I might experiment with the spices a bit more, but I think it turned out pretty good πŸ™‚

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sugar + spice

I had a bit of a baking extravaganza this weekend and it was long overdue! For Christmas this year, I decided to change things up a bit for my gifts. People are already overwhelmed with sweet treats at that time of year and instead of adding to the sugar overload, I decided to give bread with apple butter, pear butter, and pumpkin butter. Learning to can was fun and I liked that people could save the gift until after the month long food coma ended if they wanted to, but I must say I missed my marathon baking sessions and all of their resulting treats! So, this weekend was fun…and not totally without purpose. I do have some wonderful taste-testers for roommates/neighbors/friends, but my roommates in particular don’t always appreciate the temptation of hundreds of baked goods in our kitchen πŸ˜‰ Most of the treats I baked this weekend are being delivered as a thank you to the wonderful people who wrote recommendation letters for my dietetic internship process.

Now, the treats!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cupcakes + Cinnamon Sugared Chip Frosting (!!)

I made these on Saturday and my roommates and I pretty much thought they were the best thing ever. That frosting?! Insane. And I’m not really a huge frosting person. But then I baked again on Sunday.

Simply Sinful Cinnamon Muffins

Yeah. These immediately became the favorite as soon as they came out of the oven. That’s right…muffin > cupcake with outrageous frosting and chocolate.

Red Velvet Brownies + White Chocolate Buttercream

I don’t even know what to say about these brownies except that they are so incredibly delicious. I ALWAYS go for the center pieces of any cake, brownie, casserole, you name it. BUT, these brownies have such amazingly chewy edges and soft centers, I think I’ll be saving all corners for myself πŸ˜‰ Oh, and my baked goods, midwest food-loving, Iowa roommate said this was the best frosting she’s ever eaten. Ever. AND that it was better than Betty Crocker. Boom.

Now, I had to get in a good, balanced dinner before I could dive in to sample all of these treats and a good dinner it was! I thought this up a few weeks ago and I had just the right ingredients that needed to be used up to give it another shot.

Mexican Polenta Pizza!

Mexican Polenta Pizza (serves 1)

  • 1/3 c. cornmeal
  • 2/3 c. water
  • dash salt + pepper
  • 1/2 c. black beans (pinto or kidney would work great too)
  • cumin, chili powder, coriander, smoked paprika, to taste
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 2-3 Tbsp. salsa
  • sliced green onion, frozen corn, bell pepper, feta cheese, etc.
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c. shredded cheese (I used extra sharp white cheddar)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. To prepare polenta, bring water to boil in a saucepan. Once boiling, remove from heat and quickly whisk in cornmeal, salt, and pepper.
  3. Once combined, pour polenta onto a greased cookie sheet (or into a round cake pan if you are making more than 1 serving) and spread into a round pizza shape about 1/2 inch thick.
  4. For a more crisp crust, you can now bake the crust (plain) for 5 minutes or so while you prepare your remaining ingredients. The polenta firms up a bit as it sits as well, so it isn’t entirely necessary to bake the crust before putting ingredients on if you don’t mind a softer crust.
  5. In a small bowl or on your cutting board, mash beans and spices with a fork. I didn’t really measure, but I would start with 1/2 tsp. – 1 tsp. of each and adjust as needed according to taste.
  6. Spread mashed beans onto the crust as your “sauce”, then mash the avocado and spread on top (I forgot it and had to “scatter” it on top of all the other ingredients – it didn’t work too well!)
  7. Spread a few spoonfuls of salsa over avocado, making sure not to use too much or the pizza will get soggy.
  8. Top with green onion, frozen corn, chopped bell pepper…whatever you have on hand! I also had some leftover diced chicken (seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic) that worked great!
  9. Top with shredded cheese and bake 8-12 minute until cheese is melted.

This crust is pretty soft, which I liked, but I did have to remove the pizza from the pan with 2 spatulas (1 from each side). I did forget to pre-bake the crust this time however, so that probably had something to do with it. Either way, I think this pizza is best eaten with a fork. It is SO GOOD though!! It is also super easy and much quicker than waiting for regular pizza dough to rise (although I have found that my go-to pizza dough recipe freezes wonderfully!!)

You know what would have gone great with this pizza? This salad I just found on my camera from a few weeks ago:

It was really just some random things I needed to use up but it turned into easily one of the best salads I’ve made! I tossed some romaine + green leaf lettuce with a little red wine vinegar and cracked black pepper. Then I tossed in some black beans, green onion, avocado, green bell pepper, and (easily my new favorite salad dressing/pizza topping/condiment in general) sun dried tomato pesto. YUM!

stuffed peppers

It is certainly no secret that I love Mexican food. Anything involving beans, avocado, salsa, chili powder, cumin, coriander…I’m there. So, it should be no surprise that I eat some combination of these foods multiple times each week, usually in a bowl with homemade tortilla chips/millet/rice OR in the form of a bean burger. This week, I splurged on some bell peppers and decided to change things up with some stuffed peppers….

….2 nights in a row. I know I’ve mentioned before that I have a strange issue with eating the same thing for dinner 2 nights in a row but I went quite a few days without Mexican flavors when we were traveling last weekend for our track meet AND our former teammate was coming over last night and bringing homemade guacamole. Therefore, stuffedΒ  peppers seemed like a good decision. It also allowed me to do some recipe adjusting so I now have an original and a speedy version of the recipe.

Stuffed Peppers (serves 2)

  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1/4 c. millet
  • 3/4 to 1 c. vegetable stock (or water)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. + 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 c. diced onion
  • 1/4 c. diced bell pepper (I used frozen bell pepper strips)
  • 1/2 c. frozen corn
  • 1/2 tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 can black beans, rinsed + drained
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 avocado, diced
  • handful of feta cheese
  • 1/4 c. shredded cheese (I used extra sharp white cheddar)
  • 1/4 c. salsa
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Start by adding your millet to a dry saucepan over medium-high heat and allow it to toast for a few minutes before adding vegetable stock, 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. coriander, and 1/2 tsp. minced garlic. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, cover, and let cook until liquid is absorbed (about 20-25 minutes).
  3. To prepare the peppers, cut in a circle around the top (about 1/2 to 1 inch away from the stem) and remove the core + seeds. Then, cut each pepper in half vertically.
  4. Heat oil in a skillet over medium, then add garlic + onion. Saute about 3-4 minutes before adding bell pepper and frozen corn. Next, add the tomato, black beans, cumin, and chili powder. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until millet is ready.
  5. Once millet has absorbed all liquid, stir avocado and feta cheese (if using) into the bean mixture, then add it to the millet and stir to combine.
  6. Now, it’s time to fill the pepper halves! You can either place them in a baking dish and then fill them, or fill them before placing them in the dish…whatever seems to be the least messy (I used a fairly small square glass casserole dish to keep the peppers from going all over the place). Once the peppers are filled, add some water to the bottom of the dish and place it in the oven. Bake 30-45 minutes or until peppers are tender. During the last few minutes, add about a tablespoon of salsa to each pepper and sprinkle with cheese.

**I made this using 1 pepper, but there was definitely enough filling for another. Instead of making 2 servings (4 pepper halves), you could also just eat the extra filling while you wait for the peppers to bake (like I did) or save it to make another stuffed pepper later! πŸ™‚

Last night, I wanted a quicker version of the stuffed pepper and I planned on eating some tortilla chips with the homemade guacamole so I didn’t really feel like I needed a grain component in the pepper. To speed it up, I placed the pepper halves in our steamer basket in a pot of boiling water while I prepared the beans. Then, I just put the bean mixture in the steamed pepper halves. No waiting for millet to absorb liquid or peppers to cook through in the oven required. I do think that the peppers might have been a bit more flavorful in the oven baked method, but this was a good alternative if you’re pressed for time.

huevos rancheros remix

Those of you who know me know that I don’t like eggs. Or the smell of people cooking eggs. Or watching people cook eggs. So you can imagine my surprise a few months ago when I was craving eggs.


What the heck.

I was confused. Not to mention a little concerned. Why on earth would I be craving eggs? The situation went a little something like this…

Brain: You want eggs. Not just any eggs….the kind with a runny yolk. Now.

Me: ….are you sure about that? We don’t like eggs, remember??

Brain: Yes. I’m sure. You just need to get yourself some runny eggs as soon as possible.

Weird. To be honest, I thought maybe I was just thirsty. You know, like when you’re craving some yogurt or some fruit or something juicy and then you realize you’re just really thirsty? I thought maybe that was it. Why else on earth would I be craving runny eggs?! So, I drank some water and waited a few weeks.

Just when I had begun to forget about the whole incident, the craving returned. And it wouldn’t go away. Ok, so maybe I really did want to eat eggs. But let me tell you something – when you don’t like eggs, you don’t know how to cook them (or want to cook them for that matter). So, again I put off the craving. Until one night over Christmas break when my mom was making hash browns for dinner and my brain said this would be the perfect runny egg opportunity. A bit sheepishly, I requested a runny egg on my hash browns. My mom looked at me, the egg hater, a bit confused but didn’t judge. She just made me a nice, runny egg and dropped it right on the hash browns. It was wonderful.

That only seemed to make the craving worse. Let me just say that when you don’t know how to cook an egg and you’re just coming off of an approximately 20 year aversion to eggs (I’m told I used to like to eat eggs??), even the slightest difference between the egg you envision in your head and the egg you see in the pan can be a problem. But I think I’ve finally mastered the preparation of the runny egg. It is still a gamble though because the slightest brown, crispy edge or fully cooked egg still grosses me out and then I’ve got a wasted egg. But if you’re going to get me to eat something I don’t like, the best shot you’ve got is putting it in the form of Mexican food.

Huevos rancheros is a Mexican breakfast dish typically involving beans, salsa, queso fresco (a Mexican cheese), and an egg on a corn tortilla – today’s lunch was huevos rancheros remixed, if you will πŸ™‚

Do you know how to make polenta? I bet you do and you didn’t even know it!

To make polenta, you just add cornmeal to boiling water and whisk. It takes less than 5 minutes, making it the perfect base for my huevos rancheros remix. Next came some flavor packed black beans, feta cheese, and…..the runny egg. It turned out great and with each part taking about 5 minutes or less to throw together, it was the perfect meal for me!

Huevos Rancheros Remix

  • 1/2 c. + 2 T. water
  • 1/4 c. cornmeal
  • dash salt + pepper
  • 1/2 15 oz. can black beans
  • 1/2 15 oz. can diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • feta cheese
  1. Combine beans, tomatoes, spices, garlic, and onion in a saucepan and simmer over medium to medium-low heat while you prepare the polenta and egg.
  2. In another saucepan, bring water to boil. Add cornmeal, salt, and pepper, and begin whisking immediately (also removing from heat) until fully incorporated and most of the lumps are gone. Place in your serving dish.
  3. Heat a small pan (sprayed with non-stick spray) over medium heat. Once hot, add egg and cook until white is done, but yolk is still runny. You’ll probably need to flip it about halfway through.
  4. Pour beans over polenta, sprinkle with feta cheese, and add egg on top.

When I made the beans, I added 1 tsp. chili powder instead of 1/2 tsp. and I thought it was on the spicy side and a bit overpowering. I would recommend just starting with a lesser amount, then tasting as you go and adjusting the spices as needed πŸ™‚ The beans were still good although they kind of hid the flavor of the polenta a bit 😦 Still such a good lunch though!!

In other news, if you haven’t been watching, the second season Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution started last week! The first two episodes are up on hulu.com and I would HIGHLY recommend checking them out. It is a great show and it’s important to be informed if we want to bring about change! I’d love to hear your thoughts once you’ve checked it out…I could discuss this stuff all day πŸ™‚

Also, have you checked out my recipe page?? It’s still quite small, but I’ll keep adding to it as I post new recipes!

buried treasure

Looks like the typical Sydney meal right? Maybe….except for what’s hiding underneath those delicious beans!

Roasted sweet potatoes!! Oh man. This might just be my new favorite combo. Usually I make millet or brown rice to go with my Mexican bean creations, but the other day I thought I’d give roasted sweet potato a try. SO glad I did!!

I cubed up the sweet potato and tossed it with olive oil, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, coriander, and salt + pepper. 425 degrees + 20 minutes = soft, delicious pillows of sweet potato goodness πŸ™‚ Then, I added my typical combo of pinto beans, onion, garlic, bell pepper, corn, avocado, and tomato seasoned with cumin, chili powder, and coriander and topped it all off with some salsa and extra sharp white cheddar.

I could probably eat this every day. Probably.