Big City Life · Breakfast Recipes · Easy recipe · Mid-Life Career Change

Internships and Burglars and Carrots, Oh My!

There’s been so much excitement around here I can hardly even handle it!

First and foremost, match day was last Sunday.  Match day is the day students who are applying to dietetic internships find out whether or not they got into a program.  A 9-12 month dietetic internship is a requirement for eligibility to sit for the exam to become a registered dietitian.  It is the final step in my career change.  The career change I’ve spent almost 4 years working toward…after quitting my very stable job.  No pressure.  After months of applying and waiting, I finally found out that I got matched and I will officially start my rotations in the Fall semester!  A huge weight has officially been lifted.

Also, a couple of weeks ago, whilst studying, I heard something at my window.  I looked up to see a man dressed in all black with a mask on his face standing on my fire escape trying to open my window.  It was the middle of the day and I assumed he was looking for an empty apartment to rob, so I yelled to let him know I was there.  He moved to the bedroom and tried opening that window, so I commenced freaking out.  I seriously don’t think I’ve ever been so frightened in my life.  Shaking uncontrollably, I called 911 and tried to map out my escape route in the event he managed to break in.  Thankfully, the police got here within about 5 minutes, but it felt like an eternity.  Three plain-clothes officers came to my door and proceeded to tell me that they saw my landlord downstairs and he told them that he had a construction crew waterproofing the building.  As you can imagine, I was at once filled with relief, embarrassment, and a little frustration.  I have to say that I am extremely grateful to the NYPD for their quick response to what I thought was going to be my demise.  I think my heart rate has finally returned to normal, so I can have a good laugh about it now.

And looking ahead, I get to go to Arizona and spend a week with my boyfriend in 10 days!  We’re going to go hiking and cook a lot and he’s going to take me flying.  I absolutely cannot wait!

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So many flowers at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden!

Another pretty exciting event is the onset of spring.  The warm air and green trees and flowers just make me happy.  One of the side effects of the beginning of spring is seeing bunnies and pastel everything everywhere you go, though, which inevitably leads to cravings for carrot cake.  So instead of making a whole big cake for just me, I tried my hand at making my oatmeal taste like carrot cake, and it turned out to be so good that I can’t stop making it.  If you love carrot cake, you must try this.  It’s really easy and quick, too.  The hardest part is shredding the carrots, which can be made easier by throwing them in the food processor.  The recipe below says 2 servings, but these are very large servings so I usually get 3 days of breakfast out of one batch.  That’s enough to curb my craving for, like, a day or so.  Enjoy!

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Carrot Cake Oatmeal
Servings: 2
Serving Nutrition: 432 calories, 17 g protein, 12 g fat, 64 g carbohydrates, 493 mg sodium,  7 g fiber
Ingredients
2 cups milk
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp maple syrup or brown sugar
1 cup shredded carrots (use smallest holes on grater)
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp cream cheese

Directions
1. Heat milk, spices, and syrup over medium-high heat and stir to combine well.
2. Add oats and carrots and bring to boil.
3. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until mixture reaches desired consistency.
4. Mix in vanilla extract, then remove from heat.
5. Swirl in cream cheese and serve. Top with chopped nuts & raisins if desired.

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Different lighting, but same carrots-and-spice flavor…with raisins. Yum!

 

Breakfast Recipes · Cheese, cheese, and more cheese · Easy recipe · Life Balance · Mid-Life Career Change · Travel · Veggies!

Happy Holidays!

I hope you are all surviv…errr…enjoying this holiday season!  I haven’t yet been able to get in the spirit over here with final projects and exams, but I am happy to say that the semester is now officially over and I AM DONE WITH MY DPD CLASSES!!!!!!!!  If you’re getting the impression that I’m really freakin’ excited, you are very perceptive. For those who aren’t familiar with DPD classes, they are the series of courses that are required before you can apply to a dietetic internship and sit for the registered dietitian exam.  This has been 3.5 years in the making and, while it doesn’t mean that I’m done with school and stress, it is a major hurdle in this career-changing journey.  The next step is to apply to dietetic internships in February and continue to take classes for my master’s program.  If all works out and I get matched with an internship program, that will begin in late August and will take 9-12 months to complete.  In summary, I’m not done, but I’m making progress and I’ll take it.

Other big news in Buttercup-land is that my BF is moving away temporarily to complete training for his career, so we are going on a road trip!  While I’m not excited to have to live thousands of miles apart for any amount of time, I am excited to have some good quality time on the road, checking out parts of the country neither of us has ever seen.  If you follow me on Instagram (@eatupbuttercup.blog), I’ll be sure to post some pics along the way.  They will probably include food.  Oh, who am I kidding? They will definitely include food.

But, now that school is out and we’ve mapped our trip, I can focus on getting jolly.  For starters, we put lights on Milo the Moose (the papier mache moose head on our living room wall), and I made Christmas cookies for co-workers. And today at around 4:30 pm, a light bulb went off in my head and I finally realized that Christmas is just a few days away.  Yikes! So this is as good a time as any to talk about holiday eating strategies.  Some people think they have to fast all day until the big dinner.  Admittedly, I have done that in the past (before I began studying nutrition, of course).  You really should eat a good breakfast, and lunch or a snack or two if your holiday meal is on the later side, for at least a couple of reasons.  First, you’re going to be starving by the time dinner rolls around, and you’re likely to eat 5 times as much as you normally would.  While I don’t think a holiday is the time to count calories, nobody wants to eat so much that they are in pain from overeating.  Second, eating at regular intervals is necessary to maintain stable blood sugar, which helps with both weight management and mood.  I don’t know about you, but I get HANGRY, y’all!  You will be eating for the sake of those around you, and they will thank you.

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I made this breakfast strata for Thanksgiving and it was just what we needed to start the day off on the right foot.  Lots of veggies and protein to fuel a full day of festivities.  I assembled it the night before so that the bread had a chance to soak up the egg mixture, then in the morning I threw it in the oven without having to even think about it.  We also had enough left over to eat for lunch and dinner the next day.  And it was delicious.  Win, win!  This would be great for Christmas morning, New Year’s Day hangover breakfast, or hosting weekend brunch.  Enjoy!

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Italian Sausage & Veggie Strata
Servings: 6
Serving Nutrition: 282 calories, 19.7 g protein, 12.9 g fat, 24.7 g carbohydrate
Ingredients
1/2 loaf sourdough bread
1/2 medium red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium jalapeno, minced
2 bell peppers, diced (I used one red and one yellow)
1 cup spinach, roughly chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cooked Sweet Italian chicken sausages, chopped
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 large eggs
1-1/2 cups low fat milk
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Directions
1. Cut or tear bread into 1-inch pieces and place in a 9” square baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
2. Add ingredients 2 through 8 (onion through sausage) plus 1/2 of cheese and stir.
3. Whisk eggs with milk, oregano, salt, and pepper.
4. Pour egg mixture evenly over top of bread mixture.
5. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top.
6. Chill in refrigerator for at least an hour; overnight is preferable.
7. When ready to cook, pre-heat oven to 350°.
8. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a fork poked into the center of the casserole comes out clean.

Big City Life · Breakfast Recipes · Easy recipe · Fall Food · Snacks

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, y’all! I have to admit, Halloween has never really been my favorite holiday. As a child I was deathly afraid of people with painted faces. And no, I’m not just talking about creepy clowns or scary monsters. I’m talking ANY amount of face paint. When I was five and my sister decided she wanted to go as a green goblin, of course I had to follow suit (she was 2 years older, so I wanted to do everything she did). When it came time to get ready for a night of trick-or-treating, we decided that my sister would get her face painted first. I sat down to watch my mom apply the green goop, anxious to see the results and to get my turn. The second my mom swiped one streak of green paint across my sister’s forehead, though, I screamed and ran into my bedroom and didn’t come out for the rest of the night. The lure of candy wasn’t anywhere near strong enough to get me out among the ghouls and goblins.

That wasn’t the only time my fear kept me sidelined from the trick-or-treating festivities. There was also the time I was at my Grammy’s house and my teenaged uncles decided to come home dressed as the band Kiss. You know, the ones with black and white painted faces and one of them breathes fire? Yeah, I was terrified of them. Even just a poster of them kept me from stepping foot in my uncles’ room. I spent that evening with my head buried in my Grammy’s bed pillow.  And then there was the time, at my Grammy’s house again, that my aunt’s boyfriend (later husband) came over dressed as a mummy. He was wrapped in head-to-toe gauze and, while his costume didn’t involve face paint, I guess the fact that I couldn’t see his face sent me screaming to Grammy’s bed again. It probably didn’t help that I was watching Scooby-Doo on TV at the time.

Luckily, that fear eventually went away.  Except for the clowns.  I think I will always be afraid of creepy clowns.

In my 20s and early 30s, Halloween was a big deal amongst my friends, so I made the effort and got involved. After a while, however, the effort it took to come up with and put together a good costume and fight my way through crowded Halloween parties became way more than I was willing to put forth, so I now wear black and call it a day.  I do enjoy seeing the costumes on the kiddos, though. And I might even watch a scary movie tonight. Who says I don’t get into the spirit of the holiday???

You know what I do get into the spirit of, without hesitation? Fall breads. My Instagram feed has been inundated with pumpkin bread, banana bread, butternut squash bread, and multiple other flavors and combinations and it has been making me HUNGRY.  So I decided to try my hand at making a bread out of my favorite fall fruit, apples, and the result was delicious.  It was really easy to make, so I encourage you to try it.  It also goes quite nicely with baked cinnamon apples and vanilla yogurt…just sayin’.

Whole Wheat Apple Spice Bread
Servings: 12
Serving Nutrition: 159 calories, 4.2 g protein, 3.5 g fat, 3.4 g fiber, 29.5 g carbohydrates
Ingredients
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
3 medium apples, diced small or grated (I used McIntosh, but any sweet apple will work)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup honey
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp canola oil

Directions
1. Pre-heat oven to 350°.
2. Mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in one bowl.
3. Mix remaining ingredients in a separate bowl.
4. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until dry ingredients are all mixed in.
5. Pour batter into a non-stick loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray.
6. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick placed in center of loaf comes out clean.
7. Cool, cut, and eat!

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I ate it for breakfast with some vanilla Greek yogurt. I later added some baked cinnamon apples. Yum!
Breakfast Recipes · Easy recipe · Vegetarian

Breakfast, sweet breakfast

When I think of lunch and dinner, my mind automatically conjures up images of savory dishes. But breakfast is special. It can be sweet, savory, or anything in between. I’ll be honest, I generally don’t gravitate toward sweet breakfasts. I’ll choose an omelet over french toast on most days, and I won’t feel like I missed out on anything. That hasn’t always been the case, though. As a child, I remember loving the morning after a family birthday party because we inevitably had leftover birthday cake. I could usually either sneak a piece before my parents woke up or my siblings and I would convince them that it was a perfectly acceptable breakfast. Considering the alternative was usually a sugary cereal like Lucky Charms, it wasn’t really a huge difference, but somehow it felt like we were being allowed to get away with something bad. And now I’m working to become a registered dietitian…my how times have changed!

BBerryCardamomPancakes

Once in a blue moon, I have a craving for something sweet like pancakes.  If that happens on a day that neither my BF nor I have anywhere to be, I will indulge that craving. Of course, I try to make them as healthy as I can, and in my search for something nutritious yet fluffy and delicious, I came up with these little gems. I used whole wheat flour with a little almond flour to lighten them up a bit. A touch of Greek yogurt adds creaminess, and I went light on the butter. And the cardamom adds an unexpected warmth that perfectly compliments the sweet blueberries. Don’t be scared by the photos – I have yet to master the art of the perfect round pancake, but trust me when I say that what they lack in looks they make up for in deliciousness.

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Topped with a little butter, some bananas & blueberries, and maple syrup. Yum!

Blueberry Cardamom Whole Wheat Pancakes
Servings: 4
Serving Nutrition:  345 calories, 12 g protein, 15.3 g fat, 798 mg sodium, 6.4 g fiber, 42.3 g carbohydrates
Ingredients
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 heaping Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
1 1/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 cup blueberries

Directions
1. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom in one bowl.
2. Mix remaining ingredients (except blueberries) in a separate bowl.
3. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until dry ingredients are all mixed in but small lumps remain in batter.
4. Fold blueberries into batter.
5. Heat non-stick skillet over medium heat.
6. Scoop small amounts of batter onto skillet at a time and cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until the edges start to set, flip and cook the other side for a couple of minutes. Both sides should be golden brown.
7. Serve with your choice of toppings and devour!

 

Breakfast Recipes · Cheese, cheese, and more cheese · Running

More Cheese, Please…Or Not

Everyone has their own comfort foods: those go-to meals or snacks that just satiate you in a way no other food can.  It makes you feel warm and comforted…hence the name.  I personally have a lot of comfort foods and almost all of them involve cheese.  I LOVE cheese – all kinds of cheese, but especially the ooey-gooey melty kinds of cheese – and anyone who knows me knows that you don’t come between me and my cheese unless you want to lose a finger.  Any credible nutritionist would tell you to limit your consumption of cheese because, you know, saturated fat.  I usually ignore that and focus more on the valuable nutrients you get from cheese, like calcium, protein and vitamin D.  But, much to my dismay, cheese can sometimes cause issues with my sensitive digestive system.  That doesn’t deter me on a normal day, but when I’m marathon training it can wreak havoc.  During training season I have to learn the word moderation and come up with other ways to satisfy my need for comfort food.
Recently, I’ve started reaching back into my childhood for comfort food that doesn’t involve loads of cheese.  When I was young, my Grammy would make “dropped egg on toast”.  All it entails is a poached egg on top of buttered toast.  So simple yet oh so yummy and satisfying.  To be fair, she’s not the inventor of eggs on toast, but in my opinion she was the best.  I’ve put my own twist on it and use whole wheat English muffins most of the time, or if I’m feeling fancy I’ll mash up avocado on the toast before I put the egg on top and maybe sprinkle red pepper flakes.  I used this handy little tutorial on how to make a good poached egg (http://www.purewow.com/entry_detail/national/11507/The-one-trick-to-poaching-an-egg.htm) and now I just can’t stop putting them on top of everything.  The beauty of a poached egg is that you don’t use any oil or butter, so it’s a really healthy way to cook them.
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Another childhood favorite of mine is chili.  This is also really simple to make and so comforting with or without cheese piled on top.  I just put a dollop of Greek yogurt (in lieu of sour cream…tastes pretty much the same and it’s better for you) and,  if I have one, I’ll add slices of avocado on top.  Which brings me to another point – I find that when I add avocado to soups, salads or sandwiches, I almost don’t even miss the cheese…I know, blasphemy!  There’s just something about the creamy texture that, when added to an already tasty dish, takes care of that craving for me.
Yet another comfort food for me is mashed potatoes.  The problem with mashed potatoes is that they can be loaded with butter, and the way I make them most definitely falls into that category.  One way I get my potato fix without the butter is to take a baked potato and mix in Greek yogurt (this is easily becoming one of my favorite condiments) and some chunky salsa.  This works for sweet potatoes, too.  If I happen to put a sprinkle of cheese on top, it’s not the end of the world.  Moderation, right?
Now, I’m off to eat as much cheese as I can before I’m deep into marathon training.