Batch Recipes · Chicken Recipe · Easy recipe · Fall Food · Life Balance

Do the Hustle

Anyone else do a little dance after reading that title? No? Alrighty then…

I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving filled with friends and/or family and more good food than you could handle!  As the title to this post suggests, we are now officially knee deep in the holiday hustle and it’s all coming at us like a freight train.  Regardless of which holidays you celebrate and whether those holidays are joyful or stressful for you, I think we can all agree that this time of year can be very emotional.  It’s definitely a balancing act with school/work deadlines, social engagements, figuring out where you’ll be celebrating the holidays or planning to host, shopping for the perfect gifts in overcrowded stores, and travel.  There’s also the inevitable family member (or friend) who you would normally dive under a school bus to avoid running into, yet, on the holidays you’re the jerk if you don’t spend an eternity listening to how his or her dogs are doing.  And let’s not forget about all of the food surrounding this time of year.

Over the past few years, I’ve made some changes in my mindset regarding food and they have helped relieve a little of the holiday stress.  So, here are a few tips that have worked for me:

  1. Eat a lot of veggies. Really, this is something I do throughout the year now, but during this time of year there are sweets galore and gatherings that involve eating heavy food, so eating more veggies in between celebrations helps ensure that your body is still getting properly nourished. Bonus: fill up on the good stuff and you won’t want to eat the entire gingerbread house.
  2. Eat in as much as you can.  Clearly, you can’t bail on the company holiday dinner, but maybe you can bring your lunch that day.  Or say no to the holiday soiree your friend’s husband’s sister’s cousin is throwing and stay home instead.  I have to admit, saying no to social functions used to be a hard one for me, but these days I don’t feel guilty for opting out of an event or two if it helps keep me sane.  And having good food at home makes staying in so much more appealing.  Making big batches of a couple of meals on Sunday will help ensure you always have something good to eat at home.
  3. Relax.  You’re going to splurge a little during the holidays.  We all do it and it is not the end of the world, or even the end of your health or diet goals.  The worst thing you can do is beat yourself up every time you indulge.  Actually, even worse is to give up because you think you blew it anyway.  Take a step back and breathe.  One cookie, or one day of eating (ahem, Thanksgiving), or even a week of holiday parties is not going to destroy what you’ve worked for.  Just resume regularly scheduled healthy habits and move forward.  And remember to be present and enjoy time with your loved ones rather than worrying about how many calories you just ordered to, “get in my belly”.  It will all be OK.

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Need a good batch recipe? Make my chicken and dumplings!!!  In this post, I talked about trying to recreate my Grammy’s chicken and dumplings.  I kept the essence of Grammy’s chicken & dumplings, but bulked it up with more veggies and made the dumplings from scratch rather than using a biscuit mix (I didn’t love the ingredients in the mix and the BF and I agreed that it tasted a bit like plastic).  I struggled with getting the perfect fluffy dumpling and we ate a lot of them in the process, but I finally got it right and the result is sooooo good.  This also happens to be a great soul-warming cold weather meal.  It’s easy to make, but does take a bit of time (about 1.5 hours total prep + cooking), so plan ahead. Enjoy!

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Fluffy Chicken & Dumplings
Servings: 8
Serving Nutrition: 258 calories, 13.7 g protein, 5.7 g fat, 38.1 g carbohydrates, 774 mg sodium
Ingredients
Stew
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
4 stalks celery, 1/4 inch slices
1 cup carrots, 1/4 inch slices
1 medium potato, diced small
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup parsley, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp cornstarch (or flour)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Dumplings
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 cup milk (I used 1%)

Directions
1. In large pot over medium heat, sauté onions in olive oil until they begin to soften.
2. Add garlic and cook for about a minute.
3. Add celery, carrots, potato, salt, and pepper and stir to mix.
4. Add chicken breasts, chicken stock, bay leaf, and enough water to cover chicken breasts and bring to a boil.
5. After chicken has boiled for about 20 minutes, reduce heat to a simmer, remove breasts from pot and shred with a fork. Return chicken to pot.
6. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with about 3 tablespoons of hot water and mix until a smooth paste forms. Add cornstarch mixture to pot and mix thoroughly.
7. Let stew simmer for about 20 minutes or until liquid thickens to desired stew consistency.
8. While stew is simmering, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl.
9. Cut softened butter into flour mixture until little beads of dough form consistently throughout mixture.
10. Slowly stir milk into flour mixture a little bit at a time until all dry ingredients are incorporated into dough. It will be a thick dough that will be difficult to stir.
11. Once stew is thickened to desired consistency, lower heat if needed to maintain a low simmer, remove the bay leaf, and stir in parsley and more salt & pepper if needed.
12. Drop 1 tablespoon of dough at a time onto the top of the stew, starting along the edge of the pot and working your way inward.
13. Cover pot and let simmer for 20 minutes.
14. Remove lid and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes.

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Look at how light and airy that dumpling is!
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The stew underneath is delicious too.
Easy recipe · Fall Food · Italian Recipe · Pasta · Running

Big Goals Need Big Bowls…of Pasta

It officially feels like fall now.  Don’t get me wrong, all of the gourds lining the stoops in my neighborhood and the fall breads and Thanksgiving sides filling my Instagram feed have definitely helped, but something was missing.  Over the past couple of weeks, though, the leaves around here have begun to cover the sidewalks in red, orange, yellow, and brown. And the weather now consistently has a little chill to it (rather than dreading the brutal cold that is coming way too soon, I’m choosing to enjoy the beauty of the current conditions while they last).  Oh, and let’s not forget that, for the past five years, fall for me has centered on marathons.  I didn’t run or even begin to train for one this year, but a little over a week ago I did participate in the festivities for one of my favorite days of the year – Marathon Sunday in New York.

The New York City Marathon is one of the most inspirational events I’ve ever been a part of.  You see runners of all shapes, sizes, ages, and levels of ability out there pounding the pavement to reach an incredible goal.  For some, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime achievement to cross that finish line.  For others, it’s a certain time or performance goal.  Regardless of the goal, that 26.2 miles is an emotionally and physically draining journey that never gets easy, no matter how many times you take it on.  Huge congrats to everyone who ran a marathon this fall!  As a spectator, you can’t help but get excited for these people chasing a dream, and sometimes it will motivate you to chase down your own dream, whether that be a marathon or not.  As a runner, the crowd support is unbelievably energizing and is sometimes the only factor that keeps you from sitting down and crying.  Everybody wins.

While the marathon itself is an incredible event for runners and spectators alike, I realized on Marathon Sunday that I prefer to be one of the runners.  There are several reasons to hate running marathons, including the pain and the time commitment.  I only need one reason to love it, though, and that is what will motivate me to run another one – training with friends.  For me, running is a social sport.  The friends are what keep me accountable and make me want to show up and put in the work.  There’s something about the long process and the grueling hours of training that helps to build amazing friendships.  So, after last Sunday I decided to enter the lottery for the 2019 NYC Marathon.  Maybe I’ll get in, maybe I won’t.  I’m excited to see what happens either way.

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Prepped & ready to cook!

Thinking about training for another marathon got me thinking about another of my favorite things – eating…a lot.  While technically not considered “carbo loading”, which requires 2-3 days of eating high carbohydrate meals and isn’t achieved in just one dinner, during training I used the weekly long runs as an excuse to eat a big quantity of pasta the night before.  Due to my sensitive digestive system, I found a pasta that worked for me and ate the same thing every single week.  I used to order my pasta from a nearby restaurant for delivery, but then I moved to Brooklyn and started studying nutrition, so I recreated it my way.  To make this dish a little healthier, I added tomatoes and used chicken sausage instead of beef or pork, but it definitely fills the void of my weekly Gottino’s take-out.  It’s also really easy to make.  Bonus!

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Note: I couldn’t find broccoli rabe at my store the last time I made this, so I used baby broccoli instead and it was also delicious.

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Orecchiette with Sausage & Broccoli Rabe
Servings: 6
Serving Nutrition: 382 calories, 15.4 g protein, 13.7 g fat, 4.1 g fiber, 49 g carbohydrates
Ingredients
1 12oz package orecchiette
2 links pre-cooked sweet or hot Italian chicken sausage, casing removed & meat finely chopped
1/2 medium onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
8 oz broccoli rabe, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Directions
1. Boil pasta according to package instructions until al dente, then drain and reserve about a cup of the pasta water.
2. In large skillet, add 1 Tbsp olive oil and onions and sauté until onions begin to soften.
3. Add garlic and continue to cook about a minute.
4. Add thick stalks of broccoli rabe and cook about 3 minutes, then add tomatoes and thin stalks of broccoli rabe and cook until tomatoes soften.
5. Add sausage, remaining olive oil, and parmesan and thoroughly mix.
6. Slowly stir in pasta, adding pasta water a little bit at a time as needed to loosen up sauce and allow thorough mixing.
7. Mix in red pepper flakes and add salt & pepper to taste.

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!