Roll with Punches and Bake Anew

Upon review, I have come to terms with three issues:

  1. Starting this past January, I have a slender budget to work off of. Eating out is limited. #SomewhatBroke
  2. My food allergies have won. I’ve actually been being good and not eating the stuff (for the most part). #LabelReadingQueen
  3. Writing posts more than once every few weeks has become a chore as opposed to the awesome personal outlet I love. #BlogBummer

Facts are only as good as the solutions they inspire, so here is my inspiration for some real change.

One: I’m “hiding” this blog. There are great local businesses and restaurants attached to it and I want to show respect by keeping only the initial association. Local, Arizona business adventures = Eating the Sunshine. Check.

Two: I am continuing my journey to health and attaching it to my personal life. I cannot write with such a tight, restricted subject line anymore. Food allergies changed the game, and I’m adjusting, but with freedom. I realized how much fun I can have and how much more I have to say when I talk about what I feel personally connected to. My money blog is covered with enough posts drafted for February that I have one post for every three days. I cannot wait to type more.

I want that kind of fire for food blogging, so here is the final thing I have to say:

Three: There is a new blog in the makings.

I am focusing on how I embrace food. It opens up doors for conversation on food as medicine, food as tools for cleaning, cultural expressions that may use food, and the occasional recipe. I am not going to record what I eat, where I eat, what YOU need to eat, or how to achieve foodie Nirvana. Far from it. Consider the new blog personal exploration and development. I’m looking for great conversation and bringing up my personal life as food comes up in it.

If that sounds appealing, I will tweet the link soon. I have not been able to start writing yet, but I am excited to draft to my heart’s content for now.

Tough Week Inspiration & Snack Olympics Recap

So much has gone on this week, would you not agree? Between SOPA, PIPA, and ASU getting hacked, the internet has been a crazy place.

Instead of venturing into my growing collection of allergy friendly office lunches, I thought it would be nice to recap the results of the gluten free dairy free snack Olympics and highlight some other strong contenders…

1. Roasted Seaweed (crunchy salty) 2.Bumble Bar (chewy savory) 3. Fruit bar 4. Fruit in a Jar 5. Blueberry Muffin Larabar (chewy sweet) 6. Sunflower seeds (chewy protein filler) 7. Chocolate Chip Cherry Torte (chewy chocolate chip) 8. Baked Snap Peas (chip-crispy veg) 9. Dark Sweet Cherries (chewy sweet)

Bumble Bar is a new addition, but one I luckily discovered. When you lose staple snacks, branching out is no longer an option. It is necessary. Though I thought I would completely hate a sesame-based product, Bumble Bars changed my mind. Cherry Chocolate is my favorite, with the Original flavor a close second. Do try this bar at least once.

The two fruit snacks I added were to jazz up a usual snack. I love bringing in raw fruit, but you can get bored (and unmotivated) with an apple. Instead, bring in a frozen version like frozen grapes or icicle pops made from local fruit. Another idea is to re-use an empty jar and fill it with chopped up favorites. Mix in dried fruits for a texture combo. Just be sure to keep it local and get quality produce on the cheap at your farmer’s market. 😉

There is the recap for you. I am always interested in suggestions though, so twitter me!

Q: Share the top 4 items in your internship or office food stash!

PS- I also thought I might share a really neat idea I found browsing the web. I’ve had free time since the ASU network is still unavailable and I cannot access half of my classwork. (Hooray?)

Washi Tape your keyboard! For anyone with white keys at home or at the office, it is removable, simple, and fun. There is even a local AZ Etsy Store to get cheap deco tape from!

New Year, New Body

Basically, I decided to put some thoughtful practice into writing. I think I need to make some yearly plans for myself, because I realized something… I have opted out of yoga for the past two days.

Not a serious problem, but if I want to make it a consistent habit, I need to have an accountability system. A blog can help with that. I do not know about you, but publishing your plans to the entire world is a little motivating. Yoga? Meet motivation.

There are some other things on my mind for this semester besides yoga. Here are my other healthy goals for the spring…

1. Write posts and queue them. No more feast and famine style blogging.

2. Read more books.

3. Give more. There’s more to life than me.

4. Sweeten friendships. Global relationships need this.

5. Practice yoga and choose to sleep.

I find that keeping healthy wishes simple makes them easier to accomplish, and motivates me to fulfill them to an even greater degree. I also believe health is strongly connected to your entire lifestyle, not just nutrition or your workout regimen. My healthy goals fulfill personal needs, which then enable me to stay strong in the other areas of health.

Q: How about you? Do you have any healthy plans or fun things on your Spring agenda? I am forming plans for an adventuresome Spring Break! Trips to visit friends all around the United States, hopefully. 🙂

Gracious, the Season!

Hold. the. phone. What has happened to the winter season? I feel invaded by the world of commercial living! Since when do you begin posing Christmas materials before the end of Halloween? Since when do you post frosted cookie recipes before the start of Thanksgiving? I love the decor, the frosted cookies, the whole nine yards. I really, really do.

This year just feels so different. I almost feel pushed shoved into one of my favorite experiences. The Christmas season. For others, the Diwali or Chanukah or general giving season. Does anyone else feel this way too? It is rushed. Impersonal, even. I almost want to sit back and just soak up the outdoors for a few moments and forget certain holiday activities. Present as opposed to pressed in the world around me. Winter months are a wonderful time for remembrance, thankfulness, and overall generosity. I want to experience those things with the people I love.

A kind of grounding method for me is sipping hot liquids. It unwinds the mind. To me, this acts against the go-go-go push I keep feeling, and replaces it with a comforting ahhh moment. Of course, my preferred drinks are in harmony with the season. Fabulous for one or a multitude!

Hot apple cider is my current favorite and great for those with any food allergies. It’s easy to make at home, and hits the sweet and spicy notes just right. And did I mention it provides great nutrition? Perfect!

For any college students out there, the thing you simply must have is RAW, unfiltered apple juice. Not Motts, Juicy Juice, or any other brand. You want the real stuff from a local source because it makes or breaks any recipe you use. Adults (haha, with real jobs) can buy the cinnamon sticks and actual cloves. To save a few bucks, spend it all on the raw apple juice you’ll need and then dash the pot (filled with however many servings – I base mine on my mug by pouring from it) with a serious amount of ground cinnamon, a little ground cloves, and boil it for a minute or so. If you like, add a few orange slices too. Those are generally cheap to get. I think you’ll love it.

Now, for those with real jobs, you too need to make sure you buy literal raw apple juice to use. It should have murky stuff swirling around the bottom of the container. It makes the difference, I swear. If you can purchase local, Arizona apple juice you may have liquid gold on your hands. Delicious. Unfortunately, my favorite cider recipe disappeared from the face of the internet due to a downed food blog. None of the recipes come up anymore. Boo. I do have one which reminds me of it though, so here it is!* Enjoy.

*Note: Neglect the need for a cheesecloth. That is completely unnecessary. Just strain it.

Q: Do you have a particular seasonal recipe for a quick fix? How do you feel about the push, push, push of this season?

Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread

As promised, here is the beautiful morning picture of the gluten free pumpkin bread. This loaf is so moist and so good, two slices may have already disappeared today…

To get your own, show your local farms some love and pick up Arizona pumpkins! Your recipe for success is from my favorite GF baker. Happy Monday!

PUMPKIN TIME

Last night I hinted at my plans for this morning and MY what those plans turned into. It all started with a trip for groceries on Friday.

Of course, I am hooked just walking towards the entry. Giant, colorful piles of produce reminding me it’s Fall, and I just love the Earthy appearance. I mean, how often can you find Indian corn sitting around? Someday, I will have to actually eat them. The crazy colors stuck in my teeth would be worth it!

After succumbing to the call of the pumpkin pile, I was informed that the giant 69 cent per pound pumpkins on display were not the edible kind. Nuts. In order to scheme pumpkin-y treats, I apparently needed the special baby ones inside. The sugar sweet pumpkins. I bought two. One missed out on a haircut.

I came home and waited before actually staging the operations. It was the start of the weekend, and I needed some co-conspirators. In life, I’ve found that the perfect individuals for any adventures are definitely brothers. When you want ideas for launching, parading, confusing, or general mischievous activities, brothers are magical fountains of creativity.

At least, my brothers are.

In order to provide the willpower necessary for our decided shenanigans, the Little Man (my youngest brother) agreed to a Sunday morning trip for sugary inspiration: Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Unfortunately, inspiration can come at a hefty price tag. 2 grande pumpkin spice lattes for $10.55??? What is THAT Starbucks? Anyways, at 8:30am, we launched.

Demolished in little over an hour. Seeds, pulp, pumpkins. Delicious.

Thinking ahead (not) I looked up how much pumpkin pulp we might actually need to engage a pumpkin in culinary artillery. A deliberate assault on its person for the sake of baked goods. It is a rare case when the benefits of war outweigh the casualties. Pie is such a case.

Meanwhile, as I consulted the internet with incredible searches (aka “how to make pumpkin pie with a real pumpkin,” “pumpkin pie recipes with REAL pumpkin,” “how to use a REAL PUMPKIN”), Dave (brother #2), took one of our specimens to plot its design. He is quite skilled at creative ideas, so I just handed it off without a second thought.

While he sat down like an astute professional, I was winging it. Roasting pumpkin seeds cannot possibly be a challenge, right? Just coat anything in enough butter and sugar and the problem fixes itself. Well…

Tasty as these looked, something went terribly wrong. I think next time I will consult an expert. How roasted pumpkin seeds could taste so bland after so much butter and cinnamon hit the pan is beyond me. If anyone out there has tips to make a local pumpkin seed rock the palate, please help a girl out! Anyways, I left the pan a little frustrated that the seeds did not turn out so good.

I hoped that the pumpkin insides would generate a better treat. However, a brilliant turn of events happened while I was about to wing the next pumpkin-focused recipe. David mentioned PUMPKIN BREAD. (Did I not say how brilliant brothers are? Seriously.) I had almost forgotten about the most amazing gluten free baker on the internet, and the fact that her treasure trove of a collection had pumpkin bread in it.

Enter a mad dash to the pantry, mad dash to the computer, and glee-worthy salute to the sky. We could still roast the pumpkin into a delicious treat and better yet, the result would be a guaranteed success. The Gluten Free Goddess is just that good. Mangia.

As you can guess, I made a gigantic mess which my parents will never know about. I’ve heard rumor that all good cooks are excellent at creating such things in the process of brilliance. But maybe that is still just a rumor. To be fair, the mess came from grinding the buckwheat in my dad’s coffee grinder. Hehe, getting that fiber in one way or another I suppose. Not that he’ll ever know… 😉

It also came from the roasted pumpkin halves. The flesh peeled off just like the instructions indicated, but the lack of immersion blender meant a trip to the regular blender. And regular blending. If only a blender cleaned itself up. That is an invention I think everyone would pay the bucks for.

Either way, the end product of the blending and flour smoke signal (let’s just say that the coffee grinder idea successfully powdered the grain) turned out a quite promising product. Quality bread goo for sure.

After a day completely spent on pumpkins, I ran out of time to take the final picture. Some shock and horror for you classy readers. I admit my fail to take the final picture, however, I promise a nice make up. Tomorrow morning, I will find a pretty little sunlit location and give you a quality shot of the pumpkin bread slice I saved. Promise.

Coming up this week you actually have more to look forward to, believe it or not. This weekend is the Cupcake Love In and I am especially thrilled to be going because a special guest will be joining me at the festivities! Stay tuned and you’ll find out more. Plus, I visited another local restaurant this weekend and I’ll bet you have never ever tasted one of their treats.

Like I said, stay tuned this week. Do you have any pumpkin stories to share? Perhaps some Halloween costume ideas?

Stressed? Relaxed recipes.

Could you use a few de-stress tactics? I know I could.

10 page essay
study & take management midterm
write 3 BE midterm questions, outline best responses and MC questions
complete prospectus essay & compile semester assignment
finish 2 econ problem sets
take online final for 8 week class
present materials on behavioral economics to class for an hour
meet with exec board and plan marketing strategy
sleep
eat
work out (de-stress)…

…and this is only since Tuesday? Oh dear Lord.

Stop the presses– Fall break is here for crowds of little people, but midterms are here for me. Maybe you too have been juggling too much lately! I thought about what a busy life can do to balance, and finally decided that I needed some help. Stress wrecks the feel of our week, and sometimes we need an outlet before the weekend. My solution for the in-between?

GIFTS. Yep, you read me right. Gifts. Small indulgences to look forward to. Non-stressful, little rewards for winning the small battles and bracing for the big ones. You know what I’m talking about? Gifts serve as mini-inspiration to keep up the difficult work and help remind us that eventually, there is an end.

Personally, I get fired up to create or actively work out my tensions. How does this translate into a “gift” situation? Well, I can either make myself a gift, or better yet, spend a few seconds extra creating some for a friend.

Cheery spirits are somewhat contagious.

Making a gift, however, can require time. And too much time only adds stress, not success and positive energy. How do I make some quality rewards, and quick ones? I present the D-I-Y for quick tiny treats:

Pumpkin Spice Latte – 6 ingredients – 5 minutes max – perfect caffeine rush & kosher

Waffles – 9 ingredients – 10 minutes mix, 2 minutes cook – drizzle with peanut butter, chocolate shavings, a schmear of whipped cream… perfect morning delight or frozen snack

Sweet Potato & Carrot Fries – 6 ingredients – 45 minutes* – savory, healthy, good smells

Apple Nachos – 7 ingredients – 5 minutes – brilliant. vegan. college-friendly.

BaNilla Sammies – 3 ingredients – ready in seconds – budget friendly & cheerful

Generally, if you make a batch, you can share at least the recipe. Roommates, family, co-workers, everyone can appreciate a tasty new treat. Personally, I think an office BaNilla Party sounds really fun for the lunch break.

Some of you might want a different strategy though. Creativity using… D-I-Y tiny favors:

Melted Crayon Art – 5 supplies – 5-20 minutes : who doesn’t want to melt stuff?

Simple Origami – paper (scissors perhaps) – varies : beautiful and impressive

No Carve Pumpkins – varying supplies – your call on time : keep the kids busy!

Even though these projects take longer, sometimes it takes a while to really remember to relax. I know I can get to that point. Hopefully these inspire your week and give you some starting points to turn that week around.

Enjoy!

Fall Time, How I Adore You

Fall is this gorgeous time of year when most of Arizona begins to hope for a cool breeze. Those up north generally enjoy this phenomena while desert dwellers only get the benefits of Halloween supplies cropping up. A subtle reminder that Fall actually exists. At least retail is thoroughly convinced, hehe.

One of my favorite things about the fall experience are the colors. Deep reds, bright oranges, and glittery gold colors start to infiltrate the office, the gym, and everything in-between. A salute to the season of changing leaves, pumpkin patches (Charlie Brown shout out!), and costume loving is in order.

Did I round up a bunch of recipes for you? You betcha!

For your inner child or your favorite children…

Halloween Candy Corn Bark

For the big kids who love local apples…

Bourbon and Apple Cider Cocktail

For the sweet tooth (an alternative to pretending to be an 11 year old on Halloween)…

Great Pumpkin Truffles (you knew I had to reference Charlie Brown at least once more)

If a vegan or those trying to treat one well…

Vegan Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

For the purely “chef”…

Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Pies

Those pies might just go perfectly with the cocktail and a few dessert truffles. Or maybe that would be too rich. I suppose I might have to find out with a little investigation and a few willing victims. Luckily, all of these recipes use  ingredients which can be sourced locally! Not only does this mean incredible difference in flavor, but also a huge increase in nutrition.

Well, maybe not for the bark. But the love you poured into the end product counts as soul food. And that’s nutritional! Problem solved.

Tell me what your plans are for Fall food activities or share some finds!

*images: each source linked to recipe names, none of these are mine

What to Expect Soon…

Hello there!

In the past few days, there have been many suggestions and a few appointments made to begin this great adventure! If you would like a small hint, the theme of this upcoming week will be Mexican food! You may think that you know everything about this family favorite, but I hope to give you a side of the story you could not have guessed. If you still want to guess which family establishment I am talking about, I suppose you may know the name of the restaurant I’ll be introducing to you first. There are your hints, and look for a post coming your way soon. I need suggestions for what to try (or not) when I get there!

Currently, I hope to feature one to two restaurants per week. I expect to show you the full experience each place offers with pictures, quotes, the works and also find out a tasty little tip for your own kitchen skills. We all would like to impress a few friends over dinner, right? Local tricks might just be for you.

How else might you get involved? Well, every restaurant has its strengths and weaknesses. If YOU decide to go out and eat local, I want to hear your stories! The good, the bad, the weird, the memories- I want to know what to look for when I go eat! Comment on the first WHERE I ATE, WHAT I ATE discussion post tomorrow and join the conversation!

The Official Where I Ate, What I Ate Button (for bloggers out there):