Blue Corn Chilaquiles

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Whew! It’s paper writing season around here. Insane. I’ve been eating very well lately (hopefully a recent eats post coming your way soon) but hands down this is one of the best things I’ve made lately. As in holy hell, chilaquiles. Incredible. And it couldn’t be easier to make! One of those tasty meals that’s just perfect for the weekend–indulgent-feeling while maintaining healthful ingredients, pairs well with beer, (or in my case GF cherry cider) and a movie (I had fun with a few 1980s flicks this weekend: The Running Man and Deep Star Six. Both are great, if you’re looking for a flick to watch and I feel like an animal rights/factoring farming narrative and be read into the former.)

This recipes harnesses the smoky, tasty, umami-ridden goodness of chipotle peppers. I used the dried kind reconstituted (see recipe for instructions) but the kind in the can with adobe sauce would be great too. Plus you’d get adobe sauce, so what’s not to love?

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Chilaquiles

1 jar mild-medium salsa (I used Trader Joes salsa Authentica)

1 chipotle peppers,  reconstituted, ribbed and seeded2

2 c. vegetable broth, divided

1 bag blue corn chips (I used these.)

1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

toppings of your choice: Tofutti, Daiya, cilantro, green onions, lettuce, tomatoes, extra salsa etc.

To reconstitute the chipotles, cut a slit into each with a knife, then submerge in boiling water. The slit allows the water to seep into the interior of the peppers, which can sometimes remain dry depending on how shriveled they are. I let mine soak at least an hour to make sure they’re nice and soft.

To rib and seed your chipotles: cut off the stem end and then lengthwise, open each half and scrape the ribs and seeds out of the pepper. Be sure to avoid touching the interior too much with your hands and definitely DON’T touch your face (ESPECIALLY your eyes) while doing this. While chipotles aren’t the hottest peppers by any stretch (feel free to leave the seeds in some of all of the peppers if you like the heat) they can still cause skin irritation, especially on sensitive areas.

Toss the prepared peppers into a food processor with the entire jar of salsa and 1 cup of the veggie broth. Blend until completely smooth. Transfer to a sauce pan and slowly simmer over low heat until bubbly. Then add the bag of corn chips. I used one of the smaller bags, so I added all of them, but add as many as you can allowing for each one to get fully coated with the sauce. Simmer until the chips are tender. Meanwhile, add the additional cup of broth to a separate pan with the pintos and some salt and pepper. Simmer until heated through and the liquid as thickened and the pintos have absorbed most of it. To serve: place a heft scoop of chilaquiles on a plate and top with pintos, then desired toppings. If you’re using the Daiya, I’d recommend placing that directly on top of the chips with the pintos on top so it gets all gooey and melty. Eat immediately with a fork and plenty of napkins.

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I recommend adding as many nacho-esque toppings as you’d like including lots of salsa verde.

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The perfect end-of-the-weekend-meal to consume while watching a movie and editing a paper. That said, the next couple of weeks are pretty insane for me but I’ll be skulking around the internets mostly via social media. Happy Spring, all!

Eats from my Staycation, Interspersed with Cat Photos

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I was on Spring Break last week! Many of you likely already know this from social media, and here. After my trip up to present at a conference, I spent the last week staycationing–mainly working on papers and relaxing around town. I’ve discovered that I really like Tallahassee when it’s quiet here. Most of the students were off on their breaks, I had a nice quiet week alone in 70+ degree weather. Windows open, podcasts or Arlo Guthrie vinyl on, a cute cat entertaining me with his general state of being. I had a LOT of delicious food last week! Part of relaxing and stayacationing for me involved cooking as much as possible. So here are some of my favorite dishes from my staycation, interspersed with cat photos no less. It was such a good week, and so productive! Glad to be able to share some of it with you here.

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Doesn’t even need a caption. Except: that little blue thing is his owl toy.

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Protein packed gluten free bowl of gooddess: red lentil penne with a tempeh “meat” marinara sauce, steamed kale, millet-based garlic bread.

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A little blurry, but the grump coming from this creature was just too good not to share.

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Very light red curry soup with lots of veggies. Topped with sriracha and pea shoots and plenty of cilantro.

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Helped me with my research last week! Supportive as always, especially if library books (one of his absolute favorite things) are involved.

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I made protein cookie bars! SO GOOD. Didn’t keep too well though. I’m going to give these a few more tries and hopefully tweak the recipe before I share it.

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Finished up my work early Saturday afternoon and treated myself to reading one of my favorite comics, Ghost, at a coffee shop outside.

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Buffalo tempeh, green peas, side of kale with tomatoes and mushrooms, topped with pea shoots. Pea shoots are my JAM lately. So springy, am I right?

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Hands down, one of my absolute favorite staycation concoctions: the PPK’s chipotle mac and cheese with roasted brussels, served over power greens.

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Taken while reading the other night. This literally tickles me to death. I laugh every time I see it. I’m not really sure how I got so lucky in capturing this moment, but it’s kept me entertained ever since.

Also over my staycation: got a LOT of academic work done, cleaned up the apartment (anyone interested in an eco-friendly clean home guide? Thinking of writing one here.), finished the third Game of Thrones Book (if you have spoilers, KEEP THEM TO YOURSELF! Reading all the books before moving to the show.) and am now onto A Feast for Crows, as in only 70 pages in and loving Martin’s descriptions of Dorne so far. Also stoked to see (through just flipping through quickly) perspectives from more women characters in this book. Brienne Tarth for the win!

Also I’ve rekindled my love of Twitter. If you want to talk to me about GOT up through book 3, hit me up there.

Pizza Quesadilla

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There are few things I love more than a good quesadilla. I truly adore them. Melty, gooey, a little toasty and a bit crunchy. Comfort food at its best. As a health conscious vegan, I love getting the best of both worlds in a meal: indulgence and a kick of nutrients in the mix. The pizza quesadilla presents the perfect amalgam of health and comfort with the creaminess of Daiya cheese and vegan sour cream for dunking and a kick of protein and greens in the mix.

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Pizza Quesadilla

Brown rice tortillas

1 jar vegan marinara sauce of your choice

Daiya mozzarella shreds or another vegan cheese you love

fresh spinach

Tofutti for dipping

extra marinara, also for dipping

Heat a non stick frying pan over medium high heat. To assemble a quesadilla, spread each of the 2 tortillas with marinara and sprinkle with Daiya. Add spinach to one half, then place the other tortillas on top. Cook in the pan roughly 2-3 minutes per side or until the Daiya starts to melt. Repeat as often as necessary to achieve your desired number of quesadillas. Serve hot with Tofutti and heated marinara on the side for dipping.

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Not only is this comfort dish gluten free, but it also has a sneaky dose of protein via the tortillas. A serving of brown rice has far more protein (5 g per serving) than other forms of tortilla ingredients. Subbing another type of whole grain tortilla or your choice will allow you to sneak in whatever grain or protein you’re currently craving.

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These make great appetizers or game day food if you’re someone who watches the sports. I tend to like eating this type of thing on the weekends as a comfort food indulgence enjoyed while I watch a favorite movie or TV show. While they feel indulgent (at least to me!) they’re actually astonishingly healthy. Cutting out refined gluten or flours via a whole foods based tortilla and adding in spinach is a great way to pack some whole grain goodness into your quesadilla. You could also add baked tofu or tempeh to these for added protein, olives for an extra salty kick, or any other goodies you might add to your favorite pizza.

Enjoy!

 

If the Opposite of Shred is Chop, Then I’m chopping

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Good morning, all! I’m on “Spring Break!” WOO HOO! Except my version of partying is writing papers! One and 1/4 down out of three! This morning is the first I’ve been lazy all break. I’ve had a week off at this point and the first chunk was spent at a conference, Sunday was a much needed rest day and the past 3 days have been spent with my nose to the grindstone. Today I’m trying to have some form of a relaxing morning.

During breaks from classes and work (taking this week off, hooray!) I like to try and push myself extra hard with my workout routine–try out some new things or bump things up a notch. A friend mentioned Gillian Michaels’s 30-Day Shred to Me a couple of weeks ago as something she was trying out. She said I’d like it since I’m already a work out fanatic it could just help push me to the next level. Immediately, I was skeptical and a little put off by the idea. Since I was looking to change up my work out routine, I gave it a try earlier this week. Level one, day one. I like the routine. It combined strength, abs, and cardio. High reps kept my heartbeat up and made my arms and legs feel like jelly after. It felt good, honestly. I was sore, and it felt good. I did different moves that I don’t normally add into my workouts.

But I still had mixed feelings about it. I kept wondering if I did all 30 days, what would happen after? Where would my work outs go? Would they turn into something that was somehow less than the shred? Also, the idea of foregoing the somewhat ritual practice of my 45 minutes of my exercise mat 4 days per week made me a little sad.  The next day I turned on the video to do it again and made it through about a minute. I realized, I was already sore and about to work the exact same muscles I worked the day before. I was about to watch a video that was asking me to compare my body to the trainers demonstrating the exercises, that used some language I wasn’t exactly ok with.

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SHRED?! What shred?!

Let me pause to say here that I think Gillian is one kick ass lady. Granted I HATE the concept of The Biggest Loser (Side note: My highschool HEALTH CLASS made us watch this to show the “dangers of obesity.” NOT OK, Y’ALL.) I applaud anyone who is trying to inspire folks to be healthier and make working out accessible for everyone. But this quick-fix-do-this-for-a-month-and-magically-become-hot mentality? Not for me. I shifted my mat to its usual orientation in the middle of my living room, grabbed my weights and had a killer work out that made me feel great. 45 minutes of peace and Criminal Minds. I did incorporate a few of the exercises in the shred into my routine, and I was glad I’d tried it and learned something. I had a great work out and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything.

So what’s my take away from my brief shred? Well the most obvious is that I’m not a shredder. If the opposite of shredding is chopping, then I’m definitely chopping. I work out regularly, using a wide variety of exercises to keep my body and mind healthy and strong. Chopping away at my goals at my own pace rather than shredding through for quick results that leave me wondering what to do at the end. I’ve decided that I’ll occasionally try out a work out video to mix things up a bit and to learn some new moves. (I still have my Jackie Warner DVD from high school. She might just be the first woman I ever loved.) I do like a high-intensity work out from time to time. I agree that consistency is key, but I differ from the shred approach in that I feel the same forms of consistency aren’t for everyone. Doing the shred made me realize that I’m generally happy with my work outs, and while I do like shaking things up, 30 days of it might not be the best way to go for my goals. For the time being, I’ll stick to chopping and leave the shredding for my carrots.

Thoughts or experiences with a similar work out routine? Let me know in the comments section. I’d love to compare notes or hear some new ideas I could occasionally throw into the mix.