Going Dutch

After traveling to Pella, IA for the day, instead of coming back motivated to push the long haul into summer past the final two weeks of university, I came back exhausted. Not to say drinking Voodoo Chai in the downtown coffeeshop after sampling recreated authentic Dutch meats, imported basil&garlic cheese, and some really delectable pastries wasn’t rejuvenating. Yet, I found myself having finally lost the urge to do any more work.

Relaxation.

That’s the killer of my motivation.

I know I may complain on  here about my constant pushing and uphill struggle to get work done, but let me tell you. As soon as I take an unscheduled break, boom! I’m back to lazily meandering through the internets and laying on my bed wishing I had the strength to do simple tasks and workings. Oh no. ‘Tis not “burning out” necessarily, so much as I need recuperation time from my recuperation time. <<; What a life I live when I need to learn to relax from learning to relax.

On that note, imagine walking into a Dutch village from 200 years ago that has been pulled from a postcard. Oddly stuck in the center of Iowa, Pella is a quaint and friendly town. The small population of 10,000 people boasts a huge economic event the last week in April/first week in May called “The Tulip Festival.” Strangely enough, The Netherlands may be known for its tulips; but its really economic strength is tourism and Shell Oil.

Even so, The Pellicans (as they called themselves) adorn the town in bright tulip petals, traditional Dutch garb and wooden shoes, and offer authentic baked goods to everyone! I did not come during this time. Which explains why it was so easy to get a parking place in the center of town. The cloudy sky was still too bright for my eyes. Leaving my sunglasses behind was not the smartest idea; the long raincoat flicking in the wind behind me was. It was typical Netherlands’ spring weather: windy, offshoot clouds, but thankfully–no rain.

I peered into the different sandwich shops. Each serving and catering to a different crowd of age and dynamic. Skipping the elderly crowd at a Bologna Cafe and the high school student crowd at the Brew, I meandered into a corner side venue. The Coffee and Soda Fountain knew what I wanted before I had ordered it. My tired eyes and overexerted effort to get to the counter may have tipped them off more than my  appearance. Then again, going with three foreign looking men and carrying various baked good bags probably didn’t help.

Voodoo Chai + 1 espresso shot, how I adore your spicy kick and smoothe aftertaste on the roof of my mouth that had been previously burnt by a creamy, rich Tomato Basil Soup @ 2:30 in the morning two days/nights/24 periods ago. Another wonderful treat to tease my taste buds and make me wish for more free samples? Basil&Garlic Gouda with Dried Beef. I know, it’s not my usual fare when I go to different ethnic locations. Don’t fret; the baked good sweets will come soon. But in all honesty, nothing tasted more savory and more palatable than that combination right there. I didn’t know Dried Beef existed (not jerky), much less that it was slow-smoked, lightly-salted, and it was JUST the flavour of the beef begging me to eat it. Small portions was just enough? AMEN! This means that everything I buy is just enough.

Despite the restaurant my Professor took us to being a complete and utter flop, I thoroughly enjoyed my time talking linguistics with a Dubian (Dubai, get it? Haha….ohkay, sorry), ballroom dancing with a Dutchman, and  lamenting on the bitter taste of Netherlands’ licorice with a Mexican Des Moines native. If only I had been awake for the 6 hours I spent with them, rather than the 2 after the espresso shots, then maybe they would have had a better time with me. At least I know I had a fantastic time with them!

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lo’ behold! my first successful Pancake Creation de Mardi Gras!

a lovely heart shaped lime pancake; the first successful one I have ever made on my own.

Nothing tastes better than breakfast. Anytime of the day. So, when Foodimentary alerted me that Mardi Gras was synonymous with Pancake Day, I absolutely had to have pancakes. Originally, I was to rely on my friend’s pre-made, terribly unhealthy pancake mix out of a box. Thankfully (for both our sakes), she had a paper to write.

Phew.

Instead I crafted my own Pancake/Waffle mix recipe from scratch! Completely gluten, lactose, and butter free, the entire batter totaled 750 calories with about 7 pancakes total. At only about 110 calories per pancake, I would say this marvelous experiment was a complete and utter success! Not only can I make pancake batter from scratch, I can make it in less than 10 minutes.

Whether or not this is good overall is yet to be seen. Immediacy to pancakes would ruin them. As such, I won’t be making them often. That and I just found out that I can make egg crepes.

yes, that's a little egg crepe you see. it may look like an omelette, but it isn't.

As in, I slightly beat an egg, spread it over the entire round surface of a pan like a crepe until it is very thin, and then flip it before it burns to create a solid disk of an egg. Egg crepes are now my new tortillas. Instant protein with all the versitility of a wrap. 

However, this post is about Mardi Gras festivities in the form of pancakes. Savory and sweet! our pancakes had a lemon and lime and parsley. Not traditionally seen in American pancakes. They weren’t sweet; they were sweetened. Pancakes can get weighted down by their sugary texture. Using almond and soy milk along with brown rice flour lent a nutty foundation for our pancake batter that could be expanded in either direction. Ideal! No Calorie Xylitol Sweetener helped immensely in cutting the sugar calories to 0, without effecting taste. I even added a tad bit of flaxseed for that wonderful Omega-3 boost!

my lemon-parsley pancakes, not as beautiful as the first, but no less tasty.

If I may say so, these pancakes were delicious, nutritious, and stupendous! Although Fat Tuesday felt like a Fat Tuesday, it wasn’t as calorie intensive as it could have been. In the end, isn’t that what this whole lent thing is about?

Happy Zombietine’s Day!

drowning in their own brokenhearted deliciousness~

of everything I’ve made, nothing has been funner than making Pastapocalypse! Using a gingerbread man pasta gotten off a sale rack, my friend and I picked apart all the men from the houses. Using a delicious Italian Meat Sauce recipe I save only for such delightful occasions, we started out Zombietine’s Week out right.

With a whole lot of dead bodies and blood.

This holiday takes on many forms. Whether it becomes “Single’s Awareness Day” or “An Actual Romantic Celebration,” Valentine’s Day remains yet another holiday that is supposed to shared with friends and good food (in the form of cheesy heart shapes, puns, or chocolate covered zombies). The food part makes this yet another holiday to enjoy.

"All I want is love!.....and to eat your brain."

So when I lovingly set the Zombie Brains on the table again tonight… When I reminisce over the Cannibalistic Chocolate Chili (that will appear on my other blog, Mediterasian)… When I set the table with little Love Bites before going to Yotopia for some “Alternative V-Day Sweets” event….

I’ll remember my family–who lovingly sent my Valentine’s Day granola.
I’ll smile at all the dark chocolate in my cabinets–because I’m making brownies this weekend AND because my roommates parents gave her two FULL bags of it.
and
I’ll pause before I sink my teeth into your brain.

Because really:

Isn’t it the Thought that Counts?


Happy Zombietine’s Day Everyone! 

getting back into working out

it’s been about a week since i worked out last, and though i don’t feel any more up to working out today, it needs to happen!

Exercise is essential to my regimented diet training plan! (: Today, I had unhealthy second and third breakfasts. Why? Because the opportunity to have it was there and I took it. I couldn’t stop myself. Or rather, I didn’t want to.

I think I may have gotten a bit of a flu. One of my friends says I have had a bit of a fever for two days now. I agree. However, this doesn’t excuse my poor food choices these past two days does it? My body has craved things with milk and things that are high in energy–or high fat, high protein, high sugar. Such as the giant Chipote burrito I had last night for Dinner with steak. And the two bowls of oatmeal this morning. And the pancake with banana and syrup.

I haven’t made the healthiest decisions these past few days. But if I can get up and walk to class and walk to get these unhealthy food options then I can get up, get changed, and then go work out.

At least, that’s what I am hoping for!

The Three Myths of the Baking World

There are so many traditional ways of cooking that have skewed many peceptions of cooking in many modern American households.

First: Flour is essential in all yummy baked goods.

This is absolutely false! Recipes that call for flour are usually substituting for something generations decades past would have had access to: oats. Oats are one of the healthiest grains trending grains out there. It’s so much easier to make cookies, cakes, and brownies with oats because most of the time, you rarely have to cook them as long or at all!

Second: Eggs are another essential ingredient. Nothing will go right without them.

Once again, this is inaccurate. As a university student, where college funds can be tight, I understand the value of an egg. Not just any egg, mind you, a cage-free, grass-fed, Chicken laid egg. The ones with the biggest yellow yolks that give the egg its highest nutrients. THIS egg is easy to come by (thankfully) but not without paying the price. As such, I prefer to enjoy my egg poached, scrambled, or fried. Not tucked away underneath layers of baked fabric. In most recipes, you can omit the egg. And what does this do the recipe? Nothing. For most recipes, it just means you now can a) store it longer in the fridge, b) not have to worry about over/under-baking it, and c) not worry about egg allergies with your guests.

Third: Vanilla Extract is a necessary component of every baking endeavor . 

Alright, this one irks me slightly. Once again, university students like to save money. I bake very infrequently. So infrequently, that when I do bake, I can get one cup of flour at a time from the local Food Coop. I don’t want to buy a whole bottle of vanilla extract just for one or two baking excursions a semester. Yes, people, I am that cheap. And it’s been a good thing too! I’ve learned that most recipes that call for vanilla extract use it only as a flavor additive. Nothing more, nothing less.

So when you look at your pantry and realize some “key ingredients” are missing. Step back and think for a minute. What do you have in your pantry? What do you actually need for your baked treat?

As I realized, you don’t need eggs, flour, and vanilla extract to make something scrumptious. You just need a dash of gumption and whole lot of baking love.

Kashi Cereals: turned to granola?

After all the heat they’ve endured with their chain being owned by Kellogg, packed with the same chemicals as unhealthy cereals, and the truly non-organic nature of their cereals, Kashi has still endured more heat this summer in our pantry. Though our air conditioner broke for less than a day, Kashi’s GOLEAN Crunch cereal managed to melt inside the box.

Oh, Kashi, you and your cereal, or should I say, loosely packed granola bars?  Don’t get me wrong. I love Kashi as a brand. Although not the healthiest brand out there for snacks, I’ve fallen in love with their chewy granola bars; the Trail Mix TLC Chewy Bar is my all-time favorite. But to find out that my mother’s favorite cereal can become granola was, honestly enough, even more exciting!

Kashi's cereal turned into a granola.

Go Lean! Go Granola!

No this article isn’t to say that Kashi is the best brand because it’s cereal is multi-purpose. It’s just saying that if something is going to melt in this hot summer weather, well, Kashi cereal is probably the best thing you’ll have wanted to melt.

For example, use this new Kashi granola block to make small trail mix packs on the go.

Cut some pieces and dunk into your cereal for less calories and more fiber!

Give it as a gag gift to your best friend trying to lose weight or is health-conscious. I know I’d be surprised if my cereal was really one giant granola block!

Take a picture and talk about how hilarious it was seeing your sister trying to cut up cereal with a Yoshiblade Knife on your blog.

Sometimes, even your favorite, time-tested brands will surprise you. And I hope that when they do, they do it like this.