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Whole30 Week 1

It’s day 8 and I think I’m over the emotional hump of all of these changes. I still want a glass of wine at night or a bowl of rice, but I’m feeling beyond the absolute lamentation that they’re “off limits”.

Perhaps one of the best parts of this experiment is that it really forces a thoughtfulness about what I’m eating and putting into my food and as a result, I’ve broken out of some of the lunch or dinner ruts I had been in.  Or, conversely found myself happily entrenched in some others (like breakfast – if you follow my Instagram you’ll know the egg and avocado habit is real).

Rather than day by day, I’ll give you a meal by meal of what I’ve been eating this week:

Breakfast:

  • Poach eggs with avocado (seriously. every. single. day.)image3

Lunch and Dinner:

  • Salmon (sous vide with ghee) with pan fried kale
  • Roasted Carrots and Onions
  • Pulled Chicken in coconut milk with tomatillo, chiles, cilantro, and lime
  • Steaks with roasted red potatoes
  • Roasted Chicken Thighs with Frank’s Red Hot
  • Whole Foods Italian Chicken Sausages with Peppers, Onions, and poached eggs
  • Tom Kha soup (recipe to follow)image4

Snacks:

  • Eggs: Boiled, Poached, Fried
  • LOTS of fruit: Berries, mango, bananas, apples
  • Plantain Chips
  • Pistachios in shell (take longer to eat)

Beverages:

  • Perrier and other sparkling water
  • Coffee, black and with cashew milk
  • Tea of all types
  • Lemon Water

I survived a baby shower for ShareABitOfLove without any food cheats (and man was it a fun day!). I did stray on the alcohol rule for one super salted champagne flute of ruby red margarita and I can’t say I’m a bit sorry.  I also felt satisfied after one and moved back to my Perrier and coffee. We made all kinds of treats – deviled eggs (with my homemade mayo! I’ll post that later this week), bread free turkey meatball sliders, berry salads; it was delightful. IMG_1957 image1

I’m headed back to Boston tomorrow, so I have one more day of farm fresh eggs and I plan to eat as many as possible.  It’s Super Bowl Sunday. I have no doubt food will be a challenge but I’m determined. image2

If I have a sip or two of tequila, I apologize in advance.

A Whole30 February

If you might have noticed, and as I drew attention to earlier this month, 2015 was not a great blogging year for me, or if I’m being honest, particularly good in general as it pertained to food, fitness, creativity or any of the other snippets of Ginger I generally share around here.  The calendar was jam-packed with events and my health wasn’t the greatest. I was hit by a car in April that I’m still fighting to bounce back from, dealt with a broken toe (a surprisingly disruptive injury!) in August, and a kidney infection in October. Fun.

TMI? Complaining? Maybe a little, but what’s a blog if not a little personal? Ups and downs are real. The point is pulling your shit together once you realize that it’s happening. As ShareABitOfLove told me recently: gangst rap

The last year saw a dramatic decrease in my dedication to exercise and a moderate increase in my wine consumption (let’s be honest, the wine devotion always ran deep). I believe in balance but right now the scale is about ready to stop using numbers and just give me the middle finger. My sleep is off (even more than usual). And I just don’t have the right energy at the gym that goes beyond the existing injuries.

So. Time to reset.

I read about the Whole30 via recipes hunts, as the plan is inherently gluten free. Then, I read along at this exact time last year when one of my local blogger favorites Christina at Hungry Meets Healthy took on the challenge and I totally identified with her champagne withdrawals. I like the idea of the “diet” because it’s not really a diet at all. There’s a lot of science behind the nutrition and while it seems initially restrictive, it doesn’t cut major macro groups or foods long term. Rather it restricts a few groups short term to reset your body and digestion. At the end of 30 days you slowly reintroduce each group as a control to discover what fuels your particular biology best. EatWhole30-Instagram

Yes: All meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables (including starches like potatoes), fruit, most fat (oil, ghee), even coffee!

No: WINEEEE… Grains (including the pseudo grains like quinoa and amaranth), corn, legumes (including everything soy based), alcohol of any sort, added sugar, and dairy. cry wine

I’ve wanted to do this for quite some time, but the idea of no wine and no cheese seemed insurmountable. What seems even harder right now is making it through the treadmill portion of a Barry’s class. I’ve reach my “get your shit” together come-to-Jesus moment (and so have my pants).

I began reading the book It Starts With Food, and had a ‘practice’ week last week where I obsessively read labels, slowly getting my head around what the 30 day menu would look like, getting the remaining dairy out of my face, and yes, savoring a few glasses of wine. I’ve had several label surprises. Have you ever tried to find sugar free bacon? Or did you know there is soy lecithin in Sambazon Acai puree? (And I thought that would be my superfood breakfast.) Some of the additives it tells you to avoid are going to be a pain. (But, I think discovering where they hide is kind of the point.)

I’ll give a weekly rundown of what I ate and how I’m feeling. You can have the numbers at the end.

Have you done the Whole30? Any recipes? Thoughts? Is there a paleo version of wine nobody told me about?

Sous Vide Scallops

I’m a sucker for a gadget, but I haven’t been this excited for a kitchen appliance since my Vitamix arrived. I first learned what sous vide cooking was from Top Chef and have been obsessed with the idea of the technique ever since.

My parents gifted me with the Gourmet Digital Sous Vide Pod Immersion Circulator Precision Cooker and I obviously couldn’t wait to start playing around with it.  I’ve spent most my time on http://www.seriouseats.com to get ideas on temps and technique.

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I started with scallops. Quick. Simple (allegedly). I coated it with some salt, pepper, olive oil, and garlic after giving them a quick rinse, and followed the directions for getting them airtight in a plastic bag. With a sous vide set to 51 C I was ready to cook.

By cook I mean set my alarm for 30 minutes and walk away.

Once they were cooked, I heated some butter to brown and dried the scallops from the bit of liquid that cooked out so they would take a quick sear.

About 30 seconds each side and they were good to go.

Ok almost. Bacon.  I mean it’s Christmas, we aren’t animals. I wasn’t sure about attempting bacon wrapped since the majority of the cooking would be done, so getting the bacon crisp would be an issue. Turns out? I like this even better. The bacon to scallop ratio can be custom tailored as you eat.

IMG_6271

So here’s your recipe. The hardest part is admitting you must buy this amazing gadget, but trust me, you won’t regret it.

Sous Vide Scallops

  • 2lbs Scallops
  • 2 Tbs Chopped Garlic
  • 2 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbs Butter
  • 1/2 lb Bacon, cooked, cooked and crumbled
  1. Set Sous Vide mechanism in water bath to 51* C
  2. Rise and drain scallops. Coat with olive oil, garlic, pepper, and salt
  3. Contain scallops to a waterproof plastic bag and place in water bath for 30 minutes
  4. While scallops cook, cook bacon and crumble
  5. When scallops are cooked, be sure to dry on paper towels before searing to get the best crust
  6. Melt butter on medium high until slightly brown
  7. Sear scallops 30 seconds each side
  8. Top with bacon

::tap, tap:: Is this thing on?

Hello, 2016! How are you? I’m good. I mean, not that you would know that, since evidently I posted exactly twice last year. Twice. That is terrible, mostly because I adore my little corner of the internet and everyone that choses to share it with me (and there were a LOT of you) even if I’m absent.

So, against my better judgement, I DO have a resolution this year. I promise myself to hang out here more often. Share more recipes. Explore more crafts. Spend more time seeing what my other favorite bloggers are up to. Take more photos AND share them beyond a hard drive.

I already feel like I’m getting ahead of myself.

I also think I’m already behind. I just made a New Year’s Resolution on January 8th.

In the interest of getting back on the blogging bandwagon, I’ll start with a few of my favorite things: best friends, family, babies, dogs, home, holidays and snow.

That’s right, ShareABitOfLove has a bundle on board and she let me take some super fun photos of her, her handsome, the little on board (and some overly excited pups) in the snow over Christmas.

Thanks for a wonderful (cold) afternoon, dear family. It was a fun, inspiring (and at moments hilarious) way to head into a new year.

 

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Coffee House Chocolate Chip Muffins

It’s 34 and raining outside.  If I have to deal with this weather, I’m going to eat my way to happy. This morning, happy came in the form of muffins.

Coffee house style chocolate chip muffins, to be specific.  IMG_4017

You know the kind… that sit temptingly behind that glass with a crisp, rustic outside, that coarse raw sugar glistening under the soft lighting, a soft chewy inside…Yeah, those kind of muffins.

Like all of my baked goods, I started with my personal favorite (self created) flour blend, and sifted all of the dry ingredients together twice.  It takes an extra minute, but it’s worth it. IMG_4007

In another bowl, whisk together your wet ingredients, then slowly incorporate the dry. Baked Goods 101. IMG_4008 The batter will be thick.

Add chocolate chips. Obviously. IMG_4009I wanted a ‘meal sized’ muffin, so I dived the batter into four in a large muffin pan.  You could make a lot more than that, but there’s a joy in starting Saturday with a muffin the size of your face. IMG_4010Pop them in to a 425 preheated oven, give it 5 minutes, then turn the heat down to 375. When turning down the heat is also when I pulled them out to sprinkled with raw sugar. IMG_4011You could even get more decadent and add some nutella or cocoa powder to the batter, but I did enjoy the semi-sweet simplicity of a cinnamon-vanilla coffee cake type base.  Next time I’m thinking maybe some peanut butter? What would you add? IMG_4017 IMG_4018IMG_4024

Coffee House Style Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • 1 ½ Cups The Natural Ginger Gluten Free Flour
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 3 tsp Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp Xanthan Gum (omit if you use a flour that has it)
  • ½ Cup Raw Sugar (+ additional tsp per muffin to top)
  • ½ Cup Milk
  • ¼ Cup Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Egg + 1 Egg Yolk
  • ¾ Cup Chocolate Chips
  1. Preheat Oven to 425
  2. Sift together the flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder and xanthan gum
  3. In microwave safe bowl, melt the coconut oil (or use any vegetable oil).
  4. Add sugar, milk, vanilla, egg and egg yolk, giving everything a quick whisk
  5. Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet, stirring to fully combine without over mixing
  6. Stir in chocolate chips
  7. Divide batter, which will be very thick, into a muffin pan. The above recipe makes 4 large, about 8 medium, or 16 mini muffins.
  8. Bake at 425 for 5 minutes, then turn down heat to 375
  9. Pull rack out from the oven so you can access the parbaked muffins, and sprinkle with raw sugar if desired.
  10. Bake an additional 10-20 minutes until tops are golden and centers are set.

Identity Crisis Risotto

I don’t even totally know how to get back in to this blogging thing after my hiatus. I spend more time on here trying to welcome myself back than I do actually writing, and my resolution was to spend more time here. Now that I’m home and we have about 72 feet of snow, I can assure you that’s about to happen.  I have so much to tell you about Australia, my food, my workouts, and more pictures of recipes and dogs begging to be shared that I can’t even start to count.

I couldn’t come up with a name for this. With the cilantro, lime and avocado, is it Mexican? A little. But it’s risotto – definitively Italian.  And then what’s with the poached egg? Totally French last I checked. Cilantro Lime Avocado Risotto Poached Egg (3 of 18)

Identity crisis, I’m telling you.

Here’s the recipe. I’ll share more later (like the lamb chops and mussels from Melbourne!).

Ingredients – Makes 4 Servings (only 1 serving proportions pictured)

  • 1 cup Arborio Rice
  • 2 tbs Butter
  • 4 cups Chicken Stock
  • 2 Limes
  • 1 Bunch Cilantro
  • 2 Ripe Avocados
  • 4 Eggs, poached

Prepare the risotto according to the package (or according to what I tell you, your call). I started with the rice, toasted it in a bit of butter, squeezed in the lime (the fork trick, by the way? works like a dream), and began slowly adding broth and cooking down over medium heat until the rice was creamy and tender with the liquid absorbed.

Cilantro Lime Avocado Risotto Poached Egg (2 of 18)Cilantro Lime Avocado Risotto Poached Egg (1 of 18)Cilantro Lime Avocado Risotto Poached Egg (4 of 18)

While the risotto is doing it’s thing, poach some eggs.

CALM DOWN IT’S GONNA BE OK!

I’ve been poaching eggs for about a week, so I totally get you. I was terrified of this forever – for no reason, as it would turn out.

Boil some water and then turn it down.  You want it as close to boiling as you can get without having it bubble over or you’ll beat the crap out of your delicate little eggs.

Like this – it should look about like this. Cilantro Lime Avocado Risotto Poached Egg (5 of 18)Next, crack your little egg into a bowl so you can GENTLY slide it in to the water. Have you been just plopping them in and hoping for the best all this time? No wonder. (Me too.) This is crucial. Cilantro Lime Avocado Risotto Poached Egg (6 of 18)Now – the secret weapon. Depending on who you talk to, this is cheating. (If they tell you it’s cheating, they’re liars and you shouldn’t listen to them.) Toss in a dash of vinegar. How much? I don’t know – a tablespoon per 2-3 cups of water I suppose? Just a dash. Trust your instincts.Cilantro Lime Avocado Risotto Poached Egg (7 of 18) Now, using a spoon, swirl the water to create a small whirlpool and while it’s still moving, gently slide your egg into the water. (This portion is not pictured because I do not have seven arms. Sorry.)

The egg will look a little like a sad jellyfish. That’s fine, just gently stir it and move it along, pushing it back on to itself and preventing it from settling on the floor of the pan (it’s hot down there) for exactly 3.5 minutes. Cilantro Lime Avocado Risotto Poached Egg (8 of 18)After 3.5 minutes, gently lift your egg from the water and place on to a paper towel. Nobody wants soggy vinegar egg water on their risotto. Nobody. Dry that thing off. Cilantro Lime Avocado Risotto Poached Egg (9 of 18)Your risotto should be just about ready by the time you’ve poached four eggs (about a half hour if we’re being realistic.) Take your avocados and split them in half, remove the seed, score in to cubes, and gently scoop out in to the hot risotto. Cilantro Lime Avocado Risotto Poached Egg (10 of 18)And the cilantro, of course, just coarsely chop (or as I did, cut with kitchen scissors) the leaves (and some stems, who cares?) right on in.Cilantro Lime Avocado Risotto Poached Egg (12 of 18)Stir it all together, it’s going to be delicious.

Divide between four bowls and top each with a poached egg. Cilantro Lime Avocado Risotto Poached Egg (13 of 18) Cilantro? Good. Lime? Good. Egg? Good.

(Any Friends fan went immediately to this reference. It’s ok, I did too. Also, my roommate is judging us all for laughing at this right now.)Joey-Tribbiani-Custard-Good-Jam-Good-Meat-Good

Now, not only does it look beautiful, when you break that yolk into the rice? Creamy, rich, delicious decadence that – wait for it – is under 450c a serving and packed with protein. I didn’t want to scare you off at the beginning by telling you how healthy this risotto is, but notice – no wine, no cheese, minimal butter (that could totally be subbed out with olive oil) – the egg yolk adds all the richness you need, and the risotto is so naturally starchy you’ll forget it’s nearly dairy free.

Cilantro Lime Avocado Risotto Poached Egg (14 of 18)

So go. Break that yolk. Cilantro Lime Avocado Risotto Poached Egg (15 of 18)It’s gonna be great. Cilantro Lime Avocado Risotto Poached Egg (17 of 18)Cilantro Lime Avocado Risotto Poached Egg (18 of 18)Cilantro Lime Avocado Risotto Poached Egg (16 of 18)

DIY Cinnamon Stick Music Scroll Ornament

Did you know it’s Christmas in 10 days? Me neither. This year has flown by, but with all of the chaos events of the last year, I’ve never been more excited to embrace the holidays.

Part of embracing the season? I’m participating in my first ever Blogger Ornament Exchange organized by one of my favorite local bloggers, Christina of Hungry Meets Healthy.  I was super excited when I got paired with Sarah of SarahMidgleySax.com.

In her blogger pairing notes she noted the following interests:  Running, Rock Climbing, Music, Saxophone, Beer, Vegetarian Cooking, And The Color Purple

Oh I’ve totally got this! We like so many of the same things!

Except… nothing. I got nothing. For the last two weeks I’ve wandered aimless trying to think about how to incorporate her interests into a cute, heartfelt Christmas ornament.  To say I’ve been drawing a blank is an understatement.  There was a moment when I thought I might actually figure out how to make a rock into an ornament (I mean, rock climbing right? Just no. Stop it. You need help, Whit.)

I decided to focus in on the music idea, but I was moments away from walking to Faneuil Hall and throwing money at the problem when I was inspired by a cinnamon stick.

A music scroll! How cute of an idea is that? And “Jingle Bells” is written for saxophone, of course! I tea stained the paper, and 20 minutes later, I had an ornament I can’t wait for her to receive. It goes in the mail tomorrow so hopefully she gets it soon and this isn’t too much of a spoiler – but as I mentioned, Christmas is only 10 days away and I wanted to share it with you guys in case you’re so inspired! (I’m sending some other goodies too because – Christmas).

You will need:

  • Image of Music for Printing
  • 1 Sheet of Paper
  • 1 Tea Bag
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks (Look for the ones that curl in to each other to create a slot to put in your paper)
  • 12” of Wire or any other method of hanging
  • Hot Glue Gun

Print your music on to the paper so that it fits just inside the length of the cinnamon stick. You might have to play around with this a bit – I got super lucky on the first try. DIY Cinnamon Music Scroll Ornament (2 of 13)Brew a cup of tea and take a damp (not dripping) tea bag and begin blotting the music until it is fully stained. Some variation is saturation is ok, it adds to the dimension of the look. You can either leave this for a few hours to dry – or be like me and grab a hair dryer to expedite the process. DIY Cinnamon Music Scroll Ornament (3 of 13)DIY Cinnamon Music Scroll Ornament (4 of 13)DIY Cinnamon Music Scroll Ornament (5 of 13)DIY Cinnamon Music Scroll Ornament (6 of 13)When the paper is dry, cut to size with your cinnamon sticks.

DIY Cinnamon Music Scroll Ornament (7 of 13)Using a thin line of hot glue, affix each end of your music in to the groove of the cinnamon stick. Once cool, roll the stick in towards the music. It will create the “rolled scroll” look a bit more, as well as disguise any glue that may be visible at the seam. DIY Cinnamon Music Scroll Ornament (8 of 13)DIY Cinnamon Music Scroll Ornament (9 of 13)Take a length of wire, ribbon, fishing line, etc and determine how long you’d like it to be, then add half the length of the cinnamon stick (for wire) or at least an inch additional on each side. For the wire, I used small pliers to bend each side in that would conveniently slide in to the hold of the cinnamon stick.  I used a dot of hot glue on each side to be sure it was well secured.DIY Cinnamon Music Scroll Ornament (11 of 13)DIY Cinnamon Music Scroll Ornament (12 of 13)Hang with pride, or give it to your favorite musician on your Christmas list. At less than $2 an ornament, it’s right on budget, filled with love, and looks like it took way more time than it actually did.DIY Cinnamon Music Scroll Ornament (13 of 13)

Merry Christmas!

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Obviously these are gluten free – they’d really ruin my Thanksgiving if they weren’t – but it doesn’t seem fair to label them in a way that could imply that they’re anything short of awesome, perfectly chewy, with a just-crunchy-enough edge cookie – a universally loved treat.

Now, I had never made this recipe, and in addition to it being a first round go, I was in a bit of a hurry and made modifications along the way that had me guessing as to whether this would be bloggable or simply good-enough-to-get-my-sugar-high-post-turkey. Why do you care? I didn’t take any photos along the way.  When I make these again (I definitely will) perhaps I’ll update the post with a step by step (I probably won’t). So, if you have questions, post them below or email info@thenaturalginger.com.

Adapted to be gluten free and amazing from Alton Brown’s The Chewy Recipe on Food.com

chewy chocolate chip cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 Medium Eggs + 1 Medium Egg Yolk (if you have Extra Large or Jumbo, I’d go with 1 egg + 1 yolk)
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1oz Milk (1/8th cup)
  • 8oz Unsalted Butter Melted and Cooled (2 sticks)
  • 6oz Light Brown Sugar (3/4 cup firmly packed)
  • 4oz Granulated Sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 12oz The Natural Ginger’s Gluten Free Flour Blend (About 2 1/4 cups. Trader Joe’s or King Arthur’s are what I was mimicking if you don’t want to mix up your own. But… you should. It’s a pretty accurate cup for cup conversion in traditional recipes.)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum (omit if your flour blend already has this)
  • 12oz Chocolate Chips

Directions

In your mixer or mixing bowl, combine the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla milk and butter (make sure it’s cooled from melting or it’ll cook your eggs and that’s gross) and mix until all is well blended.  Add in both sugars and mix until well incorporated.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and xanthan gum.  Whisk (carefully) to fully blend, or use a sifter if you’re fancy.

At low speed, slowly incorporate your dry ingredients in to your wet, being sure to scrape the sides of the bowl as you go.

When the dough is fully blended, mix in the chocolate chips.

CHILL YOUR DOUGH FOR 12 HOURS*. I didn’t think this mattered but it totally does to get the perfect shape.  All that butter needs to solidify again. I don’t know why. Ask Alton Brown, he’s the one that told me about this. I haven’t taken Chemistry since 2000 but I got an A. These cookies also get an A. Just roll with it.

Preheat your oven to 325**.

Place dough in approximately 1 heaping tablespoon mounds on to a cookie sheet, and bake for 10-13 minutes, until the edges are browned and the centers are just set. 

*Obviously I ignored this and tried cooking up a couple cookies with the fresh dough before I refrigerated it, because I was dying to have a cookie.  They tasted great, but if they had lived to see the next day they didn’t seem like they would be as chewy as their chilled dough counterparts and they definitely didn’t bake into as nice of a shape. If you bake this dough immediately, it’s still delicious, but just not as pretty.  Odds are these aren’t sticking around long enough for their moisture longevity to be an issue.

**I’ve mentioned before, I think my oven sucks and bakes a little hot. I’d encourage you to use your best judgement here and keep an eye on the cookies.IMG_1936IMG_1933

“Cream” of Mushroom Soup

Ok, fine. It’s cauliflower and celery soup with some mushrooms thrown in, but does that sound nearly as good? No.  I feel like cauliflower went from trendy to lame when people figured out that it is not, in fact, a russet potato. (It’s ok, guys. I was disappointed too.)  But that doesn’t mean it can’t be valuable as a kitchen stable when trying to manage your calories, fat, carbs – you name it. The only carbohydrates in this come from vegetables, and it’s got so much fiber that it’s *almost* like eating nothing.

It doesn’t taste like nothing.

It’s rich and creamy and earthy and all the things that I want a creamy soup to be.  If I hadn’t made this in my own kitchen, I still wouldn’t be convinced that it’s free of all starch and dairy products, but it is.  Miracles DO happen.

I’m over hyping this soup. Just try it – for the nutrition exchange, you’d be hard pressed to do better.

Need something more to crunch on? Add some more sauteed veggies. Or quinoa.

Or steak!!

Sorry vegans, but steak would be effing delicious in this soup. I might try that for tomorrow. I’m not vegan, I just read a lot of Thug Kitchen.

Gather up the following:

  • 1 Medium to Large Cauliflower – the star of your show!
  • 1 Head Celery
  • 4-5 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Medium yellow Onion
  • 2 Tbs White Balsamic Vinegar (Apple Cider is fine, too. My Balsamic was closer.)
  • 2 cups Sliced Crimini Mushrooms
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 4 cups Vegetable Broth Cream of Mushroom Cauliflower Soup - 01 Cream of Mushroom Cauliflower Soup - 02

Break up that cauliflower and place it in a roasting dish. Pour about 1/2 cup of your broth over the florets, cover with tin foil, and roast at 425 for about 15-20 minutes, until fork tender. Cream of Mushroom Cauliflower Soup - 05While your cauliflower roasts, chop up that celery, onion and garlic.  This is going to be pureed, it doesn’t have to be pretty.

But look at how pretty that is.

Cream of Mushroom Cauliflower Soup - 03Saute your chopped veggies with the salt, some balsamic vinegar, and about 1/2 cup of veggie broth. If your broth cooks off too quickly, add a little more.

Cream of Mushroom Cauliflower Soup - 04 Cream of Mushroom Cauliflower Soup - 07 Cream of Mushroom Cauliflower Soup - 08

If you can multitask, saute your mushrooms in a bit of broth until tender and set aside. You’ll want to keep those nice and chunky.

Cream of Mushroom Cauliflower Soup - 09Add your sauteed veggies to the blend, along with your cauliflower, and the rest of the broth. Blend until silky smooth. I went for about 2 minutes in the vitamix.

That’s not nearly as pretty. Don’t worry, it gets better. Cream of Mushroom Cauliflower Soup - 10

 

Return your blended soup to the stove, add your mushrooms, and bring to a low boil. I feel like cooking the mushrooms in to the soup really helped saturate the flavor, but if you’re in a hurry, I suppose this step could be optional. (I recommend you stop being lazy and just cook it down a minute, ok?) Cream of Mushroom Cauliflower Soup - 11 Creamy, deliciousness.Cream of Mushroom Cauliflower Soup - 12 I brought it to work in a mason jar.  It make 8 1 cup servings, or by my measurements, 2 mason jar lunches.  See full infographic at the beginning of the recipe for the nutritional info – but that full mason jar? 250 calorie lunch.

Is it creamy cheese and potato soup? No. Is it satisfying to be able to have two heaping bowls for lunch and feel full, without a carb coma afterwards? Yeah, it’s pretty awesome.  Try it and let me know what you add! Cream of Mushroom Cauliflower Soup - 13

 

 

 

Dear Yogis: I can’t take it anymore

Have you ever tried Bikram Yoga? I’ve been (inconsistently) practicing for almost 2 years now, and sometimes when I mention I’m going, people ask me if it’s “fun”.  Um, no. Not at all. I do not consider pushing my muscles beyond their flexibility wearing next to nothing next to a bunch of other sweaty people for 90 minutes fun (call me a party pooper). I do not go to class for “fun” – I go for the consistency of programming and the feeling of invincibility I get afterwards.  I know, it’s very anti-yogi to go into class with a this-is-gonna-suck attitude – I’m working on it.  So when I came back from a 3 week binge of conferences, company, cross country flights and a lower back and gut that were just not going to be quick to forgive my traveling transgressions, I decided I needed to commit myself to a few weeks of Bikram restoration.  It helps my mind, spine and systems from the inside out, even if the 90 minutes are pure torture.

Currently, I’m on Day 5 of 21 classes in 25 days. While I started out optimistic of going 21 times in 21 days, I’m being realistic about what I can and can’t do – and there are times when life is going to prevent me from getting to class. It happens, I move on. The only person I’m accountable to is me.

But, I digress. That’s actually not at all what this is about.

I have a bone to pick with you Bikram Yogis. I realize many of you have been practicing longer than me, and perhaps you’ve gotten a bit too comfortable, or confident, or whatever it may be, but there are some ground rules that are generally established in the “Beginner’s Guide to Yoga” that you seem to have forgotten.  I’m tired, I’m sore, and I’m here to offer you eight friendly reminders so that you can stop pissing me off before I’ve had my coffee while I try to find my Zen.

  • Those mirrors at the front? Despite popular believe, those are only there to help you check your posture, not pop your pimples. I realize that your pores have never been bigger thanks to the 105 degree temps and high humidity.  It’s like a facial waiting to happen, right? No. Just stop. I’m begging you.
  • It’s amazing how we can go through the day without thoroughly examining the bottom of our feet, isn’t it? Yoga is called practice, so let’s “practice” making it through the moments before class without giving ourselves a fingernail pedicure. I’m sorry your polish is chipping, that blister is about to peel, or that toenail is just a little too long and begging to be groomed back. Again, stop it. Look at yourself in the mirror – you see that? You look like a monkey. Prove to me and your fellow classmates that, you too, benefited from the evolutionary process and know the proper times to groom.
  • Leave your cell phone in the locker room. Seriously.  There’s no need to check Instagram in the 3 minutes you’re left waiting for class to start, and there’s DEFINITELY no need to post a pre-class selfie #namaste #bestlifeever #fitfam #zen. Not only is it rude, that faceless belly roll that looks extra cellulitey under fluorescent lighting with a Valencia filter? Yeah, that’s me, and I don’t want it on the internet.  You and the other 30 people in here paid good money to check out that mess – please spare the web images their eyes can’t unsee.
  • Dear girl in the front, you look very fit – clearly a competitor in all areas of your life. You’re probably here because this is truly Yoga for the Type A Personality. Let me remind you, this is not a place to compete. Rushing in to Camel Pose just to show us that your head can touch your feet is not impressive; it’s rude and a little insulting.  The instructor told us to “follow step by step, everyone together, no faster, no slower.” Do that. Practice following directions.  If you want to race, we can meet on a treadmill later.  You’ll win, I promise.
  • Men of yoga, boxers are not shorts. Girls, if you bought it at Victoria’s Secret, those aren’t shorts either. Underwear is not appropriate attire (and I’m pretty liberal with what I wear myself). A swimsuit would hold you in better. Cover it up. Thank you.
  • They give us two towels every class for a reason. Please use yours so that when we’re packed like sardines into the 5:30 you’re not dripping over my mat in the standing series. I’m sure your sweat is no worse than mine – which is why I’m fine with sweating right next to you beautiful people in close quarters – but I think it’s fair to request that you don’t get your leg sweat on the towel I’m about to wipe my face with.
  • Ladies, take off your make up. Trust me; nothing good comes of even the best mascara after 30 minutes of sweating. You’ll spend the next 60 trying to rescue your raccoon eyes – and even worse? – I will inevitably get your Maybeline stained towel on my next visit.
  • Before we leave the room, please take a look around. There are about 20 women in here, and 3 showers. Every one of us is drenched with sweat and, presumably, most of us are headed to work at 7:30 in the morning on a weekday.  This is not the time to shave your legs when you get to the shower.  Keep it to 5 minutes or less.  I know you can do it.

Please read this with love.  I really do love you all. I love sharing my mornings and evenings on a mat next to you, and I notice your little victories as we progress through our practice.  Say hi, let’s make small talk, and maybe even grab coffee or a drink.  But only if you don’t make me want to punch you during the 90 excruciating minutes we share together first.