5 Tips to Kill it in the Kitchen

First of all, I owe you all a big fat apology for my absenteeism. We’ve been having a little bit of technical difficulty around the Heyday household, and other things have taken priority to getting the computer fixed… which is kind of awesome, actually. I love me some blogging, but it has been kind of nice to get up in the a.m. and work on some other nagging projects before finding an alternate way to check emails and social media. I’ve pretty much developed a new routine of drinking a giant glass of lemon water while I water the landscape and my tomato plant and ponder life’s wonders in the shade of the morning before the day turns sweltering. It’s been a nice change of pace. But alas, I come to you today from the iPad, (which is mildly annoying, but works, so, whatever) while the MacBook is in the hospital. Not sure how many of these posts I’ll be able to tolerate before requiring an actual keyboard, so bear with me in case you don’t hear anything for another week.

Today’s post is brought to you by: your culinary fears! You know you want to be a wiz in the kitch, but something’s holding you back. You’re overwhelmed, you’re afraid to try something new, you burn toast… Whatever it is, it’s time to let it go and embrace your inner chef! Here are 5 ways to step up your game and start killing it in the kitchen.

  1. Get out of your comfort zone! Try new things! Pick up a vegetable you’ve never tried before (Sunchokes? Kohlrabi, anyone?). Use a new pantry staple like grass-fed gelatin or fish sauce or ghee or coconut butter. Get out an appliance you never use (Maybe your food processor or crock pot or double boiler?).Things get boring really fast when you’re serving up the same ol’ chicken breasts, roasted sweet potatoes and salad night after night. It doesn’t have to be complicated… just try a new side dish, an unusual marinade or a new sauce that will add some spice to your regular favorites. What about some braised red cabbage with sherry vinegar or some sunshine sauce (a great substitute for peanut sauce). Get out some cookbooks and get creative! But with that said… image
  2. Don’t be a slave to your cookbooks! Sure, follow a recipe exactly the first time… Make notes on what you loved or didn’t love so much, and make it your own the next few times you make it. Maybe it needed more spice or maybe it was too spicy? Maybe it would’ve tasted a bit better with a touch of acid from a lemon or a splash of vinegar? Whatever your changes, write them down, but then commit your favorite recipes to memory so that you can whip them up sans cookbook.
  3. Clean as you go, it’s the sign of a pro! This is seriously one of my favorite tips. I hate messes and clutter, and when my countertops start filling up with tools of the trade during a batch-cooking session, I start to have an anxiety attack – scratch that – I used to have an anxiety attack. Now I avoid that mess all together and just clean up as I go. It saves me the headache of having to clean up a huge mess after the meal and keeps me sane during the process because my workspace is clutter-free. It’s not hard to do, just be mindful to make it a habit!
  4. Make it pretty! By now we all know that we eat with our eyes first – so why limit that visual stimulation to only the meals you eat at restaurants? Start making your plates Instagram-worthy and a few things will happen: the ones eating off those plates will take note (and eat up), and you’ll find yourself getting greater pleasure from the fruits of your labor in the kitchen. We all have a little artist in us, this might just be your new creative outlet.

    Sooo, I mainly shoot my breakfast plates... deal.

    Sooo, I mainly shoot my breakfast plates… deal.

  5. Learn to laugh at yourself. Pretty sure this one is a must. Once you’ve turned on the blender after forgetting to make sure the blade was fully screwed on (done) or accidentally let a cracked egg slip down the crevasse between the oven and the kitchen counter (done that, too), you’ll quickly realize that having a sense of humor is a necessity in all areas of life, including the area where you cook. It also helps to have a pet who doesn’t mind cleaning up your kitchen floor from time to time.

    Malone, otherwise known as, my trusty sous chef.

    Malone, otherwise known as, my trusty sous chef.

Happy cooking!

xx

e

Post-Travel Craving: JUICE

We had an awesome trip trekking up to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina for a cousin’s wedding this past weekend. I took zero pictures which has me feeling kind of bummed. I know there will be plenty of wedding pics surfacing on Facebook over the next few days, but I’m mostly bumming over the pics of the cute little secret breakfast spot we found or the hidden gem of a pub serving up eggplant fries in a pool of tarragon honey mustard (YUM) that I didn’t take. I suppose in the moment, the lack of photos was my attempt at being present, really experiencing the rare weekend away with Tim and our family and taking it all in. Okay… I take it back, no regrets.

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This was the singular photo I took over the weekend. It’s the stone pathway back to the secret-garden-like breakfast spot we discovered… and I only took it because I want to recreate a stone path like this in our backyard. I’m pathetic, I know.

Weekend travel makes me thirsty. Seriously. Hours in a car trying to make as few stops as possible means limiting my normal generous intake of water, and what feels like limited access to filtered water while staying in a hotel room, not to mention consumption of some extra-salty foods that aren’t typically in my day-to-day meal plan (fried cheese, anyone?), leave me feeling parched and puffy upon return to real life. 

I got in about 60 ounces of water in the afternoon once we returned, but I woke up this morning thirsty as ever. Enter fresh summer watermelon and a convenient need to clean out the produce nearest wilting in my fridge.

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This particular concoction included some hydrating veggies like romaine, cucumber, and celery, along with some bright (and lower-sugar) fruits like lemon, lime, and green apple. Add in a few carrots (I didn’t have the white ones this time) and a little mint, and the color of the resulting mixture appeared a little less than appetizing. It was delish, though! Proof that juice doesn’t always have to be pretty to taste amazing and fresh.

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Just because it looks like I filled this glass from the marsh behind our house doesn’t mean I did.

I always cut my juice by mixing in some cold, filtered water. And though it’s best to consume your juice right away, I just make sure I keep it covered in the fridge and drink it all the same day I make it in order to avoid loss of nutrients. You can read more about my adventures in juice here.

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This one was a little more Instagram-worthy… the frothy goodness before I stirred! Taste the rainbow!

Cheers!

erin

Yahoooo! A Week in Review.

Done with tests! Done with studying (pshhh, right! HASHTAG STUDENT FOR LIFE!)! Done with it ALLLLLL! I’ve officially graduated from (and I’m now a legit member of) the Nutritional Therapy Association, y’all!

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Okay, simmer down, crazypants.

Somehow I thought I would have all this amazing free time once I wouldn’t be filling up every waking second of my day with my nose buried in books/papers/files/school projects (which paid off, btw: got an allllmost perfect score on my exams, thankyouverymuch)… but I’ve been back from Hartford, CT since Monday and… uh… excuse me, where did this week go? I don’t even know.

On Monday, I opened up my calendar and my teux deux list and promptly filled them with every imaginable thing I could think of that I wanted to accomplish in life, ever – today, tomorrow, and seven years from now. Whoa. Clearly, I have all sorts of ambition. But this week was more of a wrapping-up-of-loose-ends kind of week… doing all the stuff I had to do before I could move on to more fun stuff like building and preparing raised beds for organic garden planting in a few months, making a giant batch of this lovely stuff, organizing the nursery, and attempting my first batch of kombucha… you know, all the stuff I wouldn’t let myself do before my last weekend of testing for fear that it would fall under the “procrastinating” category, as in, I’m putting together this crib because I don’t want to study. Because I’m really, really good at that. THIS week, involved more boring stuff like appointments, errands, getting the dogs groomed, cleaning, cooking, paying bills, finishing my baby registry (hours – HOURS, I tell you) and clearing mounds (MOUNDS!) of clutter that have been piling up over the past month. Sadly, blogging didn’t make the cut this week, but organizing my calendar and plotting out plenty of entertaining (and educational – so there!) posts for your reading pleasure DID make the cut! Yahoo! Those goodies are right around the corner, so stay tuned!

Have a great weekend… ours is going to be filled with yard work (if the rain holds off, and painting if it doesn’t)… and check back on Monday. I have a few new (Paleo) cookbooks in my arsenal and can’t wait to review some recipes for you!

Ciao for now!

xx

e

 

A Little Nutritional Wisdom from one Mom-To-Be to Another…

Hey friends… happy-post-Mem-day weekend! Hope you all enjoyed an extra day off and are feeling less sluggish than me today… we spent the weekend working in the yard, enjoying a couple dinners out, and painting the rest of the downstairs (picture me cutting-in for hours after a lovely chest and triceps workout at the gym… OUCH!). I’m beat, but no time for naps! This girl has studying to do… yawwwn!

A little while back, once I had graduated to the second trimester, I wrote a post on my crappy first-trimester diet. Curious as to any wisdom that I’ve uncovered since then? You’re in luck… today, I’m a featured blogger on We’re Talking About Food and I’ve shared my top 5 bits of advice for healthy nutritional habits during pregnancy (and beyond!). Hope you enjoy!

xx

e

 

Vive le Vendredi: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow… er… a Few Days Ago!

If you follow me on instagram you probably caught my photo and caption yesterday afternoon regarding my lack of ability to ever commit to growing out my short hair for more than a few months.  It went a little something like this:

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I just couldn’t do it anymore. It usually gets to about the length it had gotten to, and something deep inside me starts feeling frumpy and completely non-attached to the process of growing it any longer. Here’s the series of events that led to the unfortunate and immediate demise of my grow-out:

  1. The weather started really heating up this past week.
  2. It started taking me longer and longer to do my hair, with more product and more blow-drying and way more gadgets than I am used to (actual brushes and flat-irons? the horror!)… and in the end I was only semi-satisfied with the final ‘do about 40% of the time.
  3. I started thinking about the amount of time it was taking me to get a decent-looking style and the fact that I am not going to have that kind of time to spend on my hair once October rolls around and I am kind of busy with something else (oh yeah, that baby thing). And then I started fantasizing about how it used to take me approximately 4 minutes to blow dry and style my super short hair, and it always looked good. Sighhhh.
  4. Instead of gazing longingly at pictures of Carey Mulligan or Emma Watson and their commitment to grow-out (my usual inspiration), I started looking at pictures of Halle Berry (pregnant, and hot with short hair, no less… if you follow me on Pinterest, you’d have noticed those pins!) and Charlize Theron and Natalie Portman (her pixie era). It was downhill from there.
  5. THEN, I admitted to Tim that I was considering giving up growing it and just cutting it off again… his response? DO IT. I’ve been hoping you would.” Well that was basically the final nail in the coffin! But in case I wasn’t convinced, he proceeded to dive into a monologue on all the reasons I should cut it off, which half-shocked me but mostly made me crack up. Something involving boxed wine and soap operas between play dates with the rest of the soccer moms that would all look just like me if I had the grown-out “mom hair”. HA! That guy, I tell ya. He is a keeper.

So upon cutting it (myself, in my bathroom, as per usual), I immediately felt like myself again! After multiple attempts at grow-out, I’m finally beginning to realize that maybe I’m just destined to be a short-haired gal for life. And I’m okay with that.

Oh, and in case you are new to the ‘Diaries and you don’t believe me that I’ve been through this before… let’s take a walk down memory lane, shall we? Just for fun!

Remember this? The beginnings of a short “bob” by my standards, when I was just starting to get used to a new phase of growth… circa October 2012.

Signature scrunch-face.

I cut short bangs, played around with headbands, and stood on my toilet for photos.

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Side note: never wore that dress again because I washed it once and the color all bled together. Good thing it was on sale at H&M which means it was something like -$4.

December meant holiday parties and a pro cut in an actual salon (that I promptly came home to “fix” myself).

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Don’t we look dapper?

Aaaand by January 2012, approximately four-to-five months into the grow-out, I started looking at old pictures of myself with short hair, making photo collages and taking a poll on Facebook to get opinions on whether I should grow it or cut it…

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And then a day later, this happened:

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#shorthairdontcare

And there you have it. I’m a hair-growth-commitment-phobe. Not really. I just reeeeeally like it short. Really. The end.

Have a great weekend and remember… some spotty posting over the next few weeks until I’m done with my final!

xx

e

 

We’re Talking About Taji

Hi friends! As promised, we’ve got a little something special for you on the blog today – an up-close-and-personal interview with food-lovin’ blogger, Taji Mortazavi of We’re Talking about Food. It was Taji’s exploration of multi-cultural cuisine, fearless spice combinations, and creative variety that first caught my attention on the blogosphere, but what hooked me was the fact that nearly all her recipes were not only healthy but mindful of certain dietary restrictions as well. If you’re not following her already, you should be – and be prepared to seriously spice up your boring weeknight menu!

Taji was awesome enough to answer a few questions about her background and philosophy on food for me, and I’ve got to say, her responses made me love her even more (and secretly want to be her real life bff). :) Hope you enjoy today’s guest blogger interview!

we're talking about food

1. In our conversation you mentioned your background in English and writing (like me!), but I’d love to hear more about your background in food/nutrition/wellness and how you became interested in it.

I guess you could say that I’ve always been a foodie at heart. Growing up with an Iranian father and a French mother, food was always the door to both cultures. Towards the end of high school, I became more interested in the nutritional components of food, and began meeting with a dietitian to answer my inquiries.

Today, food is truly an art for me. My kitchen is my studio, my foods are my paints, my knife is my brush, and my plate is my canvas. I’ve noticed that if I focus on the color, texture, and overall composition of a dish, the healthy nutrients, vitamins, and all the good stuff I need to be healthy are there without having to think so much about it. The more I cook, the more I realize that artistically I’m not in total control of the dishes I’m making—the food is. This isn’t to say that food controls me by any means, but rather I get really inspired by a lot of the ingredients I use and my creativity comes from within.

2. You’ve posted recipes across the board in terms of diet… vegan, vegetarian, paleo, gluten free… is there any particular diet to which you adhere? 

I think it’s good to experiment with a lot of different diets and healthy eating plans. I’ve noticed over the years that vegan and vegetarian cuisine has some very innovative ways of preparing vegetables. By contrast, paleo and gluten-free diets are really good at finding alternatives to refined carbohydrates and starches. I play around with all these plans because I think they ALL can contribute to a healthy diet and lifestyle. You can easily take Italian-seasoned chicken with spaghetti squash (typically a paleo or GF dish) and smother it with a dollop of vegan pesto for a meal that’s the best of both worlds. Part of my blog is about pairing these diets together so people can see they’re not all that drastically different. In my eyes, these healthy diets operate on a continuum rather than a set of extremes.

I have struggled with Crohn’s and Celiac Disease for quite some time now. Going gluten-free is definitely important to me and an essential part of my diet. I did some digging and found out dairy allergies also run in my family so I try to steer clear of that as well. Ultimately, I think a healthy diet is balanced and REAL! I avoid processed and fast food like it’s the plague, go organic when I can, and make sure I eat lots of raw vegetables and fruits.

3. I read in one of your posts a few months ago about another blogger’s philosophy on “eating to live” versus “living to eat”. As a self-proclaimed foodie, I’ll admit it’s hard for me to completely align with the “eat to live” philosophy, too, but as a nutritional therapist, I understand it and often have to adopt that mindset when counseling clients. Where do you stand, what are your thoughts on the two sides, and what advice do you have for someone on either side in terms of crossing over from time to time?

I agree with you completely that these two philosophies are often at odds with one another. I think it ultimately comes down to how so many people (myself included) struggle with intuitive eating. When your intuitive eating is in line, usually you don’t need to worry about whether you’re ‘eating to live’ or ‘living to eat.’ Those choices will happen naturally and healthfully for you. Look at people who are good intuitive eaters. They usually don’t align themselves with either camp and simply eat what they’re body is telling them to eat. And more often than not, they’re at a healthy weight. With that said, it’s hard to tell someone whose over/underweight to eat intuitively, because doing so is probably what has gotten them in trouble in the first place.

I really think it depends on your relationship with food. People who overeat might benefit from a more structured approach that focuses on set meal times and plans. At the same time, if you’re underweight because you forget to eat you could also benefit from a structured plan. It’s too easy to say if you’re overweight you should watch what you eat and if you’re underweight you should eat whatever you want. Both attitudes depend on your health and your natural eating habits.

4.  I always love seeing your creativity come through in your recipes. You’ve posted dishes from a variety of different cuisines including Korean, Mediterranean, Italian, French, and a variety of Persian dishes, all of them involving lots of unique fresh herbs and spices. Is there a certain culture that particularly inspires you in the kitchen?

You’re right in that I love to experiment! I want the site to have a little something for everyone and I try to incorporate lots of different cuisines. I named the blog “We’re Talking About Food” because I wanted to initiate a dialogue about food and food-related topics. Branching out to different cuisines is one of the many ways I try to initiate conversation and get people involved!

Maybe I’m biased, but I always seem to come back to Persian culture and dishes. Lately in the food world, the trends all lead towards fusion foods and cuisines. I like to think of Persian food as one of the original fusion cuisines out there. For centuries we’ve taken many Mediterranean flavors and paired them with East Asian and Indian ingredients. Most people who eat Persian food say it’s not the ingredients that surprise them, but the unique and innovative flavor combinations we’ve developed over time. To me, that’s much more interesting than a green tea flavored donut or a ramen burger – haha!

5. What is one significant change to your diet/lifestyle has had the most impact on your life and the way you feel?

I think being conscious of what I put in my body is perhaps one of the most important components to my diet, exercise habits, and over healthy lifestyle. Whether it’s a massaged kale salad or a double fudge brownie sundae (gluten-free of course!), being mindful of my choices is imperative to a healthy life. If I slip up, I have the tools to get back on track the next day. It wasn’t until I started practicing yoga more frequently that I actually learned what being mindful was all about. I used to stress about eating fat or sugar or salt. Now, I realize a little chocolate won’t kill me. Ultimately, it’s helped me create a lifestyle that’s healthy, but also balanced and realistic.

 

Thanks for sharing in the Heyday Diaries, Taji!

Check out more of Taji’s wit, insight and love for all things culinary at We’re Talking About Food

Talk soon, friends!

xx

e

 

Interested in being a guest blogger? Contact me here!

Is it Wednesday, Already?!

This morning I was checking out my teux-deux list (I was in a particularly crossy-offy mood) and realized that the top of my list said WEDNESDAY, MAY 21. 

Whoa! Where has this week gone? Time out – May 21?! Where has this MONTH gone?! I’m freakin’ out.

With a big fat functional (aka hands-on) exam right around the corner, you may be hearing less from me over the course of the next few weeks, but fear not. I have a few posts ready to go for your viewing pleasure, including some guest blogger action! That’s right! So get ready for that fanciness.

In the meantime, learn to love my little lists. ;)

Here are a few primal-friendly recipes that have popped up on my feed lately, which totally appealed to my pregnancy cravings and which I could not resist sharing.  Eat your heart out…

  1. Eat Clean, Feel Splendid’s Massaged Kale Salad with Grapefruit, Bacon, and Toasted Hazelnuts.  Say whaaaaat?? Kale salad aaand grapefruit?! GIVE ME ALL THE CITRUS!
  2. Chicago-Style Hot Dog Skewers inspired by a recipe from Primal Cravings (which we totally made this week, and after which I totally ordered the book to join my collection of primal-friendly cookbooks). Be warned… these babies are a leeeetle on the salty side… but so good!
  3. Clean Eating With a Dirty Mind’s Paleo Twix Bar Tarts. Shut your mouth right now… these look ridiculous.
  4. Avocado BLT Egg Salad from Stupid Easy Paleo. Yummmm.
  5. And with the days getting hotter, who could possibly resist this summertime favorite from Against All Grain: Dark Chocolate Fudge Pops! I’ve been craving chocolate ice cream (so weird for me), so I’m definitely going to make time for a batch of these babies in the near future.

Talk soon! Time to study!

This is me studying... and this is my study-buddy, doing what I would prefer to be doing. Jerk.

This is me studying… and this is my study-buddy, doing what I would prefer to be doing. Jerk.

xx

e