Monthly Archives: January 2016

“Snow” Day

Welcome to my snow day.

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If you’re looking for the snow and can’t find it, you’d be correct. That’s rain outside my window. It’s currently 38 degrees and raining in Atlanta, GA, and Emory University has decided to close today starting at 2pm due to anticipated severe weather conditions.

Not that I’m complaining. The weather reports have been calling for freezing rain and some snow in northern parts of Georgia. After what happened in 2010, it’s a good idea to close early and get people off the roads, just in case. Better safe than sorry.

And better to spent the day in pajamas, warm and cozy at home than have to go out in the rain.

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Nothing like Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pancakes topped with roasted pecans to start the day right.

I’m still studying today, as I do almost every day, but it will be at a different pace. I’ll get to be in my pajamas. Cups of tea will abound. There might be some spontaneous dance parties or watching Making a Murderer. (Side note: has anyone else been watching this? It’s good food for thought, but I’m reserving my opinion until I see the full thing).

Also, I will probably be enjoying a couple of these bad boys. photo 1_7

I made cookies on MLK day, and boy did they turn out good. I followed this recipe, and I halved it.  For the record, half a recipe made 32 cookies for me, so if you make the whole thing, be prepared for a LOT. Also, I didn’t have almonds so I used almond extract instead, and they turned out great. These would be perfect with a cup of tea. They’d also be perfect with chocolate, which is why I then did this…….

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I can’t decide yet which I like better. Guess I’ll just have to keep munching on them!

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Two Easy and Delicious Weeknight Meals

Hi all! I’d like to share with you two meals I made this week that were super easy, super delicious, and super nutritious. You can whip them up within 20-30 minutes. I also made extra and can testify that they make great leftovers too. So, without further ado…..

Recipe #1 – Sweet and Sour Chicken!

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You know when you get that craving for chinese food? For those little white cartons filled with soft, pillow-y rice, for those sauces that seep into every cranny, for chicken in every way – orange, sweet and sour, general tso’s-style? Well my friends, this is a recipe for you. Not only is it easy, but you can whip it up with ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen.

I used this recipe from Cooking Light, but I made some changes simply because I didn’t have some of the ingredients. If you try the whole thing, let me know!

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What did I do differently?

  • I sauteed the veggies like it said. But then I just sauteed the chicken too. I didn’t have egg whites or cornstarch, and this worked out great.
  • For the sauce, they have you combining cornstarch, ketchup, water, cider vinegar, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Again, I didn’t have cornstarch, and I also didn’t have cider vinegar. I did have white wine vinegar. So, like the rebellious cook I am, I just used what I had and eyeballed the amounts I put in, no measuring. I tasted it, amended, tasted again, and called it good. I will say that it would probably be better with cider vinegar, but sometimes you have to work with what you have!
  • I also cooked some brown rice, which made a delicious accompaniment!

Recipe #2 – Chicken Quinoa Bowls!

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This one, again, I followed a recipe from Cooking Light, but made changes based on what I had in my pantry.

What did I do differently here?

  • I followed it pretty much until the end. I didn’t have Marsala wine or shallots, so I sauteed the chicken, added onions (chopped finely), thyme, and garlic powder, and then called it good.

One of the things I love about cooking is that you get to make it how you like it. Sometimes that means following the recipe to the “T;” sometimes that means branching out…. either because of necessity or out of curiosity. I will always make my family’s Christmas cookies the same way, but I’m game to experiment with other things. And for certain recipes, following them with rigidity only makes cooking unpleasant. Don’t have a shallot? Use an onion. Don’t have an onion? Onion powder then. Cooking, as with a lot of things, is best approached as a flexible goal – you have a thing you want to create and the map to get there, but you might encounter some roadblocks. The real question is: what are you going to do with those roadblocks?

Resolutions?

I’m a little late to the game of New Year’s Resolutions. All this past week, a quick glance at social media yielded tidbits of “new year, new you,” “commit to losing those last 5 pounds,” and “getting your body in shape for spring.” People spoke negatively about the amount of Christmas cookies they had eaten, using cookies to measure their self-worth. I hope saying it like that makes it sound as ridiculous as it is. Maybe a cookie is just a cookie. Maybe our self-worth isn’t tied to what we eat or how we look.

Maybe a new year doesn’t mean looking for dissatisfaction and changing all the ways you think you don’t measure up.

Why start the year hating your body? Why start the year hating the way you live? Now, I’m all for change and challenges, for fresh starts and constantly improving. But there’s a difference. The first, unhealthy mindset says: I am a failure, what can I fix so that I like myself? The second, healthy mindset says: I am pretty darn great. But, I have a lot of potential. I think I can be even better. I like myself, but I want to see how I can be even more of myself than I thought possible.

People might do the exact same things with different mindsets. Person A  (of the first mindset) starts running on January 1 and Person B (of the second mindset) starts running on January 1. Person A does it because they hate how they look, because they think they have to run to be healthy, because that’s what someone told them they have to do, etc. Person B does it because they love running, or they’ve heard running is fun, or because they’d like to be healthier and have heard running is a good way to do it. They could both be running to be healthier. But Person A is running out of obligation and fear. Person B is running out of enjoyment and exploration. Person A must rigidly adhere to her resolution because only that will pull her out of her “failure” status. Person B may amend her resolution if she finds out she doesn’t like running, or gets injured, or any number of reasons.

This year, I’m not making resolutions. Instead, I filled out this template.

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This year, I challenge you to enhance, not to change. To embrace, not to erase. To thrive, not to survive. I challenge you to live life abundantly.