Foodie Pen Pal Reveal

Wow I cannot believe it is already almost MAY!! I graduate in 14 days, but the reality of entering “adult life” still has not hit me yet. Maybe because I still have two exams and a paper in between today and Friday… Also there the whole moving to a new city thing.

On Saturday I hung out with my some of my dance friends who I danced with since high school, middle school, and even elementary school (Caroline, I think you are the only one who fits in this category :)). It was great to chat with them and get caught up on everyone’s lives. I don’t get to see them nearly enough since we live in different cities and states! We went to the Busy Bee, a cute bar in downtown Raleigh.

RECAP: Busy Bee “cellar-clearing” kickoff showcases rare brews and thriving communitysource

I really don’t know enough about beers to fully appreciate the expansive menu, but it they had a huge variety! I kept it simple with a Blue Star wheat beer, and Ellen ordered an interesting cherry beer that tasted a bit like Cheerwine (or cough syrup).

Sunday, I basically just studied my brains into mush.

Today will probably be more of the same.

Luckily, I have tons of goodies from my foodie pen pal, Brittany, at Glitz Glam and Granola to snack on in the library. Foodie pen pals is a program organized by Lindsay at the Lean Green Bean. I have participated the past two months, and its a lot of fun! You don’t have to be a blogger to join. Here’s some of the food I received:

My first Kind bar-so delicious and nutty!

The flattened nut butters (ie the ones with chocolate) were consumed straight out of the pouch

Amazing blue corn chips

All the fixings for an Italian dinner: pesto sauce, pasta, and Italian dressing

Not pictured is a bag of AMAZING granola that I devoured insanely quickly.

Now back to the library… :/

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Finding a New Fitness Goal

This morning I woke up early to fit in a five mile run before a day of studying. I have my first exam tomorrow for my Native American Literature class (random, I know-it fits a general education requirement) and I need to hit the books today!

After my run, I fueled up with a tropical green smoothie-but with a twist. Instead of water and orange juice, I added 1/2 cup of pasteurized egg whites to the blend.

I have always been intrigued by the recipe on the back of the carton for a protein smoothie. Sometimes the taste of protein powder can get overpowering and sickening, and I thought adding egg whites would be a great way to get the protein I wanted without the strong flavor.

Smoothie success!
I know it looks like green goop, but it tasted delicious

Now on to the next topic of today’s post: workout challenges. I am very goal-oriented in most aspects of my life, and I love to be challenged. I think this character trait is even more true when it comes to fitness, I love working towards a goal. Now that dance is over, I have 8ish extra hours in the week in which I am no longer active. I would like to either train for something or get a solid workout plan with some type of concrete result.

I am thinking about running a half marathon in the fall, but it is a bit early to start training for that race. My dad really wants to run one of the mud obstacle course 5ks with me.

Being trampled in the mud=my worst fear

source

I am not super crazy about the idea, but it will probably happen if there is one near Raleigh/Charlotte this summer.

I really want to run another triathlon. I’m actually think about doing one next spring and maybe a Half Ironman in the summer, which would be a serious challenge! However I promised myself during my hellish bike ride last race that I would get a road bike (not my comfy yet clunky commuter bike) before I attempted another triathlon. And since I do not have  a salary, a bike is really not in my immediate future.

Any other ideas for a good training goals/programs? Fun races?

Goat Cheese and Butternut Squash Calzone

 

My undergraduate career is quickly coming to a close. I feel like these past couple months have flown by. I had my last day of classes yesterday, and finals start tomorrow!

To celebrate this closing of a chapter of my life, I decided to take a little more time on dinner. This butternut squash and  goat cheese calzone probably took about 45 minutes from start to finish, including chopping the whole squash. But the final product is definitely worth it.  It is crispy on the outside, with a  fragrant and cheesy center. Now I just have to figure out with to do with the other 4 cups of butternut squash  I have left.

Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Calzones

Makes 2 large calzones

8 oz (half package) whole wheat pizza dough (I use Trader Joe’s)

1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped

1 1/2 cups butternut squash, cubed

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

3/4 cup shredded mozzarella

2 oz goat cheese

Directions

Saute the butternut in oil with the rosemary. Cook for 15 minutes covered, stirring occasionally. While the squash is cooking, divide the dough and stretch it into two rectangles. Spray the pan with oil before laying the dough down. Add the three cheeses to a bowl and combine well. Add the cooked squash to the dough, top with cheese mixture. Fold the dough over the filling, pinch edges closed to prevent any leakage. Flip the calzone over so the seams are on the bottom. Preheat oven to 350, cook the calzones for 20 minutes.

Making Babies

Kombucha babies, of course!

What did you think I meant 😉

(If you have no idea what I am talking about, you might want to read this post about kombucha)

Over the past 6 weeks I have successfully brewed three batches of kombucha from start to finish. I have learned so much since I first started and become a lot more comfortable with the process. While I still am experimenting with different flavors and brewing times, I have been really pleased with the product!

Here are my basic instructions:

Brewing Kombucha

Necessary supplies:

4 bags of tea, green or black. Stay away from flavored teas such as Earl Grey, because it can kill the SCOBY

1 cup sugar

1 large (6-8 cup) glass container

2-3 glass bottles for your kombucha

1 mason jar for your SCOBY

1 breathable cloth

1 large rubber band

fruit juice (optional)

Directions:

1. Brew 4 cups of tea-green or black. I use regular Lipton.

Add a cup of sugar and stir until fully combined. Let it cool for about 4 hours

2. Pour the tea into a large glass container with a lip. My container is 6 cups.

With clean hands, add the SCOBY and liquid starter (about one cup). Try and slide the SCOBY on top of the tea-sometimes this works for me, sometimes not.

3. Cover with a thin cloth and secure with a rubber band. This allows the SCOBY to breathe, but protects it from bugs/other containments.

Store it in a warm (75 degrees is optimal in my experience), dark place.

4. After about a week, check on your brew. I use a straw to capture a little bit of the brew and taste (do not drink directly from the straw). The optimal brew will be a little sweet and carbonated. It will take more time to get a carbonated brew in colder temperatures, but be patient it will happen!

5. When you feel your brew is ready, collect clean glass bottles (I reuse GT’s Kombucha bottles) and a mason jar. Carefully remove the SCOBY and place in the mason jar. Pour about a cup of the brew into the jar with the SCOBY. Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to make your next batch.

Next pour your kombucha into the glass bottles. At this time, you can also add any fruit juice you desire. I have read that clear juices produce a better result. You only need about 1/4 cup of juice.

6. Store your bottles in a dark place for 72 hours. I find it helpful to “burp” the bottles in order to control the carbonation after this period. Next put the bottles in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before drinking.

Enjoy!

SCOBY in a mason jar and tea in brewing glass

Before beginning the process I read tons of articles and blog posts online about the optimal brewing method. A lot of people had strict guidelines regarding every aspect of the brewing process in order to not kill the SCOBY. However, I have not really followed most of them and have loved my kombucha so far.

Brewed kombucha with glass containers and Pom juice for flavoring

While it might seem labor-intensive at first, brewing requires very little hands-on time. I usually just put my glass jar in the pantry and forget about it for the rest of the week. The hardest part was actually finding a SCOBY with which to start my batch. I tried the method of pouring a bottle of kombucha into sweet tea, but it did not yield results. I ended up getting my SCOBY from a local lady selling them on Craigslist for $5 (a little more than the cost of 1 bottle).

Home brewed kombucha!

Kristen at The Food Renegade has an awesome post on how to brew kombucha that I followed religiously for my first batches. I really appreciated that Kristen added this little caveat: “Everyone will swear doing this or that particular thing will make the beverage more healthful for you-and often the advice is contradictory. My point? Relax. Just do it. Enjoy it.”

Her advice helped me relax a bit, although I totally freaked out while making my first batch. The whole time I was petrified of killing my SCOBY. I felt like I was in some intense surgery room a la Grey’s Anatomy.

Some articles I read emphasized the fact that you cannot use antibactical soap on your hands because it will killl the bacteria in the scoby. But simultaneously the brewing environment has to be very clean. I decided on the really hot water route and parboiled my hands and brewing jar to cleanliness. I finally worked up enough courage to actually take the big step and pick up the SCOBY to put it in the glass jar. I plopped it in and then felt the warm jar, which triggered a memory from one of the articles I read about not exposing the SCOBY to heat. So I swooped in and saved my baby.

Thus far, my baby has survived and is even making more babies despite its near death experience!

Last night, I passed one on to Kath so she can start her own brew. 🙂

Midnight Banana Muffins

Last week I bought way too many bananas (like 12), and they have been browning on my table over the past few days.

As much as I love a banana breakfast bowl, I knew I could not eat one every day for the next week(s). All yesterday, I mulled over several banana recipes but did not latch on to a specific idea that sounded both delicious and healthy.

Last night when I returned home around 11:30, I walked in the door and saw the bananas again. I was struck with a desire to eat them in some type of baked good immediately inspiration to make banana bread and searched around some of my favoriate blogs to find a good recipe.

I wanted to bake something on the healthy side, without sacrificing taste. These muffins definitely achieve the balance of (mostly) good for you ingredients and supreme deliciousness. You will not even know they are vegan/pretty healthy! That being said, if you do not include the chocolate chips (shame on you) I would recommend adding a bit more sweetener.

In an attempt to save as much time as possible, and get to bed before 1am, I made muffins instead of bread, but this recipe will work with either. Bread will have a longer baking time, probably around 45-50 minutes. This recipe probably makes enough for 16ish normal size muffins, but I refused to do any more dishes than necessary, so I managed to cram most of the batter into my 12 muffin tins (and eat the rest raw-hurrah for vegan baking!). These ginormous babies are the result.

Vegan Banana Nut Muffins

adapted from Hill’s Healthy Banana Bread

makes 12 really large muffins

Ingredients:

dry

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup white flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

wet

3 ripe bananas, mashed

1/4 cup oil

1/4 cup almond milk

1/2 cup agave

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

fold-ins

1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts

1/2 cup dark chocolate morsels (use vegan if that is important to you-I didn’t)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls. Add the wet to the dry. Fold in walnuts and chocolate chips. Scoop into muffin tins (I sprayed mine with a bit of oil first). Bake for 18-22 minutes.

The muffins proved to be a perfect midnight (literally) snack, and I was in bed by 1:10.

Perfect.

Weekend Events

Not from this weekend, but a really cool picture from rehearsal for the show photo credit: Celeste Cowan

This weekend was anything but relaxing! However I really enjoyed being able to perform and spend time with some friends and family. I had a show on Friday and Saturday night, as well as an out of town wedding for my cousin on Saturday afternoon :). I regret not taking more pictures of my cousin’s wedding (by that I mean I regret not taking any pictures at all). But Claire served as the photographer for our two  hour road trip to Farmville and back on Saturday, and I managed to take/steal some pictures from the show!

Mini road trip to the wedding

Luna bar and green tea for the road

Destination: Farmville

masked co presidents in one the signature poses from the dance

photo credit: John Bowden

Company and Alumna(us?) with Marian after the show

the not so crazy after party

Moving!

Hi all, this is going to be a quick post because I am up to my eyeballs in things that need to get done yesterday/today/tomorrow. The show is literally taking over my life, and there is no way I would be functioning right now without my amazing co-pres, Christine. 🙂

She is joining me on the ground

Anyway, on to the big news. I am moving to Charlotte in June!!

Originally when I got my job in November, I was going to be working at the office in Raleigh. I planned on living at home for a couple months and then finding a place for myself after I had a concrete schedule/made some payments on my student loans. A couple days ago, I received a call from my future employer and they asked me how I felt about being in Charlotte (which is the main office in NC). I had intitally wanted to be in Charlotte because most of the team works there and it has a fun, younger atmosphere–so I was totally ready to go!

I am still getting used to the idea of packing up and  moving, but I am so excited as well! Ever since I studied abroad sophomore year, I have wanted to move and experience a new place.

In the train station in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania about to embark upon an 18 hour journey with other UNC travelers and our friend Nick

I love traveling and change of scenery in general. However, my post graduation plans were a bit focused on staying close enough to Durham so I could see this guy at least a couple times a month.

Paradise Island (ahhh I miss the cruise)

I am hoping that Charlotte is the perfect distance away from home: so it feels like I am starting my young professional life, but I am also near enough to my family and friends.

Now I am online apartment hunting and looking into ways to meet people/make friends. Right now, I don’t know exactly what I want as far as a place to live-but must haves include a patio/deck and well lit kitchen. As far as the friend situation, I am thinking about joining a running/triathlon group as well as a gym, church, and maybe some type of photography group.

Any ideas for ways to meet potential friends in a new place? Moving suggestions or tips? What are your apartment/home must-haves?