Apr 23, 2015

Posted by Jo W. 4/23/2015
I was recently sent some samples from Pearls Olives to try and review their Olives to Go! I've seen these in grocery stores before, but had yet to try them. I enjoy olives in things like salads and pizza, but I rarely eat them straight up as a snack. 

Fun fact about me: I actually disliked eating olives for most of my life. However, for some reason, I kept trying them. And they started to grow on me. Now I actually enjoy eating them (good thing, otherwise this review would've been a bust)

This is what I received: four 4-packs of kalamatas, sliced black olives, black pitted, and pimento stuffed. An insulated lunch tote was included as well, which is perfect because I needed one!

Have you ever eaten those fruit cup things that are impossible to open without squirting the juice in your eye or spilling it all over the place? Well, these portable cups of olives are conveniently drained of that water/brine, which makes it mess-free. I really appreciated that. 

I tried the different varieties both straight up and in salads. The portions in each cup was a good amount and it was easy to pop one open and dump on top of a salad. My favorite variety is the kalamata. Love that savory flavor.

I used the black sliced olives as a pizza topping. The sliced olives made it convenient since I didn't have to chop up whole olives. There was also the perfect amount to top a medium homemade pizza.

What I liked:

  • convenience of pre-portioned to-go packs
  • no brine for mess-free eating
  • good portion size
  • long shelf life

What I didn't like:
  • amount of packaging
  • nutrition facts doesn't list values for the entire cup, since there are apparently 2.5 servings 

Feb 16, 2015

Posted by Jo W. 2/16/2015
Quinoa and kale seem to be appearing everywhere on menus these days. You can usually find a variation of a "quinoa bowl" at any salad restaurant, but they run you at least $8. I sometimes get them at a local restaurant chain and shell out about $10 for a healthy and satisfying meal when I'm too lazy to cook. However, making your own quinoa bowl is so easy, and with a little preparation, you can throw one together in just a few minutes.

1. The first step to making a quinoa bowl is to cook the quinoa. Having cooked quinoa on hand cuts down on prep time and you can use the leftovers to make more quinoa bowls or other recipes such as quinoa fried rice. 

Cook quinoa in a 1 to 2 ratio of quinoa and water (1 cup quinoa + 2 cups water). Add a dash of salt and bring to a boil. Cover and turn the heat down low to simmer until all the water is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy, about 20 minutes.

2. Next, prepare the kale by removing the tough stems and tearing the leaves into small pieces. Drizzle with olive oil and salt to taste, then massage the kale to rub in the oil and distribute the salt. You will notice a change in the appearance; the kale will look more "cooked" and tender. Place kale in your serving bowl and top with a serving of cooked quinoa.

3. Add whatever veggies, proteins, and garnishes you like. Below is a list of things I like to add to my bowls for some ideas, but this is where you can customize  your bowl to your own preferences. Prepping these ingredients beforehand, like chopping veggies and roasting veggies, can also cut down on prep time.

4. Finish the bowl with your favorite dressing or sauce. In the one I made above, I made a quick spicy hummus dressing with sun-dried tomato hummus thinned with water and some sriracha sauce. Stir it all together and enjoy a nutritious and delicious meal!

The Base
shredded kale massaged with a drizzle of olive oil and salt to taste
pre-cooked quinoa 

The Veggies
roasted veggies (brussels sprouts, butternut squash, cauliflower, sweet potato)

The Proteins
grilled chicken
baked tofu
hard boiled egg

The Garnishes
toasted walnuts, almonds, pecans
sunflower/pumpkin seeds
dried cranberries, raisins, figs (chopped)
fresh herbs (cilantro, basil, chives)
shredded cheese, blue cheese crumbles

The Dressing
peanut sauce
tzatziki sauce

What are you favorite flavor combinations? 

Feb 1, 2015

Posted by Jo W. in , , | 2/01/2015
Happy Super Bowl Sunday! I don't really watch football at all, so today's kind of like a regular old Sunday for me. I'll be busy studying for my exams on Monday and Tuesday. I know, my life is so exciting, right?

When I get super busy, I tend to get really lazy about cooking. Especially when I'm cooking for one, my meals are usually very simple. I made this tuna salad for lunch today and added shredded brussels sprouts to boost the vegetable content. It's actually more "salad" than "tuna". The dressing is mayo-free and made with Greek yogurt for more protein. I threw in some shredded radishes and cranberries for added flavor, but this recipe is really customizable with whatever you usually like in your tuna salad. Try adding some chopped celery, onions, sunflower seeds, etc. I had my tuna salad on an open-faced sandwich, topped with some avocado. Yummy :)

Tuna Brussels Sprout Salad

You will need:

3 Tbsp Greek yogurt
juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

1 6oz canned tuna
1.5 cups shredded brussels sprouts, about 6-7 sprouts
4 radishes, shredded
1/3 cup dried cranberries

To make the dressing, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk the yogurt, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Drain the tuna and add to the dressing. Add the shredded brussels sprouts, radishes, and cranberries and stir to combine evenly. 

Make it vegetarian- use a can of lightly smashed garbanzo beans instead of the tuna. Add dulse flakes if you desire, for a more umami flavor.

Make it vegan- do the same to make it vegetarian, and sub 3 Tbsp vegan mayonnaise for the Greek yogurt. 

Jan 28, 2015

Posted by Jo W. in , , , | 1/28/2015
Let's pretend that it hasn't been over two months since my last blog post. And the fact that I am lazy and the only reason I am writing is because I have two snow days in a row due to the blizzard dumping 2 feet of snow in Boston.

The storm started Monday night, picking up early Tuesday morning and lasting throughout the day. I was notified of my school's closure midday Monday, so the evening was spent with plenty of wine and Netflix.

It was windy and nasty-looking out, and while I usually love snow and extreme weather, I didn't feel like venturing out. I kind of wish I did go out and brave the storm yesterday while the snow was still fresh. 

Instead, I finally bundled up this morning to explore the transformed city.

The city did a pretty great job at clearing major roads and walkways. I went down to the river, around Beacon Hill, and the Commons. A lot of the narrow streets were still snowy and cars were mostly buried. 

And now to my soup recipe, the perfect food for a blizzard. I made this on Tuesday and survived, so it's proven to be effective.

Broccoli and Kale Cheese Soup

You will need:

1/2 onion, diced
1 small sweet potato, diced
3 cloves garlic
1 small bunch green kale, chopped
1 head of broccoli, chopped into small florets
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons corn starch
2/3 cup shredded cheese
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, sweat the onions and garlic for 2 minutes. Add the sweet potato and cook on medium heat until they are softened. Add half of the broth and bring to a simmer.

Pour the contents of the pot into a blender and blend until completely smooth. Add the cheese and cornstarch and blend again. Be careful to let the steam escape through the lid so that it doesn't pop off!

In the meantime, steam the kale and broccoli with the rest of the broth in the large pot (no need to wash it) until tender. Add the contents of the blender to the veggies and stir to combine. Simmer on low heat for a few more minutes. If you want to thicken the soup, add more cornstarch dissolved in a little water. Season to taste with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, sriracha, whatever your heart desires.

Ladle into bowls and eat, preferably while watching a snowstorm :) I topped mine with a sprinkle of cheese and sriracha sauce because I am obsessed.

Make it vegetarian- sub vegetable broth instead of chicken broth
Make it vegan- sub 1/3 cup nutritional yeast for the shredded cheese


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