Comfort cooking for that SUPER healthy friend

20 Jun

Ever had a friend who follows strict nutritional guidelines, eg. eating certain grams of protein and carbs and certain times of the day and what not? Well, my best friend (also a dancer) has been out of commission with injury for almost a year now, and in order to stay in shape and healthy came up with a diet plan with a nutrition specialist that worked for her. I’m so proud of her, she looks amazing and is healthier than I’ve ever seen her, but my god, it makes it hard to cook for her! I try to be healthy but I a lot that she normally wouldn’t. Now to be fair, she’s normally good about eating what she’s given but I feel bad serving something I know she doesn’t really want to eat. At the same time, I can’t serve just salad for dinner, and I’m not great at fancy meats. I’m also a comfort food craver (if you haven’t noticed). It’s basically all I eat. Yesterday though, I found the answer.

Sweet potato fries.

They are possibly the greatest thing ever. They’re like regular fries. But better. SO MUCH BETTER. They have more flavor. More nutritional benefits. I’ve never been more excited about a food. How excited, you ask? This excited.

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Click the picture for the pure joy that is Karen Gillan and Matt Smith doing a happy dance. Do it.

I barely have anything to write.

Ingredients: (this is enough for about 2 people, sweet potatoes are huge so 1 potato per person probably measures out pretty well, but can you believe a serving of 2 sweet potatoes is only 89 calories! awesome.)

2 sweet potatoes

1 glug of oil

Sprinkling of garlic salt

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven at 220 degrees Celsius.

2. Wash and dry the sweet potatoes but don’t peel them.

3. Cut them into about 1/2 in circles and then slice them into fingers.

Pro tip 1: So I have no upper body strength (the ultimate irish dancer problem) and thus struggled to cut a sweet potato in the aforementioned fashion… don’t judge me. Anyways, for those of you who know how real the struggle is, it might be easier to cut lengthwise down the potato and create slices from there. They might look a little less fry like but who actually cares?

4. Throw the slices into a zip lock bag, drizzles in the oil and sprinkle the garlic salt. Shake well until all the fries are covered in a good coating. If it’s not enough just add more.

5. Spread the fries out on a pan and place in oven, cooking for 30-35 minutes. Check once around 20 minutes to flip the fries.

It’s that easy. We made these with BBQ chicken and coleslaw, all absurdly easy and yummy. I strongly recommend.

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Meanwhile in Ireland…

18 Jun

The internet is a weird and wonderful place, and most people online have just way too much time on their hands, or are busy not working. Sometimes, this results in unproductivity. Others, it results in this:

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This might just be the most accurate representation of Irish cuisine, ever. Thank you random stranger, for making my day.

“You must forgive me if I’m up and goin’ to Carolina in my mind”

18 Jun

“In my mind I’m goin’ to Carolina
Can’t you see the sunshine
Can’t you just feel the moonshine
Ain’t it just like a friend of mine
To hit me from behind
And I’m goin’ to Carolina in my mind”

– James Taylor

You guys, I’m home. Well, one of my homes. I have many, but right now, Chapel Hill feels a lot like home and man have I missed this place. It is SO good to be back in this beautiful town. I had an amazing 5 months abroad that I wouldn’t trade for the world, and all you college students thinking about studying abroad: DO IT DO IT DO IT. I had an amazing time and have made best friends I will treasure for the rest of my life.

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Sunset on the river Lee near my *former* apartment in Cork. I will always love this beautiful place.

Nevertheless, I am loving the heat, the blue skies, the scorching sun, the endless tree cover, the ridiculous thunderstorms, driving my bug again, living in a proper house with a real kitchen and no flat mate, and did I mention the fact that it actually feels like summer? I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited for warm weather.

I actually go here. And yes, it’s actually this beautiful. (Not my picture)

Alright, enough gushing about how Chapel Hill leaves a stamp on your heart. You guys get the picture. I’ve actually been back for a solid 2 weeks if not more but it’s been a crazy time involving dance competitions, catching up with friends and family, birthday parties and readjusting to American life. This week is finally looking like it’s settling into normal life, so I figured I’d kick it off by getting back to blogging!

I’ve not really cooked much since getting home since my mother dearest is home and she is an amazing cook (thanks for nothing on those genes, mum) so she kind of just does everything for me food wise because she assumes my state of uselessness in the kitchen. I’m trying to do more, but it won’t be as frequent as when I was in Ireland. That being said, as a result of the various parties, I’ve done a fair amount of baking, which I happen to be really good at, so don’t be surprised to see some yummy baked goods in the next few recipes. I can’t promise they’re healthy but they’re really quite easy, and everything in moderation, right? 🙂

Alright, no recipes today because I’m still recovering from a tummy bug and don’t even want to think about food right now, so instead, I’ll leave you with picture highlights of my month abroad, and a little note that while I will try to post consistently over the summer, I’m actually leaving the country (again) for 6 weeks at the beginning of July! This time I’m off to Asia… but more on that later!

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Cork at christmas!

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St. Finbarre’s Cathedral in the winter

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London in January snow

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London from the top of The Shard over Easter, equally as cold as when I was there in the snow in January!!!

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Heineken Cup quarterfinals at Twickenham!

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Buckingham Palace, half mast for Margaret Thatcher

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more London ( I could’ve gone on forever with my pictures from London, really, it’s probably my favorite city ever)

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BEACH!!

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Streets of Malaga

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Streets of Malaga

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Panorama Malaga from the Alcazaba- Moorish fortress

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View of Puento Neuvo from El Tajo Gorge in Ronda. Prettiest place ever.

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View of Granada from the Alhambra

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St. Finbarre’s Cathedral in the Spring (this was actually late May so almost summer but it was the first time it felt like spring in Ireland!!!)

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Celebratory post-finals drink at the college bar. Woo!

Holy Guacamole!

5 May

I swear the timing of guacamole and Cinco de Mayo is a happy coincidence, but I do apologize for adding to the other thousand guacamole recipes on wordpress today 🙂

I’ve never made guacamole before, or even cut an avocado, so it was quite the (messy) experience. I made a pretty simple guacamole- I know many people load it or give it a kick, but I have simple tastes, and this worked just fine for me.

If you’ve never cooked with avocados before, there are a couple things you should know. A lot of the time, the avocado you buy from the store will not be ripe. If it is rock solid, it is not ready yet. You can tell it is ripe if it squishes in a little with gentle pressure. It is stays dented it is overripe.

Now, as for cutting it. Take a nice sharp knife and slice it into two halves all the way around. There is a big pit in the middle so it will not slice all the way through- once you’ve cut it all the way around you will need to twist the two halves to separate them.

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I struggled a bit with removing the pit, but if you’re not afraid of a little mess, just get your knife in around the pit and kind of cut it out. Whatever works.

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Once you have the pit out, score the avocado into little cubes and scoop it out of the skin. I found bringing the knife around the edge after scoring got it out easily- then I had nice little cube ready to be mashed!

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Ingredients:

2 avocados

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

* These are all I used in mine, and bear in mind the measurements are approximate. To be honest I just kind of sprinkles and tasted. The proportions might be different if you’re adding stuff.

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I hesitate to even make an instructions section, because once you’ve gotten the avocado out of the skin, all there is to do is sprinkle in your flavor and mash it all together with a potato masher or the likes and voila! Done! The most “work” I had to do was actually getting the avocado out, and once I’d done that, I was done in about 2 moreminutes. If you’ve cut an avocado before, this will all take a matter of minutes! I love how easy and quick it is. Definitely something I’m doing more often!

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Being Healthy Vs. Fat Shaming

1 May

Hey there! So this is a slightly unusual post but I read the most fantastic post earlier and I can’t not say anything about it. The post “Bikini Body” on Whiny Baby was featured on the freshly pressed page today, and I am SO glad it was. If you haven’t read it, please go read it. The author talks about fat shaming in society, but more importantly, why what you eat should not be in charge of you. It is such a great read, and she manages to put to words an idea and philosophy I’ve had for a while, but have been unable to describe. 

Read it? Good. I wanted to reply to this because I claim to advocate “healthy eating” on this blog (which I don’t actually do that much of, I know, but just go with me here), and I want to make sure nobody has any misconceptions about what I mean by healthy. I’m a not so secret pinterest lover, and when I’m busy not writing history papers, I’m off browsing some category of pinterest. I have a few I frequents (cute baby animals anyone?), and I have a few I try to avoid. One of the latter is the Health & Fitness section. I know that a majority of pinners on pinterest only have good intentions, and pin all this stuff as a motivation to get in shape and stuff, but they have completely got the idea of being healthy wrong and have instead turned to fat shaming.

So let me be clear. Being healthy DOES NOT equal having no fat. You DO NOT need this body to be healthy: 

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Have you ever seen ANYBODY do this? High heels, really?

 

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Who actually looks like this?

I’m sure those girls are healthy and fit and incredibly in shape (presuming they aren’t photoshopped- which is a VERY large presumption to make) and I have no problem with that. I have a problem with the culture that tells us that we’ll only be healthy (or attractive, but I’m not going down that rabbit hole right now) when we look like that. Um- no. I don’t look like that…at all, and I lead a healthy lifestyle. For me, healthy isn’t having no tummy and no waist. Healthy to me means trying to balance out the absurd amount of bread and nutella I eat with the dancing I do. Honestly, I convinced myself to practice for 3 hours once solely based on the fact that I finished an entire tub of nutella by myself the week before. I don’t claim to only eat grains and greens. I don’t claim to be a health expert. But I DO know that I am a healthy individual, love handles and all, and I am so ok with that.

The second that I realized this and become ok with myself, I LOVED myself. I gained self confidence in my appearance, in my dancing, and other aspects of my life. I’m a little of topic, but you know, love a bit of a ramble. So I’ll try wind up here. LOVE YOURSELF. ENJOY COOKIES. And never, ever, EVER hate yourself, or let someone make you feel ashamed for what you eat, or how you look. 

Now I want brownies. And I’ve discovered I’ve run out of everything chocolate in my apartment (read: nutella). TRAGEDY. Ok I’m done.

My very first salad!

30 Apr

I’m not sure what it says about me that it’s been several months since I started this blog and this is the first salad I’m posting but…wahay better late than never!

So this is one of those things that started out as something and ended up being something completely different. The original salad can be found on Lauren’s Latest site and it’s a “Strawberry Avocado Kale Salad with a Bacon Poppy seed Dressing”. I thought it sounded delicious and adequately summery for the above 10 degrees and dry weather we’re having in Ireland, so I set off to Tesco to get my groceries for the week. Apparently Ireland doesn’t sell kale. Well, Tesco and Dunnes don’t and I’m pretty sure the English market doesn’t, and since those exhaust the places I shop here, I’ve decided Ireland doesn’t do kale. I just picked up a bag of iceberg lettuce instead because it had the stuff for a Caesar salad inside too and I do love a good Caesar salad. I got my avocados (first time I’ve ever bought them!), but it turns out, the internet tells me today that my avocados are not yet ripe.. I discovered this with dressing made and bacon in the oven. So no avocados tonight. So we’re down to a “Strawberry Salad”. And as for the dressing… well I couldn’t be arsed to buy poppy seeds if I’m being perfectly honest, didn’t seem like it would affect the salad at all and I’m too frugal to be wastin’ my money on stuff like poppy seeds (ha!). So with all that in mind, I give you my “Strawberry Salad with Bacon Dressing”. Doesn’t quite have the same ring…… I promise it’s just as good though.

Ingredients:

1/2 Bag of lettuce

1/2 tub of strawberries

A couple of slices of bacon (3 or 4 should do but it’s whatever you’re feeling)

— The amounts for the salad and bacon are a little less set in stone… just go with your gut and be reasonable in proportions. Maybe pay more attention to the dressing.

1/2 cup of mayonnaise

2 tablespoons of white vinegar

2 tablespoons of sugar

*My dressing seemed really thick and strong to taste, but once it was tossed into the salad it was perfect

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and prepare a baking tray with tin foil and a cooling rack over it if you have one. If not, not to worry the bacon will cook just as well on the foil.

2. Combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar and mix all together.

3. When the oven is ready, lay out the slices of bacon on the pan/cooling rack over the pan and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes (until crispy).

4. Put the lettuce you want in a bowl, chop your strawberries into quarters and add to the lettuce.

5. Spoon the dressing over the salad and toss well.

6. When the bacon is done cooking, take it out and break it into little pieces. Sprinkle into salad, toss some more, and voila!

It’s that easy. It was yummy, quick, and not a complete disaster considering my lack of key ingredients 😉

 

Oats on Toast

27 Apr

Well hey there! It’s been a while… I know. Remember how I told you about that awesome trip to Spain I was going on? Well that happened. I’ve actually been traveling for the past hiatus, hence no cooking. I also can’t promise there will be much in the next month or so either. It is officially exam time, and my mind is about to turn into a mush of information I will forget the minute I walk out of the last exam room. Also I have no money. Turns out, traveling for a month will do that. (This is when I start to realize why people get jobs. Anyways…) My term here is coming to an end soon (unfortunately) and once I am back in the great state of North Carolina (and in a house that has an actual kitchen with proper cooking utensil and parents buying food for me) I will hopefully be posting a lot more! Then again, I’ll also have parents cooking for me (they spoil me to death, especially when they haven’t seen me for 6 months), so yeah we’ll see how that goes.

Alright. Onto today’s recipe. Found on pinterest (where else!) but originally from the lovely Pepper Lynn, this recipe is a breakfast you can prepare the night before and finish off in those 5 minutes you have for getting dressed, eating breakfast, and getting out the door when you wake up half an hour late. So an every day thing for me. Pepper also claims that this wonderfully nutritious breakfast keeps her filled up until about 1pm. I’m currently having it as a snack (and loving it- so much that I couldn’t wait to finish it to type this) thus I can’t speak to how filling it is… but I’ll get back to you on that internet.

I realize I haven’t actually said *what* it is. I should get to that. Well, it’s uncooked oats. Pepper goes for overnight oats… probably a more appealing name. If the thought of uncooked oats turns you off- yeah me too. Bear with me you HAVE to give this a go. The base is a mix of oats, yogurt, and milk. The rest that you do in the morning is flavor- and this can be WHATEVER you want it to be. You automatically have your favorite flavored breakfast.

And it’s so easy. And quick. And yummy. And good for me? I’ll take it.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of rolled oats (and then a little extra for good measure)*

1/2 cup of plain vanilla yogurt**

1/3 cup of milk

~ From here, choose your own flavor. I chose strawberry jam, so I threw in about 3 spoons of jam.

Instructions:

1. Pour out your oats, yogurt and milk in a jar or bowl and mix it all up .

Pro tip 1: The original recipe calls for Greek yogurt and more milk but I can’t stand Greek yogurt so I opted for vanilla yogurt and less milk. Works just as well- just make sure when you’re adding the milk your final consistency is thick and creamy. If the milk makes it too liquidy just add some more oats.

2. Put it in the fridge overnight. If you get the munchies during the day (not those munchies, silly) and fancy a nice snack, this is great too, just make sure it’s been refrigerated for at least 30 mins to let the oats soften.

3. When ready to eat, add your flavor of choice and enjoy.

Pro tip 2: When I first tried it I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure about the texture. I’m still not sure I’m too fond of it on it’s own. So like I do with a lot of things I tried it with bread. DO THIS. Especially if you didn’t like the texture or the feel/taste of the oats. When spread on toast it takes away all of that. The warm toast and cool spread and taste of jam was like heaven. I really wish I hadn’t tried it because I already eat SO MUCH BREAD, but man oh man was it good. I refuse to eat it any other way. It also means I only use about half of it on 2 slices of toast. Could easily see that as a nice afternoon snack or breakfast the next day if it makes it that long.

Pro tip 3: Always say yes to nutella. Nutella is a personal favorite of mine, and if you fancy that sneaky chocolate in the morning, put a light spread of nutella and your jam oats on your toast. YUMMM.

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It doesn’t look that appetizing, I know, but it’s worth trying. Some love it, some hate it. Don’t be that guy that hates it until he tries it…

 

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