Job hunting is…draining. At least it is for me. Maybe it’s an introvert thing? I consider myself confident, but when it comes to selling my skills and potential contribution, I start to feel awkward. I’d rather put my head down, get the work done, and the let the results speak for themselves. Then there’s the fact that searching for work is a time suck that leaves little room to create and develop – two things I feel a pull toward and wonder if are requisite to next steps career-wise, anyway.
At some point after I start to get irritated over how to allocate and find more time, I remind myself that frustration is wasted energy. You just gotta hustle.
The hustle, my friend, is not fueled by cronuts. It is most powerful and efficient when its source of energy is whole foods, particularly ample servings of vegetables. I’ve been prioritizing making my meals and snacks as nutrient-dense as I can manage, forgoing my previous habit of popcorn for lunch.
So, despite a feeling of busyness, my lunches are starting to mean business, as is the case with this meal of roots, greens, and fish. It’s saturated with color, richly textured, and includes multifarious flavors (sweet, earthy, tangy, herbaceous, salty, smoky, spicy) while still feeling cohesive.
Each vegetable component is lovely on its own. The beet puree is punchy & nutty and the thyme flavor is quite strong. Both creamy and velvety, it would be a lovely dip but I also had no trouble putting it down solo, one spoonful at a time.
I don’t think I need to tell you why kale chips are great, but after trying numerous seasonings, I’d say this version with smoked paprika is in my top five. In addition to the crunch and salt, the spicy factor makes these delightfully addictive. If I’m making them for the kids, I use about half the paprika, but I prefer to make a whole batch for myself anyway. After all, I need to keep my energy up.
Back to the hustle.
Herbed Beet Puree
3 medium beets, washed and trimmed
1/3 c tahini
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place the beets on a large piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and seal tightly. Roast until pierced easily with a fork, about 45 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, gently rub off the skins.
Add the cooked and peel beets to a blender or food processor, along with the tahini, lemon juice, thyme, and salt. Process until smooth and creamy. Serve under pan-seared salmon.
Smoky Spicy Kale Chips
method adapted from Oh She Glows
1 bunch kale, woody stems removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon smoked hot paprika
Move two baking racks as close to the center as you can and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Cut or tear kale into chip-sized pieces. Rinse and pat or spin fully dry. You could also at this point store them in an open container in the refrigerator to completely dry out.
Split the greens between two half sheet pans. Drizzle each with half the olive oil and massage into the kale or collards to fully coat. sprinkle with the salt and paprika, and toss to combine. Spread in a single layer; if you have any extra, reserve to roast as a second batch.
Cook for 15-20 minutes, swapping the baking sheets at the 10-minute mark, until the chips feel dry to the touch but are not browning. Serve on top and alongside pan-seared salmon.
Whoops, it’s March 10th and I’m just now sharing February’s work. But, I want to slip this post in just in case you missed any of these recipes, because of the two years I’ve been at this, I think this may be my most delicious month to date.
For starters, I made a grain bowl with herbed tahini dressing for Hellobee, and while the recipe is really good the post is also an advertisement for grain bowls more generally. I included some links to other bloggers’ iterations and a template for pulling together one of these nourishing bowls. They’ve been my go-to lunch lately. Just prep the ingredients on Sunday and throw together a delicious, satisfying, and beautiful meal in minutes. Don’t forget the sauce – It brings it all together.
Also for Hellobee I shared a barely-sweetened, coconut-crusted French toast recipe. It’s everything I love about French toast – a super crispy exterior that gives away to a custardy interior – except the coconut magnifies this concept.
Speaking of breakfast, I made double chocolate pancakes for Recipe.com and included a tip for making the chocolate extra melt-in-your-mouth amazing. Just look at those babies! I wish I were eating them right now.
Also for Recipe.com I made a slow cooker balsamic-cherry braised pork. When I’m feeling uninspired by the same old winter produce, I turn to preserved specimens, like frozen cherries, to keep our meals interesting. This dish didn’t disappoint. The punchy, syrupy sauce coats tender pork to toe the line between sweet and savory.
One part of my Recipe.com work I really enjoy is taking existing recipes and tweaking them to suit my preferences, both flavor-wise and nutritionally. These pistachio and cacao nib power bars were a prime opportunity to do just that. I cut out the refined sugar and sweetened these just enough with honey, swapped chocolate chips for cacao nibs, and made them gluten-free. The resulting snack is both tasty and wholesome. I’ll definitely be making these again.
Finally, I want to share this article I wrote for SheKnows about gourmet work lunches you can make in 10 minutes or less. I created 5 sandwiches that put your basic ham and cheese to shame but can still be easily assembled at your desk or in the break room. Hey there, #notsaddesklunch.
(See you later this week with a recipe!)
It feels tired to write about life/career/parenting balance, but I’m going to anyway because 1) It’s on my mind all. the. time. and 2) A recent episode of After the Jump altered my perspective on the matter in a wonderful way.
If you’re not already listening to Gracey Bonney’s podcast, I highly recommend it. Her words are energizing, informative, and ideal for any creative or entrepreneur (current or aspiring). For her 100th episode, Grace recounted lessons she’s learned from hosting the podcast, one of which concerns the myth of achieving balance. I strongly relate to her old internal negotiations – If I just eat more greens, or better prioritize exercise, or carve out more time here or there, I’ll get it right. She says: “There is no perfect balance. Life and work are always a series of back and forth adjustments and a constant game of checks and balances.” Aha. A game. Now that’s an angle I can get behind. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it will still feel a bit like a round of Tetris where the pieces are falling too rapidly and landing in all the wrong places, but if I can get back to that place where I feel like it’s “just a game” then I’ll be okay.
And tomorrow I’ll be a savvier player.
Last week was characterized by more rounds lost than won. Ben was out of town, the weather was the pits, and I stress ate to the max, making me feel crappier and less on my parenting and work game. I muddled through it, but I’m glad to be on the other side and in a place where I can finally share these killer muffins with you.
If the combination of banana, peanut butter, bacon, and rye sounds strange to you, hear me out, because I’ve tested this recipe on plenty and to consistent commendation. They’re a mash-up of the ingredients in an Elvis sandwich (banana, peanut butter, and bacon), and a sandwich my dad introduced me to that layers peanut butter and bacon on rye bread. The addition of rye to the Elvis combo adds a deep, almost spicy undercurrent that grounds the other sweet, nutty, and salty flavors.
But as they say, you don’t have to take my word for it. Give them a try and let me know what you think. In the meantime, I’m going to get back to it, because I’m totally winning this week.
The muffins are best served warm or room temperature IF your home isn’t too cool. The heat in our apartment hasn’t been keeping up with the cold weather, so I popped these in a 200 degree oven for a few minutes before eating the next day. They need no adornment, but a slick of peanut butter makes them a heartier snack. Looking for something a little lighter? Try these strawberry and banana rye muffins.
Elvis Rye Muffins
1 c dark rye flour
1 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 large or 4 small overripe bananas
1/2 c peanut butter
1/4 c honey
1/4 c plain yogurt
1/2 lb bacon, fried and crumbled
2 tbsp caraway seeds
In a medium bowl, whisk together the rye flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Grease or line a muffin tin. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
In a large bowl, mash the bananas using a fork or potato masher until mostly smooth (it’s okay if a few small chunks remain). Whisk in, one at a time, the peanut butter, honey, yogurt, and eggs until each is just incorporated. Stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated, then fold in the crumbled bacon.
Add 1/4 c batter to each muffin cup and sprinkle with caraway seeds. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
Makes about 16 muffins