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Art, Science & The Meaning of Good Food

28 Sep

I used to hate science.

In high school I was in art club. I had dreams of becoming an artist. A designer, a painter, maybe even a sculptor. I made my own clothes and wore them to school. I entered my drawings and paintings into contests and actually won on a few occasions. I made my own jewelry, I sewed quilts and gave them as gifts, I painted polka dots and palm trees on my bedroom walls. I was a creator.

Fast-forward 6 years. Imagine me sitting in a large lecture hall surrounded by pre-med students desperately trying to decipher what the professor was scribbling on the blackboard: organic chemistry. This was the worst of my science-heavy academia, but many similarly technical courses ensued: anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, medical nutrition therapy… you get the picture.

As I was cooking the other day- carefully examining a recipe in one of my new cookbooks while simultaneously improvising with a dash of this and a substitution for that- I started thinking about the opposing forces of art and science. Some of us naturally sway more in one direction than the other. But these are not “gifts”, they are skills, meaning we can become adept at both no matter which way we tend to lean. And, in my opinion,  we all need a little art and a little science in order to be balanced. As I half-followed that recipe, I realized that this opinion is also a perfect description of my philosophy on food.

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Food is fuel. (True). Food is memories, connection, and creativity (Also true).The sciences get us what we want (lower blood pressure, weight loss, faster race times). The arts are ends in themselves (the warm fuzzies from a bowl of soup on a cold night, the comforting memory of your grandma’s signature pie). Our relationship with food needs the sensibility of science to keep us healthy. It also needs the expression of art to make us feel alive and connected to our culture, to the people we break bread with, and to ourselves. I’ve seen how things can go awry if either of these aspects is forgotten. Ripping the art out of food leaves us with carbs/protein/fat, calorie counting, chugging lemon/cayenne/maple syrup concoctions, and obsessing over ways to “rev our metabolisms”. All art and no science ignores the compelling research that proves food really can be our medicine. Our disordered interpretation of how we should view and experience food has left us with a broken and abusive relationship with the thing that is meant to nourish us on all levels.

I am cooking much more now (for myself and for True Food clients). The creator in me revels in the vibrant colors, endless flavor combinations, and the reassuring act of producing nourishment for myself and others with my own two hands. The scientist beams with pride knowing that each ingredient, recipe, and final meal was carefully crafted with the intention of improving and supporting health.

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Wherever you fall on the science-art spectrum, I encourage you to seek out balance, especially when it comes to food. Without science, we are merely floating into an abyss. Without art, we live a rigid life. As for food, make choices based on what you know will nourish your health (I am confident your intuition will lead you to the right stuff), but don’t forget to create, play, savor, share, and enjoy what’s on your plate.

A soup recipe worth trying:

African Peanut Stew

(adapted from Peas and Thank You)

The Science: a meal of soup will fill you up (fiber- and water-licious!), fuel you up (nice balance of complex carbs, healthy fats, and plant proteins), and make you feel great (loads of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants up in here).
The Art: a blend of the vivacious colors of nature, varying textures, and punchy flavors will have you smiling and “mmm..”-ing until the final spoonful.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 T. curry powder
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 T. minced ginger (or 1 t. ginger powder)
  • 2 t. minced garlic
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of cayenne
  • 1 14 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes, in juice
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 2 c. vegetable stock
  • 2 T. natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 c. red lentils
  • chopped fresh greens (kale or spinach work nicely)

How-To:

  • Combine all ingredients except greens in a soup pot on the stove or in a crockpot and simmer until sweet potatoes are tender. Right before serving, stir in greens until wilted. 

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In the end, we all need a little of both worlds. The scientist must engage creative thinking to solve his hypothesis and the artist must learn technique to master his medium.

Psst… you still have one more week to win 20 LARABARS! All you have to do is share this post and sign up for the True Food newsletter.

Thanks for reading.

Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

21 Nov

Hello, friends! Can you believe Thanksgiving is TOMORROW?!

I had a jam-packed Monday and Tuesday. After all meetings were attended and all presentations were given, I ventured to Whole Foods last night in preparation for tomorrow. The place was hoppin’! Personally, I prefer mid-day grocery trips when I can linger over the 10 varieties of pears and easily access the free samples without being rammed by an unsupervised small child recklessly driving a very full cart or scolded by an old woman for “taking too long” (seriously, these things happened to me). Hey lady, can’t you see I’m trying to choose the perfect pear here??

Anyway, I came home with a random assortment of seasonal fruits and veggies, spices, and baking odds and ends. So if you are like me and still trying decide on the perfect (healthy) side dish to share tomorrow, here is some inspiration from the recipes that made my list.

Simple festive veggie tray

Cranberry Kale Salad

Butternut Squash and Bartlett Pear Soup

Quinoa with Dried Cherries and Pistachios

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Tempeh

Holiday Salad with Cranberry Apple Orange Vinaigrette

Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish

Garlicky Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Lentil and Pomegranate Salad

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

Have a Happy Thanksgiving! Keep your eyes out for the Running on Sunshine 2012 Holiday Gift Guide, healthy holiday tips, and a VIDEO POST comin’ at ya soon!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Weekend Workouts and Pinterest Recipe Inspiration

28 Oct

Hello friends! Hope you had a great weekend. Today I slept in until 9am (!!) This is rare for me. I has yoga plans, so I shoveled a frozen waffle in my mouth and hurried out the door. A different teacher was subbing the class, it was hard but fun-  a lot of abs and a lot of crow practice. The soreness is already setting in. I’m afraid I won’t be able to get out of bed in the morning. The rest of the day was a typical Sunday of cleaning, homework, and prepping for the week. Oh yeah, and this happened…

I found these cookies on Pinterest and they’ve been on my “To Cook” list for a while now. The ingredients are simple (and bizzarre): peanut butter, honey, baking powder, vanilla extract, chocolate chips, and.. chickpeas! They are surprisingly delicious!

Let’s back up a bit and check out some recent workouts and eats…

The temps have certainly dropped here which made for a few chilly runs last week/this weekend. I am slowly trying to get back into running. I took a long hiatus due to a string of injuries and bad races, but I finally have the racing itch again!

On Thursday JWD and I squeezed in 4 miles before the rain hit. We averaged an 8:45 pace. Considering I am very untrained in the running department right now, I was happy with that 🙂

I planned on Saturday being a rest day, but I woke up in the mood to move so I bundled up and knocked out 6 miles at an easy pace. I was STARVING when I got home, so I showered and promptly inhaled an egg on toast and this leftover soup that I found on Pinterest. (highly recommend!)

Lower temps trigger the return of oatmeal cravings, so oatmeal has been my breakfast of choice lately. 

In this bowl: rolled oats, almond milk, bananas, stevia, cinnamon, and walnuts.

Snackage:

Plain greek yogurt topped with homemade pumpkin-flax granola, apples slices, and cranberry apple butter.

Love this Trader Joe’s butter!

Larabars are always in the snack mix 🙂

Chocolate covered espresso beans for afternoon pick-me-ups.

Bubbles!

Lemon sparkling water.

Now it’s time to put my sore body to bed. Thanks for reading 🙂

Transitions

11 Sep

Historically, this time of year is always chockfull of transitions- with this year being no different. I’ve always had quite an adverse reaction to change, just ask my mom. She would tell you stories of anxiety ridden first days of school, tummy aches on the way to summer camp, and teary phone calls every time a curveball was thrown my way. It recently dawned on me that I’ve actually gotten better at the whole change thing- it takes quite a bit to shake me up these days. Between new jobs (that I’ve yet to tell you about, but definitely intend to!), new graduate classes, a new home, and a new daily routine, transition is in the air. I’ve been so wrapped up in settling in to my “new life” that I almost missed the first glimpses of my favorite season.

The first signs of fall are revealing themselves at our house.

Sure, the endless prattle of the return of Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes clued me in to the changing seasons, but I prefer signs of different sorts.

The AC has been banished and the windows are wide open, with a crisp breeze blowing in- perfect for afternoon napping.

Check out my second favorite room of the new nest. A study complete with french doors, giant windows, original stained glass, and delicious hardwood floors. Obsessed.

You didn’t actually think I was referring to myself napping, did you? C’mon, you know me better than that…

Greens are sprouting on the windowsill.

Another signal of fall- the smells. Today the apartment is filled with the smell of roasting butternut squash…

…waiting to be turned into this:

Blend roasted squash cubes with sautéed onion, garbanzo beans, soy milk, curry powder, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and a dash of cinnamon in a food processor or blender until smooth. Simmer on stove until warm throughout. 

I enjoyed my soup with a grilled {goat}cheese fold-over for dunking.

I also know that fall is looming because hot tea and Emergen-C on the rocks are my cocktails of choice. I have the sniffles 😦 …a sure sign the seasons are changing.

Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice tea is a fall staple for me. There is something so romantic and special about opening the tin, releasing the smell of sweet and spicy cinnamon, and plunging one of the silk teabags into your mug. I’ve only had two tins of this tea- the first given to me by my mom and the second given to me by JWD. I tend to savor it because thinking of the givers when I drink it makes it that much more special. In a strange way this tea is comfort food to me, hence it making an appearance when I’m feeling under the weather.

Now it is time to rest. Workout plans were cancelled for the day in favor of recharging. I am already posted up in bed  for the evening with no plans of moving. Check in for a fun recipe later this week and a peek at my first favorite room of the new nest!

Thanks for reading 🙂 

Time To Unwind

13 Mar

I am a little over 48 hours in to my spring break, and I am already loving every minute of it! Definitely running on sunshine this weekend! The past few weeks have been quite hectic (hence the negligence of my beloved blog). It was such a relief to wake up with a clear mind and the day at my fingertips to do with what I please!

True to form, I’ve already made a list of goals for my week off (and have already accomplished many of them). You didn’t think I was just going to sit around and relax, did you?! As a matter of fact, being busy and productive is relaxing to me. Sitting on the couch watching TV? Not so much. So, here’s a glance at my “To Do” list for the week:

  • CLEAN! the cocoon (that’s what I call our little apartment). This one has been checked off already. Saturday was Kayli + Mrs. Meyer’s vs. the dust bunnies. The dust bunnies lost.

  • WRITE! This includes some much needed therapeutic blogging and a few side projects I’m working on. This also includes a non-writing project. Keep your eyes peeled for the first Running on Sunshine video post 🙂
  • COOK! When I am well-rested and not being pulled in a million directions, my creative energy is always running on high. I am so excited to get in the kitchen and play this week.
  • ORGANIZE! I am a sucker for organization tools and tips. I could browse realsimple’s home & organizing tab all day.
  • YOGA! I kicked off my spring break with the most amazing yoga practice on Friday. Sadly, I’ve been neglecting my yoga practice since school started up again. Even though it’s been so long since I’ve had an official (as in not in my living room) date with my yoga mat, I felt right at home. I’m not sure if it was because I had so much built up stress to melt away or if I was just really jiving with the yoga instructor (first time I had a class with her), but it literally brought me back to life. I felt 100 times better walking out of the studio than I did walking in. {Yoga post in the works}

 

 

With number one finished, I’m ready to tackle the rest of my list. I’ve already gotten a good start on cooking. Some recent things to come out of my kitchen:

Homemade granola. I used this recipe. I’ve made this many, many times. We can’t get enough of it! This time I was out of cinnamon, so I subbed ginger and it turned out to be amazing!

My favorite way to eat granola is atop nonfat plain greek yogurt.

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I also made chili adapted from the recipe for Coco-Coconut Chili in Dreena Burton’s Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan cookbook. I used the recipe as a guide and made a lot of substitution. Here’s what I threw in my pot…

Ingredients:

  • 1 T coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • about 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, diced
  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed
  • 1/2 block tempeh, crumbled
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • ~ 1/4 t allspice
  • 1 heaping T cocoa powder
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 1.5 cups black-eyed peas
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • ~1/2 cup corn kernels (I used frozen)
  • the juice of 1 lime

How To:

  • Heat large soup pot over medium with oil.
  • Add onion, celery, peppers, garlic, sweet potato, tempeh, and spices to the hot oil and saute until the onion and celery soften.
  • Stir in cocoa powder
  • Add tomatoes, coconut milk, peas, shredded coconut, and corn to the pot. I added about a 1/2 can of water at this point to make it more soupy. Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minute or until the sweet potato cubes are tender.
  • Squeeze the juice of 1 lime into the soup and serve.

I topped mine with crumbled blue corn chips and red chili pepper flakes. It was incredible. Can’t wait to enjoy the leftovers tomorrow. I hardly ever follow recipes exactly. I’m always improvising and substituting. That’s what makes cooking fun! Try it 🙂

I’m off to foam roll my very sore legs. I will see you all later in the week hopefully with a video post (!!) and Workout of the Week.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Tomato, Tomäto

10 Jan

It was a particularly chilly day in St. Louis today. The perfect day to curl up on the couch with two unusually clingy kitties. Our cats were not at all happy about leaving our apartment for 2 weeks for the holidays. Now that we are settled in at home again, they won’t leave our sides. And I’m perfectly fine with that 🙂

It was also a perfect day for soup. Smooth, buttery, butternut squash soup.

Much to my dismay, Trader Joe’s didn’t have butternut squash. What’s a girl to do?

When I got home, this little baby was staring me in the face.

(As well as this little baby…)

(… and this one.)

I bought the pumpkin at the farmer’s market in November. It has migrated around the apartment first as supplies for another batch of vegetarian chili that-never-was, then as a centerpiece for a Thanksgiving I hosted, and last as an overlooked fixture on the living room side table (not quite sure how it even got there??). The pumpkin was immediately moved from the living room into the kitchen as I turned my prospective butternut squash soup into pumpkin soup.

Pumpkin Soup

(adapted from Butternut Squash Soup in the October 2010 issue of Fitness)

makes about 3-4 bowls

  • 1/2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 t curry powder
  • 1 sugar pumpkin, peeled and diced
  • 1 apple, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 t thyme
  • 1 can white beans, drained and rinced
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water

How To:

  1. Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and curry powder and cook until onions are translucent, about 3 min.
  3. Add the pumpkin, apple, thyme, white beans, salt, vegetable broth, and water. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer until pumpkin pieces are very tender, about 15 min.
  5. Ladle the mixture into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. You might have to do this in batches depending on the size of your blender.
  6. Pour back into soup pot and serve.

I paired mine with a veggie burger on a bed of wilted spinach schmeared with jalepeno hummus and Cholula hot sauce.

Thick. warm. creamy. comforting.

Just like a blanket and two cuddling kitties on a chilly January day.

Keep an eye out tomorrow for the first official Workout of the Week post for 2011 as well as some exciting news I’d like to share 🙂

Sweet dreams and thanks for reading 🙂

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