Sunday, April 29, 2012

Udon Chard Wraps

We leave San Antonio in 40 days. We drive to Boston in 40 days. We leave Texas in 40 days. We start searching for an apartment in 44 days. We go to Paris in 50 days. We go to Hawaii in 76 days. We go to Arcadia in 92 days. And I become a medical student in 96 days. 

Woah, that's a lot of countdowns. I've been trying to ignore them recently though...just having fun with what I can do now, read books, teach children, read the newspaper...sleep late. All things I hope I can still retain to some extent in medical school.

That's one of my bigger fears, that it will be a "step back" in some way. That I have just gained my adult life, and it will be yanked away from me by school. Don't get me wrong, I am ridiculously excited for medical school, and going back to studying, but I am worried that I will gain a myopic perspective about studying, and I don't want that. I want to continue to be well-rounded, read books, cook, make random political commentary, etc. I understand that I can't do it to the extent that I am now, and I don't really want that, but I am going to work damn hard to keep it. Luckily, I also think Tyler will help me out in remembering that hey, I can and should take breaks! Anyways, on to the recipe! 

These udon chard wraps are really freaking good! Albeit kind of messy to eat...

They are already vegan, but they are easily made gluten free if you substitute the udon noodles for rice noodles, or for quinoa. Try them, seriously. They might sound weird, but don't run away...I swear! They're great! Also, they're pretty easy to took me just under 30 minutes.

Udon Chard Wrap 

There are 3 parts to this recipe: sauce, chard leaves, and noodles. 

3 tbsp. peanut butter 
1 tbsp. toasted sesame seed oil 
2 tbsp. soy sauce
squirt of your favorite hot sauce (mine is sriracha) 
handful of chopped chives 
slightly less than 1/4 cup water

Stir these items all together, and you have yourself one tasty sauce! Add some salt if needed. 

Some tofu, cubed
udon noodles

Cut up the tofu into cubes, and saute them in some olive oil until they are lightly brown on either side. 

While this is happening, boil some udon noodles until they are the softness you like. Strain the noodles, and then mix the sauce into the noodles and let it cool.

Chard Leaves

Bunch of rainbow chard leaves, that are relatively in tact still

Cut off the stems of the chard leaves, until it's just the leaves. On the bottom of the leaf, there will still be a thick stem left...cut it out careful. 
When everything is done, lay out a chard leave, fill the middle with a bit of the noodles, put a few slices of avocado, or some walnuts or pumpkin seeds in the middle, a splash of hot sauce, and roll it up like a burrito. Enjoy! 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Green Eggs

Let me tell you about my allergies. I have never really had them before. In Arizona, allergies aren't crazy because it's too hot, and in Boston...well, I don't know why I didn't have bad allergies in Boston. But good heavens, in San's a whole new world! 

I didn't have allergies last year, but then again 2011 was the hottest year on record for Texas, as we went through a severe drought. This year, rain galore! And the flowers are out in full force showing off their pretty little petals. Me, thinking I'm immune, have taken no precaution against allergies. I drove with the windows down, kept the doors open, walk amongst flowers, etc. 
Key example: Tyler and I at the botanical gardens eating a picnic lunch (hence why his mouth is full of food), and inhaling all the demon pollen. But the flowers were pretty!
PSC, poor stupid child, that's what Tyler calls me. I came home earlier this week and proclaimed that I was getting nose was stuffy, my head hurt, and my eyes were all watery. He patiently informed me that I was suffering from allergies...and boy does it suck. 
The week was...hell-ish to go through, with me frequently telling my students that I needed them to whisper because my head hurt that much...but the weekend was great. I literally spent all of Saturday in bed with Tyler reading books, relaxing, using a Neti Pot (they work!), and drinking lots of water. Brilliant! On such days, it's quite important to have a easy go-to snack that is healthy and filling...ergo, green eggs! 
Basically, it' a hardboiled egg with cilantro pesto on top. Quite tasty, quite easy to make all the stuff ahead of time, and just keep it in your fridge as a go-to. 

Green Eggs

Cilantro Pesto

If you're not a fan of cilantro, feel free to replace any hearty green. I've done this with baby spinach, dandelion green, etc.

2 bunches of cilantro 
3 cloves of garlic 
0.25-0.5 cups of grated parmesan cheese (honestly, you can either grate your own, or if you're short on time, use the Krafts pre-grated kind of fake parmesan) 
2 tsp. lemon juice or white vinegar
0.25 cup olive oil 
salt and pepper to taste

Wash the bunches of cilantro and trim off the ends, so you have mostly the green leaves. Place them in a food processor and pulse a few times. Then add in the garlic cloves and turn it on to full-blast. Then add in all the rest of the ingredients. Taste and adjust as desired. This keeps in the fridge for about a week and a half, and in the fridge for month. I make it in large batches and just unfreeze it when I need it. 


Just take a hard boiled egg or a soft-boiled egg, peel the shell, cut it in half, and spoon out a little bit of the pesto on top. This also make a really good party finger food. 

Other Ideas

The pesto makes a good pasta sauce, pizza sauce, spread on sandwiches, salad dressing when thinned out with more olive oil and a little water, or even a good dip for veggies when mixed with some greek yogurt or sour cream. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Torta di Rizo

If you break it down, it's just a rice tart. I know, it seems a bit weird to put rice in a tart shell, but it's great. It's like a sweet risotto in a pie. What else could you want? Oh yeah, nutella and plump raisins on top. 
In other news, we have all our plan trips in order for Paris this summer...I'm quite excited! My big discovery of this process has been Airbnb. It's a website that blows my mind--it has listings of all the places, other than hotels, you can stay basically everywhere. So if Tyler and I wanted to travel to London, or even Alabama, we could find a nice little apartment to stay in for 2 days with a kitchen and laundry machine for basically cheaper than a hotel. Try it out for your next vacation, they're pretty good. 
Torta di Rizo (Rice Tart)
adapted from Jamie Oliver's Italy

For the crust -- I used myvanilla scented crust recipe. You can replace the whole wheat flour with all purpose while making this if you want. 


4 tbsp. butter
2 vanilla beans sliced in half, with the seeds scraped out
1.5 cups arborio rice
5 tbsp. granulated white sugar
zest of 3 lemons or oranges
0.75 cups white wine, I used pinot grigio. Whatever you use, just make sure it's something you'd drink
3.5 cups whole milk
2 eggs, whisked
2 extra tbsp. granulated sugar for the top

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium heat and add in the seeds. Stir it around for 1-2 minutes. THen add in the rice, sugar, and zest. Saute the rice in the butter for about 3 minutes. Then add the wine. Stir the rice occasionally until most of the wine has burned off. 

Stir in the milk slowly. Stir the mixture over low heat for about 15 minutes. Most of the milk will be absorbed, but it'll still be liquidy, and the rice will definitely not be cooked--don't worry, it'll cook in the oven. 

Allow the rice mixture to cool for about 10-12 minutes, and then whisk in the two eggs, making sure to stir continuously so the eggs don't scramble. Then pour the mixture into the tart pan, and top with the extra sugar, and then bake for 20-25 min. 

Allow it to cool when it comes out, I topped it with raisins and and but of warmed up nutella. You can top it with any kind of dried fruit, and something tart--perhaps a jam that you've warmed up? Maybe some lemon curd? Let your imagination work! :-) 
**This can easily be made gluten free by using a gluten free pie crust**

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Why I Can't Vote for Romney

Even if I weren't a liberal, it's because he is beyond a flip-flopper: he is a liar. Maybe not on purpose, but he definitely does not stand for many things he's stood for before.

I'm not saying a politician is not allowed to change their mind: in fact I think that politicians, with great thought and self-reflection, should most certainly change their minds in light of new evidence. But that's not what's going on. Much like the girl in high school who changes what she wears, how she does her hair, and what books she reads to impress the person she wants to date, Governor Romney changes his stated views based on what he thinks other people want to hear. 

Case #1: In 1994, Mr. Romney supported a world with "full equality" for gays and lesbians. What does full equality mean? To most anyone you ask, that means having the same rights as all other American citizens. But this is back in Massachusetts, a fairly liberal state, where Mr. Romney also championed ground-breaking health reform that has been fiscally and socially beneficial to the population. 

Now though? He's radically shifted his position--pandering to the right and hard-right voters to show that he's not just a cyborg moderate who continue to enforce President Obama's policies that he once endorsed

Mr. Romney and his supporters continue to claim that he has never changed his position on gay rights, but simply that the gay community changed what it wanted:
"What happened was that the gay community changed their perspective as to what they wanted," Romney told CNN's Piers Morgan...
Apparently Mr. Romney's definition of "full equality" differs from everyone else's. 

Case #2: In 1994, then again in 2002, Mr. Romney said repeatedly that he was pro-choice, and would not enact any legislation that would infringe on a woman's right to choose. Let's take a closer look at those elections: in 1994 -- he was up against Ted Kennedy, a staunch and unwavering liberal, for his Massachusetts senate seat, and in 2002 he was running for governor again in Massachusetts. 

I will not argue that Mr. Romney has always personally been pro-life, but I used to respect that he would not allow his personal beliefs to influence the policies of the majority. Apparently he changed his mind though, as he now supports the 2004 Republican platform that is clearly pro-life. He says it's because when he was governor he grappled with legislation about embryonic stem cell research, was put off by the "cavalier" way medical researchers discussed disposing of those embryos, and changed his mind about policies regarding abortion. Right, that makes sense. Lots of sense. Loads of sense. 

Let's not look at the fact that those two elections where he ran on "pro-choice" statements, but later did not follow through, were in a liberal state, and now when he is vying for the Republican nomination he's Mr. Abstinence-education-and-human-life-amendment. Sure, makes sense. 

And finally, Case #3, for those of you that are still not convinced that the only thing Mr. Romney stands for is winning, is his flip-flop on health care. Health care breakdown:

1. In order to receive health care, you must pay for it. For some people this means out of pocket, for most that means health insurance.

2. If you do not have health insurance, either because you never thought you'd need it, the premium cost was too high, you were denied on the basis of a pre-existing condition (i.e. cancer), or you were kicked off of your insurance based on a pre-existing condition (i.e. you forgot to mention that you had pneumonia when you were 5, and may have potentially caused your colon cancer, so you no longer have health insurance), then you simply do not receive the care you need.

3. Truth: the people that fell in the category described in step #2, would die without care, or go to the hospital for acute treatment, not be able to pay, and shift the burden of payment on to the taxpayers. 

So, Mr. Romney put forth a conservative plan to deal with this problem: make it illegal for insurance companies in MA to deny coverage or raise premium costs based on pre-existing conditions. But in order to pay for that, he had to ensure that the pool of insured people widened, so viola! The individual mandate was born. Why not have every pay for health insurance, and subsidize those who can't? It will allow everyone access to health care and create a healthier state for the same cost! This is, in fact, exactly what it did in MA. 

It is an amazing piece of legislation that Mr. Romney was proud to have spear-headed. It worked so well in fact, that in 2009, when President Obama was grappling with health care reform on a national level, Mr. Romney published an op-ed piece in the Washington Post suggesting that the President look to Massachusetts policy as a model for the national program. 

But that was then, and this is now--when Romney-care has suddenly turned into "Obama-care." Now he repeats over and over at rallies that he will repeal Obama-care on day one. He now emphatically contradicts himself, saying Massachusetts health care was never meant to be a model for the national policy. 

For these reasons and more, the prospect that Mr. Romney could be our future president frightens me. A president should be someone who can stand their ground despite pressure to cave, someone who has well thought through policies, laws, and values that he sticks by, and someone that people can trust. Mr. Romney has made it clear that he embodies none of those characteristics. He had my support as a bipartisan conservative in Massachusetts, and has my vehement opposition as a thoughtless drone in 2012. 

Weekly Menu

I am the type of person that needs to know what I'm going to eat for dinner the next day as I'm eating dinner in the evening. Well, not need...but I like to think about I'm going to make, and if I don't know, I freak out like a small, lost puppy. 

Usually I'm pretty good about creating weekly menus, to stave off lost-puppy-syndrome (henceforth known as LPS, very serious problem). But, for the last few weeks...I've kind of slacked off. So, after reading the Lazy Vegetarian blog, I felt re-inspired. Also, after hearing Tyler respond, "we'll figure it out..." for the millionth time after I've asked what we're going to eat in a frantic tone, I decided I need to restart my process! So here goes: 

Sat D -- Bread, Fruit, and Cheese. Simple, easy, tasty. 
Sun L -- Mexican Salad w/ tortilla chips 
Sun D -- Seitan + sauce + asparagus 
M -- Tofurkey + Quinoa and corn  
T -- Salad w/ field roast with bread and cheese
W -- Indian Mixed veggies and quinoa 
R -- Quesedillas
F -- Lasagna Roll-ups with tofu and other cheese and salad. 

Grocery List -- Cheese, sliced bread, baguette, avocado, frozen corn, apples, bananas, steel cut oats, field roast, tofurkey, milk, green onions, kale, tofu, seitan, asparagus, tortilla chips, carrots.

Now, to grocery shop! 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Do we have an obligation?

So I have been shying away from social/political posts as of late because well...because. So I read, I keep up, but instead of posting about it, I just discuss it with Tyler. But I finally broke when I saw someone post this week, April 2012, about a the Trayvon Martin shooting which happened on February 26th.

As well educated adults, time is almost never something we have in excess, especially time to leisurely read the news. But do we have an obligation to society to ensure that we are baseline well-informed? I think we do. 

Educated adults will be a leaders of the next generation. Not necessarily through public office or private sector commerce, but in some way they will impact the future. It's important then, to be aware of the major current events that cause a ripple in our environment. The outcomes of these events are the ones that will define our generation and shape our future--healthcare, Trayvon Martin, Arab Spring, etc.

It is a bit ridiculous to suggest a person read the New York Times front to back everyday, and that's not my goal. Actions like setting a browser homepage to a new site website, or downloading a new site app on a smart phone and browsing the headlines over lunch, take less than five minutes and can continuously keep one in the know. 

Whether we like it or not, the world is become ever-smaller and we can no longer just focus on the events in our narrow life-bubble. To truly have an impact, and we must, the educated must look beyond the bachelor's degree and continue to critically think about the events and world around them in order to shape the future.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Coconut Cherry Millet Muffins

Most of what I post is pretty healthy. Well, in small portions at least. But this takes the cake, or the muffin I guess, for being most healthy. Millet Muffins. Before you turn away grossed out, I will tell you have made and finished these more times than I can count. More impressively, my husband, the butter-sugar-cream lover, loves these.

But first, my usual story: Today, or the past two days, have been good. My dear friend Sam, more like dear sister, came to visit us on Wednesday night. We both took a day off of work, and spent much needed time with each other. It wasn't her first time in Texas, but it was her first time in San Antonio, visiting the place we've called home for almost the past two years.

It was amazing. Tyler, Sam, and I packed up a picnic on Thursday and trekked up to the San Marcos River to play around for a few hours, watching the puppies jump in the water, going down rapids, and treading water...trying to keep away from the river weed. It was awesome. And we got our ladies-evening after that when Tyler to school--shopping, getting our nails done, and munching on those mall-pretzel snacks that are too good.

All in all, it's been pretty great so far, with the cherry on top being that she was accepted to her top-choice medical school today! You know you love someone when you feel an all-consuming happiness when they get happy too. Ahhh the sisters you make in life. Anyways, to celebrate, we went to Austin with these tasty muffins in tow.

Since they're made with whole wheat, and greek yogurt, they are both filling and have a good deal of protein in them. Experiment with putting different things in them--I really like the sour cherry and coconut mix, but you can do raisin, cranberries, rolled oats, etc

Coconut Cherry Millet Muffins
Adapted from SuperNatural Everyday by Heidi Swanson
0.5 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs, whisked
1 cup greek yogurt
0.5 cup honey
2.25 cups whole wheat pastry flour***
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. lemon juice + zest of 1 lemon (zest = optional, but tastes better)
0.5 tsp. salt
0.33 cup millet
0.5 cup sour cherries
0.25 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

***Do not use regular whole wheat flour, they'll come out hards as rocks. The pastry flour is has less gluten and more carbohydrates, and therefore make baked goods softer, but is still healthier than the all-purpose flour alternative.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12 muffin tin with paper liners or just spray down the sides with oil spray. Please make sure you spray the muffin liners with the oil spray as well, or the muffins will stick to the sides of the liners and you'll lose tasty goodness.

Whisk together the melted butter, eggs, yogurt, and honey in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients, including the sour cherries and coconut flakes.

Then mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Use a spatula to mix them gently, so you don't flatten them too much. When they are just mixed, so there is no dry ingredients left un-wetted, start spooning them into the tin. About 2 spoonfuls per cup, or however big you like your muffins.

Put them in the oven for 15 minutes. Serve them warm with jam and butter, or room temperature as a breakfast or with soup. They keep for about 3-4 days outside!