11 Pipers Piping

Healthy Holiday Tip #2– Share plates with your date
The holiday season is usually jam packed with fun christmas and new years parties to attend (maybe some bowl football parties too). I don’t have very many to attend, but most of you are probably more popular than I am, so you might have several soirées on your calendar. The staples of a good holiday party are good food and good drinks (at least in my opinion). I thought it might be helpful to come up with a couple tips on how to leave the party feeling satisfied instead of miserably full. Most holiday parties have heavy (and delicious) hors d’oeuvres that you could stand around and snack on until you pass out. Instead of standing and snacking periodically, fix a plate for yourself and have your date fix a plate, then share. If you don’t have a date, always take a wingman/woman and help each other out. By sharing a plate, you can try more of the delicious options and feel like you’ve eaten more. If you and your “date” get different things on your plate, you’ll be less likely to go back for  seconds to try something you might have missed on your first trip. If you don’t have a date to go with you, like the party I’m attending solo tonight, just try your best not to get seconds and fill your plate up with the healthier options (if they exist). Healthier options that you might find at a party are vegetables, fruit, or fish. Try not go go back for things like cheese, fried treats, and heavy dips. Now, how about those desserts? They are my weakness, especially when there are lots to choose from. I’d say to try and handle them the same way. Pick two desserts and split them between you and your date, that way you’re basically getting a 2 for 1 deal. Hope you give it a try!

IMG_0620Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Arugula Salad
Here I go with another salad… I just can’t get enough of them. Most of you can probably agree that salad dressings are what makes a salad good (fresh veggie toppings do too). Many people won’t even go near lettuce unless its drenched in ranch, but that’s not exactly your healthiest option. I use a light italian dressing on my everyday lunch salads and I try to stick to the serving size so I don’t overload on unnecessary calories.  When I make a dinner salad, I use a homemade greek or balsamic. This recipe called for balsamic, which I don’t usually make as much so I was glad to find one that called for it. I don’t add any extras when I make balsamic, just olive oil and balsamic vinegar in about a 1.5 to 1 ratio (usually 2 tbsp olive oil and 1.5 of balsamic for and individual salad). This salad was pretty simple, it called for several of my favorite salad toppings–feta, tomatoes and red onion. I didn’t grill the chicken since I was only making one piece, but I don’t think it made much difference in the final product. This was a great dinner salad for me, but would make a great lunch as well. Just make sure you try to stick to serving sizes with your dressing and cheese. Click here for the recipe and enjoy!

12 Drummers Drumming

Today begins my twelve days of Christmas blogging challenge. I’m going to do my best to blog each day from today until Christmas Eve. Hopefully I’ll be offering a yummy recipe and a helpful healthy holiday tip (alliteration is so fun sometimes!) Well, here we go…

Healthy Holiday Tip #1– Eat more fish
Most of you know that fish is a great thing to add to your diet. It contains omega-3-fatty acids that our bodies don’t make. These fatty acids have been shown to improve cardiovascular health an decrease the risk of dying from a heart attack. It’s recommended that you incorporate fish into your diet one to two times per week. Tilapia and catfish are said to have the lowest levels of omega-3-fatty acids. According to the Mayo Clinic, the best types of fish to eat are salmon, herring, or tuna, which have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Remember the method you use to cook your fish is important too. Frying up a pile of catfish isn’t exactly maximizing the potential health benefits, try baking your fish instead. Since the holidays are usually full of fun parties and lots of food (usually of the unhealthy variety) it’s a good idea to maximize the healthy things you eat whenever you can. So, maybe try making fish a few times before Christmas. I’ll list a few links at the bottoms so you can find more info if you’re interested.

IMG_0568Foil Wrapped Veggies and Cod
My family and I kind of invented this recipe the last time I was home to visit. I insisted that we have a healthy meal for dinner, so I suggested fish. I’m not sure where the idea for wrapping it in foil came from, maybe Jonathan, he likes to cook and camp, which usually consists of wrapping something in foil. This was super easy though. I kind of based part of it off the Spanish Cod recipe I posted a couple months ago that calls for white wine. For this recipe, we placed the cod into foil added a little bit of olive oil, and enough white wine to come about half way up the sides of the fish. I’d use chardoney or pino grigio. I used Cavender’s Greek Seasoning and some ground red pepper, but you could really use any seasoning depending on what flavors you like. Just sprinkle enough to put a light coating on the fish. Then we pretty much just cut up and tossed in whatever vegetables we had lying around. For us, that consisted of onion, green pepper and red pepper. I also used parsley and garlic to give an extra boost of flavor. The same thing goes for the veggies though, you can add whatever you like. Then you just seal the foil and bake it in the oven at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Cod is done when it flakes easily with a fork, and I think that goes for most other fish too.

Some helpful links:
Mayo Clinic

CNN Health Article

JAMA Article

12 Days of Christmas Tips!

Well, I’ve gone off the blogging grid again. Things have been crazy around here lately. My classmates and I have had one, long, 5 week block of lectures jam packed with microorganisms and the diseases they cause along with all the drugs used to treat them. AND we’ve learned just about anything that can go wrong in the cardiovascular, liver, and gastrointestinal systems, along with most of the drugs used to treat them as well. To say we have a lot to learn for our test block next week would be a massive understatement. But, alas, that’s what we came to medical school for… To learn everything that can go wrong in the body (even if it’s a microorganism that’s snuck its way in) and how to treat it. Despite the fact that I do struggle with the motivation to study at times, I really am grateful to be in the position I’m in. We’ve starting seeing patients and learning more about the physical exam and how to take patient histories. Seeing patients is a great reminder for why I’m doing all this hard work. A couple days ago, my friend, Allison, and I saw some patients and when the doctor told us what they had, we actually knew what it was (even though they were pretty rare diseases). The hard part is just reminding myself why I’m learning this immense amount of information, I like to think I’m getting better at that every day.

On a healthy note, my lovely sister bought me a month of Pure Barre classes for my birthday and Christmas presents. That’s the class I mentioned I really wanted to try once it got cold outside (because I’m a wimp and can’t run when it’s cold). I’ve been taking them for a little more than 3 weeks now, and it’s definitely been an experience. The day after my first class, my entire body was sore; it hurt in places I didn’t even know I had muscles (and I’ve been through gross anatomy). While that part took a little getting used to, I thought it was awesome, I could tell that I was getting a workout. The classes consist of different exercises for your main muscle groups; you basically strike a pose and work different isolated muscles. It’s pretty difficult to explain, so if you’re interested, I’d definitely give it a try. For those of you in the Jackson area, I’m working on getting a private class set up after the new year so some of my med school friends can give it a try. The only drawbacks are that’s it’s kinda pricy and it’s not much of a cardiovascular workout. I love how it’s toned my muscles, but I haven’t been doing much cardiovascular work, and it’s best to tone your muscles and cardiovascular system. I may think about doing a little of both when the new year rolls around.

Now, another lovely person is my friend Allison. She has so kindly nominated me for a blog award. I feel so fancy… She’s so nice. Anyway, it’s a health activist award for the Best in Show: Blog Award from WEGO Health. They recommend that you get your readers to endorse you as a candidate. If you so happen to be interested in that you can find out more information by clicking here. Don’t worry… my feelings won’t be hurt if you don’t do it. I’m just happy to know Allison was thinking of me when she saw the nominations.

Okay, last thing. I’m sure all of you have just been lost without my recipes to look forward to each week. Hopefully none of you have starved. As my Christmas gift to you (haha, that’s kind of silly) I’m going to be posting 12 days of recipes and tips for the holiday season to keep you healthy. If I’ve calculated correctly, and it’s likely I haven’t, starting on Thursday I’ll give you a recipe and a healthy holiday tip every day until the day before Christmas. They will be short and sweet since I still have LOTS of studying to do and tests to take, but hopefully they’ll give you a little help during your busy holiday season. In other words, get ready for your Facebook to have lots of updates in your news feed from me.

I’m Still Here

 

So, I doubt any of you have noticed, but it’s been a while since the last time I blogged. A whole month actually, I also doubt many of you have missed it, but I kind of have. Like I said in my last post, I’m not sure how things have gotten so busy lately. This year of medical school has proved to be much different from last year. Instead of having tests almost every week we have a block of tests every 5-6 weeks. I think I like it better, but it definitely requires a different method of studying and time management. Time management is something that I’ve never had problems with, and I’m not sure that’s exactly what it requires; it’s really more like a marathon of studying and testing that you are continually training for. We have class pretty much all day everyday and 6 weeks of material is a lot to learn, especially when each class meets multiple times a day instead of three times a week like they did in college. I don’t mind the studying though, I’m really enjoying the material in all of my classes and it seems that I’m starting to get closer and closer to seeing patients instead of learning about them in a classroom. School isn’t the only thing I’ve been up to lately. I think since the last time I blogged, I’ve been to Gulf Shores for a family trip, home for my birthday and I just returned from the Interim AMA Student Conference in Hawaii. Aside from those, I’ve been doing my usual stuff with the Free Clinic and Family Medicine Interest Group.

As you might have noticed I didn’t include exercise or cooking in the busy line up of activities that I’ve been occupied with lately. I ran in Gulf Shores to make up for the vacation eating that I was guilty of and managed to fit some running in the week before my test block. I’ve wanted to run, but now it’s getting too cold outside and I’ve honestly felt like I haven’t had time. The same goes for my cooking. I’ve been making things here and there, but different dinner meetings, activities, and trips have thrown a wrench into my normal routine. I’ve also been making more repeat recipes than new ones, which doesn’t leave me with much to tell you about. I’m beginning to sympathize a little more with the people and patients I’ve seen that say they are too busy to cook and exercise. However, the more I think about it, the more I realize that it’s still just an excuse. While there are definitely days that are too busy and too tiring to make an effort at exercise and cooking, every day isn’t like that. And, if you make a plan for yourself you can avoid those days when possible, and really enjoy them as a break when they are inevitable.

I probably sound like a crazy person saying this (believe me, I feel like one too), but I haven’t felt balanced since I put cooking and exercising on the back burner. While my eating habits have not been absolutely terrible and I have managed to fit in some exercise, it hasn’t been my normal and I can tell. I feel so much better when I take the time to make a nice healthy dinner and when I at least make some effort at physical activity. Not only do I physically feel better, but mentally I think it makes a difference, too. Cooking and exercise are like my own personal breaks in the day where I don’t think about anything else; it’s all about the activity that I’m doing then and there. I think blogging has started to become a similar activity. I enjoy sitting down to reflect and share my struggles and accomplishments in hopes that they will not only help me, but that they can have a positive impact on my friends, family, future patients, or strangers that I may never meet.  While the other activities that I’m involved with give me breaks and keep me sane, they serve a different purpose than my exercise and cooking (and blogging). School and it’s related activities keep me busy in a productive manner, while my cooking, blogging, and exercising are more like meditation. I’ve come to realize that they are all important to keeping me in check and hopefully I’ll be able to do a better job with keeping them balanced with each other in the near future.

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to keep up with my once a week blogging trend with everything that’s going on. Next semester will be especially difficult since I’ll be preparing for one of the biggest tests of my career, the Step I exam (if you don’t know what that is, you don’t want to) while still being in regular classes. So, I’ll just have to play it by ear and keep up with my recipes and exercise as best I can. I’ve already got a list of recipes ready to hold me until Thanksgiving; hopefully over Thanksgiving I can work on planning some more recipes to try. Planning is definitely the key to this whole healthy lifestyle thing. If you don’t have a plan set for exercise and cooking, it makes you weak and allows you to come up with excuses for why you think you should be allowed to go out for dinner or why you just don’t have time to exercise. You end up thinking those excuses are valid, but most of the time they aren’t and you should just stand up to yourself and say that you’re not falling for it. I have this argument with myself all the time, especially  over the past few weeks. I’m constantly asking myself, “Do I really have time? Am I really that tired? Should I exercise even though I feel like I should study instead?” Sometimes it’s a tough decision for me to make when I feel like I should be studying instead, but I feel like I’ve started to realize that I just need to find a way to do both and I’ll feel that much better and probably be able to focus better when I study.

All in all, I’ve really come to understand what things make me feel good and bad, whether it’s exercising or eating healthy, I know I should make every effort to do it as often as I can. Even though it’s hard to convince myself sometimes, going without those things for a couple weeks not only makes me feel guilty, but adds to the stress that I’m already under. Going without those things also makes me physically and mentally more exhausted and unhappy. I was going to try and go running today because the weather warmed up a little, but instead I’m going to give Pure Barre a try and see how that goes. I’ll also be making a grilled chicken salad for dinner and hopefully I’ll be able to let you know how they both turn out sometime soon. If you’ve made it this far, I hope you’ve gotten some inspiration or encouragement to keep up your healthy lifestyle or start fresh. It’s definitely a struggle sometimes, but one I find to be well worth the effort. I’ll have some recipes for you next time, don’t worry!

Oh, and here’s a peak at my visit to the island!

Off the Map

I’m not sure what I’ve been doing lately to keep me so busy, but it seems that it’s been a lot. I’ve been trying to catch up with school work and I just got back from an extra long weekend trip to the beach with my family. Lucky for me, Jonathan and Caroline’s fall breaks fell over the same weekend and even though I didn’t have a fall break, I didn’t have any mandatory classes on Friday or this morning, so I was able to have three whole days at the beach. I was able to get a good amount of school work done while I was there, which makes the trip even better. It was so nice to listen to the ocean and be in a different place while I studied. While I did get things done, I still have a lot to do to catch up for my test week. It’s coming up in two weeks, which means it’s crunch time for studying. I may be a little distracted from trying new recipes these next few weeks since I’ll be busy catching up and studying. I already feel a little distracted from new recipes; it’s been easier to make things that I’ve made before lately since I already know what goes into them. I only made one new recipe last week, so sadly, that’s all I have to share with you. I’ll try to have more next time, but until then I’ll be catching up on school.

Fall Vegetable Curry
Curry is yet another thing I’ve been wanting to try to make. I can’t think of a time that I’ve ever actually had it and I know I’ve never made it, so this was a first time for both. The fact that I had leftovers from this recipe may be part of the reason that I only have one recipe to share this week. Michael and I made this one night and served it over rice. I really liked it and thought it was really easy to make. You basically just chop up all ingredients and put them in one big pot together and let them cook for a little while. Curry and cilantro were the only spices/herbs called for, but curry is plenty strong to give it enough flavor. The leftovers were good cold or hot and with or without rice.  Click here for the recipe. Sorry to be so short this week, but I’ve got lots to do!

It’s Fall Y’all

I can’t believe that it’s already October. How has the year flown by so fast? Not only did the last summer of my life fly by, but my second year of medical school is quickly catching up with that trend. I wasn’t ready for the Summer to end, I’m usually not, but this year I just really wasn’t looking forward to the cooler weather. Cooler weather makes it difficult to run outside, which is really all I like to do for my exercise. Last fall/winter I got my exercise mainly from doing Just Dance on the Wii. This year, my sister and I are thinking about giving Pure Barre a try. If you’ve never heard of Pure Barre, I’m not sure that I can really tell you what it is. I’ve heard that it’s kind of a mix between yoga and pilates and that it will give you an intense workout. I’ll let you know how that goes when we give it a try. Speaking of updating you on how things are going, I guess I should report back on how my first week on three desserts went. Wwweeellll, technically I had four desserts. I would try to make excuses and say that it was Jackson Restaurant week and two of my desserts were based on voting for the Jackson Free Clinic, which is true, but it’s no excuse for breaking a deal. There are a couple other excuses I could make for my overindulgence on sweets last week, but the only real excuse is that I just got lazy and decided to cheat. Now, what should I do to solve the problem? I can’t decide if I should tack on more running or just take away one of my desserts for this week. Doing both would probably be the best idea, considering I did eat out more than usual last week so that I could vote for Jackson Restaurant Week. I did manage to run three times, which kind of compensates. I’m going to the beach with my family this weekend, so I don’t know how easy it will be to control what I’m eating (I can’t force everyone into my diet plan, as much as I want to, they just won’t let me). I’m hoping the beach will be warm enough to go running every day. Anyway, here are a couple recipes. Hopefully I’ll be trying some good fall weather recipes soon that I can share with you. Hope you’re enjoying the cool (not freezing) weather, pumpkin spice, and fall decorations.

Eggplant and Tomato Gratin
I’ve been wanting to make something with eggplant in it for a while, but haven’t been able to find the right recipe. Well, I think I can say this was definitely a good recipe to try! It was kind of a vegetable lasagna but, without the noodles. The oregano and garlic contributed a really good Italian flavor, especially combined with the parmesan cheese. This one is low on calories too, only 86 per serving. I had it for dinner and was actually plenty full because I’d had a heavy lunch as wasn’t that hungry. I had leftovers with a salad for lunch the next day. I think it made a great light dinner, but would make a great side to baked chicken or fish as well. I’m adding this one to my favorites list and will definitely be making it again. Click here for the recipe.

Feta Stuffed Turkey Burgers
Another something I’ve been wanting to try! I made this one a couple months ago, but wasn’t too impressed by it so I’ve been blogging about the “better turnouts” instead. It’s not that this is a bad recipe, I think it was more “user error” that made this dish slightly sub par. Any time that I’ve tried stuffing something it always ends up squeezing out the side when I cook it and making a mess when I try to eat it. This time, I figured adding a little extra meat would help keep the feta cheese stuffed inside. It definitely helped with that, but my burger was so thick that it took forever to cook all the way through and it ended up getting a little more charred on the outside than I prefer. I used an iron skillet instead of the grill, so I think in that case (at least for me), you want to try to make a thinner burger and cook it on a medium flame, instead of high like I did. This way it cooks a little slower and you can avoid the char on the outside. I think that’s pretty true for anything that you cook in a skillet– lower heat will cook it all the way through without burning the outside. The flavor really wasn’t bad, it just turned out a little overdone and tough. Oh yeah, I opted out on the bun and just had some dijon mustard on the side. I’ve gotten to the point I actually enjoy my burgers more without the bun. Hopefully I’ll try this one again sometime and it will turn out better. Let me know if you have any tips for stuffing things and keeping the stuffing on the inside! Click here for the recipe.

On another note, the MS State Fair started last week. I took a trip with friends tonight, mainly to sample the fried food. I’m embarrassed to say how much I ate, don’t worry, I didn’t go for the donut hamburger or anything too crazy. Just your traditional chicken on a stick, funnel cake, and a few bites of other random things that we shared. My friend, Linley, came up with the idea that I should blog about what you could heat at the fair that was on the healthier side. I don’t know that it’s possible. You could get water… I did notice a few places that had non-fried options, but I’m willing to bet they still aren’t too healthy. Good thing the fair only comes around once a year right?? Enjoy it if you go, but be prepared to feel miserably full afterwards if you eat more than one thing.

It’s Just Like Riding a Bike

I don’t know how many times I’ve blogged about getting back on track or getting back into the swing of my diet and exercise routine. I’m starting to realize that it’s becoming a little too common. After my test week a couple weeks ago, I really felt like I had strayed from my routine simply because I was so busy studying so I was excited to get back on track this past week. I don’t really feel like that happened though. I was good at the beginning of the week, running on both Monday and Tuesday, and I was pretty good about what I ate every day, except maybe Wednesday when I had a lunch and dinner event that involved meals. Even though I half way got back into my routine, I can tell I’m not fully there. I fell weighed down and tired, and I can tell I’ve eaten more carbohydrates and less fruits and veggies than usual because I just don’t fell as energetic as I normally do. Keeping this blog has really helped me think about the decisions that I make when I eat and exercise. I can sit around and tell myself that I need to be doing better all day, but writing it down and sharing it with my friends and family really helps keep me accountable. While I know most of you aren’t religiously addicted to my blog (if you are, you might need to get out a little more) it helps to know that at least one person I know will probably read what I have to say and know whether or not I’ve been exercising or eating healthy. I’ve said a million times that living a healthy life style is easy, especially once you get the hang of it, and I still believe that it is. But, it’s important to realize that it’s not always easy. With my tests and numerous other activities that I’ve been involved with over the past few weeks, I’ve been especially aware of how difficult and tempting it can be to stray from a healthy routine. I’m what they call a “stress eater,” I like to eat comfort food when I’m stressed out to feel better. While my comfort foods and stress eating habits have gotten healthier over the past year, I still don’t like the fact that I allow myself to fall into that habit. Eating too many sweets is what I really struggle with so, I’m constantly working to try to keep my dessert intake to a minimum. I chose a bad time to end my month without dessert; it ended the week before test week, the perfect time to make excuses that eating all the dessert I want is okay. Now that I have sufficiently quenched that craving, I’m going to try to only have three desserts a week. I’ve used moderation with all of my other dieting habits and I think it really works the best, so why not use it with desserts too? I’m being realistic when I say I just can’t cut sweets out of my life, but there’s no reason to go on an ice cream frenzy any time I feel slightly stressed out. I’ll keep you posted on that project. In other news… this week is Jackson Restaurant Week and the Jackson Free Clinic is one of the charities in the running to win $10,000! If you live in Jackson go out to eat and vote for the free clinic. You can find more info about restaurant week here.

My First Pie
I know I was just talking about how badly I need to moderate my dessert intake, but I just can’t not tell y’all that I made my first pie all on my own yesterday. I’m a huge fan of Almond Joy and so is my friend Zach (I think we’re in the minority on this one), so when I found this recipe on Pinterest I had to try it. I just couldn’t resist. Zach offered to buy the ingredients and help me eat the pie (to avoid me having to eat it all in one sitting) if I made it. The perfect plan, which I think I executed quit nicely yesterday as a study break. It was really easy to make and didn’t really take much time either. I think the hardest part was resisting the urge to lick the bowl of melted chocolate leftovers clean. I know some of you must be confused as to why I would talk about making such a decadent dessert since my whole blog is about being healthy, but like I said, some things are needed… just in moderation. I’ve only had one piece of the pie so far and will probably be taking it to school tomorrow to let Zach and some of our administrators have the rest. I think that’s pretty good moderation, plus it’s fun to share treats with other people. Click here for the recipe, just don’t make it too often!

Chicken and Summer Vegetable Tostadas
Now for some healthier recipes. This recipe has been on my list for a while now, but somehow every time I planned to make it, something came up and I just couldn’t make it. Well, I’m glad I finally made myself try it because it’s super delicious and of course easy. It kind of turned out like a mexican pizza. I hope the paper plate in the photo doesn’t distract you from how delicious it looks, but I just don’t have time to do a million dishes tonight. Anyway, all you have to do is season the chicken with some cumin, salt and pepper and sauté it for a few minutes. When it’s a little more than halfway done, you add your mixture of summer vegetables and green salsa and simmer until the chicken is done and the veggies are tender. I heated my tortilla in a 350 degree oven instead of using the broiler, but you could do either. I also used frozen corn instead of fresh, but it’s pretty much the same thing if you ask me. Fresh cilantro and green onion on the top gives an extra fresh flavor that definitely complements the cumin on the chicken very well. I’m going to have the leftover chicken and vegetable mixture for lunch tomorrow and I’m already excited about it. Click here for the recipe.

Summer Vegetable Quinoa
This recipe is a result of not making the above recipe. Since I had planned to make the tostadas and bought all the ingredients, I had to  use the ingredients so I wouldn’t waste them. I came up with this quick quinoa recipe to use the fresh zucchini and red onion that I didn’t want to waste. I remember I just wasn’t in the mood for making anything elaborate one night and it was easy to make some quinoa and toss in some veggies. I cooked the frozen corn with the quinoa (just pour it in frozen at the same time you put the quinoa in). I sauteed red onion and zucchini for a few minutes then tossed everything together with some feta cheese, pepper, a little red wine vinegar and olive oil. Even though it used the same ingredients as the tostada recipe, the two dishes have very different flavors. Since this one had feta cheese and red wine vinegar, it was a little more Greek/Mediterranean. Obviously the tostada recipe is Mexican due to the cumin, jack cheese, and cilantro. I think this is a fun example of how you can use the same ingredients to make two very different meals. It helps save money and keeps you from wasting food. It’s also fun to just toss things together and see if you like them.

Back to studying now, have a great week!

Back to Normal… Again

Well, I’m happy to say that I survived my first test block of my second year. As I’m sure you gathered from my last post, the past couple weeks have been a little busy and crazy. Preparing for week where you have one test per day, can get a little wild. It’s hard to ration your time evenly for all of your classes, and sadly, the tests at the end of the week tend to get a little neglected.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned in medical school so far, its’ that my life is crazy and busy in spurts. Around test time, the test is all that matters; I try to keep up with cooking and exercising, but it doesn’t always work out the way I’d like. Once a test is over, it’s like my life can go back to normal (until the next test that is); I can exercise frequently, cook every night, and keep my house tidy (something that hasn’t happened in a few weeks). I’m a pretty big neat freak, especially when it comes to my house, but I’ve been so busy studying the past couple weeks, I kind of let things go a little. Thankfully I had Michael in town some over the past couple weeks and he was nice enough to make me dinner AND do the dishes, which is a big deal, considering I don’t have a dishwasher. In light of all the recent chaos, I decided to have a cleaning spree at home last night. I turned on the 90s Pop radio station on Pandora and cleaned my little heart out; I swept, vacuumed, mopped, cleaned just about every surface of my house, and washed my mountain of laundry that was beginning to tumble out of my closet. So, now, I’m back to normal… My house is clean, my clothes are clean, I have time to exercise and time to cook (and blog about it!). Even though it’s tough having a full week of tests, I think I like it, I got to have a worry free weekend at home in Starkville and now I get a fresh start in all my classes. I’m not behind, we’ll see how long I can keep that up though. Now, for some yummy food!

Greek Pasta with Meatballs
This recipe has been on my “Need to Try” list for a while now; I finally added it to my grocery list a few weeks ago when I decided to give turkey burgers a try and figured I could split the meat between the two recipes. Wwweeeelllll, things got a little busy and I ended up putting the ground turkey in the freezer and not making it. Michael mentioned that he wouldn’t mind cooking when he was in town, so I showed it to him to see if he would be okay making it. I told him I had all the ingredients already, and that the turkey just needed to be defrosted. I had forgotten that the actual recipe called for ground lamb, something I figured would be difficult to find and slightly out of my price range. Michael, however, likes to follow recipes a little bit more strictly than I do, so he ventured out and found ground lamb at Fresh Market. I was slightly annoyed at this because I had already bought ground turkey. I am soooooooo glad he decided to find the ground lamb!!! This dish is one of the best that I’ve had since I started my healthy kick, definitely in my top five favorites. I can’t really comment on how easy or difficult the recipe was since Michael made it, but I can say, DON’T skip the lamb! It has such a different flavor than turkey or beef and it really really really makes this a delicious dish. If it is slightly out of your price range, save it for a fancy dinner, and instead of going out, treat yourself to a delicious homemade meal with some friends. Click here for the recipe.

Shrimp Caesar Salad
I came across this recipe when I was looking for recipes that would be quick and easy to make during test week. As you know, I love salads, so I’m always excited to try and make a new salad dressing from scratch. I’ve made my own greek and balsamic vinaigrettes, but never a caesar dressing. Most salad dressings are easy to toss together ,so I figured I could handle this one during my pre-test weeks. The dressing was pretty good, not the best I’ve ever had, but I might try tweaking it a little next time I make it. It was less creamy than I’m used to having with a caesar dressing, which isn’t necessarily bad, just not the norm. I’ll keep you posted if I make any changes that are worthwhile. As for the rest of the salad, I sauteed the shrimp in olive oil with salt and pepper, which takes about 5 minutes tops. I think I used sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts. I don’t think it really made a difference in the taste, I use sunflower seeds in the trailmix that I make so, I have them in my cabinets on a regular basis. Just like any other salad, all you have to do is toss everything together and enjoy. Click here for this recipe.

Lemon Cranberry Tuna Salad
Yes, another salad. I usually eat a mixed green salad with plain tuna on top every day for lunch. Surprisingly, I haven’t gotten sick of it after eating it for over a year now. I do like to change things up every now and then though, so when I came across this recipe, I thought I’d give it a try. I try to stay away from making chicken or tuna salad since they call for mayonnaise (exactly the healthiest option). If I do use mayonnaise in a recipe, I use the low fat made from olive oil kind, which makes me feel slightly better about it. I think I used less mayo than the recipe called for in this one too. Another apprehension I had about making this one was the craisins; even though I like tuna and I like craisins, I was unsure of how they would taste together. I was really surprised at how good it was though, especially on top of lettuce with no salad dressing. It made the perfect lunch. One of my favorite parts of the recipe is the dill, which is one of my favorite herbs. The dill and cranberry flavors balance each other out really well, hmmmm, this is making me want to make this one again. Click here for the recipe.

Whirlwind

According to Merriam-Webster a whirlwind is defined as 1. a small rotating windstorm of limited extent; 2. a confused rush; 3. a violent or destructive force or agency. I think I can honestly say my life probably feels like all three of those things right now, and I’m sure many of my classmates feel about the same way. We have a full week of tests coming up, one every day next week, as opposed to last year when we had several tests almost every Monday. I haven’t been able to decide which method of madness I prefer yet, but I can say that I have so much information swimming around in my brain I can hardly think straight. I just hope all that swimming information becomes a synchronized swimming routine by Monday. Aside from class and studying for all my tests, I have other things going on that are just making my life more and more busy. I don’t think I’m exactly complaining about it, because without all the craze and busy schedules, I’d just be bored (and shop and eat too much). Anywho, with this week being jam packed with studying and various meetings and other activities, I’ve decided to tell you a little bit about an event that I luckily got to attend on Monday. It is food related, but sadly, I didn’t cook any of it. Aaaaannnnnddddd it may not be the healthiest thing I’ve ever blogged about, but you gotta treat yourself sometimes, especially when there’s no cost to you. Hopefully I’ll be able to make a short and sweet post next week with some things I’ve actually made recently. I promise I have a whole list of things to share with you, but studying takes priority this week and next.

Eat Jackson’s Chef’s Table

Until last year, I had never won a door prize or raffle ticket drawing in my life. Once medical school started, I was the luckiest person ever. I began winning door prizes left and right and even managed to win $2500 over the summer. Crazy right!? Well, it looks like my luck has slightly rubbed off because one of my good friends, Allison, won two free tickets (from Kats Wine) to an event called Chef’s Table this past weekend. Jake, her boyfriend had to attend night class, so I was lucky enough to take his place. The event was a collaboration between three awesome chefs that prepared a five course meal right in front of our eyes. Eat Jackson, a food centered organization in Jackson, hosted the evening at the Viking Cooking School with specific wine and beer pairings that had been carefully chosen by Kats Wine and Bayou Teche Biere, and seafood supplied by Mississippi Gulf Fresh Seafood. The chefs were Trace Williams, Jeremy Enfinger, and Chris Grant, who came up with a new creation called Cajunshire Cuisine, which is basically a fusion of English and Cajun flavors. I can’t even begin to explain how delicious every single bite was. The three chefs all come from different places, but met through twitter and have worked together on Jamie Oliver’s Throw Down on the Farm, which is part of his Food Revolution Project. The Food Revolution is a really cool project that works to educate elementary age students about the importance of eating healthy. They educate on types of food, cooking, and help them grow their own school gardens. It’s a really awesome program that I hope will make it’s way to Mississippi in the near future. Since I have way too many good things to say about all the dishes that I ate, I think I’ll just post the pictures so you can see how awesome it was. I will say that the Crawfish Cake and the Etoufee Yorkshire tied for my favorite main dish and the trifle and ice cream sandwich were my favorite desserts. The recipes will be posted on the Eat Jackson website (soon hopefully) so you can attempt make your own delicious Cajunshire cuisine. I’ve put links to the sponsors of the event so you can find out more about them, and you can click on the Chef’s Table link to learn more about the chefs and dishes that were involved. That’s all I can give you for now, it’s time to go back to the books!

Course One- Grilled Black and Blue Salad                        Course Two- Swimming Pig

Course Three- Catfish in the Dales                        Course Four- Etoufee Yorkshire

                                       

 

 

 

 

 

                                      Course Five- Sweet Endings (AKA Bacon Infused Desserts)

Too Good to be True!

I’ve had a fairly relaxing Labor Day weekend. I was very tempted to visit Starkville and go to the MSU game, but instead, decided to hang out at home and leisurely work my way through some studying. It may not have been the most exciting weekend of my life, but it was nice to not be stressed out about traveling and not getting stuff done. I got to watch a little football with some friends, watch a couple movies, eat some yummy food, and check a few things off my to-do list. I was also able to get back to running, which was a little strange after running my 5K last week. My knee bothered me for a few days after the race, so I took it easy until Wednesday. Then, hurricane/tropical storm/tropical depression Isaac made it’s way through Jackson with only a few showers here and there, but the projected forecasts led me to believe I shouldn’t go running outside. I finally went running Saturday morning with the intention of returning to my walking and running routine. However, I ended up pretty much running the whole way, I didn’t go more than 1.5 miles probably, but I think since I knew I could go a full 3.1, I just couldn’t make myself walk. My whole goal with going back to alternating between walking and running is to alternate between high and low heart rates, something I’ve yet to really research, but choose to believe anyway. Today, Caroline ran with me and we kept up with the alternating routine and it was nice to change things up.  My recipe list from last week is what inspired the title for this post. I ended up with three super simple recipes that were so delicious it’s hard to believe they could be so simple.

Falafel with Avocado Spread
I’ve never really know what a falafel was, but I’ve always wanted to try them since I think thought they were mediterranean in origin and I typically like mediterranean food. They’re technically considered middle eastern, which is close enough for me! According to Wikipedia, they are deep fried balls or patties made of chickpeas, fava beans or both (Hey med school friends! Remember that fava bean disease from biochem???). Anyway, this recipe called for pinto beans and a few other add ins to give some flavor. The parsley and cheese really made them yummy. I’m slowly learning that I’m not exactly the best at cooking patty type foods in a skillet. As you can see in the photo, they didn’t stick together very well. They still tasted good though. I cut the recipe in half to make two falafels, I had one for dinner the night I made them and had the leftover one the next night. The avocado spread that goes with this was really good as well. I like pretty much any kind of guacamole you can make, but this one had a dollop of sour cream in it that really made it extra creamy and gave it a little extra flavor. Click here for the recipe.

Spinach Calzone
So, I was a little excited and a little too hungry when I finished making this recipe and forgot to take a picture before I ate it. Oooops, sorry about that! Most of you have probably seen a calzone before though. This one was really easy because you can use a refrigerated pizza crust (I chose a thin crust one) and frozen spinach. The rest of the ingredients are different cheeses, which may not be the most healthy thing you can eat, but they aren’t so bad if you use fat free for all of them. Plus, there was no meat in the recipe, so you gotta get a little protein from somewhere. If you make the full recipe and use a whole pizza crust, this thing comes out to be huge! Luckily, I had Caroline and her boyfriend, Patrick, over for dinner so they could help me out, otherwise, I would have been eating it for a week. We only ate half of the whole thing, so it easily serves six people; great for a quick family dinner or a small dinner party. The recipe calls for a marinara sauce to pour over the top of each serving, but I decided to use pesto because I already had some in the fridge. When I ate it as leftovers, I left the sauce out and it was just as good without it. Next time you’re in the mood for a pizza type dinner, try this out. You could easily add meat or other veggies if you wanted to and really make it your own creation. Click here for the recipe.

Roasted Cod
I know you’re all probably tired of hearing me yap on and on about all the different times I make cod, but it’s just so easy for me to keep in the freezer and make whenever I’m in the mood for fish. This recipe is probably my favorite cod recipe I’ve made so far. AND, it’s definitely one of the easiest. All you have to do it put your fish in the pan, add white wine around the fish, a little olive oil and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper on top, and surround it with olives. It bakes for 20-25 minutes until the fish flakes, and that’s it. It was delicious, plus the wine made my house smell awesome while it was baking. I did go a little overboard on the olives, but I really really like olives. I won’t use as many next time because they are pretty filling especially when you use as many as I did; I couldn’t eat all the ones I had on my plate. I paired this with steamed broccoli and carrots, which went well, but you could use any vegetable or salad that you like. Click here for the recipe.