A million bucks – and, oh, chickpea nachos

A million bucks – and, oh, chickpea nachos

I woke up this morning feeling like A MILLION BUCKS. My alarm went off 6 A.M. (Emma needs to be on the bus by 6:33, insert a bunch of what the fucks here) and rather than throwing my phone off my nightstand in a fit of rage; I bounced out of bed. I swear, that isn’t even a bit of an exaggeration. I was like, excited to start my day. This NEVER happens. Mornings have just been relentlessly hard on me the last two years. Today, I sprang up, made my coffee and even used dry shampoo/attempted to make myself look pretty. No, I did not wear real pants, lets not start thinking crazy. Throughout the day, there were several fires to put out. The scope and magnitude of these fires would usually send me flipping the fuck out, threatening to staple someones face and give up on humanity. But, I felt level throughout the entire day. I felt I could manage the stress that was coming at me. My energy was solid. Come time to run, I layered my clothing like a champ and just went outside to get it done. Today was the first day in a long time that I didn’t feel sick and tired. And believe me, it has been a long stretch of just feeling completely sick and utterly tired. It could just be a one off. Who knows if this means anything. For right now, I will just take it as a sign that my plan to trace the origin of everything I put in my mouth, is working. Which drives my desire to find food/recipes that are simple and attainable.

I’m not going to lie, there are so many parts of watching my food intake that are hard. While grocery shopping, I find that 99% of packaged items are just unacceptable for consumption. Specifically dressings, nut butters and even items like trail mix. Everything is just sugar/wheat laden. At this point, I would rather just take a minute and make it myself. It means that meal planning is harder, going out to eat is tricky and life at the end of the day becomes just a little more exhausting. It’s no longer as simple as, oh just whip up some quick pasta. I have to plan if I want to stick to this and I have to research a vast majority of my recipes. (No worries, I am going to do LOTS of this work for you in the future, showing you how to easily whip items like salad dressing!)

See, I don’t want to Weight Watchers it up or throw a label on it. That’s just a way of skirting the system.  I want to actually KNOW my food. While losing a bit of weight is part of the goal, I refuse to eat a mangled pile of shit in order to hit a certain points number, just so I can lose weight. I want to continue feeling good. I want to know each ingredient intimately and forge a relationship that has staying power. I want to understand the relationship my body has with each individual food.

But does that mean giving up the things I love? No no no. I just need to reinvent the things I love.

So I made chickpea tortilla nachos because I wanted something crunchy and familiar. I found a recipe on-line and adapted it a bit. They were delicious BUT they do not taste like the tortilla chips you’re used to. No reinvention will be exact but, it was close enough. It made me feel like I was indulging and sometimes, that is all a girl needs.

Lets talk about chickpeas and what they are good at:

  • Help control blood sugar levels
  • Increases productive digestion and aids in weight loss
  • High fiber content (see above)
  • Protects against heart disease and cancer
  • Provides essential vitamins and minerals such as iron and calcium
  • Great source of plant based protein (12 chips equal 11 grams of protein!! WIN!)

Now you are convinced, right?? Chickpeas are the bomb and you should make this recipe. Pronto. I made these with regular chickpea flour but the word on the street is that sprouted chickpea flour is even easier to digest. I have that coming Friday. I will let you know the difference should I see one. Onto the recipe!!

Chickpea Tortilla Chips

Ingredients:
2 cups chickpea flour (sprouted or regular)
1 ½ teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
6 tablespoons water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Throw chickpea flour, salt, pepper and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Add the coconut oil and mix with your hands until the dough is crumbly. 4 tablespoons warm water and stir until the dough comes together. If the dough is not sticking together add more water, a teaspoon at a time, until it does. Try not to overwork the dough too much although I had to work it a bit to get everything to stick together nicely.

2. Place the dough onto a sheet of baking paper and flatten into a disc. Place another sheet of baking paper on top of the dough and using a rolling pin, roll out as thin as possible – this is SO important. Thin, thin, thin. My first batch was on the thick side and the chips had an odd texture. The thinner the dough, the lighter and crispier your chips will be. Remove the top layer of baking paper and score the dough into triangles. Slide the baking paper and dough onto a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for 10-13 minutes until the chips are golden around the edges.

4. Move on to make the nachos or store in an airtight container for later consumption.

Fresh Housemade Salsa

Ingredients:
8-10 tomatoes, ripe as you can grab this time of year (I use the Campari tomatoes at Whole Foods, it’s the best I can do in winter)
1 jalapeno, seeds and all
1/2 small red onion
1 handful of cilantro
Juice of one lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Simply throw into a food processor and pulse until it becomes a consistency you will enjoy.

Avocado Crema

Ingredients:
1 small clove garlic
2 large, ripe avocados
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons cilantro leaves, minced
Olive oil, coconut oil to thin out as necessary (use your desired oil)

Cut avocados in half, remove the pit and scoop the flesh into the food processor. Add the garlic, lime juice, salt and pulse on high until smooth. Add olive oil to thin as needed, and blend. Next add the cilantro leaves and pulse just until combined. Season to taste, adding more salt or lime juice as desired.

Nachos

Simply place a layer of chickpea tortillas on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with black beans, sharp cheddar cheese (use vegan cheese here if you like), diced red peppers and red onion. Bake until cheese is melty and gooey. Then top with avocado crema, fresh salsa and some cilantro leaves.

the cereal aisle

the cereal aisle

The cereal aisle is a dangerous place. I spend roughly 8 minutes of my life each and every grocery trip arguing with my children about why they can’t have 99% of the boxes in the cereal aisle. Here is a fun fact, 4 grams equals 1 teaspoon of sugar. So, for all my math nerds, lets do some simple addition. A typical serving of cereal is 3/4 of a cup and contains 9-12 grams of sugar. If you buy your kid Honey Nut Cheerios and they have 2 servings (because really, who the fuck eats 3/4 of a cup of cereal?); that equals 18 grams of sugar, or 4.5 teaspoons of sugar. Go dump 4.5 teaspoons into a small glass, you want your kids munching on that to start their day? I hope not. Now this is an argument I sometimes lose. This week, my kids won and I bought them Cinnamon Toast Crunch (9 grams of sugar per serving). Lucky for me, they barely finish one serving and round off the meal with fruit or a smoothie. (which I pack with spinach or kale to offset the sugar) Personally, I can’t eat that shit but they’re kids and no matter how hard I try, sometimes they just want plain garbage.

However, for me, the convenience of cereal has its benefits. It is something quick that I can eat in the morning and helps me to avoid getting something on the way to work. I’ve been shoving plain Cheerios with a banana in my face nearly every day but I’m hungry less than an hour later. It just doesn’t sustain me. Bottom line – from a box is bad. Homemade is good. But since my new project is all about being real – who the hell has time to make homemade cereal????

Unfortunately, in doing research for my new project I found that a lot of plant based recipes are a disaster. Millions of unknown ingredients, most VERY expensive. Picture me in Whole Foods searching for psyllium husks. Twenty minutes and $10 later I found them but I was super annoyed. My new motto is – it doesn’t have to be this difficult. This recipe takes 5 minutes to put together. The hardest part is waiting for it to cool so you can dig in!

The recipe for this cereal is typical of what you will find in my new project. Easy to shop for, make and conquer. And how about the health benefits of the ingredients:

Flax seeds: help reduce risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, contain omega-3 (healthy fat!) essential fatty acids, lignans (antioxidants!!) and fiber (both soluble and insoluble)
Almond flour: low in carbohydrates, high in fiber and high source of protein.
Coconut Oil: high in natural saturated fats which increase healthy cholesterol in the body which assists in heart health.
Unsweetened applesauce: an especially good source of soluble fiber, the type that dissolves into a gel-like substance and helps maintain healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Cinnamon: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, helps protect brain function
Coconut Sugar: coconut sugar contains inulin. Inulin has the ability to stimulate the growth of intestinal bifidobacteria, commonly found in probiotice, which can provide an overall boost to the immune system. Don’t be fooled though, I do want to point out that sugar is sugar so best to be cautious when using.

So, here you have it, housemade cereal! P.S. This recipe goes a LONG way. Don’t let it fool you. I put like 15 squares in a bowl with lots of fresh berries and I was full until lunch. In fact, I had to push myself to eat lunch. The fact that it is grain and gluten free also means easy digestion and a slow release of energy. Also incredibly helpful for our whacky hormones. One recipe should last you a full working week.

HOUSEMADE CINNAMON VANILLA CEREAL – MAKES 7 SERVINGS (1 serving, roughly 12-15 squares, with a cup of raspberries, blueberries and strawberries is 267 calories) (this does not count almond milk)

Note: I don’t think this is meant to be enjoyed alone, I would always have it with a little fruit

1-1/2 cups organic blanched almond flour (you can find this in the organic section of Hannaford)
1/2 cup ground flax seeds (I just bought regular seeds and through them in the blender)
1-1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup coconut sugar (I actually cut this in half to 2 tablespoons and added 2 additional tablespoons of almond meal to reduce the overall sugar but you can do whatever suits you)
1/4 cup organic, unsweetened apple sauce (use an extra dollop if you need to for moisture)
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 325°F

2. Combine all the ingredients into a bowl, adding a touch more applesauce if you need to in order to achieve a “dough” that sticks together. I used my hands, using a spoon just didn’t make sense. Gather dough into a rough ball.

3. Place dough on piece of parchment paper and flatten into a disk to make rolling out easier. Place another piece of parchment on top. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough as evenly as possible, about 2mm thickness (don’t go too thin here or it will easily burn). Remove top sheet of parchment paper, and using a paring knife, score the dough into small squares. (see picture below)

4. Place in the oven to bake for about 15-20 minutes until turning golden around the edges, then turn the oven off and let the cereal sit in there until cool (this will help dry it out and make them extra crisp). Watch the cereal carefully. My first tried burned pretty badly. I started looking in at about 10 minutes. At 15, I placed a piece of foil on top to prevent browning further. It won’t feel crisp at first, but will dry out and crisp as the pan cools, I promise. If you are nervous about the color, put a piece of foil on while it sits with the oven off.

5. Once the cereal is completely cool, break up the pieces into squares (this will happen very easily) and place in an airtight glass container. Store for up to one month at room temperature.

new waves.

new waves.

Well world, school is done. I graduated December 23 after three relentless years of study. I have a BS in Interior Design (which basically felt like starting over considering the topic of my study) and as of last week; I officially applied to graduate school. My application is for the Fall 2018 semester so I can, thankfully, have a solid 8 months off. And while it will be challenging to do this all over again; I couldn’t be more excited to (hopefully) be part of the Boston Architectural College community. The last three years taught me that architecture has shaped every moment of my life and while I enjoy smaller projects; I want to think on a much larger scale. I want to use architecture and interior design to shape the way individuals age, pursue personal growth and connect with new members of the community. I felt a masters of design in human health would do just that; hence the program I applied to at the BAC. I also feel it will connect my previous pursuits with my current pursuits. It’s ideal to combine two loves, especially professionally.

The free time has been lovely. I’ve had time to get strep throat, bring every family member (including myself) to urgent care and the emergency room, enjoy the mad descent of the holidays and collectively fetch a stomach flu that wiped my household into oblivion. I’ve done no running, biking or swimming except for maybe a few sad workouts here and there. I gained ten pounds. And I have had zero social life due to the nature of my whole family puking/shitting/getting stitches/ultrasounds to critical parts of their bodies/antibiotics, etc. However, I have been doodling and thinking all about my passion project and I’m very excited at how things are shaping up.

The reason for the summer “launch” was really more to do with the content. I wanted to sit with things awhile before I unleashed the site to the world. As many of you know, my ideas are like a revolving door and each one is the next great thing. I want to be quiet with each idea; sift and needle through it before exposure. This has resulted in a well curated direction rather than a misdirection of missile fire (i.e. ill formed ideas). The foundation still applies but with a more refined approach.

Everyone knows about my heart condition but few people know that I struggle with one two other minor health issues. Both were discovered the year I ran the Boston Marathon and just absolutely pummeled my body into the ground. I paid no attention to nutrition or inflammation and as a result my body reacted poorly to any athletic pursuit. This still applies today. I get sick, like wretchedly sick, horribly fatigued, my hair falls out, I have terrible mood swings and I look pale/like death. While racing, I would bonk so hard that it would feel like I couldn’t run a step further and this eventually made its way into my triathlon training this past summer.

The trouble is, women’s bodies are so complex and those complexities relate so closely to food. Sugar and carbohydrates effect our endocrine system and when that system is off, our hormones are all over the place. Food helps to stabilize and regulate. However, too much of the wrong (and I don’t even like to use the word wrong here) kind of food can wreak havoc on a women’s body (anyone’s body!). Aside from hormones, when you are as anemic as I am (and trust me there are people far worse like my sister, who needs iron infusions), eating a diet rich in bread, dairy, starch and sugar can produce a messy situation. None of those items contain iron and easily deplete the body of their ability to properly perform. So, I am trying to (again no big declarations as a general rule) move towards a more plant based approach with limited dairy, carbs and sugar. Eating is a big part of all our lives. I thought this new project should be centered on that. How women eat, what we eat, when do we eat and what does it do as we grow and age? How does it effect our ability to be prosperous, happy and healthy creatures? This won’t be the only topic but I have decided it will be a major portion of the project. There are lots of resources on the internet but everything out there feels so tedious and complex. Once I see a $198 face cream or a recipe with 27 ingredients, I’m like, fuck that, I would rather just feel like shit. I think having a place where nothing feels overwhelming and everything feels accessible can help shift the tide. A place where it’s not just how, it’s why. I know that at 34, I want to know what to put on my skin, what to feed my body, how to workout and how to make my home a place of tranquility.

I think there is a better way. And I’m happy to be working on producing that – even in the chaos that has been my life the past month.

There’s lots of work to be done with creating an honest conversation. I’m hopeful that my journey over the next 6 months to find a better path in health, spirituality, life and love; will translate well in pictures and writing. As usual, any ideas, send them along!

Till the next post,

Jenny

it starts here.

it starts here.

I remember walking around the nation’s capital with a friend of mine in 2014 while declaring out loud “I feel like I’m meant for greatness and yet; I’m falling remarkably short of that greatness.” Now, I get it, this sounds super obnoxious – try to hold back the rolling of the eyes. It wasn’t meant to be quite as douchy as it sounds. My point was simply that I have always felt an itch but I’ve never known where to scratch. I left behind a lot of things when I moved to Maine and in my seven years in this state; I have struggled to find myself. I thought perhaps I left my greatness somewhere in Massachusetts, like maybe at a bar or along the Charles while out running. Probably tossed it in the trash at the Coop and just never went back to claim it. I referred to my own greatness as a tangible solid; something I could pick up and mold. And I also referred to my own greatness as either/or. I either have it now, here in Maine, or I don’t. I’m sure a lot of women think like that. I missed the mark, therefor my life is shit.

What a bunch of crap. Greatness can be curated anywhere, at anytime and for any reason. I didn’t quite get that until some of the stress started to lift off my shoulders and I began talking to myself in a kinder fashion. It wasn’t a light bulb moment but a slow trickle over time that eventually turned into a glass half full. We are the creators of our own destiny.

It took 3 years, a handful of panic attacks, an article about the societal pressures that cause 30 something’s to have nervous break-downs and hating myself for not being perfect to realize the singular thing I could do to achieve greatness. Not just for me, but women everywhere. Start an honest conversation using a platform that feels real. (simple, right?)  It will be small at first. It will take time and hours, days and years. It will cause some commotion and discontent I’m sure but you can’t please everyone. The conversation around women in today’s society goes one of two ways: you are either all done up, looking chic as fuck and juggling the world while making Gwenyth Paltrow-esque meals every night OR you are rolling your kids through the McDonald’s drive-thru, struggling to survive, wearing yoga pants and looking like you just got dragged behind a bumper.

Well, fuck that. I want a conversation that revolves around women who make mistakes, have or don’t have children, care about wellness without ridiculously false expectations, occasionally eat 25 fun-sized Snickers, are educated, getting educated, aren’t educated, want to get educated, hate cooking, love cooking, don’t want to spend $800 on a cardigan, feel a little ugly sometimes and are willing to discuss but most importantly – appreciate a place where the dialogue can be honest without telling each other how to take the easy way out.

My new passion project won’t be unveiled until Summer of 2018. I have rushed into things before and they never felt fully realized. I want a brand before I launch and enough content to pull people in. I also want to invite contributors from all over to write about their personal experiences. But I will tell you this, I’m sick of reading things that are unattainable and I’m guilty of pushing that myself. This brand will be real, refreshing and thought provoking. It will give women a place to come where they can celebrate one another while receiving advice through various platforms.

In the meantime, if anyone has ideas for content or would like to contribute please e-mail me: jennifer@allofthecake.com

Carving out time and peace.

Carving out time and peace.

“You wanna be right or you wanna be happy”-Celeste + Jesse Forever

Well guys. I’m back. It’s been like two months since I touched or thought about this blog. Life has just run away from me. Over the last few months I kept thinking that as I catapulted towards the finish line of school things would get easier. I kept waiting to coast. But, sadly, it never happened. Apparently, I don’t allow myself to coast in academics. (or anything for that matter) In fact, one teacher gave me a 95% on a Portfolio assignment and I imaged smashing his face into a toilet. (shameless, I know) Regardless, it is now basically November and with 6 weeks left to go; I am starting to feel like my old self. The self that can kill a hard workout. The self that can admire the way the rising sun hits my favorite blazing red tree during fall. The self that cares less about telling everyone when they’re wrong and more about building organic relationships. Oh, and the self that shamelessly smiles when my favorite song comes on. As things have winded down; I’ve made some small changes that I wanted to share with all of you because I think they have helped enormously. In the last year; there has been so much discussion about mental health and I think that sometimes people try and use the stress excuse as a way of masking some deeper issues. But, as human beings living challenging lives; I think calling attention to the mental hiccups is crucial. No, we may not be battling anxiety or depression but we are all battling something. After 3 years of feeling like I am walking backwards into a glass wall – I have learned some important coping mechanisms. The ones I have instilled in the last 3 months have made me a collectively more grounded person. I have learned to value being selfish and ask for what I need; when I need it. I have also learned to take a time out when I feel my brain getting hot.

  1. I called in help. No, we can’t all afford expensive smoothie and meal delivery services but there are small modifications everyone can make. Suddenly one day I realized that my busy schedule was creating dietary chaos. Sugar, I was eating so much sugar. (which meant I was snappy and tired ALL THE TIME) I was also eating huge meals at lunch because I had this urge to feel satisfied during the day. I’ve tried cutting out sugar cold turkey before and depriving myself of all the things I love and truthfully, it never lasts long. Maybe a week and then I binge on whatever I felt was missing in my life. I also realized that attempts to eat healthfully meant a lot of wasted food because I never actually had time to make a morning smoothie with 87 ingredients. So, I sat down and weighed the pros and cons of a service called Daily Harvest. The smoothies are roughly $6-$7 per smoothie depending on how many you sign up for per week. They come pre-portioned in little cute white cups. All you do is add your choice liquid. After throwing out like a bunch of kale, a shit ton of cauliflower and saw the pineapple rotting on my counter I decided to pull the trigger. It’s an $87 splurge per week. To make up for it I have cut out smoothies out and coffee in the morning from my local bakery. In the end, I spend less for something delivered to my doorstep that I can blend in two seconds. (p.s. the strawberry cheesecake sundae is fucking bomb, it’s made from strawberries, cauliflower, almonds and coconut-perfect for a late night sugar craving)
  2. I put my cell phone away. I started turning my cell phone off and tucking it downstairs for the night about a month ago. 8:30 PM – I am officially disconnected from the world (9 on some nights, it depends but no later than that) It has been proven that the blue light emitted from cell phone usage effects levels of melatonin (the hormone that controls sleep/wake cycle) and can create activity in your brain that will keep you awake. Also, 6 AM texts from my insane family members meant that on weekends; I was losing out on valuable catch-up sleep. In the past month, I have had no trouble falling asleep and I have STAYED asleep. I’m often surprised when my watch alarm wakes me up. I sleep more soundly and it is much easier to get up in the morning. On Sundays, I keep my phone off for the majority of the day. It has made such a difference in my tude.
  3. I started taking baths. I have always responded to the sensation of water and now that it is hella cold in the lake/ocean and I can’t open water swim – I have started taking baths regularly. It’s a way for me to have a connective experience with something natural. It is also a way to immerse myself in something healthy for my mind/body (bath salts, essential oils, scented candles, I love Pursoma bath products which range from $12-$36 per bath, they have a great one for when you feel a cold coming on) Taking a half hour to myself means that I get a little bit of time away from the world I live in. I try not to think or focus on anything but how my body feels in the water.
  4. I slowed down my running. After being seriously burnt out from running at the end of 2015; I backed off from running. My body fought every single run. I couldn’t get out the door. I was miserable. But at the same time, I knew I was missing the only time I felt fully immersed in something that allowed me to be outdoors, chat with friends or be alone with my music. The last month, my coach has forced me to slow down through heart rate training. It has shifted my perspective a great deal. The runs are no longer about beating my head against a wall to meet some stupid goal. Right now, it is just about intention. Be outside, control my heart rate, enjoy the experience. I’m not jumping for joy every day I have to run but I can get out the door willingly and I feel good while out there. After, I feel cleansed and renewed; ready to tackle whatever life throws at me.
  5. I stopped asking people for their time. I used to hang out with friends up here in Maine a lot and when that kind of fizzled; I was definitely sad about it. Now, I appreciate the fact that I have time to be alone when and if I need it without the lingering guilt. While having a packed social calendar is fun, it is important to realize that being a grown up with kids means that those around you have less and less time as life progresses. While my schedule might be freeing up, that other person might still be in the weeds. So I stopped asking for their time. I’m allowing friends who have grown distant to just be distant. What this means is that I appreciate when I do see them and I don’t set unrealistic expectations. It’s not always personal. Sometimes its just life.

Other small modifications: blasting music while making dinner, eating for fuel rather than just to eat, giving myself a fucking break when I fuck up, limiting my drinking (I probably have a drink once every two weeks), wearing real pants and looking like I give a shit about myself and most importantly, being nicer to my husband because he is fucking rad and deserves to not get the scary side of me quite so often.

It’s Friday guys and tomorrow night I get to see a bunch of people I love at the most ridiculous annual Halloween party ever, so lets unplug, unwind, have a few laughs and wind down the hours.

xoxo,

Jenny