Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Survival (a food post!)

The one thing grad school taught me how to do really well is to survive. When things are crazy, I learned how to keep myself healthy and happy by scheduling mini-workouts, eating healthily, and planning everything down to the minute!

I am settling into my new job. Some things about it are awesome - complete autonomy, the ability to say 'no' to things, a nice office, no bosses hounding you left and right...

Others are less fun. Sometimes students are whiney. I should say a certain subset of students are often whiney. I hate being a disciplinarian, but some students need to be told to get their sh*t together, and if they are going to graduate next semester, then they need to be told NOW. Also, I still work 60-70 hours/week (and I'm not even doing any research yet...still waiting for my supplies to show up!), but at least I'm fully in control and I know my colleagues work less so I can scale down with minimal consequences

...anyway, survival. I eat a lot of beans&rice with salad. I don't cook much anymore. I have perfected my salmon cooking technique to make salmon salad. I sometimes eat cheese + bread for dinner. Last week I ate lentil loaf for a week straight.This weekend I had a little time to myself and did some cooking.

So, key to survival is planning your meals ahead or, at least, having stuff on hand that makes satisfying meals. In my humble opinion, dessert makes a satisfying meal, so this week instead of eating hershey's kisses melted with some peanut butter, I made a cake.

An Apple-Walnut Cake. And boy, it's gooooooooood.

It's also really easy. Mix the ingredients together, put it in a pan, and bake.

Apple-Walnut Cake
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c butter
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg
3/4 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 c walnuts, crushed
1 apple, peeled and diced

Cream butter, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Add egg. Mix in flour and baking powder. Stir in walnuts and apples. 

Pour into greased pan and bake at 350 for 25 minutes. 

 So, while that was cooking, I prepped a few other things. I baked some chicken:
Plop in ovenproof dish, Season. Saute until brown on each side, bake for 20 minutes. Done.

More with the chicken later. I knew I wanted stir fry with my bounty of fresh veggies, so I prepped the rice, the veggies, and pressed the tofu:

(Yes, it's a high tech tofu press. My mother had one just like it when I was little! And yes, my mother did feed us tofu and we liked it. )

Then I stored it in the fridge for a weeknight dinner.

Ok, back to the chicken. After my cake was done, I took a little nap, woke up, and prepped some Waldorf Chicken Salad for a couple lunches this week.

I would give you the recipe, but I found it in this month's Self Magazine and I can't find it on their website. So, this is the front of the magazine...maybe you can find the recipe yourself!

The basic premise is this:

Chicken + Celery + Onion + Apple + Grapes in a creamy dressing (they cheated with greek yogurt). Put it on salad.

So, I made too much chicken and ended up with a double batch:
Creamy mix.

Add all the good stuff.
Mix and transfer half to another container.

Prep salad: Spinach + Romaine mix
 Their recipe calls for pecans, but I don't like those. I had some sunflower seeds, so I put them in a baggie to retain their crunch.
Then I place a papertowel in the lettuce container to soak up any excess moisture. Works like a charm. Also makes a nice "wipe the face" napkin.

I'm still too embarrassed to take my camera to work, so I will just tell you how it works. Open the lettuce container, remove the sunflower seeds and napkin. Dump in the chicken salad. Top with seeds. Eat.

I was really surprised at how good this recipe was. I was doubtful and dreading eating it for lunch today, but it was tasty and super filling. Lots of protein, low fat, high fiber. I followed the recipe exactly except for the mayo - I used light mayo - and the sunflower seeds. I also used Fage greek yogurt, which is creamier and milder, in my humble opinion.

Ok, so I have some stir fry + salad to get me going. That pretty pumpkin pictured with the cake...He's going to get stewed on Thursday when I have chili-making night with a friend. Have you ever tried chili with stewed squash? So good!

Finally, every day I walk/bike by a kitten adoption center. They keep them in cubicles, but they let each group of cats/kittens out to play in the room once everyday. Here are some funny kitty shots to brighten up your day! 

What is your favorite make-ahead recipe? 


  1. Cute kitties! If I had to walk past an adoption centre every day I wouldn't be able to stop myself from adopting them all!

    I tend to make large batches of stuff before really busy weeks as well. I also find that I need to plan ahead for snacks or I will fall into the chocolate trap. So what I tend to do now is always have a box of salad/ fresh veg, cut and ready to go, for when I come home. It also acts as a great appetiser as well; because we eat late at night, sometimes 9pm at night, we can have a plate of that as we're cooking so we're not starving and therefore serving ourselves huge portions! So far it's working out well.

  2. Aww, I don't think I'd be able to walk past a kitten adoption centre without taking some home!! So cute :)

    I've heard about pressing tofu, but I've never tried it. I wonder what the difference is to normal, unsquished tofu? I will try it sometime :)