Sunday Cooking

I had some fun cooking today! I found a great recipe for an energy bar that promises to be very tasty. The recipe is from We Are So Vegan. I didn't have all the ingredients and found the recipe is very forgiving for whatever nuts you have on hand ( It's a little sticky and crumbly, but it would also be great for travel, provided you have some wet wipes with you!

I also made pistachio crusted tofu (adapted a recipe for pistachio crusted tuna), with a white wine/shallot sauce, roasted veggies and a yummy grapefruit/basil/red onion salad. I used to serve this salad with pork tenderloin and the grapefruit complimented the meat very well. It's a great salad with ingredients you normally might not put together, and goes with a lot of dishes. It was perfect with tonights meal!


Sunday Morning Walks

I love taking walks on early Sunday mornings during the summer. It's such a quiet and peaceful time and you have a lot of time to yourself. Even with an occasional lawn mower or saw going off in the distance, I find these walks very calming and centering. I keep up a good pace, and usually walk for just over 3 miles. If you look closely, you see a lot of great things in nature. Today I went for one of these walks and saw and heard a lot of great things.

I heard several blue jays throughout the course of my walk. My mom used to tell me that it was going to rain when you heard a blue jay 'jaying'. There was NO rain anywhere near us today…maybe that's just a myth! I saw two baby robins that had fallen from their nest…they had feathers, but were pretty little. I could hear their mom and dad squawking in the background, so I left in hope they would get the babies to safety. I'm praying they did not become dinner for some larger animal.

I also saw a very interesting bug hanging from a thread below a tree. It's the same thing I saw on a vacation at the beach a few years ago…looks like a pile of leaves; I still need to figure out what it is. Part of my walk goes along a square block of an assisted living community; it's very quiet and peaceful. I usually encounter numerous dog walkers, other walkers and joggers on my path and today was no exception. Everyone is always friendly and says hello!

I saw some very pretty flowers along my walk, which always make me smile and remind me to be happy I can see them! Queen Anne's Lace is always one of my favorite flowers. I love the color of the summer sky in July…it's such a rich color of blue!
If you haven't gotten up early on a Sunday morning to go for a walk or a bike ride in the summer, I encourage you to do so; you'll find it is very refreshing and cleansing-provided you aren't glued to your mobile device!

New Beginnings

I started a new job this past Monday; I left my last job after only 23 months. I knew 6 months in that the job was not a fit for me. I chose to face my mistake as a professional by focusing on my job search, but continuing to do my best at the duties I was given to do. I did go through a tough phase in which I was very angry, angry with myself for a while, but eventually got over it. (It's a natural part of the grieving process). It took many interviews and training presentations to find the right fit. At times it was overwhelming and frustrating and I often thought about giving up, but new I didn't want to continue in my current position so I continued my search. I never let on that I was looking for a job and continued to give my best. I was finally rewarded with a new position at Ecolab Equipment care as a Senior Training Specialist. I even managed to negotiate for a higher salary due to a higher health insurance premium; that negotiation also netted me 3 weeks of vacation too!

After one week , I'm cautiously optimistic about my job. I would like to say I'm grinning from ear to ear, but I want to be realistic as well; I still have a lot to learn. I've learned some important things over the past week:

1. Always trust your gut…if something (as small as it might be) doesn't feel right, don't do it. Your gut truly does sense what's best for you…you just need to learn to listen to your inner voice.
2. Hold out for something better. Even after many interviews and rejections, I kept telling myself that there was something better out there for me.
3. Believe in yourself. Over the last few years, I've lost confidence in myself and my abilities (due to a variety of reasons). Always believe that you CAN do what you set out to do.
4. Enjoy the friendships you make at your job. I have met many wonderful people that I still keep in touch with (even if it's simply liking a photo or post on Facebook) and they have helped make me who I am today. I'm grateful for all the friends I've made!
5. Reach for the stars!!! If you are applying for a job, apply for jobs that challenge you and are just outside your comfort zone…you'll be much happier if you do!
6. I forgot how exhausting it is to start a new job…there is SO much to learn! Be gentle with yourself during this time and get the rest you need.

One thing I've discovered over the past week that has been lost for a long time is my self confidence. It's amazing what a difference it makes to have your plant director truly believe that you will make a positive difference (based on your experience AND leadership skills) AND that he's willing to support you in your journey along the way. I honestly haven't had that kind of support in a very long time. It's a refreshing feeling!

I'm also discovering a whole new lifestyle at my beckoning. With this job I can start as early as I'd like, and leave after my 8 hours are complete…most people are gone between 4:00pm and 4:30pm. I now can do more after work than I have in many years. I'm very excited about what the future holds! I'm very proud to work for this company and I'm looking forward to continue learning and growth!

Here are some moments capturing my first week:

Required of all employees on the plant floor: Safety Shoes

My nameplate (these really help me learn who everyone is)

Ecolab Swag! T-shirt and lunch bag

Making a Recipe Your Own

I love following recipes when I want to try new dishes; but I also love adding my own tweaks to them if I feel it’s warranted.  Quite often when I make a recipe for the first time I follow it to a ‘T’, then I make adjustments in future renditions.  Tonight was different; I let my creative side come out!  I made a recipe from the Forks Over Knives App-Spaghetti with roasted tomatoes, chickpeas and basil. In stead of cherry tomatoes I used a combination of mini San Marzano and small heirloom tomatoes.  I put a little fresh salted minced garlic on top of each tomato half.  Once the pasta and tomatoes were cooked, I added sundried tomatoes, capers, and some chopped spinach.  Then I added the required chickpeas and basil.  I LOVED the additions!  To be honest, I would not put chickpeas in the next rendition…maybe cannellini beans instead.  The little garlic roasted tomatoes were so very yummy.  My husband gave it a two thumbs up and definitely wants it put on the make again list.

So do be afraid to try different things when you make a new recipe. I find pasta is very forgiving and you really can’t go wrong with whatever you add.

Bon Appetite!

Beyond Meat Plant Based Burgers-A Mixed Review

I saw these at Whole Foods and decided to try them in hopes of getting my husband to really enjoy a plant based burger.  I’ve made MANY versions and he likes them just ok, but I know he would prefer something that tastes closer to ‘meat’.  I cringed when I read the nutritional label and could feel my arteries clogging up as read the ingredient list. I am more of a whole food purist so these are a bit more processed that I prefer…but at least there are a few plant based burger options out there.  I brought a package home to try for the 4th of July.

They cook up like a regular burger-I cooked mine on a grill pan (we don’t have a charcoal grill).  They would probably taste even more authentic on a grill. They are VERY oily as several of the ingredients are some sort of oil; again, this is something I’m not used to cooking with.  They actually do smell kind of like meat when cooking and they are pinkish in color (thanks to beet juice) so they do look pretty authentic.

The verdict:  my husband liked it, but would prefer it smashed down a little thinner and cooked on a charcoal grill.  Me, not so much.  I will not be eating these again in the near future for several reasons:  1) they are filled with oil, which equals FAT.  Each burger has 22 grams of fat and 5 grams of saturated fat!!!! 2) They are full of processed stuff, the only thing resembling a vegetable I could find was pea protein isolate, potato starch, and the beet juice! 3) They contain quite a bit of sodium 4) They are lacking the wonderful spices and flavorings I’m used to in my plant based burgers.

Try them if you want a plant based burger that really looks and cooks like a hamburger (especially if you are vegan and what to surprise your Omni friends!).  Me, I’ll keep working on perfecting my plant based burger recipe. Anyway…I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July!

P.S.  I’m not dissing the Beyond Meat group.  I think it’s great that they are trying to get plant based food more mainstream; I just wish it was filled with more whole plants and less oil!

Beyond Meat burger, plant based rendition of my mom’s potato salad and corn on the cob.