I am a creature of habit. I find comfort in routines and schedules. In fact, if you called me up at 10:30 in the morning and asked me to go to lunch, I would spend the next hour and half having a serious internal struggle about the merits of going to lunch versus continuing on with my lunch as I originally planned. This inner conflict makes absolutely no sense since more often than not, what is originally planned does not actually involve any plans – at least none that can’t be changed for one day. I desperately want to be that spontaneous person that does things like make last-minute lunch plans, but internally, I resist it to my very core.
Lets talk about the delicious creation that is fruit salsa. Fruity, a little bit tart, with cinnamon & sugar chips to dip? It’s the best. I especially love it because I have some very fond memories from the first time I ate it. Specifically, my friend Katie made it for the baby shower that she planned with my mother in-law before Olive was born. Coming from a food-loving family, I don’t know how it is that I had never seen such a thing before. Nevertheless, I vividly remember trying it and thinking that I could not believe that it was possible for my life to have such a void as it apparently did in the years before experiencing fruit salsa. Many thanks to Katie! :)
At the time, I didn’t know if Olive was a boy or a girl and I most definitely did not know that our bundle of joy would become my life’s greatest challenge (see Mothering Mini Me). Ignorance is bliss, however, so in my state of blissful ignorance, I had a lovely afternoon with my friends and Central Pennsylvania family celebrating our impending arrival with delicious food and absolutely no games that required candy bars to be placed in diapers and identified.
In the years since, I’ve had fruit salsa several times and the traditional combo of fruit seems to be apples and an assortment of berries, sometimes with kiwi, and then served with cinnamon and sugar tortilla or pita chips. If you make it that way, as Katie did, it will be fantastic. In fact, if I had a bowl of it in front of me right now, I would sit here and keep eating it for the next two hours…..or until it was completely gone. If I ran out of chips, I would have no hesitation grabbing a spoon and shoveling it in as fast as my hand could return to the bowl. This time around, I found papaya at the grocery store and the bees in my head started buzzing, so I made a tropical fruit variation. And because my other friend, Miranda, recommended it, I used wontons instead of tortillas and it was all so very yummy.
This time of year is kind of like a no man’s land of seasons. It’s technically still winter, but for those of us in the northeast, spring is just around the corner and we are so over winter we cling to whatever hint of warmth and sunshine we can find. From a food standpoint, that means lemon. Lemon everything. Lemon cake, lemon bread, lemon chicken. It’s brightness and acidity are a sharp contrast to the warmth of chili and cinnamon that have permeated most of our winter cooking. This time of year, cooking with lemon is as close as you can get to harnessing a little bit of sunshine on an unseasonably warm day and pouring it into the food you cook. It’s brightness warms you up just as much as any bowl of hot soup.
Can we just take a step back from the flavored yogurt craziness that has completely taken over the dairy aisle? It has gotten a tad out of hand. This week I found several varieties that had over 25 grams of sugar per serving, which for comparison purposes, is about the equivalent of a package of Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets. I’m convinced that the yogurt aisle is part of a conspiracy by the grocery industry to make people eat dessert that is packaged to look like health food.
I have started bypassing all of the premixed flavors, no matter how tasty and healthy they sound, and stick with the big tubs of plain yogurt so I can flavor it myself. Right now, I’m loving this cranberry raspberry puree. I make it in big batches (shocker) and freeze it in smaller one cup containers (of course). It’s a solid plan because you’re getting all of the benefits of the fruit you choose, but none of the extra stuff you don’t need. I make it a bit on the less sweet side, because then we can control how sweet we’re going to make it, usually by drizzling a bit of extra honey on top, if at all.
There are times that I seriously feel like I live with a pack of vultures. Technically, thanks to Wikipedia, I can tell you that a group of vultures while feeding is actually called a wake, not a pack. Kind of creepy, but thanks Wikipedia for that random fun fact. Back to
vultures my kids…on the weekends, we are out of our routine and all I hear all day long is “Mom, I’m hungry!” “Mom, what can I have to eat?” “Mom, when are we eating lunch/dinner?” Even if I have literally just cleaned up breakfast, they turn around and five minutes later, they are starving to the point that you would think they haven’t eaten in the past week. Even if breakfast was a good stick-to-your bones meal like oatmeal, they burn through it in what seems like a matter of minutes. Does anyone else have this problem?
To say that I am a creature of habit would be to grossly understate my proclivity for following the same routine every day, whenever possible. It probably sounds boring, but I find comfort in routine and it allows me to feel like I am in control of my day. Sometimes having control over my day means figuring out how to deal with something I don’t seem to have any control over. Case in point, every day, around 3:00, I find myself looking for candy. Chocolate, to be specific. Preferably dark chocolate. With something else mixed in to give it some texture. Every day is the same, and every day I end up raiding the blasted candy bowl sitting on our reception desk. At best, I get a mini Krackel bar and at worst it’s the last piece of rock hard caramel that is only left in there because other people with apparently more discerning tastes wisely decided to invest their calories elsewhere.
It was with this exact scenario fresh in my mind that I started experimenting with a snack mix of some sort. Dark chocolate was key. If I was eating chocolate, I may as well add some things to give it texture, so in went the oats and chia. The roasted almonds make it all just a tad bit salty and the dried cherries give it some extra sweetness. I pack 2 T. of it in a little container and it is just enough to fulfill my chocolate fix in the afternoon and help me to avoid the dreaded office candy bowl.
If you’re not already on the quinoa cup train, hop on board! I first pinned these from Iowa Girl Eats and let them languish on my Breakfast board for several months before I finally gave them a try. I make little egg fritattas in muffin pans all of the time but despite putting quinoa in just about everything else, I was skeptical about adding it to eggs. In the end, I’m so very glad I tried them because they have become a staple in my weekly meal plans.