On Tap for Today

A fun loving, inspired living blog


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Today: Vegetarian chili for lazy people.

And busy people.  And people who are afraid to leave slow cookers on whilst they’re at work.  And people who would rather risk eating beans from a can than soak dried beans overnight.  And people who like tomatoes, a variety of beans, some onions, some garlic, and a kick of spice.  Because, really, that’s all it takes.

Lazy vegetarian chili

Yields 6-8 servings.  Sort of depends on how hungry you are.

Ingredients:

  • One 16 oz. can of organic whole peeled tomatoes
  • Three cans or cartons of organic beans (I used dark red kidney beans, ranchero beans, and black beans)
  • Three cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • One medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons organic olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Thoroughly rinse your beans.
  2. In a large stock pot, saute garlic and onions in olive oil over medium heat until onions are soft.
  3. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and any other desired spices.  I like to add red pepper flakes for a little heat.
  4. Stir in beans and tomatoes, breaking up tomatoes with a large wooden spoon (This can also be done ahead of time, but why dirty up another bowl or pot?  Maybe you’re not so lazy after all?).
  5. Cover pot and reduce to a simmer.  Your lazy vegetarian chili is ready to enjoy as soon as your beans and tomatoes are heated through, but the longer it simmers, the more flavorful it becomes.  And the more spicy your condo smells.
  6. Serve piping hot with a bit of cilantro, red onions, or shredded cheese.

Sometimes laziness pays off.  Sometimes.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Weekly B12 shot
  • Heading to the Head of the Charles this weekend?  Get schooled here.
  • Missing hockey 😦

What’s On Tap for your weekend?


6 Comments

Today: A weekend at home.

Home Alone

My older brother and sister-in-law celebrated their wedding anniversary this week, which meant Nick and I got to babysit our niece for the first time.  We partied like animals, singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star while changing into PJs at 6:45 PM and reading not one, but two books before bed.  She is just heaven to be around.

Home Improvement

Much of the rest of the weekend was spent working on wedding projects and trying to rectify the broken sink situation.  We made two trips to Home Depot and managed to sneak in a little fun between visits to the faucet aisle.  There is so much to see and touch (and break) in that store.  I was tempted to buy a pink ride-on pony from the Christmas section, but refrained.  Instead, we picked up some PVC pipe for mobility and Crossfit practice at home.  It will also come in handy when I want to turn off the light switch without getting up from the sofa.  Just kidding.  Mostly.

Home away from home

 

We spent this morning at Clark’s home away from home, the local children’s hospital where he does his therapy dog visits.  I can think of no better way to pass a rainy Sunday morning than watching the kids snuggle with the Frenchie, feed him treats, tug on his ears, and hold him in their laps.  It makes my heart swell.

Home cookin’

At the risk of tooting my own horn, I’m very excited to share that On Tap for Today was included in the North Atlantic edition of the Whole Foods Market 2012 Holiday Magazine’s “On the Web: Fresh Voices” feature, along with my pal Caitlin and the lovely We Are Not Martha girls.  I’m really grateful to the team at Whole Foods for including me, and was sure to pick up a few copies today after grabbing groceries at River Street.

On the menu tonight?  Enough vegetarian chili to feed an army.

 

Homemade

What would Sunday night be without a do-it-myself manicure?

I live for rituals.  And weekends at home.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Packing up goodies for Kasee, my #atxbos match
  • Getting ready for the week ahead
  • Seating charts 🙂

What’s your Sunday ritual?


3 Comments

Today: Give us this day our daily juice.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I bought a juicer a year ago, or so.  I used it a number of times, almost lost a finger once, got sick of cleaning up after myself, and then hid the whole thing away.  It lived under our sink with 9,000 reusable Whole Foods bags (I’m more likely to buy a few new ones that the store than endure the shame of requesting paper) and various other rarely used appliances until last week.  Nick and I have been going balls to the wall, proverbially speaking, with juicing as of late.  A man who will give you the choice of first shower or firing up the juicer?  I’ve got myself a keeper.  After a few weeks of struggling to get up and out the door on time, our new little juice ritual is working wonders.  Perhaps this #hulkjuice is turning me into the Incredible Elizabeth?

Drinking fresh vegetable and fruit juice in the morning is sort of like exercising at the start of the day.  It’s an insurance policy against all the naughty choices I might make later on, and great motivation to keep on the straight and narrow.  Whatever that means.  Even after just a single week of morning juice, I feel a difference.  I have more energy and fewer random cravings.  I don’t need to sneak Diet Coke.  I’ve made better choices at lunch and dinner (namely: more vegetables, in non-liquid form).  I haven’t given anyone the finger during my commute.  Did I mention my skin is glowing?  Oh.  Maybe that’s just the fluorescent overhead lighting.

It turns out the juicer is very easy to clean if you tend to it right away.  I am sure that was somewhere in the directions (why read them when you can promptly recycle them?).  It still takes up considerable counter space (the juicer isn’t getting any smaller, and our condo isn’t getting any larger), but we’re making do.  For people like me who have trouble following recipes, winging it is perfectly acceptable when juicing.  After making multiple trips to procure more kale, I finally just started grabbing whatever was in our refrigerator or on the counter.  A few combinations that have worked well:

  • 1 bunch of kale, 2 cups of spinach, 1 lemon, 1/2 cucumber, 3 stalks of celery, 1 inch of fresh ginger, 1 apple, 1 handful of parsley
  • 3 cups of spinach, 2 apples, 2 carrots, 1 lemon
  • 2 cups of spinach, 3 stalks of celery, 1 lemon, 1 apple, 1 orange, 1 medium cucumber, 1 cup of raspberries

Each batch perfectly fills two tall glasses.  Next adventure: make use of all that pulp.  And make fewer trips to the market.

Also On Tap for Today:

What does your morning routine look like?


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Today: Take your vitamins.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]My body celebrated the second day of summer by coming down with a cold.  Quite rude, if you ask me.  With the weather being so hazy, hot and humid I would much rather be up at the pool than zonked out on the sofa.

After a few days of sniffling and wondering if I had accidentally swallowed a knife, I am starting to feel better.  I wonder though, can I blame this cold for the fact that I attempted to meet my girlfriends at the wrong restaurant on Friday night?  I was quite proud of myself for being early and snagging the best table in the house, until I realized my error.  The waiter thought I had been stood up and insisted that my soda water was on the house.  It was rather mortifying.

Clearly my body (and my brain) could use a time out.  And perhaps, some vitamins.  I know there are those who are anti-vitamins and supplements.  In an ideal world, I’d get everything my body needs from my diet.  While I am not a doctor, a scientist, an astronaut, nor an RD, I do know this for sure:

  1. My diet is far from perfect.
  2. Vitamins will only work if I, um, actually take them.

And I often forget to take them.  Kelly reminded me to take yesterday’s multivitamin and vegetarian DHA (sort of like fish oil, minus the fish), but I am not certain that nooding around on Twitter is the most reliable system for ensuring I take them daily.

So I started thinking about my daily routine.  What’s one thing I never, ever forget to do?  Load up on the mascara.  I also find that planning out my week each Sunday, whether it’s meetings, meals or workouts, really helps.  You know those pill holder things that old people the most experienced members of our society use?

I now own a sweet purple one.  I filled the week’s worth of soft gels this morning (which reminded me of that pebble game, Mancala, that we used to spend hours playing at the beach), and tucked the container into my makeup bag, right next to the mascara.

I think I am on to something.  Maybe.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s one thing you never forget to do?


18 Comments

Today: I am allergic to being allergic.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]After a month of following a low FODMAP diet, carefully tracking what I ate and how it made me feel, and spending more time in grocery store aisles reading labels than I ever imagined possible, I returned to the RD yesterday morning for my first follow up appointment.

I continued to keep notes on my diet and symptoms after the four week elimination phase, so I brought notes about what I thought was bothering me.

I’ve avoided all caffeine and artificial sweeteners (except for a sip of Nick’s Diet Coke post-Reach the Beach, but I absolved myself of that sin immediately because I was barely human at that point).  The only alcohol I consumed in five weeks was two sips of Champagne, and I didn’t have a single drop of agave or honey.

Lactose was on the original “no” list, so when I had a slice of pizza and just barely lived to regret it (slight exaggeration… slight), I assumed dairy was the culprit.  Similarly, when I got a stomach ache after slurping (in a ladylike way) down a cup of tomato soup, I surmised that someone slipped some cream into the pot.  And when a tomato, mozzarella and pesto panini nearly did me in, I blamed the mozzarella.  Obviously.

Turns out, feeling good is not a matter of guessing.  There’s a science to all of this.  And medical experts and medical experts because they have medical expertise, not because they guess about what’s in their soup.  Duh.

After we reviewed the results of my comprehensive food panel (a blood test I took a few weeks ago), it appears that I am strongly reactive (like, in a negative way) to baker’s yeast, brewer’s yeast, and coffee.  I’m moderately reactive to garlic (whyyyyyyyyyy), gluten, grape, peanut, white potatoes, tomatoes (again, whyyyyyyyyyyy), and wheat.

Please note that I am not at all reactive to milk.  Lobster’s fine, too.  Not that I have any desire to eat one.  But still.  I guess that’s good to know.  In case I swim by one, or something.

Because I’ve felt a lot better since making the first set of changes, my RD set up a plan for the next six weeks using a low FODMAP diet as the baseline, with a few changes to reflect the potential aforementioned allergies.  Oh, and I get to add beans back to the mix.  Hallelujah for that.  Over the course of six weeks or so, I will reintroduce specific foods (in a specific order) for one day at a time, note any symptoms, and go back to my baseline diet for 24-48 hours before introducing a different food or food group.  This “challenge phase” will help us narrow or expand my diet based on how I am feeling.

The foods or food groups in question:

  • Gluten
  • Milk
  • Wheat (as long as I don’t react to gluten)
  • Baker’s yeast
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Tomato
  • Peanuts
  • Fructose
  • Fructans
  • Sorbitol and Xylitol
  • Garlic (if I don’t react to fructans)
  • Lactose-free, low-fat dairy (if I react to low-fat regular dairy)

Sound like fun, right?  Right.  I’m inclined to want to entirely avoid anything that might bother me (if it feels good, do it… if it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it), but I suppose trial and error is important.  I am more than willing to try just about anything once, though.  Or twice.  Especially if the end result is feeling better.  And I promise to stop playing amateur allergy detective.  I don’t promise to stop playing amateur regular detective, though.

I’m off to eat six hundred beans, four containers of hummus, and a bowl of sprouts for good measure.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Spray tan time (yes, really)
  • #photoadayjune starts tomorrow… because June starts tomorrow
  • Breaking out the pink pants 🙂

Do you have any allergies?  Or are you the perfect human?


16 Comments

Today: I miss you, garlic. {plus a Fire + Ice giveaway}

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I’m now solidly in Week 3 of my elimination diet (no gluten, no high FODMAP foods, no fun… just kidding… sort of).  As much as I would like to assert that I felt my absolute best when living on Annie’s Shells & Cheese and Cool Ranch Doritos, the past few weeks are proving otherwise.

[Image source]

If Week 1 were a work by Victor Hugo, it would be Les Miserables.  I had a raging headache the entire week, and felt compelled to slap the Diet Coke straight from the hands of people passing by.  While I did my best to pack enough food for the day, inevitably I came home starving.  And tempted to fall into a big bowl of hummus.  I did adopt one very important habit during Week 1, though: consistently eating breakfast.

I’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but then again, I grew up being told that Pluto was a planet.  I’m a born skeptic.  Regardless, I carved out time every morning for this meal– most important or not– and have stuck to gluten free cereal, unsweetened almond milk, heaps of fresh berries, and more bananas than any person should consume.  While I’d rather spend that time getting stuff done (like working, or talking to my dog), It’s refreshing to not want to eat my keyboard during a mid-morning conference call.

Week 2 was a vast improvement over Week 1, but that’s not saying much, considering I felt like hell on wheels for the first seven days of the diet.  By the second week, my deep longing for an IV drip of caffeine had waned, and I no longer sought physical violence against people who freely sipped the Diet Coke.  Avoiding all caffeine has three major upsides:

  1. I’m sleeping better.
  2. I’ve eliminated the risk of hitting a pole at the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through, resulting in a dangling side-view mirror… again.  Yes, that really happened.
  3. If I can quit caffeine, I must be unstoppable.  Maybe.

I survived a weekend away, thanks to a stash of low FODMAP foods and some careful selection at meal times.  I was captain of the nerds with my handy allowed/not allowed food list always at the ready.  More than anything, I have such a better appreciation for those dealing with allergies.

[Image source]

I gave myself a free pass (which is less cool than a fun pass) to eat a small portion of baked penne, and a bite of a brownie after my grandmother’s funeral.  Oh, and a vodka and soda, light on the vodka, which is technically not forbidden… but not encouraged, either.  I soon regretted that free pass, but hey.  This is a learning process.

While I’ve experimented with various dairy-free, lactose-free, and gluten-free packaged foods, I’ve been trying to stick to unprocessed foods whenever possible.  I’ve been packing salads, low FODMAP fruits and veggies, a bit of almond butter, sweet potatoes, precisely measured wedges of hard cheese (file this under confusing: brie is considered a hard cheese, according to my handy reference guide), and the occasional rice cracker or one of Lucy’s Cookies.  Dinner has been similar.

When it comes to snacks, I find myself starring into the fridge, making eyes at the hummus and Greek yogurt.  It’s kind of a bad scene.  I broke out the mustard and Glutino pretzels for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup playoffs, though, and quite enjoyed the combination.  I think this may be a lucky snack, so they will be on the table for Game 7 tonight, for sure.  Plus, they taste good.  And grainy mustard just plain old rules.

Week 3 has been the easiest so far, which makes sense.  I tried another go at the free pass last night, when I arrived at my front door famished and exhausted.  Rather than going all out (I think the baked penne from Week 2 hit just about every category on the ‘not allowed’ list), I limited myself to one forbidden column, grains, and experienced no side effects (and sadly, no vodka….).  While I am tempted to press my luck… I am not willing to risk a whammy (…best game show of all time).  Back to safe greens today.

I am (mostly) patiently waiting for the results of my blood work to come back, and am (fully) crossing my fingers that it will be clear what foods I should be avoiding from now on.  In the meantime, though, I am feeling surprisingly better.  I am much more conscious of cravings, my hunger levels, and how I feel after eating.  I have gotten so much better at preparing food in advance, rather than leaving things to chance.  With a week and a half to go, I’m thankful for this insight…. and I’m looking forward to a normal night out (at a restaurant that serves garlic and onions, preferably) soon.

To enter, leave a comment below.  I will select a random winner tomorrow evening (Thursday, April 26) after 8 PM EST.  If you’d rather send all your good luck to the Boston Bruins, you can purchase this sweet deal until midnight tonight.

CONGRATULATIONS, Stephanie!  You were the randomly selected winner. 🙂  Stephanie writes a great personal finance blog; you should check it out!  Many thanks to Eversave Boston and all who entered.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • LET’S GO, BRUINS! 🙂
  • Popsicles in Prosecco: a match made in heaven
  • Doing damage with my new label maker (watch out!)

What one food would you have trouble living without?  (Be sure to indicate if you want to be entered to win the aforementioned giveway, ladies and gents.)


7 Comments

Today: The latest buzz.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I made an incredible discovery on Wednesday night:  Espresso.  As usual, I’m a bit late to the game.  I have been awake for nearly 72 hours straight (just kidding… I took a three hour nap early this morning before heading to work).  I have done four loads of laundry.  I have updated my iPhone… twice (apparently I was more than one version behind). I’ve watched two episodes of Pan Am, while painting my nails three different colors.  I’ve written two grant proposals and drafted one budget.  I went seven rounds in the boxing gym without taking a single break.  I can’t stop dancing. Why is my eyelid twitching?

As someone who “swears off caffeine forever” multiple times each year, I may be venturing into dangerous territory. I had the pleasure of joining a few of my favorite Boston girls for a media dinner featuring coffee and wine pairings, hosted by Ted Allen and coffee expert Mark Uhlemann at the Nespresso Boutique on Newbury Street.  After only a few sips of my espresso martini, I felt like Jessie Spano on the trampoline (minus the diet pill addiction).  I was both so excited and so… scared that perhaps I had been invited to this fabulous event by mistake.  I prayed my over-sized lady briefcase wouldn’t knock over any of Nespresso’s teeny, tiny cute little espresso cups as I passed through the boutique.

When it was time to make our way to the dining area, set up towards the back of the store for this event, we spotted Ted Allen’s place card.  It didn’t take much coaxing to get Bridget to snag a seat next to the Food Network star, and our host for the evening.  Doesn’t she look like she’s up to something?

Our first course featured a sweet potato cup with parsnip puree whip and coffee caviar (yes, really).  The wine and coffee pairings included a glass of Argyle 2000 “Extended Tirage” brut sparkling wine, alongside a cup of Nespresso’s Livanto Grand Cru.  I think you know my policy on sparkling wine.  Bubbles make life better.  Prior to this event, I had no policy on Livanto Grand Cru.  I now do (it’s the same as my bubble policy).  I love when life gets unexpectedly better.

As our entrees were being served, we learned a bit more about the Nespresso brand, and their emergence in the US market.  Mark Uhlemann emphasized that this is not your run of the mill drive through coffee.  It is meant to be savored.  I started having flashbacks of the three hour lunch breaks I enjoyed as a sixteen year old exchange student in Rome (my host father once packed a Budweiser in my school lunch “because Americans love beer,” but that’s another story… and an awesome one, at that).  Does mixing espresso and sparkling wine cause flashbacks?  I’m willing to do the research and report back.

In addition to a glass of Pahlmeyer 2004 Merlot (not my favorite, but then again, I am white wine weenie through and through) and a tiny cup of Nespresso’s limited edition Dhjana (I love anything miniature, let’s be serious), I enjoyed one of the best vegetarian entrees I’ve been served in ages.  I savored nearly every bite of my roasted asparagus and crispy eggplant roulade.

Somehow, I saved room for dessert, which was paired with a glass of Niepoort 10-year-old tawny port and a cup of Nespresso’s Decaffeinato Intenso.  And my, was it intenso.  I probably could have sprinted home in heels, instead of lazily taking a cab ride (which wouldn’t be complete without a colorful lecture about the “jackassedness of paying for cab rides with credit cards”– direct quote.  Can you guess my new favorite word?).

I loved hearing Ted Allen speak about which restaurants he had visited in Boston, his experience with Nespresso, and his thoughts on the wine and coffee pairings.  He was truly charming, down to earth, and (not surprisingly) quite funny.  Mark Uhlemann offered great insight, and officially has me hooked on a new caffeine vehicle.  Diet Coke who?

It may have been the coffee, it may have been the wine, it may have been the chocolate… but I suspect it was actually the company– I had a fantastic evening.

Also On Tap for Today:

What advice can you share with a (sort of) young, naive coffee drinker?