Monthly Archives: March 2012

In-organic Solution

As the last couple days of the month draw to a close, the lunches and snacks I bring to school become more and more boring (aka they usually consist entirely of oatmeal).

Today I was especially displeased to realize I had forgotten to add anything to the oatmeal I brought today for my snack….not even honey! I’m not a huge fan of plain oatmeal, so I was in a state of distress.

Fortunately, I work well under pressure and came up with the best. (albeit not anywhere close to organic). solution. ever.

I’ve had bite size Snickers in my desk since the first day of class this semester when I (keyword) tried to get my students to like me by bribing them with candy. I unwrapped one and placed it in my oatmeal before microwaving, thus solving my unsweetened oatmeal problem!

Somehow Snicker’s seems way healthier when placed in oatmeal…

New use for leftover Halloween candy? (and Reeses chocolate peanut butter eggs!?)


Energy Bar Showdown

I eat a lot of energy bars.

They’re perfect to keep in my desk drawer, they’re quick, they’re calorie dense, and they’re easy to eat when I’m on the run (literally).

As with all food I buy, I have a price point and I prefer these to be all organic.

Since January I’ve come across quite a few different brands and I want to compare the ones I’ve eaten, both for value and taste.

One thing I’ve taken a look at lately is whether or not some type of syrup is the first ingredient.  Becca found a study that showed arsenic is present in brown rice syrup, as rice grows in water and the arsenic seeps in.  It has been linked to Clifbar products and other foods that use brown rice syrup.  Arsenic isn’t really something I want to mess with…

1.  Clif Bar

Price point: $1/bar
Favorite Flavor: White Chocolate Macadamia Nut
Calories: 250
Ingredients: Organic Brown Rice Syrup, ClifPro® (Soy Rice Crisps [Soy Protein Isolate, Rice Flour, Barley Malt Extract], Organic Roasted Soybeans, Organic Soy Flour), Organic Rolled Oats, Soy White Chocolate (Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Cocoa Butter, Soy Flour, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavors), Organic Toasted Oats (Organic Oats, Organic Dried Cane Syrup), Organic Cane Syrup, ClifCrunch® (Organic Oat Fiber, Inulin [Chicory Extract], Organic Milled Flaxseed, Organic Oat Bran, Psyllium), Macadamia Nuts, Organic Soy Butter (Organic Roasted Soybeans, Organic Soybean Oil, Salt), Organic Macadamia Nuts, Organic Date Paste, Natural Flavors, Sea Salt.
Grams of Protein:  9 grams
Grams of Sugar: 21 grams
Bottom Line: Clif bars in general are very sweet to me.  Two things I don’t like is that there are a lot of ingredients, and there is a lot of sugar.  I do, however, like that clif bars are filling.  There is a decent amount of protein and fiber, but given other options, I would prefer a bar that has less sugar.

2.  Good ‘n Natural (FAVORITE)

Price point: $0.50/bar
Favorite Flavor: Cranberry Almond
Calories:  230
Ingredients: Gluten Free Rolled Oats, Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Diced Soynuts, Organic Almond Butter, Organic Maple Syrup, Soy Protein Isolate, Dried Cranberries (Cranberries, Pineapple Syrup, Pineapple Juice Concentrate, Sunflower Oil), Dry Pumpkin Seeds, Roasted Almonds, Chopped Walnuts, Dried Apples, Milled Flaxseeds, Chicory Root Fiber, Natural Flavors, Sesame Seeds, Brown Rice Flour, Vegetable Glycerin, Citric Acid, Soy Lecithin, Peanut Flour.
Grams of Protein: 10 grams
Grams of Sugar: 12 grams
Bottom Line:  These are my favorite of the ones listed.  They are not overwhelmingly sweet, they have more wholesome ingredients (or at least less of the offending ones), and they have more protein than clifbars.  The flavors don’t really taste like they are supposed to, though.  That’s my only qualm.  They’re delicious, but if you’re expecting chocolate, for instance, you may be disappointed.

3.  Kashi TLC

Price point: <$0.50/bar
Favorite Flavor: Trail Mix
Calories: 140
Ingredients: Rolled Whole Grain Blend (hard red wheat, oats, rye, tritcale, barley), roasted salted whole almonds, brown rice syrup, soy protein isolate, evaporated cane juice crystals, soy grits, chicory root fiber, raisins, sunflower seeds, evaporated cane juice syrup, cranberries, vegetable glycerin, corn flour, honey, rice starch, expeller pressed canola oil, oat fiber, evaporated salt, natural flavors, mollasses, kashi seven grain whole grains and sesame (flour, whole: oats, hard red wheat, rye, brown rice, triticale, barley, buckwheat, sesame seeds), sunflower oil, soy lecithin, peanut flour, whey protein isolate
Grams of Protein: 6 grams
Grams of Sugar: 6 grams
Bottom Line: There is less sugar in these than most, but they’re way less filling, too.  I also don’t like that there are some ingredients that aren’t natural- like vegetable glycerin.  These taste good, but if I’m going to spend the money I would prefer to get something a little bit more organic with more calories and protein.

4.  Nature’s Valley All Natural Granola Bars

Price point: <$0.50/bar
Favorite Flavor: Pecan Crunch
Calories: 190
Ingredients: Whole Grain Oats, Sugar, Canola Oil, Brown Sugar Syrup, Pecan Pieces, Yellow Corn Flour, Soy Flour, Salt, Soy Lechitin, Baking Soda, Natural flavor
Grams of Protein: 4 grams
Grams of Sugar: 12 grams
Bottom Line: To me, these aren’t really worth it.  They’re not protein dense, they’re messy (the crumbs get everywhere!), and they’re not super filling.  I like that these have the fewest ingredients, but I don’t like that sugar is the second ingredient, followed by oil, followed by more sugar.  These are probably my least favorite on the list.

5.  Nature’s Path Organic Peanut Choco Sweet & Salty

Price point: <$0.50/bar
Favorite Flavor: Chocolate Peanut Butter
Calories: 150
Ingredients: Granola* (rolled oats*, evaporated cane juice*, soy oil*), tapioca syrup*, roasted peanuts*, chocolatey icing* (evaporated cane juice*, palm kernel oil* and/or cocoa butter*, cocoa*, natural flavor, soy lecithin*, sea salt, tapioca starch*), brown rice flour*, invert cane syrup*, peanut butter*, acacia gum*, sea salt, evaporated cane juice*, molasses*, tocopherols. (* means organic)
Grams of Protein: 3 grams
Grams of Sugar: 11 grams
Bottom Line: Eh.  These are okay, pretty run of the mill.  I’m not a fan of the fact the chocolate in these bars is called “chocolatey icing”.  That sounds very fake to me.  Again, these are good in a pinch but not my go-to.

Bison Burger with Spinach Celery Root Puree and Camelized Onions

Ironically, I hate when people make "deconstructed" meals

I’ve been waiting forever to make my bison.  I figured this is a good time, seeing as how my iron is super low and I’m running out of food.

I wanted to make something that wouldn’t make the flavor of the meat.  I was going to do meatloaf or burgers, but in the end I decided burgers would be faster, since I have one of those fancy George Foreman’s and all.

I was blown away by how good this bison was.  It seriously just melts in your mouth.  I think from now on I may only buy ground bison instead of beef.  The flavor is so much cleaner than the ground beef I typically buy.  It also helps that there is a lot less fat in bison (90% lean).  Despite this, I was surprised just how much fat came off of them in the Foreman.

Bison Burgers

in a bowl, combine 1 lb ground bison, 1 clove diced garlic, salt, pepper, ground mustard, and crushed red pepper
-mix and form into patties
-cook to medium rare


Spinach Celery Root Puree

-boil two handfuls of spinach and half a diced celery root
-mash with potato masher

don't forget to add salt...rookie mistake

Carmelized Onion

-slice an onion thinly, heat a pan with olive oil, and let onions brown

This was so delicious.  I didn’t want to add anything to it and ruin the taste of the beef, so that’s why I did it ‘deconstructed.’  The only thing I would un-add to the plate is the mustard.  The meal didn’t need it.

To top it off, I had a piece of 82% dark chocolate for dessert 🙂

Total Price : $2.50

-1/4 lb all natural bison: $1.13
-1 clove organic garlic: $0.10
-1/8 organic red onion: $0.12
-1/2 organic celery root: $0.40
-2 cups organic spinach: $0.75

Too bad my chocolate bar cost way more than that….


Black Bean Burgers with Roasted Parsnips and White Balsamic Spinach Pesto

geniuses pick green

I don’t remember how I came up with this idea but I’m so glad I did.

On another note: I freaking LOVE parsnips.  They’re so versatile!  I think roasting may be my favorite method though.

I was talking to my old roommate, Dani, today and she asked me what I made for dinner.   I love the response people have because they think the things I make sound so gourmet.  They’re really not.  They’re actually all quite easy and usually pretty quick.  Tonight’s meal?  I started at 8:53 and sat down to eat in time for the runway portion of Project Runway tonight.

Black Bean Burgers

I made these differently than last time and I think I preferred the first time.  Definitely better with avocado but tonight I just used what I had.

-in a food processor combine 1 can (drained) black beans, 1/8 of a red onion, 1 garlic clove, crushed red pepper, salt, cumin, and cornmeal.  Be careful with the cornmeal.  I probably added 1 cup + and it was way too much since there weren’t many wet ingredients in this.  Combine until you reach a non-sticky consistency.
-Form into patties and place on a roasting tin.
-Place in the oven at 400 degrees C and roast for 15-20 minutse or until a hard crust forms.

I made them smaller this time so I'd have more leftovers 🙂

White Balsamic Spinach Pesto

in a blender, food processor, or hand blender container combine 2 cups spinach, a chunk of parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar.

sooooooo goooood

Roasted Parsnips

quarter 6 parsnips
-toss in olive oil
-roast at 400 degrees C for 15-20 minutes or until slightly charred

finished plate!

Too bad my life goal of having a midlife crisis, going to culinary school, and becoming a head chef somewhere will likely never be achieved since my food isn’t the most attractive haha.

Total Cost: $5.13

Black Bean Burgers (7): $2.11

-1 can organic black beans: $1.39
-1/8 organic red onion: $0.12
-1 clove organic garlic: $0.10
cornmeal:$0.50 (?)

Spinach Pesto: <$2.00

2 cups organic spinach: $0.75
-1 chunk of parmesan cheese: (no idea, I bought this cheese in September)
-oil/vinegar: no clue

Roasted Parsnips:

-6 organic parsnips:$1.02


Black Bean Garden Chili

I really wish I had a picture of this one.

The color of this chili turned out to be such a pretty shade of dark red/black.

Also, I feel pretty fortunate I have Becca to provide names for my food (let’s be honest, do you think I came up with sweet potato latke on my own?) because every time she does it inspires me to do something different.  Case in point:  I hadn’t thought of this dish as chili but when she called it that I decided to put some chipotle chili powder in the soup and that was a marvelous touch to an already tasty soup.

Black Bean Garden Chili

-combine 1 can black beans, 2 cups water, 7 chopped tomatoes and their juices, 2 diced parsnips, 2 stalks of kale, dry pasta,  a diced potato, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and chipotle chili powder.
-let simmer for 30-40 minutes

Seriously, it’s that easy and a totally tunable recipe depending on your tastes.

Total Cost: $4.80

organic black beans: $1.39
organic roma tomatoes: $2.52
organic parsnips: $0.34
organic kale: $0.40
1/4 box of pastsa: $0.25
organic potato: $0.30

This made 3 bowls for dinner and 1 generous bowl for lunch.

Back Home Again in Indiana (and my kitchen)

My kitchen has never looked so good to me as Saturday when I got home.

What looked even better was Bloomingfood’s when I went grocery shopping Saturday night.  You know, the great thing about stores like B-foods as compared to normal grocery stores is that produce that wouldn’t  normally go on sale are reduced every time there’s a surplus.  So, what did I get this time that I can’t normally afford at Marsh?  parsnips.  I freaking love parsnips.  I also got more celery root (new addiction).


– .61 lbs organic celery root: $1.21 (1.99/lb)
-1.49 lbs organic parsnips: $2.52 ($1.69/lb)
-2.55 lbs organic bananas: $2.52 ($0.99/lb)
-2.99 lbs organic rolled oats: $2.96 ($0.99/lb)
-organic kale: $1.89
2 x organic frozen edamame: $3.98
5 x Chobani yogurt: $5.45 ($1.09/each)
-2 x organic canned black beans: $2.78 ($1.39 each)
-1 dozen all nautral corn tortillas: $0.59
.13 lbs organic garlic: $0.78 ($5.99/lb)

Total Price: $24.88

So, what else have I been up to?  Well, the day that I got home I ate 4 bowls of cereal, 1 bowl of oatmeal, and I made barley/red lentils with roasted celery root, turnip, potatoes, and red onion.  Why did I eat so much cereal?  For some reason I was craving it like crazy.

Hmm, what else?  Yesterday I made rice with roasted vegetables and smoked clams in rosewood oil.  Nothing too exciting.  Here’s a picture of all the colorful veggies I had lying around in the fridge: (carrots, parsnips, turnip, potato, red onion):

how amazing does that look?

What else?  Oh!!  Here’s a new recipe.  Tonight I was craving quesadillas but didn’t have any cheese so I thought egg might be a good substitute.  It didn’t quite have the effect I was looking for but it was really, really good.


Here’s what I had to work with: corn tortillas, kale, a potato, red onion, tomatoes that I froze before I left for Orlando, and eggs.

I love all these colors!

Huevos Quesadilla
-finely chop potato, 1/10 a large red onion, and a leaf of kale
-sautee in olive oil, add a couple quarters of tomato
-when the vegetables are ready, add two eggs into the pan; scramble

yum 🙂

-scoop vegetable/egg mixture onto a corn tortilla, add extra tomatoes, cover with another corn tortilla, and heat in the skillet until warm; flip if you can and heat for a minute or so on the other side

kind of difficult to eat without anything gooey holding it together, but totally worth it

Total Price (2 quesadillas): $1.51

-2 eggs: $0.50
-4 tortillas: $0.20
-1/10 red onion: $0.10
-1 potato: $0.15
-1 leaf of kale: $0.20
-1 tomato: $0.36

Final Thoughts from Orlando

I’m back!  It’s so nice to be home and have a fully functioning internet connection again.  Throughout the week I realized I kept missing things I wanted to talk about.  Before I go back to bed, hopefully I can come up with them all and give a final wrap up on what turned out to be a non-organic experiment.

– The next time I travel I’m totally going to bring tupperware or containers that I can’t carry my homemade lunches in.  I felt so incredibly wasteful having ziplock bags that I threw away all the time.  That was one thing that really bothered me.

– I felt sick every time I ate my strawberries.  I also had a couple that I could distinctly taste something that was off – this went for my carrots too.  Since I’ve only been eating organic have I lost my tolerance for pesticides?

-Speaking of which, I went to a seminar at the chemistry conference that talked about uses for a miniature mass spec.  Basically, a mass spectrometer is an instrument that allows you to take a very minute sample and analyze it to determine the exact chemical substituents.  The presenter, (the amazing Graham Cooks), showed how his group took the mini MS to a supermarket and tested organic and non organic produce.  On non organic apples they found surprisingly high concentrations of diphenylamine.  Diphenylamine is commonly used in apples to keep their skin looking healthy in the supermarket.  It’s not something you want to mess around with, though, as it’s actually pretty toxic.  The MSDS (material safety data sheet) for diphenylamine shows that it’s pretty nasty.  It is a potential mutagen (can change your DNA) and teratogen (can cause birth defects).  It’s also considered harmful if swallowed.  Granted, you would have to eat a high concentration at once to see any immediate effects, but the build up of diphenylamine in your system could cause issues for you later on in life.  Besides being found on the skin, diphenylamine was found insidee the apple, too.  For this reason, apples are widely regarded as the one fruit you should always buy organic.

-I am absolutely going to detox this week.  Eating out every night for dinner left me feeling disgusting, even if I did run every day.  It’s amazing how superfluous eating out is.  One night at Joe’s Crab Shack I had a chocolate craving and got their 6 layer cake.  It was beyond amazing.  Well, I suppose it shold have been the best damn piece of cake I have ever had considering it was 1600 calories and 155 grams of sugar.  That didn’t make me feel bad until I looked up my entree (diablo mussels), and those were 1100 calories.  I had also eaten a light dinner in my hotel room before I went out (peanut butter sandwich, yogurt, orange).

-all you can eat.  What a shameful waste.  Our advisor took us to a restaurant at Disney World the last night we were in town.  It was at one of the resort hotels so they all have the same format- the big thing is an “all you care to enjoy” family style meal but you can also order a select few entree options.  Our advisor encouraged us to go for the all you can eat meal which was salad, mashed potatoes, corn, cornbread, beef brisket, pulled pork, chicken, and possibly one other form of meat.  I opted for an entree off the menu, but also ended up eating some of the all you can eat meal, too.  (btw, the all you can eat was $29, HUGE waste).  I’m appalled at how much food ended up being brought out that didn’t get eaten.  At one point the guys asked for more chicken.  They were brought out the equivalents of 1.5 chickens and only 2 legs were eaten.  What was left had to be thrown out.  I suppose most normal buffets are like that too, but at least the food that’s left over could possibly go home with someone (having worked in restaurants I realize this probably isn’t the case, but it is an option).  When food is left on a table, though, it HAS to be thrown away.  We ended up leaving at least $15-20 worth of food uneaten.

-red quinoa cakes.  One of my friends ordered these.  delicious.  on my to make list.

-I cannot freaking wait to make a home cooked meal tonight.