Everyday Meals / Food / Life

Food is a Vehicle to the Heart

04.27.18

I was hiking through the Malibu hills with my friend Liz a couple weeks ago, and we were chatting about life, passions, and the pursuit of happiness and she said something that stuck with me.

Food isn’t just about the enjoyment we find by making it or just the basic requirement to nourish and fuel our bodies (hopefully with good things). Food is really a vehicle in which we use to enjoy time with the people that we love.

It’s amazing that our innate human selves crave the time to be with other people while we eat. It’s something I grew up with and it’s something that makes me feel comforted and my heart feel so full. Beyond the everyday eating, food really does bring people together. I think of the holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc. – they are all centered on some kind of traditional spread. We just celebrated my grandfather’s 90th birthday, where over 30 people came together from multiple states to be there for the momentous occasion. And as wonderful as the meal is that you all may share together, it’s really the time you spent with those people that is what really makes those events memorable and meaningful. I genuinely love this time spent with my family, even more than my grandmother’s Huckleberry pie. (Which if you know me, it is in my top 5 favorite things!)

Exhibit A: the pie
Memorable bite, delicious, but replaceable

Exhibit B: the fam
Precious moments, laughs, 4 generations of loveI can also really relate to this in a very different way, having lived on my own for almost a year while my fiancé was deployed in Cuba. Being the foodie and health nut that I am, I enjoyed all the food things that I love, I shopped for what I wanted, I prepped on the weekends so my week nights were easier, and I experimented with different recipes I hadn’t made before, just because I could. It was a fun adventure, living on my own and having the freedom to cook for myself, but I now realize there was always something missing. I would sit down to eat, sometimes in front of my computer or book that I was reading, finish the meal, clean up after the meal, and repeat. I was always distracted because sitting in silence was never something I wanted. And really, unless occasionally I had a visitor or went somewhere for dinner, for the normal day to day, there wasn’t any human-to-human interaction during my mealtimes. And I missed that. It felt empty.

And after all the time alone in the last year, I have become so appreciative of the simple thing to sit down to have dinner with someone I love, almost every day, and to have those conversations and laughs- about the current day, about life, or about tomorrow (aka. the future). And what’s really special, is sometimes being able to enjoy the process of making dinner with my fiancé before we sit down to eat it together. There’s usually a few laughs and knowing me, at least one spill.

One of our favorite things to make is what we call “crock pot taco chicken”. It’s probably the easiest thing I’ve ever made and it’s totally no-fail. Every meal doesn’t have to be fancy, as long as you fill your body with good ingredients.

Organic chicken breast/tenders/thighs (whatever you’ve got!) + 1 jar of your favorite salsa (we like some kind of organic salsa verde or roasted tomatillo) = throw it in a pot and let it cook on Low for 6 hours

That’s it! Then, we like to jazz up our taco bowls or burritos with some fixings:

  • Avocado
  • Organic brown rice or quinoa
  • Organic pinto or black beans
  • Cilantro
  • Cheese (or omit if you’d like/dairy free)
  • Sour cream (or use Kite Hill chive spread if you’re dairy free – YUM!)
  • Wrap it up in a tortilla (Siete Foods is my fav gluten-free variety)
  • A drizzle of hot sauce (if you like a kick)

It’s fun because I can have mine however I want and my fiancé can have his however he wants, and we both end up happy and satisfied. (And we always end up with leftovers, which makes great Tupperware lunches that I can bring to work.) And best of all, we can quickly assemble our bowls/tacos/burritos and get to what’s most important, which is being able to enjoy the time we have to sit down and eat together and enjoy each other’s company during the process.

Happy taco-ing! & I hope you find a little extra time to spend the time with those you love.
XO bee

Dinner / Food

Ramen Noodle Miso Soup

04.13.18

Ramen noodle soup is something I never tried but always thought looked so delicious. Since I was diagnosed with celiac disease when I was in my teens, I didn’t have the option to survive on instant ramen soup during frehman year of college like many of my peers. Especially my most important peer, aka my future husband.

I met Matt on my first day of college. Soon after becoming friends with him, I discovered his love for ramen noodles. His love for ramen ran deep. It wasn’t just that he liked the flavor. He loved that it took two minutes to cook (or zero minutes if you eat them straight from the package as he often did) and that it is VERY cheap. Something every freshman boy loves.

Fast forward a couple years, Matt and I were shopping at Costco and we discovered Lotus Millet and Brown Rice Ramen noodles. We were both excited. I was excited because I had never tried ramen before and Matt was excited because it was always one of his favorite meals.

These gluten-free ramen noodles are so tasty. I love the texture of them, too. The best part is that they only take 4 minutes to cook. Okay, so that’s slightly longer than the instant ramen soup version but they are also much better quality. The only downside (according to Matt) is that they don’t taste good raw. So, don’t try eating them straight from the package.

We often cook the noodles and then toss them in some sesame oil, green onions, garlic, and tamari. It’s a very simple, comforting meal. But for this recipe, I wanted to create a grown up version of the instant ramen noodle soup I missed out on (but did I really?) and the meal that gave Matt life for his whole first year of college. I chose to combine miso soup and ramen soup, because miso lends an amazing umami flavor. Also, an added benefit is that it’s a fermented food and contains beneficial enzymes and probiotics that aid in digestion and nutrient absorption. I personally try to limit my consumption of soy products since it’s hard to find non-GMO soy. So, I purchased Miso Master Organic Chickpea Miso from my local health food store. I love that there are so many options nowadays! Feel free to use a miso that you prefer but do note that miso paste can vary quite a bit in flavor depending on which type you choose.

Ramen Noodle Miso Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This filling and healthy recipe has a long ingredient list but don't be fooled. It's not much harder to make than instant soup!
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • ¼ white onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, finely diced
  • 1 sheet nori
  • 6 cups bone broth, chicken broth or veggie broth
  • ½ oz. dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 3-4 Tbsp chickpea miso paste
  • ¼ cup coconut aminos or tamari
  • 4 blocks ramen noodles
  • Toppings:
  • Cilantro, Basil, Mint
  • Green onions
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Purple cabbage
  • 4 Boiled eggs
Instructions
  1. In a large stock pot, sauté onions, garlic, and ginger in oil. Cook until fragrant.
  2. Add broth, mushrooms and nori.
  3. Simmer for 20 mins then strain.
  4. Discard the nori. Slice mushrooms into bite size pieces and add back into the soup.
  5. Boil eggs, peel and set aside.
  6. Cook noodles according to package instructions, rinse and set aside.
  7. Add coco aminos and miso to broth, whisk until smooth.
  8. Prepare toppings: rinse the herbs and mung bean sprouts, chop the cabbage, and slice the green onions.
  9. To plate: place ¼ of the noodles in a large bowl. Then, ladle the soup over the top. Slice one egg in half and place it into the soup, add the cabbage, green onions and herbs and drizzle with sriracha. Enjoy!

 

We really enjoyed this meal and hope you will too! I was a little nervous that Matt wouldn’t like it as much as the instant kind he used to eat. Thankfully he loved it and so did I.  We will definitely be making this soup a staple in our house.

It would be fun to make for a party. You can set all the toppings out and allow people to assemble their own bowl of soup.

XO, Sam

Life

Life in My Mid-Twenties: Seeking Sanity by Slowing Down

04.06.18

In a decade where I was really hoping my toughest decision would be: “Is it too late for coffee or too early for wine?”,  I am realizing the mid-twenty years are tough. Or, way tougher than I ever anticipated.

I thought the early college years were a challenge, but I’m finding my current state is even more so. We “mid-twenties” are smack dab in the middle between the “fresh out of college” early 20s crew and the “let’s start a family” decade of the early 30s. The more I think about it, the typical “life at 25” is just a real, big welcome to adulthood and “cheers” to figuring out life for yourself for the first time– career wise, relationship wise, and all things personal.

We “mid-twenties” don’t have quite enough work experience to make big jumps into management, but we surely have enough to not be the bottom of the totem pole either. Friends are thinking about getting engaged (like me), then married (like Sam), and then some are already thinking about or already have babies. And with serious relationships, or strong, motivated individuals, there comes wanting to buy houses (hello mortgage) and upgrading your first car to something newer and shinier (hello loan #2 or #3 depending if you have student loans already). It’s just a mish-mash to try to figure out the balance of life and everything that goes into it.

Since I’m quickly approaching the 2-6 in May, I’m finding I’m right in the middle of all of it.

Sometimes, it feels like time just seems to be going by faster. I blink and March is over, and tomorrow we are 6 months until our wedding day, and I can no longer remember what I did 3 weekends ago because I’m already thinking about what I’m doing 3 weekends from now. I have to schedule in that appointment 5 weeks from now because it’s the only day it’ll work for the 4 people that need to attend. My life is glued to my calendar. I can’t remember for the life of me what hours or what location my fiancé is working at tomorrow because he told me yesterday, and I forgot to write it down.

Thoughts are often swirling my head – is this what I’m supposed to be doing? Am I doing this well enough? What is going to be the next thing? Shoot, I forgot to do this or that. What can I make for dinner with what I have in the fridge? Did I call ____? Do I need to pick up ____ from ____ store? It’s like an ever growing to do list that I can never get ahead of. I’m five minutes behind schedule usually, and then, it starts to drive me crazy. So much so, that I start to drive others around me a little crazy without trying to. (I’m sorry Josh) And often I’m left completely exhausted.

So then, I think about a couple of things:

  • I go back to this thought that being in the middle of my second decade on this planet is just tough. Sure, some people that are beyond and in their wiser decades will probably say, Breah, life itself is tough and you are so young. And I get it, it’s never going to get any easier and we will only have more responsibilities in the future. But, there has to be some method to the madness – some kind of solution to somewhat control the crazy. And there has to be others that are in the mid-twenties that feel the same way.
  • I realize that I know that I need to tell myself to STOP and SLOW DOWN! Let things happen as they happen. Go against my natural programming and actually go with the flow. Don’t plan. Don’t worry. Don’t get so caught up in the next thing, because it is only the thing right now that you can control. Of course, this takes effort too, but I think it ultimately is less than trying to tame the anxiousness brewed by all the worry.

I’ve found finding ways to prevent the “mid-twenties” crazies is the way to go. I’m not saying that it always works (we are human, after all), but these things sure have helped me.

  • I make sweating a priority. Even if it seems like the last thing I have time for, I’ll squeeze in a workout class or a quick run a couple times a week. After I go, I almost always feel instantly “renewed”. To me, working out usually entails sweating, a lot of sweating. But, this could be different for everyone– could be just going for a 20 minute walk around the block with your dog or laying in child’s pose for 10 minutes in your living room. Just do something that feels good, that you enjoy, that you don’t have to feel like you have it schedule it into your day.
  • On my commute to and from work, I listen to something inspiring. The 40 minutes to and from work are often the times I start to focus on how I want to start the day and how to begin the “unwind” process on my way home. By listening to something I am passionate about or about something I enjoy learning about, I find it easier to disconnect from my workday and prevent my mind running wild. I enjoy listening to Jordan Younger’s Soul On Fire podcast, features so many interesting guests that have really poured their love into their lives and inspire me to search for that thing to do the same
  • Get some sunshine in. There is something so magical about being in nature for at least a few minutes a day. It’s not realistic for me to say that I’m never going to have lunch at my desk again at work or that I’m going to walk around the building every hour. But at least I can make the intention to get out during the day for some kind of sanity break, at some point in the day. And it truly does make a difference. You should try it.
  • I am learning to be okay with doing nothing – literally. Sometimes the best thing is letting your body rest. Sleep that extra hour. Watch that stupid show that you can just tune out watching for a few minutes (I admit, maybe The Bachelor). Do the anti-planning thing and just hang out.

For some people, taking bubble baths or reading before they go to bed does the trick too. Basically, everyone has their “things”. And I can say my mid-twenties are tough, because that’s where I’m at right now. And, I know I’m not alone in getting worked up about these little things and it’s going to be a life long adventure, but at least I also know that I’m human, and you are too, and we can always work at things to better ourselves and seek to find some kind of balance.

My hope is that you can relate and find some perspective to find those things that make you slow down. That those things are the most important things and may be just be what we need to be able to enjoy the best parts of life. The parts of life that truly make our souls glisten.

XO Bee