Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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black bean soup

Eggton does it again with a vegetarian (or vegan if desired) black bean soup. Now that fall is on its way a nice hot soup is a go to meal to keep toasty warm. Original recipe found here.

Once again I didn’t stray much from Eggton’s instructions. I’ve found that’s the best way for me to have success in the kitchen. It unfortunately doesn’t guarantee I don’t get burned.

Black bean soup ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery diced (did you guys know they’re called ribs?!)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 c. vegetable broth
  • 1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 410g cans black beans, drained but not rinsed
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. ketchup (use a vegan ketchup if you’re vegan)
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (omit if vegan)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cumin

Cooking black bean soup

Directions:

  • In a large pot or a big skillet with raised sides, melt the olive oil or butter over medium heat.
  • Add the chopped onion and celery and carrot.  Sauté until the onion is tender and translucent but not browned, lowering the heat if necessary.  Add the garlic and cook another couple of minutes.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Raise the heat to bring it to a boil and then lower it so that the soup simmers for 20 minutes (or less – but if you cook it really fast your veggies might still be a little crunchy – I seriously recommend cooking the veggies fast, so good!).
  • Purée half or all of the soup with a hand mixer (Eggton recommends a blender or food processor, we don’t have that and the hand mixer worked great) then stir it back into the pot.
  • Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning as desired.  If it’s too thick for your taste, add more broth and reheat. Serve with sour cream and cheese if you like (provided you’re not vegan).

black bean soup

This soup was so good I could honestly eat it every week this fall. I won’t because then I may turn into a black bean. As the old adage goes: you are what you eat.

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roasted vegetable salad with kale & kamut

As per the usual Eggton delivers again. I found this recipe here, and made a few modifications I will be sure to tell you all about.

Yesterday I went shopping to purchase the following ingredients for this scrumptious dish.

Ingredients:

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

For the salad:

  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 6 c. finely shredded kale leaves (remove the stems first)
  • 1 c. uncooked kamut
  • 3 c. mixed roasted vegetables, such as carrots, peppers, eggplant, zucchini or mushrooms, in bite-sized pieces

In advance I, of course, read this list. Lovely! I thought to myself, as we had many of the items already at home. I was in the store to buy the fresh herbs, cherry tomatoes, kamut, parsnip, & zucchini. I’m the only zucchini eater in the house, so we don’t usually have it around. I also love parsnip, so I just had to roast it up and add to the salad.

Eggton’s recipe actually calls for farro. I don’t know what farro is. Sweden does not know what farro is. I tried asking for it in the store, even had my smartphone out with a picture and everything. That guy still thinks I’m crazy. On second thought, he may not have been an employee.

I decided to go with kamut for two reasons, one it’s PN approved. (Curious about my Precision Nutrition experience, click the PN tab above!) Two, it exists in Sweden.

With my spoils in hand, I biked on home. Whipping out the trusty smartphone once again, I examined Eggton’s directions.

Directions:

  • If you don’t have left-over roasted vegetables, roast some.
  • In the meantime, put all the ingredients for the vinaigrette into a jar, close the lid, and shake until combined.  If you taste it, don’t worry: the balsamic flavor will be stronger than in most dressings, but it will be fine when tossed with the salad.
  • Cook the kamut according to the package directions, adding a little salt to the cooking water.
  • In the meantime, put the kale and the tomatoes into a bowl.  When the kamut is done, drain it and immediately add it to the kale and tomatoes.  (You want it to still be warm so that it wilts the kale a little.)  Mix in the grilled vegetables and toss with most of the dressing.
  • Let the salad sit on the counter for a few hours so that the flavors meld.  Taste it and add the remaining salad dressing if desired, and season with salt and pepper if necessary.  Serve the salad at room temperature and then store it in the fridge.

I did my best to follow the directions as directed. I did not have left over roasted vegetables, so I chopped up carrots, parsnip, zucchini and peppers in relatively large pieces. On foil I carefully spaced the carrots and parsnip onto the baking pan, adding a light cover of olive oil and chopped garlic and a sprig of rosemary to the mix for flavor. I allowed the carrots and parsnip to roast for about 15 minutes before I added the zucchini and peppers. These vegetables are much softer and waterier, so they will roast faster. (Waterier is a word – right?) I popped everything back in the oven for 30-40 more minutes.

Then it was time for the dressing. Remember how “lovely” I thought it was that we had most of the ingredients already at home? Turns out we had exactly 1/4 a cup of olive oil and exactly 1/4 a cup of balsamic vinaigrette. We have an oil & viniager salad sprayer, and I actually had to sprits out approximately 1/8 of a cup of vinaigrette. I don’t recommend that. It did work out in the end though. Also, a good to know tidbit is that the size of the jar does not need to be large. A smarter woman than I would consider that 1/2 a cup of liquid with one teaspoon of mustard plus a bit of herbs will not make much dressing. Instead, this is what I did:

dressing

Left: The jar size I used. Right: The jar size I should have used.

I didn’t cook the kamut according to packaging instructions either. Coach Ryan in PN instructs us clients to boil grains & beans by using the amount desired covered by 2-3 inches of water. Those of you who don’t have access to Ryan’s awesome videos should know that while boiling, test for readiness by tasting (you’re looking for a tender grain/bean), then drain excess water. That guy knows his stuff, because that’s what I did, and it went swimmingly.

Continuing on to the fresh vegetables I attempted to measure one pint of cherry tomatoes. Actually I got baby plum tomatoes. I don’t know the difference, they seemed similar in size, and the baby plum tomatoes looked much more appetizing (and came from Holland – a short distance from Sweden for the geographically impaired).

Not how to measure tomatoes.

Not how one measures tomatoes.

I think I got about the right amount of tomatoes in the end, so I moved on to the kale. This was another item we already had at home. However, it was not pre-finely shredded. I’m not sure if you can buy kale that is finely shredded for you, but regardless, I did not have that. My first instinct was to take out the cheese grater and grate my kale. This is not possible, so don’t try that. I ended up chopping it. Forgetting that the stems were to be removed, and playing a grown up version of Where’s Waldo as I inspected my chopped kale attempting to remove the stems.

chopped kale

Getting the tomatoes, kale and kamut into one bowl was by far the easiest step of the day. By this time my roasted vegetables had roasted, so I removed them from the oven, cut them into bite sized pieces, and added them to the mix. Eggton suggests adding some of the dressing first only adding more later to taste, I just went all out, and I’m glad I did. It wasn’t that much dressing to begin with, in my humble opinion, so using it all was a good call for me. Then I added salt. I love salt. If you ask me, more salt is more salt. Do it.

Despite the setbacks the salad came out wonderfully.

a finished salad

I hope you can learn from helpful tips (read: embarrassing mistakes) so that you have tremendous success with this super delicious salad.

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lördagsgodis

The wait is over! Here it is! The post explaining all about lördagsgodis.

I’ll break it down for you lördag = Saturday, godis = candy. So lördagsgodis is Saturday candy. Here in Sweden there is a whole day for candy. The idea is that you tell your children that they are allowed to have candy on Saturday. That is to say only on Saturday, and lördagsgodisno other day. It’s pretty tricky really.

That means today I’ll be chowing down on this bag of deliciousness:

 

Until next Saturday!

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not dieting/starting again/stopping/then starting again

This probably sounds like a cliché, or an all too often told story. About people who try different fad diets, only to eventually fail at them, to then try some other diet that’s big right now.

That’s not what I’m here to talk about. And, honestly, without sounding to preachy or as if I’m trying to sell you something, I think I’ve found a few things that work when it comes to dieting.

Side bar: I am seriously not going to try to sell you anything. Seriously. I have no money to gain here. It is also probably important to emphasize that I am not in the field of health and nutrition. I have no background education in the matter. I told you all about how I’m a pre-school teacher. What I can say is that if we listened to the pre-schoolers we’d eat a whole lot of candy and cookies. That stuff is tasty! But, I do try to limit the advice I take from 5 and 6 year olds. (Though at times they are truly inspiring.) I’m rambling, the point here is don’t by anything from me, and take my advice with a grain of salt. Do your own research, and find out what works for you.

PN plate

found here

That being said, I think I’ll say it again. I really do not think there is anything better when it comes to “dieting” than doing your own research and finding what works for you. I want to put dieting in bunny quotes because what I do I don’t actually feel is dieting. Yes I am changing my diet. But ideally I am changing my diet for good. For the forseeable future. My personal goal, when I say I want to get fit (and yes I believe a big part of that is through making conscious decisions about one’s diet), is to find a diet that works for me and the lifestyle I want to lead, forever.

THAT being said, I’m here today to tell you a little about what I have found works for me, and my own personal experience with changing the way I eat (more commonly known as dieting).

Start slowly. I’ve read a million articles online about diets that are guaranteed to work, and just follow these easy 10 steps to a healthier you! (It was a million, I counted.) The problem is, it is almost never that I find all the “steps” in all the different “processes” to be simple. I find the biggest problem with dieting is failing at it. That’s why I choose my own steps. In order for this post to stay at a readable length I’m going to list my top three pieces of advice, or first three steps I took when trying to change my diet.

  1. Make it easy for yourself. I believe that successfully completing your goals sets you up for future success. Therefore, when beginning a new project (any project really) I start as small as possible. Miniscule. I make that first step seem like the easiest thing in the world, that I can definitely accomplish. Then comes the important part, that once I do accomplish my easy first step, I go on and make another step in the right direction. (But again, a very, ridiculously, awesomely easy step.)
    For example: If I want to eat less sugar, first I’ll take a look at what my sugar in take is currently. Let’s say I eat a good amount of sugar every day and want to reduce that. So I’ll first just look at one meal. Every morning I put two tea spoons of sugar in my tea. My super easy step then could be to only add one teaspoon of sugar. I think I can manage that with 100% success, so that’s what I choose to change.
  2. Keep track of what you’re doing. There are a bunch of apps out there, or you can go the old write-it-down-with-pen-and-paper rout. Whatever you do, keep track of what you’re doing and how you feel. If you keep track you will be able to easier tell what is working, and what isn’t. (Hint: this can even be one of your first small changes – make it easy for yourself!)
  3. Be allowed to cheat. They say (by they I mean the internet) that your “diet” will be successful if you follow it 90% of the time. That’s pretty sweet I think. If you eat 6 meals a day for 7 days a week that means you eat 42 meals in a week. That means you only have to follow your diet for about 37 meals. That’s 5 meals/week that you get to eat whatever you want. (Within reason and portion size.) I’m fairly sure if you eat seven pizzas for four meals a week you won’t be getting any fitter, regardless of what you eat the other 37 times.

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How do I know that these steps work? Like I said, I’ve read approximately 1 million articles online regarding changing the way one eats. In the internet wonderland I have found these ideas, and I have tested them myself to see what works best for me.

yummy fruit

found here

To be honest, it hasn’t been a perfect run, as the title of this post would suggest. I’ve fallen off the bandwagon. Dropped the ball. Let it slide. Whichever idiom you like. That’s why I find it important to have my three steps. When it starts going less well, I can take it back to the basics. Back to what I know works. (And keep track of what hasn’t work, and maybe even ponder why it hasn’t worked.)

I tried to keep this short and sweet, but certainly have more to say on the topic.

Stay tuned.

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my resolutions – in a timely manner

Alright guys, here it comes.

2014

Last year I was a little late on the uptake, and posted my New Year’s resolutions a full eleven days after New Years. Poor form. This year I’m totally on the ball. (I tell myself, it’s good to give positive reinforcement, especially to oneself.) My New Year’s resolutions read as follows:

  1. Find a lasagna recipe that Evelina likes as much as I do
  2. Paint a painting
  3. Run a marathon
  4. Read 4 books off of Francine Prose’s List of Books to be Read Immediately
  5. Do a handstand push up

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Let me explain. The avid readers out there will notice my first two resolutions mirror, almost exactly, my first two resolutions from last year. Let’s be honest, so many of us repeat New Year’s resolutions year after year without ever getting anywhere. (Unused gym membership anyone?) I’m putting a stop to all that. This year I’m getting it done. Certainly 1 & 2. I’m going to set a specific date for my accomplishments, and track my progress once I start. And I’m telling you all about it. You guys are gonna hold me accountable, right?

  1. Lasagna. That bad boy has got to be accomplished before the end of winter. That means by March 20th I will have completed this task.
  2. Paint a painting – as with children, there is just never a good time, you gotta jump right it, and learn how to swim on the fly. Don’t let my wandering metaphor confuse you. What I’m trying to say is although I may not feel like I have a ton of time for painting, I need to just set a date, and get things done. I’m going April 1st on this one. Not because this is a prank, but because I may be taking a trip in April, and I want this one done before then.

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Oh no, I’m not stopping there. Setting a specific date for your goals is an important part of seeing them through to completion. I’m gonna go ahead and do it for the last three resolutions as well.

  1. Marathon. In my list of things to do in Sweden (found by the header) I’ve mentioned the Asics Stockholm Marathon. That takes place May 31st this year. It’s time for me to get my run on. When you visit their website they’ve posted that today there are 149 days until the marathon. I’m now nauseous.
  2. Books – I have acquired over my years the following titles, which appear on Prose’s list: Bleak House by Charles Dickens, Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger, Moby Dick by Herman Melville and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. In following my book of the month posts/goal I will read each one of these books during the following months:
    .          January: Moby Dick
    .          February: Franny & Zooey
    .          March: Little Women
    .          April: Bleak House
  3. Handstand push up. This one seems a little harder to set a date for. Seeing as it is on my 25 before 25 list…oh wait, all of my resolutions/goals are from that list. Funny how that happened. Any who! Seeing as it is on my 25 before 25 list, I will give this task a completion date of one day before my birthday. June 15th here we come.

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Looks like I’ve got a busy 6 months ahead of me. Check back in for periodic updates on how my resolutions are going. That’s not all! I’d also love to hear from you, have you made any New Year’s resolutions?

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