a month without white: red, peach + blue arugula salad

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Inspired by the latest issues of Women’s Health and Bon Appetit, the peach is having a serious mini moment. This luscious fruit can be poached, baked, grilled, sauteed and flambéed — all methods yield rich, juicy sweet flavor. Over the past few days I’ve made endless permutations of the peach salad. In this version, I skinned and sectioned one ripe peach, and tossed it with arugula, raspberries and blueberries. The dressing was 1/2 tbsp of simple pistachio oil, married with sea salt and a smattering of pepper.

Clearly you could grill the peaches, toss in some flaked salmon, tuna or chicken, and you’ve up the protein ante, transforming a side dish into a wholesome, flavorful main course.

Over the next few weeks you’ll see me playing around with the peach, especially with GRILLED KALE!

journey to buff salad recipes

a month without white: basil unleashed!

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Truth be told, the notion of dieting gives me a rage blackout. For years I raged a war with my body, denying myself strawberry syrups and tarts with whipped creme, calculating calories much like how one would balance a checkbook, and punishing myself for indulging in an occasional cookie. I remember being that obnoxious girl in the dressing room bemoaning the fact that a negative integer wasn’t a size. I remember feeling lean and nervous in my leanness, because if I wasn’t careful, if I wasn’t mindful, I would burst at the seams.

Last year I brokered a peace treaty, and I shifted my attention from the concept of skinny to the practice of being healthy, to the art of being mindful. This is my one body, and I’m going to spend the rest of this life in love with it. Instead of padlocking the kitchen, I turned my attention toward celebrating the foods I adore, and I challenged my body with bootcamp, cycling and grueling cardio classes. After a three-year break, I returned to the mat and resumed a deeper, more satisfying yoga practice.

And I didn’t punch myself in the face for eating a damn cookie.

So when a few of my friends asked about “my new diet,” I visibly cringed. Calmly I explained that this month free of white flour, sugar and dairy isn’t about a number on a scale (I haven’t weighed myself in a decade), isn’t about a “cleanse” or some such nonsense, but rather it’s about me being a barnacle to a tired diet and the need to break free. This month is about resetting the clock, discovering new foods and new ways of preparing them, and so far I’m having a blast.

Imagine my joy that I have the gift of time! A day off to prepare a sweet, flavorful lunch filled with basil. You will love this simple dish because of its flavors, its colors and the fact that you’re absolutely full when you’re done. Who knew!?

SIMPLE BASIL PESTO
1 cup of basil leaves, packed
1/4 cup garlic-infused olive oil
1/4 cup walnuts
Salt/pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: Blitz until you get a luscious pesto paste.

FRUIT + ARUGULA SALAD
2 cups of arugula, packed
1 ripe peach, skinned and sectioned
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup edamame
1/4 cup diced cherries
2 tbsp basil pesto

DIRECTIONS: Toss the salad with the pesto + serve!

SIMPLE PESTO PASTA
1/2-1 cup of dried whole wheat rigatoni
Homemade pesto

DIRECTIONS: Cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain, and toss with pesto. Add salt/pepper to taste.

Serve + fall in love with food all over again!

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journey to buff

a month without white: peanut butter banana smoothies + pesto whole wheat pasta!

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When learning of my thirty-day challenge (an abstention from white flour, sugar and dairy), a co-worker of mine asked, So if you’re not baking, what will you write about on your blog??!! Several expletives were exchanged (in a jocular manner, of course!), and I finally responded that I’d write about all of the food I was too lazy or too frightened to cook. And who’s to say that I won’t bake and share the fruits of my labor with my colleagues?

Although I’m only two days into my challenge, I’ve already noticed a marked difference. Come the dreaded 4pm hour, I’m less sluggish and I don’t create the necessary cookie to push me to the end of the day. Because I consumed a larger portion of protein during the day, I had a lot more stamina and energy during my spin class last night, and I had a very rested sleep. Granted, this could all be as a result of a leisurely weekend in Connecticut, but I feel GOOD. Yesterday, I spent the day snacking on carrots, blueberries, grapes and almond kind bars, and when I came home I couldn’t WAIT to make this arugula + sundried tomato pesto I spotted on The Healthy Foodie’s blog.

But can we first discuss breakfast? Admittedly, breakfast had devolved into a multigrain bagel with butter. Now I’m obsessed with this delicious peanut butter and banana smoothie that actually keeps me full for four hours. It’s super simple:

INGREDIENTS
1 banana
1 oversized tbsp of peanut butter (creamy, organic)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup almond milk
4 ice cubes

DIRECTIONS: Blitz until all ingredients are incorporated and smooth and serve!

It’s hard to believe that this is not only chockfull of protein but supremely filling. Quite honestly, I felt like I was eating dessert and I LOVED IT.

For dinner, I came home and boiled up some whole wheat pasta and served it with the sundried tomato and arugula pesto. Easy as pie:

INGREDIENTS
2 cups arugula, packed
3/4 cup sundried tomatoes (I used the ones packed in olive oil)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts
Salt/Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: Blitz until all ingredients are incorporated and smooth and serve!

One thing I noticed as I was eating my pasta sans grated cheese: it was DELICIOUS. I had become so accustomed to dumping cheese on everything that I was doing the thing I was always set against — masking flavor. With fresh, simple ingredients you don’t need to go heavy on the accoutrements.

So here’s to Day 2 of my adventure. So far, so yum!

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journey to buff pasta recipes smoothie recipes

a month without white: blueberry breakfast quinoa

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Something wonderful happened this weekend — I had an awakening of sorts. An avid clean eater, I’ve been spending the past few months in a food slump, chowing on the same ten foods I always eat, patroning the same three lunch spots I always visit. And after spending the weekend in Connecticut and being exposed to a variety of foods, my palette had an awakening. How is it possible that I’m engaged in a life-long love affair with food and I’m running from diversity in my diet.

Complacency is death of the progress, and thus I’ve committed to switching up my diet this month and trying some new foods (translation: break my co-dependent tendencies). So for the month of July, I’m off sugar, white flour and dairy.

ACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HOW WILL A WOMAN LIVE?

Well, she’ll think out of the white box, first of all, and try some new foods and flavors. Normally my breakfast repertoire consists of a buttered multi-grain bagel, and after picking FIVE POUNDS of blueberries I decided to get inventive and try this recipe, and OMG is it delicious. Packed with protein and flavor, you won’t miss your daily bagel.

INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Pastry Affair
Yields 1 serving
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/2 cup unsweetened almond or soy milk (regular milk will also work)
1/2 cup water
2 tsp Stevia
Handful chopped or sliced almonds
Handful of fresh blueberries

DIRECTIONS
In a large saucepan, stir together the quinoa, milk, and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover and turn heat down to low. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until quinoa softens and absorbs all of the water. Mix in the Stevia.

Transfer to a bowl, splash with milk, and sprinkle on a handful of almonds and blueberries. Serve hot.

journey to buff pancake + breakfast recipes

the shockingly easy blueberry peach tart!

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Would you believe me if I told you that this blueberry peach tart is probably the finest you’ll ever bake? That assembling the freshest, simplest ingredients will yield the most flavorful results? I’m writing this from my dearest friend’s home in Connecticut, where we spent the day berry picking, baking and lounging. After picking a bushel of blueberries in Glastonbury, we came home and searched the web for the perfect recipe.

What makes this tart perfection is the mix of the ripe peaches juxtaposed with the newly-picked tart blueberries. On a bed of French pastry crust, which was at turns crumbly and crisp, the result was a brown-butter situation that was out of bounds! Paired with a creamy chocolate chunk vanilla ice-cream, the dessert SUNG. The glory that was dinner had been permanently erased from our minds, because as Sinead O’Connor so sagely sang, NOTHING COMPARES TO YOU.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Food52
For the Crust:
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar

For the Filling:
2 cups blueberries, picked over and washed
2 peaches, skinned and diced
1/4 cup raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
juice from 1 lemon

For the Crisp Topping:
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons softened butter

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Truth be told, the original layout of this recipe was incredibly confusing, however, I’ll hopefully lay it out so that it’s idiot-proof. With a whisk, gently mix together all the ingredients for the crust and press the dough into a fluted pie pan with a removable bottom. Be careful not to overmix, simply, bring all of the ingredients together until they bind or cohere. Use your fingers to spread the dough evenly, and be sure to press it up the sides. At first you will enter the paranoia stage, much like I did, when I thought I couldn’t possibly smooth out that small amount of dough onto a large pie pan. Trust me, it can be done. Work from the center out and be patient. Bake the crust for 8-10 minutes, until it is just beginning to firm up.

Toss the fruit with the lemon and sugar and set aside.

To make the crisp topping, combine the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Work in the butter, using your fingers, until you have a very dry dough that clumps together when you press it.

When the crust is done baking, spread the fruit evenly in it. It’s important that you spread the fruit with your fingers (as opposed to dumping all of the fruit from the bowl), as the residual juices will make the dough soggy. Sprinkle the crisp topping over everything, then return to the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes more, just until the crust is brown, the blueberries are slightly melted, and the topping is crisp.

Cool slightly before serving with vanilla ice cream.

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pie + tart recipes sweet recipes

how much do I adore kale? let me count the ways

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As I write this, I’m stuck on an Amtrak train that’s suffering from mechanical failure. While I truly believe I’ve entered the seventh rung of hell, I’m trying to be optimistic about the situation. Originally I had planned to write a long, leisurely post as I made my way to New Haven, but I’ll give it to you straight.

I LOVE KALE.

Let me back track for a moment. Growing up in Brooklyn, the closest I’d ever come to consuming a vegetable was iceberg lettuce smothered in ranch dressing. Green beans lived in some murky abyss that was a can, and the very sight of broccoli sent me screaming. It wasn’t until I went to college that I had my first real salad, and it took nearly a decade to fall in love with the BELOVED CARROT. So you can imagine one could hardly have predicted my love affair with kale. And trust me, kids, this river runs deep.

Although I loathe juice cleanses more than the WRETCHED MUSHROOM, I have to thank the folks at BluePrint Cleanse for introducing me to kale while on a 2009 retreat. Dressed in tahini sauce and tossed with sundried tomatoes and other delicious vegetables, I feverishly shoveled my salad and proceeded to go home and stock up on the cruciferous green as if I were hoarding for a bomb shelter. Since then, I’ve made kale every which way one could possibly make kale. I blitzed it with roasted garlic and pistachios to make a pesto, I tossed it with strawberries, blueberries and a honey vinaigrette, diced grilled peaches and toasted slivered almonds, and, most famously, made it the star of my tofu stirfry and drunken noodles. It’s made its way into smoothies, shakes and as a perfect accoutrement to fish.

But perhaps the most daunting aspect of kale is the fact that it’s fibrous. This is why you’re not eating it, right? TELL ME EVERYTHING. As my friend @glambr would say, START AT THE BEGINNING AND END AT THE END.

This problem, like most, can be resolved, with some massaging. Before I make kale I massage sea salt and 1 tbsp of olive oil in my hands and rub the kale leaves between my two palms. The salt will force the kale to sweat a little (wonder why onions don’t burn when you add salt? It’s because salt renders juice out of the veggie/fruit, etc, it touches), and it will become slightly tender. I did this for the first few months of eating kale before I dressed and served it, but now I actually love the fact that it’s a veggie that can stand up to almost any ingredient. It’s no wilting flower.

Do you have any amazing recipes you want to share? Let me know!

Check out some of my favorite kale recipes:

  • Stovetop Truffle Kale Macaroni and Cheese
  • Drunken Noodles + Kale
  • Pistachio Panko Encrusted Tofu with Sauteed Kale
  • Spicy Kale Tofu Stirfry
  • Kale + Ruby Grapefruit Salad
  • cooking with kale vegetable recipes

    when you’re desperate for a lazy weekend in connecticut

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    After what felt like an Odyssean week, rife with back-to-back conference calls, meetings and a slew of important decisions to make, I want nothing more than to lie in the grass and feast on cherries. So when my oldest and dearest friend invited me for a long, leisurely weekend of berry picking, grilling and frolicking in her new outdoor pool, I packed a bag, penned an email to my colleagues and booked a sister for my SOPHIE. In a few short hours I will leave the office to cruise on Amtrak to end up three hours away from the city…and I CANNOT WAIT!

    Much like Kris of Young, Married Chic, I would never set foot in someone’s home without a gift. Whether I’m in my home and or a guest in someone else’s, I am the perennial entertainer. A few weeks ago a friend was in my neighborhood and asked if she could pop by for a few hours? I made her a pistachio loaf cake and brewed tea. My dearest friend invites me over for the weekend? I’m packing Barbie dolls for her little girl and something sweet for her mom.

    I’ve got a few hours to kill until I hit Amtrak, so I plan on snagging a few items from Haven’s Kitchen (think Ovenly cookies, homemade granola in mason jars, mini spoons and tea) and a fat bunch of blooms.

    What do you bring as a house gift? Any creative baskets? Would love to hear your thoughts!

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    style

    no, you haven’t landed in the twilight zone!

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    However, you are humbly and graciously welcome in my new home, Love. Life. Eat. For nearly a decade I’ve been blogging about writing, myself, writing, myself, myself, myself, and I’ve finally decided to take the lens away from myself and focus on my passion — food and entertaining. In this new space, you’ll see video food technique, my culinary adventures (read: mishaps) in the kitchen, snaps of places that I’m loving and a look inside my apartment of which I’m finally making into a home.

    Your love, support, emails and kind words over the years are what have inspired me to make this leap, and over the next few weeks I’ll be tinkering with the window dressing, getting your feedback, and trying to create my own virtual home.

    lovely living
    home decor

    home decor: a home of one’s own

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    There was a time when home was merely a place where my mail had been forwarded. Home was an apartment with four barren walls and no affection. Home was a place stripped of all life, a windowsill where cacti withered, a repository for castaway furniture from ruined relationships. As someone who has lived an itinerant life in the confines of New York City, I never gave thought to establishing roots. I never considered what it would feel like to settle, to leave a mark, to make a house an actual home.

    Brief parenthetical: While I was in Cambodia I devoted some thought on the notion of bucket lists. I’ve always hated the term, always loathed the wretched, endless lists scrawled across so many hopeful blogs. Part of me wanted to strip down an endless list to a focused commitment to the things and people for which I feel most passionate. And as I’ve had the privileged to have so many shining lights in my life, dear friends who have quietly nudged or ferociously pushed me to places I felt too dangerous and uncertain to go, I’ve benefitted from people who see beyond what’s in front of me. People who can definitively say, THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD BE DOING.

    The result? I’ve committed to light the way for one of my friends. I’ve had the great joy of working with Christine White, one of the most humble, caring and stylish people I know. There’s something truly honest and authentic about her affection for how one can imbue simple beauty into their lives. Her style is playful, whimsical, delightful — always with an eye toward value. Christine is the sort of person who can pull together an outfit fashioned of Zara and H&M, but will find a way to truly make it her own. In a host of copy-cat, fame-seeking personal style bloggers, Christine is a gust of refreshing air breathing life into a home, kitchen and closet worth coveting.

    Christine is gifted, and what better way to celebrate her innate talent than to PAY HER TO PURSUE HER PASSION.

    I’ve challenged my former colleague and friend to help me decorate my home. Granted this is a difficult challenge as I’m a difficult, fickle person who is ALWAYS BUSY, but she’s been patient and thoughtful throughout this wonderful journey. After our intake session where she scanned my home, took measurements, inquired about color schemes and fabrics, I sent her a Pinterest board filled with homes that I adored. Minimalist, warm, luxe — I abhor clutter and seek out comfort. And did I mention that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE BLUE?

    And this is precisely what Chris did. She created vision boards for each room, along with floor plans and we’ve gone shopping! After seven years of deliberation, I’ve finally invested in a BLUE COUCH!

    Over the next few months, you’ll see how my home will be transformed from a den of collected items to a space worth loving.