Category Archives: Dinner

Random Walking Thoughts


Recently I’ve been loving The Biggest Loser. I had never seen it until about a week ago! That show is nuts. And by nuts I mean amazing and crazy inspiring. I’ll be honest I felt a sting in my eye at least two times in each episode and today it really got me thinking about motivation. What is it that motivates people to lose weight and subsequently stay healthy? I feel like it usually starts out with the same themes: Wanting a GF/BF, wanting to attract the opposite sex in general, wanting to do more activities with family members, HOPEFULLY getting healthy…or maybe shame? Everyone has their reason but the most successful people, it seems, are those who eventually shift their motivation inwards and are driven by the changes and improvements that they see/feel.
The overwhelming euphoria that the contestants experience when they step on the scale and see that they’ve lost 20-30 pounds in a week can make ANYone want to slurp down something super healthy and jet out for a run. When I needed to lose weight in college I would be really inspired when I could see positive changes in myself. Now when I eat something insanely healthy or have a great workout, all I can think about is how I can’t wait to do it all over again and see what results come of it, be it having a great creative outlet, a burst of energy or looser fitting pants. It’s literally like being high on life. This is not a new idea by any means, it just happened to be
going through my head during a long walk and The Shred.
Today was one of the more perfect and satisfying food days I’ve had in a while. Diverse and full of fruit, veggies and protein. Used a lot of imported products here …I think I’m going to try to start cutting down and use what I have at the local market to be creative….we’ll see.

Banana (Cinnamon) Almond Ice Cream with Raw Rolled Oats

Egg White Omelet with Fresh Basil

Chana Masala with Steamed Brocolli

I kind of made this on a whim so I didn’t really follow a recipe. Not sure if this is REAL Chana Masala but it worked for me.
Chana Masala:
4 cloves of garlic
1 small piece of fresh ginger
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp curry powder
(homemade marinara sauce)
1 can chickpeas
handful of fresh cilantro

1. Sauté garlic and ginger in a big pan for about 1 minute

2. Add 2 cups marinara sauce (any kind of tomato sauce works)

3. Add spices and stir, let spices and sauce incorporate for a minute or two

4. Add the chickpeas, stir to combine, and let simmer until sauce thickens

5. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with bright green vegetable!


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Filed under Breakfast, Dinner, lunch

Not Busy, Busy, and Unfortunate Looking Food

I have a weird ability to make myself insanely busy when in reality, I have nothing to do. Since I only teach 10 measly hours a week, I really like making use of all that extra time. It’s crazy though how most people (including me) can get tons of stuff done when they’re busy, but seem to accomplish nothing when they have an entire day free. This was a problem for a LONG time when I first got to China, but I finally figured out that if I try to mimic my life at home it’s much easier to have a normal day instead of a day centered around my bed…somehow I was given a california king btw, NOT easy to leave. I usually make up some weird errand like needing to walk 4 miles to a certain store to buy some sort of random thing that I don’t need. Or 45 minutes across the river to go to a chain coffee shop that also has an outpost near my apartment. Whatever works right?
Wednesday and Thursday started out the same: waking up at 7 am and attempting some raw vegan breakfast recipe, hour of interneting, followed by The Shred, a run, and a million make-believe errands. Not the most beautiful creations, but they were beautiful on the INSIDE OKK??

Banana Almond Ice Cream with Muesli

Full of deliciousness. But the consistency isn’t perfect…my ancient freezer makes things ROCK solid so I have to use lots of liquid to make the banana blend-able….better luck next time.

Strawberry Banana Hemp Soup with Muesli

Alright this was also a fail. I attempted to make something similar to the banana ice cream, but with some protein from the hemp. The bananas were SO frozen that there was no way this thing was gonna work. With some muesli on top it wasn’t half bad, but it was pretty unfortunate looking, eh? Next time I’m gonna put it in a giant glass so it looks a little less bizarro.

I came up with three new dinners to make this week that were super filling but very low fat/low cal. Woo! Keeping up with the theme for the week, they were also not the most aesthetically pleasing.

Healthy Huevos Rancheros

Egg whites (4), vegetarian refried beans from a can, and simple pico de gallo. The best part was definitely the pico de gallo, so easy! Chopped tomatoes, onion and cilantro sprinkled with sea salt. Nothing else necessary. I think I spotted some black eyed peas at the store so next time I think I’m going to test those out so that this dish doesn’t look like…well…something horrible happened to it. A crucial dousing of hot sauce went on after this photo.

Steamed Brocolli with Homemade Marinara and Mozzarella

Whipped up some marinara: Can of whole peeled tomatoes, oregano, S&P, fresh basil (YEAHHH METRO) and an onion sliced in half. Simmered for about 30 minutes (Chucked the onion after the sauce reduced a little) Grating cheese is so amazing, this is barely a serving of cheese but it worked for the whole meal. Butttttt I think after I go through the cheese in my fridge I’m gonna phase out all dairy…we’ll see.

Eggplant Pam? With no breading and no cheese...

I’m never really sure how to cook eggplant. Roasting or grilling seems nice but I don’t have an oven or a grill. I just sautéed them with some garlic and covered everything in marinara, but I feel like there’s a better way. Eggplant prepared Chinese style is amazing, I need to figure out their secret.

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Filed under Breakfast, Dinner, Shake

Cold Weather Food on a Warm Day

I absolutely love using up all of the vegetables in my fridge without having to throw anything away. Not wasting food or money is such a great feeling! I suppose I end up letting stuff go bad when I go out to eat a lot, but since I won’t be doing that for the next two months or so I’m in the clear. This also means that my groceries for one week of breakfast, lunch and dinner cost $15.00. Out of control.

Although today was sunny, warm and all around beautiful, I ended up making the heartiest of cold weather meals: Chili with cauliflower mashed potatoes. This meal has practically zero fat (tiny bit from the beans) and has a ridiculous amount of vitamins and nutrients from the veggies. On top of it all a small amount will feel you up FAST. It’s also carb free (if we aren’t counting veggies as carbs) so for anyone harboring a carb fear its perfect.

Veggie Chili with Mashed Cauliflower

Easy Vegetarian Chili-

If I had my pick of ingredients I would have added roasted poblano peppers, black beans and avocado but beggars can’t be choosers eh?

1 medium onion, diced

6 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 bell peppers, chopped

2 cans peeled tomatoes

2 cans kidney beans

2 tsp oregano, 2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, S&P, dash of cinnamon (adjust to taste), cilantro

1. In a large pot, sauté onions, garlic and peppers for about 5 minutes, stirring every so often.

2.  Add tomatoes, beans and spices and stir to incorporate all of the flavors.

3. Let simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When it has thickened, spoon into a bowl, garnish with cilantro, and if you’re a fast eater like me, inhale.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

1 huge head of cauliflower cut into florets

1 garlic clove, chopped


1. Steam cauliflower until florets are soft.

2. Put in blender with S&P and chopped garlic clove.

3. Blend.

4. Be amazed at how much it tastes like mashed potatoes, especially if you add milk (soy, nut, cow, etc) and butter.

I got something amazing in the mail today. Can’t wait to put it to use:

Hemp Protein


Filed under Dinner

Too Much Food For One Person

Dinner tonight revolved around trying to make the vegetables in my refrigerator interesting. Result? Carrot ginger soup with chopped cashews and dill / peas stir fried with garlic, scallions and bean sprouts.

Carrots, Ginger, Onions, Lemon Zest

Carrot Ginger Soup with Chopped Cashews and Dill

This soup is impossible to mess up unless you’re starving and are so impatient that you don’t let the carrots cook long enough.

1. Dice about 1 tablespoon of ginger (more if you want a spicy kick) and 1 medium onion and let them sweat in a pan with some lemon zest and sea salt until the onions are translucent and pretty limp.

2. In another pan, sauté 2 large, chopped carrots (with some sea salt) for about 5-7 minutes.

3. Add carrots to onions and ginger, add about 2 cups of water or vegetable broth and let simmer until carrots are suuuuuper soft.

4. Throw everything in a blender along with S&P and a dash of curry powder and blend until you have something resembling soup. While the blender is still on, slowly pour in about 1 cup of milk. I used soy milk here but you can use anything from nut milk to skim to heavy cream depending on your preference.

5. Top with cashews and dill and enjoy!

Peas, Bean Sprouts, Scallions and Garlic - Stir Fried

Plus a simple stir fry. Veggie overload. As if I didn’t have enough food already I decided that this meal needed some protein and complex carbs.

Spanish Tortilla with Onions and Cilantro

I attempted to make this Spanish Tortilla, but I only had 2 eggs and 1 tiny potato….and no broiler…so it turned into a not-as-beautiful scramble.


Nothing that a little hot sauce won’t fix.

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Filed under Dinner

We’re Jammin’

It has rained every single day in April. Without fail. The rain here in Hunan Province is bitter cold and of course both of my heaters are broken. Heater #1 is connected to a shoddy wall outlet and when I turn it on my room fills with smoke. Heater #2, space heater, was used so much that the bulbs burnt out. SO without the option of being a troll in my bed I decided on a different rainy day activity: making jam. I’m an old lady.

Boiling Berries

I didn’t try these berries before throwing them in the pot, and turned out these particular berries  had massive seeds/pits in them. FAIL. I ended up with maybe two tablespoons worth of super tangy jam since I didn’t add any sugar. Luckily it was the perfect amount for an afternoon snack:

Wasa Crackers with Homemade Jam and Almond Butter

Saturday and Sunday turned into a three day weekend after a class cancellation and somehow I was bored enough to recreate what I made for Saturday night’s potluck (plus some pineapple fried rice). I had a ton of leftover ingredients so I thought why not whip something up in case someone wants to come by and eat it….I ended up force feeding the guy I tutor and Jeff, the other volunteer at my school who lives upstairs.

Pad Thai

Closer (without the oil, tofu, shrimp or peanuts)

Oil-Free Thai Style Pineapple Fried Rice

YES feeding my student counts as tutoring, its called food education people. I didn’t really feel like eating rice or noodles so I whipped up a steamed egg vegetable frittata like thing. I have no idea what to call this, but it was awesome. I’m really diggin’ open faced, steamed omelets since the vegetables and spices are dispersed throughout the eggs.

Steamed Omelet with Garlic, Scallions, Bean Sprouts and Cilantro

Followed by a little glass of heaven:

Mango Lemon Smoothie

1 mango, squeeze of lemon, 4 ice cubes. Blend.

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Filed under Almond Butter, Dinner, Shake, Snack

How It Should Be

One thing that I really really love about trying to come up with things to make in China is the availability of seasonal fruits and tons o’ veggies. There is a fruit stand just down the hill from my apartment that I hit up at least once a day and it’s always exciting when a new in season fruit pops up. YES I said it’s exciting. Fruits and vegetables in China are also NORMALLY priced, unlike the US where fresh produce can cost an arm and a leg. I bought everything in the photo below for the Chinese money (RMB) equivalent of $15.00. Crazy!

So Cheap!

Thats: A bag of almonds, eggs, tofu, mangoes, kiwi, carrots, onions, garlic, ginger, lemons, cauliflower, brocolli, bean sprouts, peppers, scallions, cilantro, corn and noodles for $15.00. Reverse sticker shock.

Most of this went towards a potluck at my apartment last night where I made coconut curry with peppers/sugar snap peas and Pad Thai…but cooking for other people made me crazy stressed so, alas, no photos. Katie brought Velveeta, Lucy brought Mashed potatoes, Micah and Rob brought Chinese takeout (hehe) and Jeff brought potatoes. AND Sarah, other Sarah, made brownies. I usually can’t drink when I’m feeling sluggish or out of shape, but since that situation has drastically improved in the past 2 months, I was able to drink the delicious apple vodka that Katie brought back from the Philippines. MMm that foreign feeling sure felt like home. Also gave me the motivation to trek out in the pouring rain to kill some Copacabana with Katie at karaoke.

Dinner tonight was 100% imported goods:

Wasa Crackers with Tuna, Rosemary and Emmental Cheese. Nuked.

Followed by a taste of summer:

Back to the Islands!!

Took me about 5 mangoes to finally figure out the correct way to cut them. Slice vertically going along the sides of the pit (on each side), then cut mango crosswise and lengthwise making sure to not go through the peel. Either stick your face in it and chow down, or cut away the pieces from the peel like a civilized person =).


Filed under China, Dinner, Fruit, Groceries

Jazz It Up

Steamed eggs are one of my favorite dishes here in China. Light and smooth with a custard like texture. Delish.  Amidst my search for some simple steamed egg recipes,  I came across one that combined eggs, apples, cheddar and rosemary. Recipe courtesy of (, cheddar courtesy of Metro, rosemary courtesy of the best package sender ever, my sister, Karen. The result? Possibly the most luxurious eggs I’ve had in years.

Steamed eggs with Sliced Apple, Cheddar and Rosemary

Whisk together two egg whites, one whole egg and S&P. Pour in (sprayed or oiled or buttered) pan on LOW heat and let sit until the top is only slightly wiggly. Once eggs are mostly set, place thinly sliced apples, thinly sliced cheddar and a sprinkle of rosemary on top and cover until eggs are set and cheese has melted.

AMAZING discovery on the same site. Banana ice cream: all natural, vegan, and the most energy you will ever get out of a dessert. Plus I got to put my homemade almond butter to use! Just put a frozen banana and one tablespoon of almond butter (or whatever nut butter) in a blender. Blend, and enjoy.

Banana Almond Ice Cream

I threw on some jazz while i made/ate this and while I felt kind of like an asshole, it was perfect.

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Filed under Dessert, Dinner