Friday Links: February 8, 2013

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February in L.A.  Yup. (Follow me on Instagram: anjaliruth.)

 

What I’ve been reading:

Getting Into Your Exercise Groove – The New York Times

But a series of recent studies involving runners, walkers, metronomes and virtual reality curtains suggests that while the tug of physiological laziness is strong, it can be controlled, or at least tweaked, with some conscious effort — and perhaps your iPhone playlist.

 

The Lovely Hill: Where People Live Longer and Happier – The Atlantic

People who eat foods associated with a Mediterranean diet also experienced less negative emotions like being afraid, nervous, upset, irritable, scared, hostile, and distressed. The more people ate those foods that are more typically American — specifically, red meat, sweets, and fast food — the less of these positive emotions they felt.

 

Stone Age Stew? Soup Making May Be Older Than We’d Thought – NPR

Neanderthals, ancient human relatives that lived from around 200,000 to 28,000 years ago, would have needed boiling technology to render fat from animal bones to supplement their diet of lean meat, so that they could have avoided death by protein poisoning.

 

Betty on The Today Show! – Meet the Shannons
My friends Annie and Dan Shannon just came out with a book! Betty Goes Vegan is full of recipes for vegan comfort food and includes lots of fun stories from one of my favorite couples. And they were on The Today Show this week!

 

What I’ve been cooking (at The Kitchn):

Shaved Fennel, Roasted Tomato & Pistachio Salad with Creamy Yogurt Dressing 

Korean Chicken Sliders with Braised Kale & Kimchi

Roasted Feta Cheese with Fig-Thyme Compote

Creamy Dairy-Free Fish Chowder

…and thinking about cooking:

Mini Vegetarian Pot Pies – Flourishing Foodie

Lemon Curd Tart With Raw Coconut Crust – Whole Family Fare

The Other Half of the Equation

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I love January. I love that feeling of fresh starts, anything-is-possible and refocusing on what really matters. And of course I love that everyone spends the month talking about eating better and healthier, holiday regrets be damned.

It doesn’t bother me if everything I strive for in January isn’t done by December. What matters is the striving.

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Last semester was really hard. Between school and writing, I filled myself to the brim, with no real day off during the week. The first thing to go when time was short was exercise. Rob and I had to cancel our membership at our beloved CrossFit gym when I started grad school and although my school has an incredible gym, I’ve come to the unfortunate realization that I’m not very good at motivating myself when it comes to fitness. I’m just a sedentary, introverted bookworm at heart. Movement and gym machines and leaving the house just don’t come naturally.

But I like running. I like running, but I’ve never stuck with running. In 2013, I want to change that. The first step: signing up for a 5k in March with my friend Meg. It’s small, it’s just a “fun run,” it’s nothing compared to what the triathloners at the same event have to do. But it’s still something.

And if these high school girls circa 1899 can get in shape while wearing long, woolen black dresses, I can suck it up and run 3 miles.

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(Images: Library of Congress)

Black Bean & Pumpkin Soup with Peanuts & Lime

Black Bean & Pumpkin Soup with Peanut & Lime

Give me a big bunch of vegetables, some softened onions, a good broth, maybe a few beans and baby, I got a stew going. Or more likely, a creamy soup. (I love my immersion blender, what can I say?)

Black Bean & Pumpkin Soup with Peanut & Lime

This time it’s a pumpkin-y take on black bean soup, inspired by a ridiculously enormous kabocha pumpkin and a couple jars of slow-cooker black beans I made last week. The pumpkin and half the beans are simmered together and pureed until smooth before the other half of the beans are added, whole, for texture. I wanted to do something different from the usual cumin-chipotle-chili-powder black bean soup, so I incorporated some of the Thai garnishes I had lying around from Friday’s dinner of khao soi.

Black Bean & Pumpkin Soup with Peanut & Lime

Lime juice and cilantro aren’t crazy-weird in the context of black bean soup, but it was the roasted, chopped peanuts sprinkled on top that turned out to be key — they add a texture and flavor that makes this soup a little different from the one you used to eat at Souplantation. (Hey, we’ve all done it.)

And since I’m back in school this week, I’ve packed up the leftovers in jars, to be frozen for future dinners. Because as you may know, the only thing I like better than getting my soup on is getting my soup on when I’m too busy to actually make a soup.
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My 16 Favorite Recipes For The Kitchn in 2012

Happy New Year! I took a much-needed two-week break for the holidays, spending a week in Seattle with my family, followed by Christmas week in Massachusetts with Rob’s family. I’ve returned home inspired to make the most of my remaining holiday break and excited for a fresh start in the kitchen.

The first semester of graduate school was a busy one, especially with my weekly recipe column for The Kitchn. When I was initially offered the slot, I thought, There’s no way I can come up with a totally original recipe every single week! But you know what? I did it — and there’s no way I would have done it unless I had said yes to a challenge that scared me a little.

So in celebration of fruitful challenges and saying yes to what scares you, here are 16 of my favorite recipes for The Kitchn from this year. (A link to each recipe can be found by clicking on its photo.) Enjoy!

Healthy Weeknight Eating Tip: Pre-Cook Your Vegetables

The holidays. They’re here. Has it already begun for you, the rush of parties, post-work shopping, travel prep, cookie-dodging? I’ve been deep in it for a couple weeks, thanks to finals and the fact that Rob and I will be leaving town early this year so we can spend a week with my family in Seattle before Christmas week with Rob’s family in Massachusetts. Fun! Or it will be, in about a week.

So, you may ask, with all the rushing and the wrapping and the stuffing of peppermint bark into gaping mouths, how does one manage to actually eat in a reasonably healthy way at this time of year? One method that really helps me is not just washing and prepping my vegetables when I get home from the market, but actually pre-cooking them for the week ahead.

I blanch greens like kale, mustard greens and even beet tops in boiling water for a couple minutes, then squeeze out the excess water, chop them up and spread them on a cookie sheet in the freezer. Once they are frozen, I pack them into freezer bags. (I usually just mix the different types together. The baking sheet above has four different kinds of greens from my CSA box.) They are loose enough that it is easy to pull out a handful to throw into soups, frittatas or spiced lentils whenever I need them. And since they’re fine in the freezer for a month or two, they are a godsend on weeks when I am too busy to get to the farmers market, but don’t want to forgo veggies.

Hard vegetables like carrots, turnips and squash are tossed with a little grapeseed oil and salt and roasted in a 400°F oven until they are soft and caramelized and perfect for tossing into salads, tucking into sandwiches or just eating plain, warm or cold, over the next five days or so. I was inspired to start doing this last year by the video below from Tamar Adler. Watch it and see if you aren’t inspired too.

A couple notes on nutrient loss and pre-cooking: No, your veggies won’t be quite as nutritious if they are cut up and cooked several days before you eat them rather than prepped and cooked just before the meal. But the truth is, you’ll probably be getting more nutrients because you’re actually eating the vegetables, instead of ignoring them because cleaning and cooking them at the end of a long day is too much to even think about.

Also, steaming greens is preferable to blanching because you don’t lose water-soluble vitamins. But I don’t own a steamer, so I blanch. If you own a steamer, by all means steam!