Alex in Transit(ion)

A great WordPress.com site


Leave a comment

taking the good with the bad

Well faithful readers, I’m going to give you some sound advice. If you all of a sudden pack up, move to Florida, live there for almost a year, and return back to the cold and snowy Northeast, you may find your immune system to be uncooperative.

I’m pretty sure this is the 4th time I’ve been sick since I moved back to the Northeast in December. When I was down in the Sunshine State, I think my immune system was the best it had been in years. Except for two colds that I was able to fight off within hours (I can thank the adrenaline from my job assignment for that), I barely got sick. It makes sense because in Florida, you spent quite a bit of time outside everyday whereas in the Northeast during the wintertime, you want to stay indoors and moving to a residence hall  probably hasn’t helped the situation.

But yay! I’m so happy that I got sick during the weekend! I’ve been able to nap and rest up to my heart’s content. I also got back into the cooking swing of things, which is probably another reason I got sick because I was only eating one meal a day. Why would I do that to myself?  At Rutgers, the ShopRite/WalMart shuttle only comes on Sundays and Wednesdays. On the Sunday that I moved in, there was only enough time to go to WalMart and I found out on Thursday that the ShopRite shuttle also visits on Wednesdays. Thank God for $5 footlongs. I was finally able to go grocery shopping yesterday and it couldn’t of come at a better time because I was able to finally make the Sweet Potato, Kale, and Chickpea soup that I’m always raving about. It is the best thing to eat when you are sick.

Image

Well, it’s time to get ready for the day and do some research! I think I’ll be healthy again by tomorrow =D


4 Comments

mangia: a grocery list for a grad school budget!

Ahhhh, I’m so excited to get back to being a vegetarian! Although I am as Italian as the sky is blue; when I’m on a vegetarian diet, I rarely eat pasta or soy products. I really want to eat from scratch as much as I can, especially since when I was on my job assignment, I ate take out all of the time.

P.S. If you ever find yourself in Titusville, Florida, (it’s the home of NASA) you will find yourself in the land of amazing restaurants. Kloiber’s Cobbler for lunch, Sunrise Bread Company for coffee and the most delicious bread you’ll ever find, and El Leoncito for Mexican Food and the best Margaritas in Brevard County. 

I feel that when I became a vegetarian, I truly discovered a love for cooking. When I was an omnivore, my dinners were mindless. Somehow, grilled chicken and bacon always found a way into my recipes. I’m not saying that cooking with meat suppresses your creativity in the kitchen, but cooking without it opens the door to so many possibilities that you may have not considered before. For example, I wondered what I could substitute bacon or ham for in a meat, egg, and cheese sandwich. I’ve found out that roasted mushrooms, peppers, eggplant, or avocado are satisfying substitutes and give me that savory, fatty taste I’m craving.

When cooking on a budget, I like to plan my meals out at least a week in advance. This enables me to keep an eye out for deals and see what’s on sale. This is also helpful for vegetarians because you tend to buy a lot of fresh produce and you’re going to waste your money if you buy all these different types of produce, only to have them rot in your refrigerator. Lastly, I plan because I need to keep track of my nutrients. I can’t stress how important it is to take a multivitamin but it can’t solve all of your problems. Take some time to study the nutritional chart and pay attention to your nutrient intake. To make this fun and eliminate waste, I like to do themed weeks, according to what’s on sale.

This week’s theme: Sweet Potato, Chick Peas, and Kale! 

ironchef

(for some reason, I totally felt like the Iron Chef Chairman when I wrote that)

If it’s winter, it’s sweet potato season. This vegetable and I have such a troubled history. When I was little, I was obsessed with sweet potatoes and I would beg my grandmother to make them. She was always happy to and so proud that I would beg for vegetables. Then, when I was a teenager, I stopped eating them. The thought of them made me gag and I only ate them if it was Thanksgiving or Christmas. Those were the dark days.

Thankfully, sweet potatoes and I are back on good terms. Which is good, because they’re a vegetarian’s best friend. They are rich in iron, which is a nutrient that you may lack once you take meat out of your diet. There are two types of iron, heme which is found in meat, and non-heme which is found in plants. You can absorb up to 30% of heme iron, however, you absorb anywhere between 2% and 10% from non-heme foods. We need iron to carry oxygen from our lungs to the rest of your body and if you lack it, you may become lethargic. To better absorb non-heme iron, it’s recommended to have a diet rich in Vitamin C.

Kale is another food that is rich in iron and is my go-to green. Why? Check out what WebMD has to say:

One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.

::drops mic::

Chick peas, and other beans, are high in protein. 1/2 cup of chickpeas has 7 out of the required 56 grams of protein you need everyday.

Recipes and the Grocery List

For breakfast, I am going to switch between broiled grapefruit and kale, egg, and cheese on toast. Both dishes will be accompanied by either Fage or Chobani greek yogurt because their plain yogurts have 18g of protein per 6oz serving. I’ll drizzle a little honey or serve it with seasonal fruit to make it tastier. Add that to the days in which I eat an egg for breakfast (6g) and I’m in good shape for meeting my daily protein value.

As for lunch, I will eat the leftovers from the night before with seasonal fruit.  Breakfast is going to be very filling.

For dinner, I will make my favorite Sweet Potato, Kale, and Chickpea Soup (serves 6), Braised Coconut Chickpeas and Kale with Lemon  (serves 4), and Sweet Potato Burrito Smothered in Avocado Salsa Verde (serves 4).

  • A gallon of Olive Oil. Buy with coupon
    • It’s not worth the money nor the waste to buy the little bottles of olive oil. You’re better off buying the gallon that will last you forever and a day. 
    • We bought it the other day at Sam’s Club.
  • The big carton of Fage or Chobani plain yogurt, whichever is on sale.
  • Honey
  • 2 Grapefruits
  • Seasonal fruit
  • 6 sweet potatoes
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 1 small red onion
  • Cage-Free eggs
  • Pepperjack Cheese
  • Bread
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • Frank’s Red Hot
  • Bunch of Kale
  • 2 Red Peppers
  • 1 jalopeno
  • 2 cans of chickpeas
  • 6 cups of low sodium vegetable broth
  • Cayenne Pepper Powder
  • Cumin
  • Paprika
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 3 inch knob of ginger
  • Lime juice
  • Lemon juice
  • tortillas
  • 2 avocados
  • Coconut Milk
  • Cilantro
  • Orange Juice
  • Almond Milk
  • Freezer safe bags

It’s going to be a little expensive this time around because I’m beginning to stock up on the essentials. How come it always feels like it takes a year to stock up a kitchen? Thankfully spices, oil, lemon juice, lime juice, freezer bags,  and my beloved Frank’s Red Hot are purchases that will last a while. The freezer bags will be used for collecting vegetable scraps because I will be making my own vegetable broth.

There you have it- 21 meals for a fraction of a cost compared to a meal plan.


Leave a comment

Kill It, Cook It, Eat It: sustainable eating

For the last five weeks or so, CurrentTV has been airing a BBC documentary called Kill It, Cook It, Eat It. It follows six volunteers as they raise livestock, pick out the choice ones to be slaughtered, either watch the livestock be slaughtered or slaughter the livestock themselves, butcher the meat, and then consume it. It is a not an easy series to watch and typing that makes me feel like a hypocrite because I am a carnivore. As a carnivore, I should be able to watch something be slaughtered because I eat meat. I was raised in a traditional Italian family, eating meat is part of our heritage and I do enjoy the taste of it. However, this series has opened my eyes and is making me change my eating habits regarding meat. What makes this series groundbreaking, in my eyes, is that they show the comparison between farms that practice humane slaughtering methods and commercial farming. 

After viewing this series, I’m going to make it a priority that when I live on my own again, that I won’t buy meat unless I know that it was raised at a farm that practiced humane slaughter. I realize that it’s going to be a little more expensive but seeing the commercial slaughtering methods make me sick. For example, on commercial chicken farms, they are either caged or they’re cage free with barely enough room to move because they’re sharing their pen space with hundreds of other chickens. Their only purpose is to eat so that they can fatten up until they reach the age of six weeks old. They are at an adult weight and they can barely support themselves because they still have the body of a young chick. When it comes time for slaughter, they are hung by their feet on a conveyor belt with hundreds of other chickens. Just viewing that scene makes your stomach want to turn but it gets worse. They are then dipped into a vat of water, where an electric current will travel through to stun them and render them brain dead. That’s if the chicken didn’t resist and bend its neck in such a way where it avoided the water electrocution. Depending on the particular load on the conveyor belt, it may take some time until they are then sent off to a beheading machine. Those chickens who managed to avoid the water electrocution will be beheaded alive. 

It’s a little bit different on a farm that practices humane slaughter. First off, I wish I lived near the British farm that they feature in the show because if I had the choice, I would buy meat from there all the time. For example, with their chickens, they raise them free range, and they treat them so well that they even let them take dust baths! They won’t slaughter the chickens until they reach the age of three months old. When they slaughter, they don’t stick them on conveyor belts, instead they take one chicken at a time, stun it with a gun which will render it brain dead, and then once the farmer is certain that the chicken is stunned properly, the farmer will then slit the chicken’s throat.

The series also investigates what is in fast food- we’ve all heard that fast food is full of grain filler and water. That never stopped me from eating it. It wasn’t until I saw random chicken parts blended with water and grain filler that I’ve made a pledge not to eat fast food anymore. If I’m going to pay money for food- I’d rather it be for something that truly nourishes me AND respects the animal that died for the meal. 

When my roommate and I finally move into our humble abode, I can’t wait to go grocery shopping and go on the search for humanely raised and handled meat. We are fortunate enough to have a wonderful co-op located not to far and I found out that Price Chopper’s store brand, Central Market, actually sells humanely raised and handled meat. Also, ever since I’ve viewed the series, I don’t eat as much meat as I used to. For example, I used to love going to Bombers and devouring a burrito. Now- I can’t bring myself to do it anymore. Now when I eat out, I find myself gravitating towards the vegetarian or the seafood options unless it specifically states that the meat was humanely raised and handled. 

We shall see. This is a new lifestyle but I’ve felt so much better, physically and mentally, ever since I started paying more attention to where my food is sourced.