Hey 2016!

It’s been a minute, but I’m still here. Juggling work, life and culinary school turned out to be more of a challenge than I thought. I finished up last semester and thoroughly enjoyed my 6 week break. The day job got uber crazy around October and is still demanding way too much of my time and energy. The new semester started at the end of January and I’m digging it so far.

I’m enrolled in Cooking II and Advanced Baking. Last week in Cooking class we fabricated fish. All I can say is get to know and love your fish monger! I feel like I smelled like fish guts for two days! I like to think I’m pretty good with a knife based on being a life long crafter, but creating attractive fillets was a challenge. I’ll definitely start purchasing whole fish to get in more practice.

Advanced Baking wasn’t my first choice of a class to take. I actually already have that credit and skill set but needed a class to replace completing an internship. I haven’t been able to locate an entry level job in Frederick that aligns with my food philosophy and schedule. (NOTE: I’m still looking!) It’s been over 10 years since I’ve taking a baking class so I’m really blowing cobwebs off those skills. The class is only 9 students and is supposed to provide students the opportunity to venture into their own interests while addressing the fundamentals being taught. I was VERY excited about this concept until the first day when my instructor made it very clear of his tolerance, or lack there of, of plant-based ingredients in the kitchen when not medically necessitated. We will touch on fat-free and gluten-free baking so there is that. I haven’t decided on if or how much I will challenge him on this in class but do plan to create plant-based versions of whatever we bake in class over the course of the week while at home. Stay tuned.

My personal health and fitness is still a struggle. I’m doing my best to listen to the health coach advice in my head and get back on track. First up is to get rid of as many of the processed convenience foods as I possibly can. To help with that this week I finally purchased a new waffle maker. I’ve been without one for about 2 years. Space is really short in my current kitchen and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on something that will only get used once or twice a month. I decided on the Cuisinart WMR-CA Round Waffle Maker which I got on sale at Macy’s for around $22. It worked exactly as described and held up well for my multi-grain waffles recipe. I enjoyed one this morning with some turkey bacon. The brown sugar in these waffles produces a nice crip outside and eliminates the need for syrup for me. Continue reading

Souper Sundays! Week 2

The weather here in Maryland is most certainly cooperating with my 2015 Fall Soup Plan. It’s been cold, windy and rainy for the better part of the past 5 days. Definitely soup weather. Does rainy weather make anyone else want soup as almost every meal or is it just me?

Life got a bit hectic over the past week for me. I have been feeling a bit under the weather and, of course, that is coinciding with the last week of my current short semester at school. Add in the responsibilities of my day job and just, ugh. To top it off, Murphy was hanging out at my house tonight and the frozen butternut squash I had hoped to use in some Butternut Squash Soup this week had an expiration date of 2014. Oops.

But no worries, the internets never fail us right? Here are a few links to some soup recipes around the web that I have tried and can attest to their tastiness:

Garden Corn Chowder With Basil & Chives by Isa Chandra at Post Punk Kitchen
Red Lentil Soup With Lemon by Melissa Clark at The New York Times
Pumpkin Chili from The Shrinking Kitchen
Pea and ‘Ham’ Soup (Smoked Tofu) from Veg Hot Pot

Any of these would set you straight during a chilly Fall week with some plant-based goodness. I have some of that Pumpkin Chili in the freezer, so it will be in rotation this week for me. I hope you are warm and dry wherever you are and enjoying some soup!

Quick and easy vegetable soup.

Souper Sundays! 2015 Fall Soup Plan

It takes all kinds of vegetables…If you know it, sing along!

I used to LOVE that show! Now that we’ve taken a walk down memory lane, let’s talk soup. Last week, right on cue, the weather started to change here in Frederick. Chilly nights, and now even some chilly days, put me in the mood for soup. If you do any type of meal planning or want to start, adding a soup to your weekly rotation during the Fall and Winter can be a life saver. Soups usually aren’t very time or labor intensive (I know some would say chopping is laborious, but I disagree – I find it therapeutic), can be a good reducer of food waste, a great way to get more vegetables into your diet, and can be stretched across many meals or even frozen for those weeks when you really don’t have time.

In the past my soup making as been sporadic. Back in 2011 one of my favorite magazines ran a great article on soup recipes and included 13 hearty soups. My first thought was “that’s a soup for each week of Fall, and if I freeze some of each recipe, that could easily get me through most of the Winter.” Unfortunately I don’t still have that article, but I can easily come up with a different soup each week for the next 3 months.

The realization that I have put back on about 35 pounds, along with full-time work and full-time school has me attacking my meal planning like its my job and I’m going to start posting the weekly plan again on Mondays. It will include 1 soup and I’ll share the recipe on Sundays. If you are a soup maker or want to get started with meal planning, will you join me for Souper Sundays? I’m always up for sharing tips and on the lookout for new recipes. Continue reading

Menu Monday (week of 9/19/2015)

Happy Monday! I can really say that these days. On Monday’s I only work 4 hours at the day job then I get to go play in the kitchen! Okay, not really play – it is culinary school but still much more fun than sitting behind a computer. With juggling full-time work and a full-time school schedule, the need to meal plan and meal prep is crucial. I’ve fallen way off the healthy living wagon lately. Way.off. Like, I can’t even see the wagon from the fast-food drive thru kinda off. But I know the good habits I want to get back to and I’m on the way.

Having real food already prepared and portioned is one of those good habits for me. I knocked out a meal plan on Friday and got grocery shopping done by Saturday. Sunday was all about meal prep and studying. So glad knife skills count as studying now! Here’s what is on tap for this week:

Vitamix Green Smoothie Freezer Pack

Green Smoothie freezer packs.

Meal 1: Green smoothies. I am absolutely NOT a fan of creamy smoothies. I’m strictly a fruit, veg and water type of girl. I mostly share these smoothies with a picky eater my husband who has discerning tastes and food allergies, so I keep them pretty simple. I do had a few tablespoons of hemp seeds to up the nutrition. I’m a fan of the ladies who run Simple Green Smoothies. They do a 30-day Green Smoothie Challenge several times a year which is a great source of recipes. I’m currently trying to rotate my greens from only spinach to a kale, chard, spinach mix. We will see how that goes. I have absolutely the world’s smallest freezer. But I do have mad Tetris skills so I got 6 packs made and in the there.

Meal 2: Zucchini Bread Oatmeal, Raspberry/Coconut Oatmeal or Tofu Quiche. Two of the recipes are from Oh She Glows. If you don’t know the joys of Angela Liddon’s plant-based recipes, get over to her site (or buy her new book) pronto. Good, solid recipes (which we know can be hard to come by on the internet. Pinterest I’m looking at you.) A “kitchen sink” Frittata will be made for Craig to use up whatever veggies are on hand.

Oats in mason jars

Dry oatmeal ingredients ready to grab and go.

Lunch: Leftovers rule lunchtime. As there are only two of us, and most recipes make at least 4 servings, lunches are always leftovers from dinner.

Meal 4:  Garden salad with smoked tofu and balsamic vinaigrette, or Southwestern Chopped Salad with Cilantro Dressing.  My number one suggestion for anyone wanting to get more vegetables into their diet is to eat at least one salad a day. Make sure to include some lean protein and watch the fat, and you are set.

Dinner: As I’m trying to get back to better habits, I’ve forgone any “eat-out days this week.


Sweet potatoes oven

Potatoes ready for oven roasting.

I had to purchase almost everything needed for the menu this week, including some pantry staples. I purchased 3lb of organic ground turkey in order to make enough burgers to stock the freezer, and purchased grass-fed, organic strip steaks. With these, the grocery bill this week came in right under $100.

What’s your plan for this week?

Back-to-School Healthy Tips

It’s that time again – back-to-school! Whether you are a parent or caregiver sending kids back to class this Fall, now is the time to restock the kitchen pantry with healthy meal and after school snack options to support your children’s growing bodies.

This back-to-school season, I am happy to help educate you about the importance of brainy breakfasts, nutrient-dense lunch and dinners and healthy after school snacks. Below are a few tips, and remember, you can always adopt these for yourself if you’re like me and are the student this year!

1. Pack the night before.
Include your child in making lunches the night before, giving them time to prepare, and help them make healthy choices.

2. Choose foods your kids LOVE.
The foods you pack will not provide your child with nutrition if they are tossed out or uneaten. Find healthy foods that your kids love and pack them in their lunch!

3. Quick-pack snacks.
Instead of buying the 100-calorie bags of cookies and chips, make your own quick packs and keep them in the fridge for the kids to choose from. Use zippered snack bags to help with portion control. Here are some suggestions:

  • Veggie Sticks: carrots, celery, cucumber and jicama (pack it with a small packet of peanut butter to go or hummus for dipping)
  • Raw Nuts: almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds
  • Trail Mix: dried fruit (raisins, banana chips, dried cranberries, dates) and mixed nuts
  • Frozen Yogurt: freeze yogurt tubes or premixed fruit yogurt
  • Homemade “Lunchables”: pre-bag non-processed cheese slices, whole grain crackers and nitrate-free lunch meat
  • Fresh Fruit: grapes, berries, and clementine oranges

4. Keep it cold.
Use an insulated lunch box. Brown bags don’t keep food cold enough and food can spoil.

Want to know more? Feel free to download this Savvy School Lunch guide for a quick lunchbox lesson. Click HERE for the guide…>>

Looking for healthy after school snack recipes? Here are a few new ones to try!  Click HERE for a handy recipe download…>>


The Black Radish

August 29, 2015

Knowledge is a motivator. I’m busy studying Dr. Sears’ Prime Time Health today for my health coach certification (i.e. sitting in front of the computer). Just grabbed the Mr. and went out for a brisk 30 minute walk. Changing our lifestyle to get in that exercise!

Hello world: the reboot!

Welcome to theblackradish.com! It’s been over 2 years since I originally had the idea to start a separate blog for all of my food/health/wellness related musings. As you can see a mere 5 posts down that original idea never really got off the ground. I’m still working on some technical issues with WordPress, but hey, I’m here!

Over that period of time there has just been life. At 43 I decided to run away from home for the first time. I sold my kitchen house and moved to Frederick, Maryland for a new job in clinical research. Healthy habits that were found were lost and I’ve gained over 30 pounds. But here we are. Heading into the end of 2015 I finally feel a bit more settled than I have over the past 2 years. I’ve begun to embrace a minimalistic approach to life and focus on what I feel is important. I’m still on what may be a life-long journey to discover what makes my soul sing and that’s where the reboot of this space comes into the story.

Those who know me know I always describe myself as “figuring out what I want to be when I grow up.” I’ve never been that type of person who knows, I mean really knows in their soul, what they are good at and what they can bring to the world. One thing however has been fairly constant in my life – food. The cultivation, preparation, medicinal use, and cultural significance of food have all been close to the surface throughout my life. My familial ties with cake coupled with my technical training in chemistry fueled my love of baking, and that love has gotten me through some tough days. My recent “come to fitness” journey has sparked a sincere interest in food justice, plant-based nutrition and how best to help people re-discover real food that fits into our 21st century lifestyle. I’m not 100% sure what this love of food will look like on the other side of this journey, but it is the road I’m taking now. I’m going to use this blog space to help find my (food) voice and I hope you will come along for the ride!I’m not 100% sure what this love of food will look like on the other side of this journey, but… Click To Tweet

So, where are we on this journey? I’m glad you asked!

1.) I’m currently studying to become a certified Health Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute. When you lose weight and better your health people always want to know what you did and how they can do it too. I’ve gotten lots of questions over the past few years and thought it was time to add some legitimacy to information that I can provide. The program with Dr. Sears really speaks to what I hope to further define as my philosophy: it focuses on meeting people wherever they are in their own health journey and helping them find optimal health through a balanced approach to life. I’ll be studying for certification through September so look for more information soon!

2.) I’m still very interested in completing an academic program to become a Registered Dietician (RD), but unfortunately right now this is on hold. I can’t find a post-baccalaureate program in Maryland equivalent to what I was studying in Virginia and I’m still not convinced a Master’s program is the way I want to go. The closest thing I’ve found is a second Bachelor’s program at Morgan State University. This is an hour away from Frederick and, more importantly, it would also require that I re-take some upper-level chemistry classes since they were used for credit toward my first degree. That, my friends, is a DEAL BREAKER. I have a degree in Chemistry, have been a grad level teaching assistant, and have worked in the industry. What I’m not gon’ do is retake Organic. I’ll have to think long and hard on this one. I’m open to suggestions.

3.) Starting August 24th I’m going all in and starting Culinary School! I’ve toyed with the idea over many years, taking many classes, volunteering in many places and I’ll be starting at Frederick Community College (FCC) in the fall. FCC has a very work focused approach to the scheduling of classes having many classes in the evenings and also on 7 week schedule. The price is right as well as they offer an additional discount to county residents. I’ve also been being my wonderful self at my day gig and have convinced my employer to allow me to have an alternate work schedule to accommodate classes. I don’t know if this many things will fall into place ever again so I’m going for it.

I know, I know. At first glance it may seem like a LOT going on but if you know me, you know that’s how I do things. All in. Go big or go home. #FAILBig. Like the name implies, I like to keep things spicy around here. Dare to take a bite?!

Pasta with Broccoli Pesto

Being short on time or energy doesn’t have to be a reason to not eat a home cooked meal. Today was one of those days for me. They made me earn every cent of my paycheck today at work plus I’m working on kicking a bit of a sugar habit. So needless to say I was tired, grumpy and hungry when I got home. Luckily I had written out a loose meal plan for the week and my friend Janet was nice enough to do a quick Whole Foods run last night, so I had a super quick and easy dinner idea in the hole (thank.goodness.). I’ve started setting a timer to get a more accurate account of how much time cooking takes (I’m working against the “I’m too busy to eat healthy/cook for myself” argument with a co-worker, but that’s another post) and will be posting that with recipes. This was 32 minutes from walking in the kitchen to plates on the table. AND this included real-life kitchen work (I had to wash the strainer, herbs & lemon since I didn’t do my normal food prep for the week) so this is real time. The recipe that inspired this uses fresh broccoli so feel free if you have time. I’ve made it with fresh and frozen and can’t tell any difference.

Pasta with Broccoli Pesto
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This is a quick, easy dish that uses ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.
  • 2 cups frozen broccoli florets
  • ¼ cup raw sesame seeds
  • ½ cup fresh parsley leaves (loosely packed)
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves
  • ½ - 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • 4 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ tsp capers (drained)
  • 3 garlic cloves (peeled)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 12 oz pasta
  • Additional broccoli florets (optional)
  • Fresh tomatoes (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Nutritional yeast (optional)
  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water when draining pasta.
  2. While pasta is cooking, place broccoli in a microwave safe dish and cook according to package directions for microwave cooking (3-5 minutes). Once finished, drain broccoli and set aside.
  3. Combine seeds, parsley, mint, lemon zest, lemon juice, capers and garlic cloves in a food processor. Process for 3 to 4 quick pulses to break down ingredients.
  4. Add broccoli and olive oil to the food processor. Process until all ingredients are well incorporated and the pesto mixture is a smooth consistency.
  5. Taste. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
  6. Combine pesto and drained pasta in a large bowl. Stir to combine adding reserved pasta water to mix, small amounts at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
  7. Serve as is or add in additional broccoli florets, chopped tomatoes or garnish with nutritional yeast or parmesan. Enjoy!