The Scavenge | Eggs (almost) Florentine

eggs almost florentine

This week has been a bit of a change for our household. With the new semester starting, my school-work-home schedule is adjusting, and so our cooking habits are still in flux. That’s to say nothing for our meal planning and me figuring out how to still eat healthy while traveling across town.

Today I ended up with a few minutes to spare before I needed to be out the door, and I wanted to make something that would keep me full until lunch. I decided to cook up some eggs and prosciutto as quickly as I could, and then see what I could dress it up with from the fridge. The keys here were things that could cook nearly instantly and didn’t require any chopping or other prep.

Here’s what I came up with:

Eggs Over-Medium with Spinach

2 eggs
2 slices of prosciutto
2 oz. of mushrooms (chopped)
1 pinch fresh cilantro
1 handful spinach
olive oil
seasoning to taste

I tore up the prosciutto into pieces and sautéed it with the mushrooms for 2-3 minutes. As soon as the mushrooms looked like they were softening up, I cracked the eggs directly over the other ingredients.  By a flavor miracle, neither yolk broke, so we were in business for a proper over-medium egg. A minute or two later the eggs were stabilized enough to flip, so added the cilantro and spinach, and hit it all with a dash of Flavor God lemon garlic spice mix.   One minute later, the whites were finished and I was on my way to enjoying a tasty, salty, golden-yolked breakfast that was jam-packed with protein and healthy fats, with some leafy greens to boot.

I don’t really know what all is required to be able to call something “florentine” other than including spinach, so I’ve added an “almost” in there as a precaution.

(Sorry for the dodgy image quality. Had to work with what I could get at 5:50am.)

Marrakech, Morocco | Mint Tea

I’m a sucker for a good tradition, especially when traveling, and even more especially when it comes to food. While I can appreciate sometimes the popular options while traveling can be overrated, there is usually a good reason something becomes well known or synonymous with its location. Phoenix and killer taco options, New York City and pizza slices*, London and fish ‘n chips*, and now – for me – Marrakech and mint tea.

mint tea with breakfast

Mint Tea is more than just a popular beverage option in Morocco, it is an engrained part of their hospitality and culture. Declining mint tea when on offer can even be perceived as rude or disrespectful. And when it comes to shopping, especially for the incomparable Moroccan carpets, when you’re offered mint tea while browsing, take it as confirmation that you and your wallet are in for it.

We had mint tea nearly every morning and every afternoon and sometimes we stopped for more just to rest our feet. We had mint tea from the guy that sold us carpets, and the guy that sold us slippers, and the guy that sold us spices. We had mint tea made for us in our riad, and at the sister riad property, and once on makeshift stools sitting outside our new friend Hassan’s home/shop.

mint tea with hassanmint for teaOn our day trip out to the Ourika Valley the lovely women at the Argan Oil co-op gave mint tea to our driver as we learned about their process and browsed the store. He hadn’t ask for a drink, it was a simple unspoken understanding of hospitality and graciousness. Next to partaking in the sweet hot tea ourselves, observing the tradition will forever be one of my fondest memories.

Moroccan Mint Tea

(As taught to us by our lovely caretaker, Nadia from Riad Petit Palais)

  • Loose Chinese gunpowder green tea
  • Water
  • Large sugar cubes
  • Fresh mint

Add 1 palm size bunch of loose Chinese gunpowder green tea to your teapot, I’d guess it was a heaping tablespoon (I brought some tea home, but THIS is the stuff). Pour in about a cup of boiling water (boiled separately from the tea pot) and let brew for 30 seconds. After this quick brew, poor the liquid into a glass, setting it aside, but keeping the tea leaves in the pot. Nadia described this first quick boil as the “essence” or “heart” of the tea which will be used in a moment. Add in a large bunch of fresh mint and 2-3 large sugar cubes to taste, the ones she used were the size of business cards! Pour the quick brewed “essence” of the tea back in your teapot and then fill the rest with water (about 3-4 cups depending on the size of the pot you’re using). Put your teapot directly on the stove and let the goodness simmer for 4-5 minutes over medium heat. Once done, pour the tea from the pot into your tea glass and then back into the pot repeating this a few times. The process helps mix all the flavors together properly. When it’s all ready, pour from a healthy distance high above your delicate tea glass. This lovely step isn’t just for show, it creates a bit of fizz at the top of your glass and also helps any loose leaves to float to the bottom.

Elderly Berber man wearing a turban sitting on the floor on a rug pouring traditional mint tea from a silver jug, Kelaa M'gouna

source

With the teapot and tea I brought home from Marrakech, it will be a few attempts of trial and error to get my ratios of tea, water, mint, and sugar just right. While not common, we were told that mint tea can be made omitting the sugar or using honey in its place. Though both options seem to miss the point of the tradition, we did have some mint tea sans-sugar and it was almost just as good!

Teapots

PS: Has anyone tried THIS?

*other options I couldn’t not mention include, but are not limited to: NYC street hot dogs, pretzels, black and white cookies, or my personal favorite Nuts for Nuts | London Town bangers and mash, curries, kebabs, or my seasonal favorite mince pie and custard.

Whole30 | Coworkers Are Too Kind

coworker with donutsThanks for coming in today. Here’s your donut. (Photo Credit: Daily Mail)

As we mentioned late last week, both of us have undertaken Whole 30 for the month of January.

Don’t worry, this won’t be a post advocating others to try it.  A week in, and I’m still on the fence myself.

So far, though, my biggest gripe hasn’t been changing the way we shop or cook, since we had been primarily going by the guidelines of clean eating and cooking whole foods anyways.

No, my biggest problem has been temptation in the form of overly-giving colleagues.

Business Lunch

I had already anticipated that lunch time would be the hardest obstacle for me to overcome. Though I’ve never read Keith Ferrazzi’s book, I have followed the prescription to “never eat alone” with greater than 90% success for years. Usually it’s just time spent socializing with folks from the office, but as a manager, it can be pretty invaluable to break down the walls and make myself more approachable whenever possible.

Knowing that I would be either bringing my own lunch most of the time, or riding my bike to Chipotle, I figured that this would just be a trade-off for the reported health benefits of Whole 30. What I didn’t count on was my coworkers, and even my boss, repeatedly inviting me after I’d politely declined, or otherwise made excuse for myself.

Boss: “You in on lunch today?”

Me: “Can’t, I’m doing this Whole 30 thing, so I’ve brought my own lunch.”

Five minutes later…

Boss + Direct Reports: “You sure you’re not in on lunch?”

Me: “Yeah, thanks though”

Boss: “You can pick where we go”

Me: “Really, I’m alright.  I’ll catch up with you later.”

Boss + Direct Reports: *awkward “who is this guy” glares*

All the Baked Goods!

Lunch is tough because it’s turning down a social opportunity and making myself an island. (A healthy, well-fed island)  The real kicker, though, is all the snacks that keep appearing at work.

Yesterday when I arrived, we had a selection of banana and pumpkin breads arranged at the entrance to our work area.

Today, there were yesterday’s snacks left, plus an entire box of holiday cookies.

Then later in the day someone from a neighboring work group showed up with birthday cake.

The holidays are over and everyone still wants to share their sweets.  How very neighborly of them! And how very tough to resist. Especially when I forget to pack enough Whole 30 approved snacks to make it through the day.

All that delicious, nutritionally-hollow, endorphin-rushing sweetness, sitting just a few feet away on an empty desk. Nobody will know if I just happen to touch one.  And then I’d have to eat it.  It’s just rude to not accept baked goods, right?

No. I’m staying strong. How would I expect to conquer the effects of previous poor eating habits if I can’t ignore a few cookies and cakes and, holy crap who put an entire gingerbread house over here?

Time to have some tea and take a walk. Hopefully by the time I get back, I’m either super busy or all the snack will have fallen on the floor.

 

Whole30 | January 2015

rpwhole30 1

Are you sick of hearing about Whole30 yet? Don’t worry, me too. I fully admit that the popularity of the program + the gung-ho attitude of those of us who have found success with it can become annoying. You get it, we’re eating healthier, shut up about it already, right?

I hear you and I agree. When people are so overzealous and enthusiastic about a topic, especially related to diet or health, it can become really annoying and preachy. It raises all these red flags in our cynical brains and we start to file things like Whole30 in the “fad diet” or “weight loss trend” categories. Much of the media coverage that Whole30 has received aids this perception, which is a real bummer because at its core, Whole30 is not about losing weight at all.

During both times I’ve completed a round of Whole30 (first in August then November – ending just before Thanksgiving), I’ve struggled with how to succinctly explain to people what it’s all about. I try and avoid the word diet and all the negative connotations that come with it. I explain it as more of a detox, to reset your mind and body on how different food groups effect you. More importantly, to break addictions to sugar and eat for a healthy gut. But the bottom line is this, I have never felt better in my life, than when I’m eating this way.

I’m not bloated, I sleep really well, I have energy all day long, my mood is regulated*, and I think more clearly. I feel motivated, accomplished, and truly just healthier – my skin looks less like a hormonal teenager and clothes fit better. Yes I’ve lost weight and inches, and that part is awesome. . . BUT, if I wasn’t feeling so great overall, or if I was really feeling restricted and deprived, then I wouldn’t stick with it, and the pounds or inches wouldn’t have gone away. For me, those parts are a bonus to the bigger picture goal of general health and wellbeing that come from eating real, whole foods and eliminating the junk.

Where I’ve made missteps thus far, is on day 31 and beyond. After the previous 2 rounds of Whole30, I haven’t properly reintroduced food groups into my diet to determine what affects me and how. That is one of my big goals for the January round of Whole30. I really want to have the process help inform what’s going to be best for my day-to-day diet and health moving forward.

In the last month or so I’ve had a few friends ask me questions or tips on Whole30 and I’m so very happy to answer! Mainly because I’m eager to help and excited for them to try Whole30, but also because I had a couple friends do the same for me and it was invaluable when I was trying to navigate the program during my first round. Here’s what I’ve shared time and again:

EatWhole30-Facebook

General Tips

Read the book It Starts With Food and/or comb the free Whole30 website so you learn the ins and outs of the program and know what to expect.  The more prepared you are, the better off you’ll be, I can’t stress that enough. Do whatever you can to set yourself up for success– clean out your fridge and pantry, tell friends and family what you’re doing, don’t make plans that involve eating out for at least the first couple weeks, carry approved food options with you at all times, etc. Take your weight, measurements, and pictures on day 1 and 31. Especially the measurements and pictures – they are much more motivating than the scale. The most difficult part of Whole30 is the all of the time it takes to prepare, cook, plan, and repeat. Also, the amount of dishes. . . I’m not going to lie, that part sucks.

Go-To Foods

These are the things I eat a lot of during Whole30. All of which, of course, are compliant options sans added sugar and other crap, but always make sure to read ALL THE LABLES: eggs, avocado, guacamole (wholly guacamole single servings from Costco are my BFF+E), baby carrots, lara bars, pickles, tuna (with guac), sweet potatoes, apples, almond butter, coconut milk, applegate brand all beef hotdogs and roast beef slices, aidelle brand chicken sausage, homemade almond milk, raw nuts. This isn’t all I ate of course, just a few favorites and suggestions.

Pantry & Cookbooks

Pantry staples for me include coconut oil, avocado oil, EVOO, vinegar options for dressings, and lots of spices. . . I love using red pepper flakes and cumin on sweet potatoes and sautéed greens. I’m also anxious to try Flavor God seasonings that we’ve recently ordered. While Pinterest and Instagram are full of fantastic recipe sources, if you’re looking for a tangible cook book I really love the Against All Grain books – I have the original one and Meals Made Simple. I’m also a fan of Nom Nom Paleo, Well Fed, and It’s All Good. A couple e-book favorites are Clean and Colorful Cooking and Jenna’s Kitchen.

dream-is-free-ig

After indulging over the holiday season, I’m so very excited to use the brand new year as a jumping off point for Whole30 round 3. Ryan took the plunge and is doing his first Whole30 with me, so I’ll be anxious to hear about his experience as the month continues. Let us know if you’re joining in, there’s anything you’d like to ask, or if you have any tips to share with us!

Happy New Year, dudes.

*relatively speaking of course and not accounting for the “Whole30 hang over” that happened the first round when I would have killed for cheese and bread those first 10-ish days.