It’s complicated.

When I was a freshman in college, I often carried a rice crispy treat in my coat pocket. I had a little black pea coat that I bought for next to nothing with my American Eagle employee discount. It wasn’t even the slightest bit warm, but it had perfect treat-sized pockets, and unless I forgot, I had a rice crispy treat on me. It makes me laugh, looking back, that I would choose such junk as a daily snack, but it’s also a reminder of simpler days when the words “healthy” and “calories” didn’t exist in my headspace. Days when I had a piece of pie practically every day because the dorm buffet always had pie and how do you say no to pie. Instead of health, my focus was on hunger and doing whatever I could to avoid THAT feeling.

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Republic of Vermont – Organic Maple Syrup & Raw Honey {review}

If you’ve never had the pleasure of doing a honey or maple syrup tasting, I suggest you give it a shot, flight style. I did my first honey tasting at the farmer’s market this summer, and it was surprisingly grounding to compare the light, floral flavor of the spring harvest to the rich, butterscotch flavor of the fall harvest. I’m all about tastings because it’s often difficult to tell just how complex or special a flavor is without a benchmark. So you know I jumped for the spoons when a box of Republic of Vermont goodies showed up at my doorstep.

I happened to have one local honey and one not-so-local store brand syrup in the cabinet for comparison. The contrast between the store bought syrup and the Republic of Vermont organic maple syrup was STARK. The store bought syrup tasted flat, and though the label didn’t list it, it had a faint hint of liquid smoke. I’d had this store-bought 100% maple syrup many times, but I didn’t pick up on these weird flavor points until I compared it to the Vermont syrup. The VT syrup was robust, with buttery smooth full-mouth flavor and just a hint of floral in the background. This syrup was leagues ahead of the store bought variety.

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Back Pocket Kale Salad

A big thanks to Hook Line and Savor for sponsoring this post and for creating great-tasting, allergy-friendly, clean ingredient products.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

In my opinion, every person should have a kale salad recipe in their back pocket.  This is important.  File it under Mary’s life rules to live by.  Whether you’re the only vegetarian in your family or the only person in your circle who cares about hitting your daily green quota, kale is there for you my friend.  In the past year, I think I’ve brought a kale salad to every family dinner I’ve been invited to.  Sometimes I’m the only one who eats it, but I’m not complaining.  In fact, if I were a vegetable, I think it’s safe to say I’d be a kale salad.  And if you think that sounds boring as far as anthropomorphized vegetables are concerned, then you don’t even know kale salad.  It’s healthy, hearty, and surprising every time.  Just as I hope to be.  Don’t sleep on kale salad, y’all.

I’ve documented many times here on the blog that I prefer weeknight dinners that are fast and balanced. Ain’t nobody got time to make an apple and pear mostarda on a Tuesday night… I save that sort of cookery for the weekends.  Instead, I opt for fast proteins and even faster vegetables, like this delightful meal of kale salad and beer battered haddock from Hook Line and Savor.  Side note:  this beer battered haddock is dairy, egg, and gluten free, and is cooked from frozen in about 25 minutes.  Plenty of time to make yourself a nice kale salad.

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Hook Line & Savor: Black Bean Crusted Cod and Avocado Salad with Chimichurri Dressing

A big thanks to Hook Line and Savor for sponsoring this post and for creating great-tasting, allergy-friendly, clean ingredient products.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

When the word “hangry” became a thing I felt so very validated.  After years of me proclaiming that “bad things happen when I don’t eat” (sort of like a werewolf faced with a full moon or like the Hulk when he rips off his t-shirt right before he smashes things) the world had finally slapped a label on the condition.  Hungry + angry = HANGRY.  A complex concoction of physical and emotional unfulfillment.  A critical mass of dissatisfaction.  A state that once entered into left me incapable of making conversation, let alone decisions.  In fact, once hangry, just the thought of deciding what to make for dinner often left me curled up on the couch with that soft checkered blanket I’ve had since I was thirteen, sucking my thumb, and wishing my mom was my roommate so she could make me some dang meatloaf.  Hangry.  When that word became a thing, I realized (at least in this one respect) I wasn’t a weirdo.  

(This is an actual photo of me trying to decide what to make for dinner.)

Through years of dealing with my condition, I’ve developed several coping mechanisms, namely grilled cheese and peanut butter toast.  Two quick and carb-filled comforting cure-alls.  But you know the problem with grilled cheese for dinner?  It always leaves you wanting another grilled cheese.  Alas, I’d considered stocking the freezer chock full of microwave meals for times when life got crazy, but the problem is the ingredients lists on these sorts of pre-packaged foods are typically so out of control that I’d regret fueling my body with this sort of junk.  Oh and also, I don’t own a microwave.  

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Spicy Peanut Butter Curry Stew {vegan, gluten-free, whole30}

A big thanks to Kroger for sponsoring this post and for challenging me to think inside the pantry.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I’m heading into the third year of my PhD program in a little over a week, and I can’t help but feel like I’m battening down the hatches for a big storm.  I’ve kicked into total preparation mode, trying to get the maximum amount of stuff done now in order to make the months ahead a little smoother.  One by one, simple things like get a haircut, get teeth cleaned, and get cholesterol checked are being crossed off my to-do list.  Next up:  new breaks!

Even with all the preparation, the semester will undoubtedly get away from me.  Hours clocked at my desk will bubble out of control like a neglected pot full of pasta on a hot stove, and I’ll find myself falling into a sad routine of expensive takeout.  Don’t get me wrong, I love takeout on occasion, but even I have my limits!

This semester, I’m giving something new a try:  ONLINE GROCERY SHOPPING.  Who’s excited?? (It’s me.) Though I’ve converted to doing most of my shopping online, I’d never thought to try ordering groceries on the web.  Now that I have a couple of years of grad school under my belt, I know there will be times during the semester when I’ll find myself so stretched that I only have enough time to grocery shop OR cook.  Not BOTH.  That’s the truth folks, and it’s not a problem unique to grad school.  Life just keeps getting crazier and crazier, doesn’t it?

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