BLT and Avocado Egg Salad (Paleo)

We all have our OCDs, right? Some just happen to be more, ummm, quirkier (?) ones then others.

Like when I was little and had to use the bathroom, I HAD to lock the door, jiggle the door knob to make sure it was locked, and then peek behind the shower curtain to make sure an axe murderer/monster/sister wasn’t there.

And then there was the need to hold my breath and touch something white every time I passed a cemetery.

Not to mention my (still) OCD of rereading my favorite book series starting the first day of Spring every year.

Hey- don’t judge! We all have our quirks (some just worst then others ;) )

And another mandatory quirk of mine? Having some form of green eggs and ham/bacon every Dr. Seuss day (which happens to be tomorrow!) And that means either having

1) Avocado Deviled Eggs

DSC04509

2) Natural-Colored Green Eggs (and Ham) 

DSC04469

OR:

BLT and Avocado Egg Salad (Paleo)

BTL and Avocado Egg Salad (Paleo)

Ingredients:

4 hard boiled eggs

1 avocado

2-3 cooked strips of organic bacon, broken into pieces

2 medium tomatoes, diced

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Chop eggs into small pieces and set aside. In a bowl, use a fork to mash up the avocado. Add in eggs and the rest of the ingredients and mix altogether. Let sit in the fridge for at least 1 hour before eating (I think it tastes better when it sits, but I won’t blame you if you can’t wait ;) )

Cauliflower Hawaiian Balls (Paleo)

This week has been ridiculously cold. To the point where I have been rather unproductive; my survival instincts have taken over and I rather curl up in a ball under the covers than do homework. Unfortunately, my professors didn’t get the memo :(

The only comfort I got was the space heater in my basement. My brother and I would come home from school, crank the heater on high and sit in front of it until our skin literally turned red. That is, until this week when it no longer turned on. Apparently my dad did get the memo (the bill) that we were using it and he shut off the heater :( :(

And so, to mentally escape the cold, I am posting a rather tropical recipe today. Hey, if I can’t live in Hawaii right now, I can pretend with food, right?

(The answer to that is a resounding “yes”).    

Cauliflower Hawaiian Balls

Cauliflower Hawaiian Balls (Paleo)

Ingredients:

1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets

1 egg

1 cup pineapple, divided

2 tbsp cilantro

1/2 tbsp garlic powder 

1 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup bell pepper (any color), chopped into small pieces

2/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/3 cup precooked ham, chopped into small bits

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and oil a baking sheet.

In a food processor, process cauliflower until it resembles rice. Add in egg, a 1/2 cup of the pineapple, cilantro, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt and process until evenly mixed.

Transfer cauliflower mixture to a bowl and mix in bell pepper, the rest of the pineapple, shredded coconut, and ham.

Roll into small balls (I get anywhere from 35-40 balls) and place on baking pan.

Bake for 35 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from tray (NOTE: Use a spatula for removal- it gets until the Hawaiian balls and lifts them with leaving anything behind).

Butternut Squash Chocolate Truffles (Paleo)

Happy Valentines Day, everyone! And even if you’re not into the holiday and believe it was created by Hallmark, it’s the still the perfect excuse to have chocolate!

So spread the love, or keep it all to yourself (awesome thing about having a food blog- you get to do both ;) )

Butternut Squash Chocolate Truffles

Butternut Squash Chocolate Truffles 

Ingredients:

1/4 cup pureed butternut squash, COMPLETELY cooled

1/4 cup coconut butter, melted

1 tbsp pure maple syrup 

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/8 tsp salt

2 tbsp cocoa powder

Directions:

Combine squash, coconut butter, syrup, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt in a food processor. Blend until smooth and then scoop out all contents into a bowl (make sure to scape sides and bottom of food processor with a spoon as the coconut butter tends to stick!) Add in cocoa powder and stir until all the ingredients are evenly mixed. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes, but no longer. Take out, roll into small balls, coat with extra cocoa powder (if desired) and place back in fridge until ready to serve. (And for those of you who are a little hesitant, the butternut squash is completely undetectable!) 

Pear and Cheese Tarts (Grain-Free and Paleo Crust)

I now officially love Superbowl Sundays. But not for the typical American reason. In fact, this year I lied to several people about having too much homework to do to attend Superbowl parties (sorry mom and dad).

As a result, I had the house to myself and full reign in the kitchen to try out some “inventions” I’ve been itching to try.

With the Superbowl playing in the background (I had to see if I was winning any block games!), I set to work. By the time 4th quarter rolled around, I had my own array of Superbowl foods to eat all by myself. Including this

I believe a new tradition has just been born :)

Pear and Cheese Tarts (Grain-Free and Paleo Crust)

Pear and Cheese Tarts (Grain-Free and Paleo Crust)

Ingredients:

1 cup tapioca flour

1/2 tbsp onion powder

1/2 tbsp garlic powder

1/2 tbsp oregano

1/2 tsp salt

pepper

1 egg

1/4 cup water

——-

1 cup shredded cheese (I used a mixture of mozzarella and gorgonzola)

1 large pear

optional: balsamic vinegar

optional: basil

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine tapioca flour, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add in the egg and water and mix altogether for about 20 seconds (do NOT add extra water). The dough will be oddly gooey and slippery (don’t worry- it doesn’t stay this way). Transfer dough to a greased baking pan and allow to spread. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes. Take out, add on a layer of cheese and then top with pears. Place back in the oven for 10 more minutes. If desired, top with a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar, basil, salt, and pepper before serving.

I’m Back!!!

Hi all! As you can see, I have made it home from my incredible journey though India.

And so, welcome to my first non-related food post on my blog (normal post starts again tomorrow!)

I had trouble thinking about how to write this post. While every event that happened to me in the last 2 weeks have been amazing, I don’t want to bore you guys after the first paragraph.To prevent this, I’ve divided this post into sections and pictures, just to make it easy for you all. And so, these pictures aren’t exactly in chronological order.

I have to tell you, it was extremely hard to pick which photos to share- there were so many! I tried my best to select pictures that captured India as I saw it. Enjoy!

Welcoming Customs 

Traditional welcoming flowers

Traditional welcoming flowers

Traditional Makeup

Traditional Makeup

IMG_2013

Welcoming food (tea is a must over there!)

This first picture occurred right after landing in Delhi, India. After 23 hours up in the air with no sleep, I was a little slappy-happy. But flower necklaces are common welcoming gifts in India. We received a new necklace every time we entered a new village. I wanted to bring my necklaces back to frame them, but unfortunately airport security confiscated them :(

The makeup in the middle picture is again part of celebratory customs. We got them at every new place we went to. Luckily, this makeup stayed on my forehead long enough for a picture- my bangs kept smearing them off! Another reason why I’m showing this image is because of the man in the upper-right side of the picture. Unbeknown to me at the time, this man is very influential to the area of India we were in. Princess Diana even visited him here once! His son, an actual prince, was our tour guide for a few days.

The last picture is welcoming food offered by the first school we visited. The treat on the left was my favorite- homemade cluster nuts! And of course, there was tea. Tea for them is usually what we would call chai tea. It was very tasty, but since it had a lot of milk and sugar, I had to limit my intake. But everywhere you go, tea is offered. While we toured a village one day, a man begged us to come into his house to have tea with him and his children. The house was tiny and barely had any furniture, but the man still wanted to share what he had. This is just one example (out of many instances) of how generous and nice everyone was over there.

The Schools I Visited

The main reason I traveled to India was to teach in the villages. So please excuse me if this section contains a large amount of pictures and commentary! While we traveled through the touristy Golden Triangle (Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra), we bused several hours to more rural areas for teaching everyday.

The first school we went to was in the mountains in the North, about 2 hours away from Delhi. This meant rather cold weather both inside and outside (40-50 degrees). Unfortunately, we were told that it was going to be 70-degree weather throughout the whole trip. And so, none of our clothes were really suitable for the cold :/ This school was privately funded, meaning their classrooms had more learning materials than all the other schools we visited. Most of the students here were orphans and lived in the dorms located next to the school.

Another welcoming ceremony- this time into the school!

Another welcoming ceremony- this time into the school!

Some students gathered at the welcoming assembly

Some students gathered at the welcoming assembly

Dance routine put on by some of the girls- so cute!

Dance routine put on by some of the girls- so cute!

And another put on by the boys- again, so cute!

And another put on by the boys- again, so cute!

We also went on a tour of their living quarters:

This is the typical bedroom. There is no heating or electricity in any of the rooms

This is the typical bedroom. There is no heating or electricity in any of the rooms

The 9th grade student who made this did it in his spare time, just for fun. Not only is he an amazing artist, his want for knowledge was so inspiring

The 9th grade student who made this did it in his spare time, just for fun. Not only is he an amazing artist, his want for knowledge was so inspiring! (Sorry, my inner-teacher is talking :) )

Students rotate chores and must help out at making meals

Students rotate chores and must help out at making meals

Lunch time!

Lunch time!

And we were invited to stay :)

And we were invited to stay for it :)

Working in the classroom at this schools was so much fun! Most of the students understood English and then ones who didn’t had it translated for them. In this school, we played a lot of games and then separated into groups to answer questions about ourselves and where we live. It was very interesting; the students knew who Mickey and Minnie Mouse were and had heard of Justin Bieber, yet did not understand the concept of snow or what a beach was. And they absolutely LOVED it when you took pictures of them and then showed them the picture afterward. They thought it was hilarious and kept asking for pictures. Resulting in some of the following:

IMG_2197

I love this pic. The girl I was with dug out her science text book because she wanted me to listen to her English. We then took turns reading about electric conductors to each other

I love this pic! Beena, the girl I’m with, dug out her science textbook because she wanted me to listen to her English. We then took turns reading about electric conductors to each other :)

These were some of the other girls I spent a lot of time with

These were some of the other girls I spent a lot of time with- all very sweet!

IMG_2016

And they all surprised me with thank you cards. “Dii” means ‘sister’ in India. Which then almost made me cry.

IMG_2176

Class photo

IMG_2216

Before we left for India, we had a large supply and book drive, collecting over 1,200 items! To give them out, we had our students close their eyes and randomly pick.

IMG_2221

Our class with their new books!

The next school we went to was in Jaipur, which is much more south (hello 70-degree weather!). This was a VERY rural village. We were told that most of the people had, and never would, leave the village as it was so far away from the rest of Indian civilization. As a result, 98% of the people had never seen people of a different ethnicity. Meaning, they were very fascinated by our clothes, skin, and even my hair! Both the teachers and students wanted to be near us and shake our hands (over and over again). While the teachers could speak English, the students did not know any. Therefore, we taught a lot of math- a pretty universal subject.

This picture was taken right before their morning prayer. Three girls come up front and sing the prayer. This is then repeated by the rest of the school. Their prayer lasted for about 5 minutes, but it was very beautiful sounding (luckily, I recorded it!)

This picture was taken right before their morning prayer. Three girls come up front and sing the prayer. This is then repeated by the rest of the school. Their prayer lasted for about 5 minutes, but it was very beautiful sounding (luckily, I recorded it!)

Again, these students loved pictures (especially because many of them had never been exposed to Western technology)

Again, these students loved pictures (especially because many of them had never been exposed to Western technology)

Math class!

Math class!

IMG_2756

IMG_2337

The last school we went to was more back up North, toward Agra. Again, this was another rural school. The school was constructed in 2007 by an ordinary man who realized that the local children had no school near them to attend. And so, the school was built completely independent of government help.

This is the school we decided our University would “adopt.” Every year, my school is going to return to this school to teach and give out supplies. We are also raising money to get the school plumbing.

Both the students and teachers at this school knew no English. Therefore, we had to run around to find our bus driver if we wanted anything translated. Again, we played a lot of basic games as well as teaching math here.

The whole school assembled for us

The whole school assembled for us

This is how students got water. There were no bathrooms at the school

This is how students got water. There were no bathrooms at the school

This was the classroom I taught in. They have dirt floors, open walls for windows, benches, a chalkboard, and chalk (if lucky). The 1st day we went was a holiday, so only 6 kids showed up. The next day, we had over 45. Unfortunately, there were not enough benches for everyone to sit

This was the classroom I taught in. They have dirt floors, open walls for windows, benches, a chalkboard, and chalk (if lucky). The 1st day we went was a holiday, so only 6 kids showed up. The next day, we had over 45. Unfortunately, there were not enough benches for everyone to sit. Still, we had a blast the whole time!

I HAD to add this picture. The cutie smiling in this picture makes me smile every time

I HAD to add this picture. The cutie smiling makes me smile every time

IMG_2865IMG_2864

Street Life

One of the most surprising things about India that I was totally not expecting were their roads and traffic. They put New York City to shame. EVERYONE blows their horns in India! But while we consider it rude and obnoxious here, they do so simply to let fellow drivers know of their presence on the road. Which is important because there are barley any stop signs or lights in India. And nobody pays attention to lanes. You just GO! And there were many close calls to being swiped (especially because of the many motorcycles on the rode). Most trucks even have a “blow horn” signs on the back of their vehicle. In addition to vehicles, the road is also shared by merchants, rickshaws, pigs, cows, MANY stray dogs, goats, sheep and- in the south- elephants and camels.

Typical wiring in Delhi

Typical wiring in Delhi

IMG_1987

Most shops have no door- it’s just open wall. Therefore, you see EVERYTHING going on in every store

IMG_1988

We got the chance to ride on rickshaws our very first day. The way we zoomed through traffic and the market places made my jaw drop. Definitely one of my favorite memories!

IMG_2533

IMG_1844IMG_1862IMG_1984

And, of course, there had to be this in the middle of everything

And, of course, there had to be this in the middle of everything

Village Life 

While we got a lot of stares in the busy cities, it was nothing compared to the attention we got in the villages. One of my favorite parts of the trip was simply looking out the window and watching as people realized who we were and then start waving at us. And if you gave them your attention, they became the happiest people on earth. And so, I was totally content with just sitting on the bus for hours at a time and just smiling and waving at people. In fact, I took a lot of pictures of people waving, just because I loved seeing their facial expressions.

Once actually in the village, children and adults followed us around and wanted our attention. They even put us on camels one day so we could get a chance to go through the entire village to meet everyone.

IMG_2224

On our way south to Jaipur. Picture perfect scenery

IMG_2232

IMG_2235IMG_2293

IMG_2296IMG_2301

IMG_2303IMG_2306

IMG_2316

Our camel parade

Our camel parade

IMG_2517IMG_2522

IMG_2687IMG_2688

The Food 

As a foodie, I was very excited to try authentic Indian cuisine. Now, before signing up for this trip, we were told that we’d be given the option of Western and Indian food at every meal. As much as I wanted to dig in to Indian food, I knew it wasn’t a good idea to do so right away. Unfortunately, I had no choice. Turns out we were lied to about the option of Western food (they needed people to sign up for this trip) and had to eat Indian food everyday.

Now for me, I had no complaints (at first). I’m not a picky eater and I knew a lot of the food would be fresh. While many of my fellow adventurers went on hunger strikes after Day 1, I was fine.

Here’s the problem though:

  1. I’m used to spicy foods. Curry and spice has no effect on my tastebuds and I couldn’t detect the spiciness everyone was complaining about. So I dug right on in.
  2. I no longer eat any grains (they make me feel bad). So, for a lot of the dishes, I’d forgo the bread and rice and just have the sauces. While I loved the taste, this was not good for my stomach, which was now dealing with foreign spices my dead tastebuds could not detect.
  3. I think traveling on a bus for hours at a time might have been upsetting to my stomach.

Come Day 3, I was sick to my stomach. I couldn’t bare to eat anything and was terrified of making the situation worse by consuming anything else (remember, we were only given Indian food). Since bread and rice also bother me, I had close to nothing left to eat. To make everything worse, I never knew when I’d have access to a bathroom.

Because of all this, I’d eat a hard-boiled egg for breakfast, skip lunch, and snack on applesauce and nuts I had packed from home for dinner. After 3 days of this, my stomach settled a little. Fortunately, at this point, the directors of our program realized many people were not eating, losing weight, and becoming weak and cranky. They finally took us to places where both Indian and Western food was served. Still, I was really hesitant to have a lot of complex foods. For the rest of the trip, I ate sautéed veggies (without sauces) and grilled meat or fish (without the spices).

The good that came of this was that my dad nursed me back to health for a week after I got home and made me large and (good) fattening meals- it was nice having someone cook for me for a bit ;)

And so, I’m ashamed to admit, I did not get around to as much food tasting and picture-taking as I would have liked. I do have some pictures though, and I occasionally sampled a few dishes- just to get a taste of the flavor. And I’m excited to replicate them now that I’ve gotten my stomach back!

Some common staples I picked up on: curry (duh), pineapple, paneer, cottage cheese, fruits, pomegranate, chicken and lamb, eggplant, raw onions, cauliflower, grilled tomatoes, rice, and naan.

IMG_1919

Day 1 of eating- I was still fine and enjoyed samples of all of this food. I don’t have pics of all the food on this menu- I was too focused on eating after a while!

IMG_1922

Crispy Fried Spinach- Spinach leaves topped with mint, sweet yogurt, and tamarind sauce

IMG_1923

Gilaafi Kebab- Mutton seekh kebab with Indian spices

IMG_1924

Murgh Malai Kebab- Boneless chicken tikka lightly marinaded with cream and cheese

IMG_1925

Murgh Hara Pyaz Masala- Boneless chicken cooked with spring onions

IMG_2154

I had this the night of Day 2 and I believe it was the culprit of much of my problems. Still, it was tasty and I plan to replicate it- just with less spice

IMG_2508

They gave us an Indian cooking class one night. Although, I was pretty annoyed that they wouldn’t let me do more than stir the pot :/ Still, it was an experience well worth having


IMG_2511

Lunch at the prince's house- I couldn't eat it at this point, but I appreciated it

Lunch at the prince’s house- I couldn’t eat it at this point, but I appreciated it :)

New Experiences

There were obviously lots. Unfortunately, I can’t squeeze them all in. So here is a select few:

Having (in my case, staring) at lunch on a prince's rooftop and overseeing the whole village

Having (in my case, staring) at lunch on a prince’s rooftop and overseeing the whole village

Sleeping in a tent one night (it was so cold that I have burn marks from pressing the hot water bottle to my stomach!)

Sleeping in a tent one night (it was so cold that I have burn marks from pressing the hot water bottle to my stomach!)

Riding a camel

Riding a camel

Riding an elephant

Riding an elephant

Us on the elephant (not that you can tell though)

Us on the elephant (not that you can tell though)

Watching fire dancers

Watching fire dancers

Hiking up a mountain

Hiking up a mountain

Get a henna tatto

Get a henna tatto

Seeing monkeys just chilling

Seeing monkeys just chilling

Riding bikes (one of my favorite hobbies!) through a national park

Riding bikes (one of my favorite hobbies!) through a national park

Going to a paper factory

Going to a paper factory

Seeing snake charmers in action

Seeing snake charmers in action

Spice shopping in the markets

Spice shopping in the markets

Seeing how bangles are sized up (they make the wood workable by placing it over fire!

Seeing how bangles are sized up (they make the wood workable by placing it over fire!

Watching pottery-making

Watching pottery-making

IMG_2644

IMG_2646

IMG_2647

Getting a sari

Getting a sari

Places Visited

There were sooooo many. Again, I’m not posting it all. I’ll update this section as soon as I dig through my notes and find the names of these places!

Monument in New Delhi

Monument in New Delhi

IMG_1943 IMG_1949

IMG_2149

IMG_2269

IMG_2530

We rode our elephants up to this palace, once ruled by a 16-year old

IMG_2571

Looking down at the valley from the palace

IMG_2575

At the top of the palace!

IMG_2611

Outside science museum

IMG_2751

Fort Amber

IMG_2753

Fort Amber

And finally… the Taj Mahal! 

Some facts:

1) The Taj Mahal is a tomb for Emperor Shah Jahan’s third and favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

2) His first 2 wives are buried to the right and left of the Taj Mahal in small graves.

3) The designer of the Taj was Turkish. Since earthquakes can occur in Turkey, he built the Taj Mahal to withstand earthquakes by building the pilars at a 92 degrees angle (as opposed to straight up). This way, if they fell, they’d fall away from the main building. Funny thing is, they don’t ever get earthquakes in this portion of India.

4) The Taj Mahal is perfectly symmetrical. The only thing that isn’t is the placement of the coffins inside: the queen is placed at the center of the building with the emperor off at the side. This was not by mistake though. According to religion, only God is perfect. Therefore, no manmade thing should be made to rival him.

IMG_2793

IMG_2861

Bench sat on by Princess Diana

Bench sat on by Princess Diana

IMG_2853

IMG_2823

Tourist picture, take one!

Tourist picture, take one!

Take two!

Take two!

Inside the Taj!

Inside the Taj!

And we stayed until closing :)

And we stayed until closing :)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 553 other followers