Winter Blues Beet Salad

When all is grey and dark in the winter, at least there’s beetroot.

I had tried out a weekly vegetable box when I lived in Scotland. Every Friday I was delivered a box of seasonal produce from local farms, and it seemed like such an exciting idea at the time. I was ticking all the ethical boxes and it was going to be organic and healthier and I was going to challenge myself as a cook as my dinners were based on the mystery box!  Then reality slapped me in the face: weeks and weeks of root vegetables. Of course, what did my naivety think would grow in the harsh Scottish climate? But at least there was also beetroot, the only color that existed in my Scottish winter.
winter beet salad
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Chocolate Miso Cookies (aka The Best Chocolate Cookies)

I always keep a jar of miso in the fridge. When I’m drained from the day, and when I’m unhealthily obsessed with my weight, I conjure up a sad concoction of steamed vegetables and call it dinner. Miso became a lifesaver because when I stirred a generous spoonful of it into my dinner, it suddenly lifted everything – and dinner was less sad. Miso’s a flavor bomb that imparts a savory and rich intensity to anything it touches. It belongs in more places than you’d think: I put it into sauces, sandwiches, soups, and even, yes, desserts.
miso chocolate
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Pasta with Potatoes

I know that my first post in January should be something healthier, something involving #detox, #cleanse, and #cleaneating.  I know that the first days of January are filled with aspiration and ardor – the pubs empty, the gyms crammed, the office cafeterias packed with determined homemade salads. I know that everyone’s attempting to become a better version of themselves, which generally involves being “healthier”, which usually means weight loss, which often can be detrimental mentally.  Because so many of these new year resolutions fail. These unsuccessful resolutions can in turn make you feel like a failure. And when these failures are linked to body image, well, that’s unhealthy.

I wanted to share something comforting with you today, especially if you, too, find January to be the Monday of months.
potato pasta
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Lingonberry & Rosemary Crumb Tarts

I try not to be a food snob but when my boyfriend asked if we could have dinner at Ikea I turned up my nose. His eyes sparkled as he recounted the times he ate there with his family, and he spoke of them being together, of him ordering the steak, of all the happy memories.

Endearing, I thought, but no. Dinner at an Ikea cafeteria that’s not out of necessity was an unappealing prospect to me. I was imagining it: the clingfilmed salads; the rows of cold dishes bleakly sitting on metal shelves; the hot food counter featuring dreary trays of beige meatballs. I said no. Upon reflection, however, I realized that I was a b*tch robbing him of his nostalgic cravings.
lingonberry tart
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Savory Carrot Cake

I had consecutively experimented with different diets at one point. Not for weight loss purposes but rather to challenge myself as a cook. Adopting a vegan diet taught me to use miso, nutritional yeast and tahini to really boost the flavors of otherwise bland ingredients. My gluten-free diet led me to explore alternative grains. The paleo diet was too expensive for me to sustain as a student for more than a few days. And the raw diet turned me into a horrible human being.
savory spicy carrot cake.jpg
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Ricotta Pie

Back when my waistline was independent from my diet, the New York Cheesecake from Starbucks was a regular snack of mine. I remember having that rich, calorific cheesecake in conjunction with a sweet, sugar-laden frappuccino. Talk about the blessed metabolism of the youth. With time, my waistline and my palate have both developed an aversion for those cheesecakes as they are distastefully sweet and heavy. Instead, the more tempting version today would be the Italian cheesecake with ricotta, which is lighter and more delicate.
ricotta pie.jpg
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Salmon & Fennel Open Sandwich

“Sh*t, did I just spend £35 on two coffees and two sandwiches?”

That was my first visit to Norway. That was breakfast. That was the result of me stupidly saying, “let’s go out for breakfast, my treat” to my boyfriend. I didn’t know better. The worst part is my sandwich was not even memorable, I had no idea what I hate. I hate overspending on forgettable food.
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