Secret Lunch Weapon: “Emergency” Burritos

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I hate buying lunch out, so I try to always have lunch made or leftovers ready to go in the morning. If buying lunch costs something like $4 – $8 depending on where you go, if you did that every day that’s $20 – $40 a week! Not to mention probably a lot of plastic. Making your own is better for your wallet, the environment, and is usually healthier.

But, for the times I don’t manage to get it together, I like to have “emergency” burritos in the freezer. I usually make a few at a time, wrap in foil (which you can reuse when its done, and depending on your city, recycle if it’s clean), and stick in the freezer and forget about them until you realize you have to run out the door and don’t have a lunch to bring! The beauty is you can literally fill them with whatever you want, I often do a kitchen-sink kind of thing where I just take stock of what I have already and combine. (My most recent batch were tahini, spiced chickpeas, kale, and roasted sweet potato).

Another life/money-saving trick is making snacks and freezing them – my favorite is these No-Bake Peanut Butter & Jelly protein bites from Minimalist Baker which I freeze and then I’ll take 2 with me for a good snack at work or class.

How to Hand Wash Silk

When I started researching more ethical clothing brands, I noticed that many of them used fabrics that I always thought of as a fussy. Over the last few years, especially with athletic clothing, I’ve starting amassing more and more items that can’t go in the dryer, so I figured silk might be worth a try since I’m already dealing with so many “fussy” pieces, and especially since it’s a natural textile.

Hand washing was totally new to me though, since I’ve always been a lazy washer and would toss things in the washer anyway… but investing in a high-quality garment is pretty good motivation to take care of it as you should. And actually, hand washing is not that hard. Here’s how I do it:

First I got some Delicate Wash detergent from the Laundress, because it’s specifically designed to be good on silk. I use it for hand washing and in washing a load of delicates that are OK to go in the machine washer. Just a few drops is all you need.

For the actual washing, I place a plastic container in my bathtub and fill it halfway with cold water. Add a couple drops of the detergent, and drop in the silk shirt. Silk should not be soaked for more than a couple minutes, so I swish it around, then run the faucet over it to wash out the detergent and go on to the next shirt. I started washing my Osei Duro shirt first because it’s light, and kept the water for my Everlane shirt, which is a darker dye and does run a bit while being washed (but looks the same afterward). When rinsed, let it drip out excess water but do not wring out.

Lay out a clean towel and place the shirt flat on top. Roll the towel (like you’re rolling a sleeping bag) to get the excess water out. Repeat if necessary.

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Lay flat to air dry.

The whole process takes … about 15 minutes? I definitely put it off and these 2 shirts have been languishing in my delicates laundry bag for about 2 weeks because I am lazy, but it is really simple.

Healthy Snack: Spirulina Cookies

Between working full time and then heading to class after work for my graduate program, I need to have snacks I can grab and go or else I cannot be trusted to stay away from store-bought junk food.

I had to try this recipe a couple times but this is one *healthy* cookie I like:

Spirulina Almond Butter Cookies 

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(Recipe adapted from Organic Burst)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup almond butter (or sub peanut butter or sun butter- could probably also work with tahini. Whatever you got!)
  • 1/2 cup rice malt syrup
  • 1/2 mashed banana
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 tablespoon spirulina
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 1 cup almond flour

Instructions: 

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Mash banana, then mix in almond butter, rice malt syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla. Rice malt syrup is very sticky and thick, so don’t be alarmed by the consistency.
  3. Mix in baking soda, cinnamon, sea salt, spriulina. Mixture will be very dark green.
  4. Mix in almond flour.
  5. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and spoon mix onto the paper. It’s very thick. That’s OK. I fit about 6-7 per (decent sized) baking sheet because they spread out.
  6. Bake for 6 minutes, cool for a couple minutes and transfer to cooling rack.

TIP: Store in an airtight container using the parchment paper from the baking sheet between layers of cookies. These are so soft and chewy that they will fuse together (hey, who doesn’t love a super cookie?) if stacked directly on top of each other.

WHY ALL THESE RANDOM, HIPPIE INGREDIENTS? 

  • Spriulina is an algae that is also a complete protein, which means it has all 9 essential amino acids that our bodies need, and also contains vitamins, iron, and potassium.
  • Rice malt syrup is a sweetener that is a blend of glucose and maltose, which are easier to digest than fructose, which is in most processed sugars and sweeteners. It’s not as sweet as common sugar sweeteners, so I think it takes some getting used to, but it’s a good option if you’re trying to cut back on sugar.
  • Pink Himalayan sea salt – Basically its less processed than table salt and has better nutritional value.
  • Almond flour is gluten-free, and has healthy fats and protein. It’s also a very fluffy flour and I think balances out the heavy rice malt syrup nicely in this recipe.

These cookies are a good protein boost and satisfying snack, and being lightly sweetened, will satisfy a craving for sugar but won’t trigger you to go crazy. I found a 6 minute bake time is perfect–they get slightly browned at the edges and are thin but very soft.

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Whoever wrote the Organic Burst recipe got a good base but apparently never baked these, because when I followed the recipe exactly, the bake time in their recipe was 15 minutes and they came out black and hard as rocks. Moral of the story – trust your instincts when you think a recipe’s instructions look off. The recipe also didn’t include a flour, and when I added some, they got better, but were still way darker green than the picture on their website. I’m still not sure how they got the cookies to look like that for the picture. Anywho, these are great and I recommend them.

Eating Ethically – review of “Food Chains”

Food Chains is worth your time.

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The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) is a human rights organization based in Immokalee, Florida, made up of agricultural workers (turned activists) who campaign for fair working conditions.

The average person in the US is pretty divorced from the process that gets their food on the table. You may have a backyard garden, but probably most of your food comes from a grocery store. This gives the illusion that food is a simple commodity and not connected to politics, capitalism, and human labor.

Food Chains follows the (CIW) as they protest Publix (a grocery chain in Florida) to pay one penny more per pound of tomatoes. Does that sound crazy? For consumers, that translates into paying approximately 44 cents more per year, but it would effectively double what the agricultural workers in the CIW earn per year.

The CIW gets a fair amount of press (I’ve been seeing more about them recently as students at several colleges have recently fasted for CIW awareness), and in 2014 was awarded the 2014 Presidential Medal for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking, but even if you’ve heard of them before, Food Chains is really worth watching because it puts human faces to the food process. Agricultural workers in the US  are typically some of the most exploited workers, and not that long ago, it was a system based on slavery. After the Emancipation Proclamation, share cropping, convict leasing, and early migrant worker programs effectively continued slavery because even when workers were paid, it was so little that they didn’t have any other options. And even today, migrant workers are still exploited under slavery. The CIW works to ensure there are more protections for workers, that workers are educated about their rights, and that the agricultural industry has more checks and balances, and they have had a lot of success.

I think there’s a lot of emphasis now on what we’re putting into our bodies– is it organic, is it clean, is it … –but not a lot of emphasis on how we’re getting that food. Agriculture is one of the most deeply unequal systems out there, so it is crucial that we ask those hard questions and do our due diligence.

This article 4 Not-So-Easy Ways to Dismantle Racism in the Food System is a great primer on the history and issues that food justice faces:

Farm management is among the whitest professions, while farm labor is predominantly brown and exploited. Meanwhile, people of color tend to suffer from diet-related illnesses such as diabetes and obesity, and to live in “food apartheid” neighborhoods—high-poverty areas flooded with fast food and corner stores, but lacking healthy food options. While some writers refer to these areas as “food deserts,” I prefer the term “food apartheid” because this is a human-created system of segregation, not a natural ecosystem.

Our food system needs a redesign if it’s to feed us without perpetuating racism and oppression.

Building a just society is hard because it means thinking outside of ourselves. Food lobbies and government and large corporations do not want us to see where our food comes from, because it makes it easier for them to exploit labor and maximize profits for those at the top. But this is inhumane and unjust, and ultimately a drain on society. I love a good documentary and I’m picky about what I recommend, but Food Chains is really important and really worth the watch.

Grana Racerback Tank

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I accumulated a lot of neon athletic clothing while I worked at Athleta after college, and as soon as I stopped working there, realized that a lot of what I had didn’t fit my lifestyle. What I do value in athletic or athleisure clothing is versatility and comfort, and my neon/high performance stuff was not making sense. So I sold a lot of it. Now I tend of wear the same things over and over, but I do pilates every morning so I do rotate through workout clothes pretty often, and a few months ago realized that I was lacking on simple workout tops. (For some reason I have plenty of bottoms? How does that happen?)

Grana is a clothing company based out of Hong Kong with a transparency model similar to Everlane. They came out with an athletic line recently, and I purchased the racerback tank because it looked like a simple and versatile piece.

So what’s so special about it?
When I received it, I was surprised at how soft it was. As you can see in the picture, the cut is pretty severe, which for me is not a big issue because I’m pretty flat chested and I don’t mind showing off a little sports bra. It’s a very simple top, so for doing pilates on a mat, that’s great for me. No bunching/scrunching and minimal adjusting. The fabric is moisture wicking and lightweight.

What’s it for?
My workouts are typically pilates and light cardio, so I’m not usually soaking my clothing with sweat. For my workouts, this is perfect, and I definitely wear it often on weekends just for chilling out.

Is it worth it?
The racerback top is $25 (and get 10% off your first purchase with this link), and though I haven’t bought any other products from their activewear line, I’m pretty enamored with this fabric and would consider buying it in another color or one of their other tops if it made sense to add another work out top to my mix. I think it’s a reasonable price for a quality product.