Something Different

by jenna on January 28, 2008

 I decided to put my culinary powers to good use today and do something a little different!

For the first time in my entire life, I roasted an entire chicken!! I did this not only because it was something different than my normal dinners, but because it seemed incredibly economical. The organic freerange chicken I bought at the store last night was only $4.50 and it made for a great dinner with tons of leftovers. Thats like a dollar a meal! I feel so proud! Anyways, the chicken I bought was 3.5 pounds, which was the smallest size I saw. I thought that would be easiest to work with. I consulted Nigella Lawson’s “How to Eat” book on the specific chicken roasting techniques and it was actually incredibly easy and much faster to do than what I thought. Plus, my house smells great!

Here’s what I did (its not really a “recipe” so I’m just going to write it here for you all):

I took a 3.5 pound chicken and washed and dried it with cold water. In a roasting pan I added 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 large shallot and about 5 cloves of garlic, unpeeled. I stuffed half a lemon up the chicken’s butt (excuse the bluntness here) and rubbed about another tbsp of olive oil all over the skin. Then, I lightly salted and peppered the whole thing and stuffed a couple peeled and smashed garlic cloves underneath the skin. Its important to leave the skin ON when roasting a bird because it lends a ton of flavor to the meat as well as moisture. I don’t eat the skin because it seems too fatty for me, but it is incredibly easy to just peel off after its cooked.

I cooked the chicken at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, breast side up then flipped it and did 20 more minutes. I flipped it once again (breast side up again) for another final 20 for a total cooking time of about an hour. When it was done it smelled heavenly and the garlic and shallot had roasted in the pan wonderfully and had turned all soft and caramelized.

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After the chicken was done I transferred it to a plate lined with foil then went to work on the pan sauce (aka au jus). I made a simple “gravy” using the drippings in the pan combined with the lemon juice squeezed from the half of the lemon I used for the chicken as well as about a half cup of chicken broth. It was very easy because I just transferred the roasting pan to my stove top and cranked that baby up so the sauce bubbled and reduced to a thick, lemony chicken juice. You could easily just throw away the drippings and the garlic and shallot but it was SO GOOD. I smashed the garlic and shallot into the sauce and then poured a bit over my chicken breast. YUM!!!!!!

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With my chicken I made some simple couscous and brown sugar and butter baked butternut (see recipe in section). The chicken “sauce” ( I refuse to call this a gravy because it is not thick at all, rather clear and fragrant..not at all fatty, thick and gross) ran into the couscous and turned it into a mountain of delicious golden grains.
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This meal seemed to good NOT to have a glass of wine with so I had a small (3 ounce) glass of red. The entire thing was perfect from start to finish…one of those old fashioned comforting meals your mom made you when you were a kid. I already have a killer lunch planned out with leftovers!!!

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This meal (including glass of wine) was about 536 calories.

SO, on to the rest of my day! :)

For as long as I can remember, I have ALWAYS been an active member of a gym. I have loved going to group exercise classes, meeting fun people, lifting weights…all that jazz. Since I moved here in October I have just been using the tiny (and boring) “gym” at my apartment complex. It consists of 2 treadmills and some free weights and I’m always the only one there. Some gym. So today I went and joined an actual gym near my apartment…bally total fitness!! I’m SO excited because joining a gym makes me feel like I’m a part of an actual community and I really haven’t met that many people here in Orlando since I go home all the time and am so busy with work and school. They already scheduled me with a free visit to a personal trainer for thursday and I’m excited about that because with all this cooking/baking I do I really am starting to feel the need to “tone up”…and I can’t do as much yoga as I would like here because I just don’t have time and the yoga place is 25 minutes away with traffic. So, yay! I’m excited and just wanted to share that with you all!

When I went to Bally today for a tour and everything they let me have a free workout to see if I liked it…I actually had a really good strength workout! I did lunges and squats on one of those half balls (not sure what they are called) and hamstrings on a big ball. I also did chin ups and some arm resistance machines. It felt great to be back with civilization working out! After I came home I made my favorite snack of 4 ounces cottage cheese with 8 kashi crackers and some jam.

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Snack calories = 186

I think the hardest part about roasting a chicken is the clean up. Luckily I just finished that so I can get back to the AMAZING book I am reading! I can’t put it down!!!

Edited to add that I just had 2 of those “petite schoolboy” cookies and peppermint tea for dessert! 130 calories…yum!!! 

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan January 28, 2008 at 11:42 pm

Wow that chicken is impressive…..your martha stewart (with a much friendlier personality!!)

Two questions for ya (and I’d love to hear others opinions as well):

Why do you prefer sprouted bread? Is it healthier than whole wheat, lower calorie, taste better?

Second question, I have seen people do those exercises you described. I personally find the gym overwhelming. How did you learn those exercises on the ball, etc.

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jenna January 28, 2008 at 11:48 pm

Susan,

I usually dont eat sprouted bread actually…I bought it once to try it out, and while I like it, I find regular whole wheat (with flour) to be more satisfying. I LOVE rudi’s organic honey sweet bread and that is what I typically buy. Sprouted wheat bread is considered more “natural” i suppose than regular bread…it is lower calorie but I find the texture to be a bit odd. I was brought up on regular old wheat and that’s what I prefer :)

About the exercises…I know how to do them because I have worked with a couple personal trainers throughout the past few years…they really really help! Your gym might offer a “free one day” session with one of them..you usually get them when you join any gym..and that would help familiarize you with the different exercises and machines. I never used to do them either because they seemed overwhelming but if you know what you are doing (aka learned from a professional) it seems easier!

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Chandra January 28, 2008 at 11:49 pm

Nice work with the chicken – it looks delicious! I just have one question about the couscous – approximately how much do you have? It looks like a large serving, is it half a cup or a full cup?

I wanted to tell you I love the hair cut too!! I just got mine cut last week and I felt like the girl butchered it, but I’m getting used to it now. I hope you like yours now, I think it looks great!

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jenna January 28, 2008 at 11:52 pm

that’s 1/4 cup dry couscous…it plumps up! thats why I love it!!!!!! I cook it in veggie stock and add some sea salt and pepper…yum

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Susan January 29, 2008 at 12:03 am

Thanks Jenna! I actually went to a personal trainer, but he only confused me more. He literally gave me so many exercises to do that I gave up (he had me doing wrist curls, balancing exrcises, lifting 70 lbs with the leg press on my first time, and barely any of the traditional moves, he just was overwhelming me). Plus he was really expensive!!

Is couscous similar to rice? I am unfamiliar with it.

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jenna January 29, 2008 at 12:42 am

Susan,

Couscous is a grain that is actually pasta…just tiny, tiny like rice! I love it because it takes only about 5 minutes to make! Here’s what I do:

In a measuring cup i pour 1/4 cup vegetable stock
zap in micro for 30 seconds or until boiling
add 1/4 cup dry couscous
cover with plastic wrap to let steam….it cooks in about 5 minutes and then your all set!

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betsy January 29, 2008 at 12:48 am

hi jenna!

you should try tying the chicken’s legs together with twine, that way everything cooks more evenly – otherwise the legs tend to overcook when they’re hangin in the breeze! also, have you ever roasted a cornish game hen? you can get them very small, and they are just as easy to roast as a chicken – just maybe a little more gamey tasting. i actually made one tonight! i usually pour a bag of frozen veggies into a glass dish, put the bird on top with half a lemon inside, and the other half quartered all nestled with the veggies. very good!

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Renee January 29, 2008 at 12:48 am

I’m kind of surprised that this was the first time you roasted a chicken! The first time I tried this, a few years ago, I too used Nigella’s guidelines from How to Eat. I love her cookbooks. Do you have How to Be a Domestic Goddess? There are so many recipes I’ve tried from that one and they’ve all been wonderful, my favorite being the dense chocolate loaf cake.

Love your blog, btw – thanks for sharing with all of us, and keep up the good work!

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Mandy January 29, 2008 at 1:06 am

Hey jenna!

Thanks for the advice on the granola earlier! I am going out to buy the PB granola tomorrow.. I can’t wait to have some!

I hope this isn’t too much info to give out… but I’m curious where in Orlando you’re staying? I lived there most of my life… until I was 20… then I moved here to Tennessee…

I lived right across from Universal Studios!

Glad you joined a gym!!! I wish I could belong to a gym… I just don’t have time for it. I have to work out as soon as I wake up in the morning.. and no time to drive to a gym to do that…but I make sure I have tough work out videos to be sure I’m getting the best results here at home! :)

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Kath January 29, 2008 at 1:10 am

Looks great Jenna!!! Try adding some fresh herbs too – and I like orange in addition to the lemon. I LOVE your butternut squash recipe but have yet to make it – it’s on my to-do list :)

Have fun at the gym!! I love gym atmospheres – they are so motivating and fun to see all those people getting their workouts in.

K

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hk January 29, 2008 at 1:13 am

i was wondering…i am going out to eat tomorrow night to “the iron hill brewery”. i was curious to know your opinion on how healthy hummus + pits is (as a starter). i loooove this combo, and want to know what you think!

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hk January 29, 2008 at 1:14 am

*oops pita i mean

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Clarissa January 29, 2008 at 1:19 am

What book are ya reading??

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Michelle January 29, 2008 at 1:23 am

I checked out your granola recipe, and it looks great! Is it possible to substitute the wheat germ with ground flax seed? I wasn’t sure if the textures were completely different. Because I have ground flax seed at home, I would rather use that up. Thanks!

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Matt (Kath's husband) January 29, 2008 at 1:23 am

Yeah whole chicken! I love cooking huge cuts of meat. Along the lines of economy I also like to buy whole chickens and cut out the breasts, thighs, drums, and wings for later use and then save the carcass for making homemade stock. All that stuff for a much lower price than the individual parts! And you gotta get a thermometer so you don’t have to estimate the cooking time. And lastly, because chicken has the highest “safe” temperature, I love to brine it. Doesn’t really matter what you put in it, so long as the salt-water ratio is 1-4.

Oh yeah, and I love roasting a whole chicken to eat part of for dinner and then chopping the rest for sandwiches, etc. Can you tell how much I love buying whole meats!?!?!

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ana January 29, 2008 at 1:34 am

mandy-i live in TN too! in knoxville! (love it here, but we’re #7 on the list of top US air pollution cities!!!!)

jenna-i’ve been wanting to try roasting a chicken! i’ve passed by the birds in the store b/c i was just too scared to try (looks so complicate plus i had no idea what to use for the sauce-course i haven’t made the effort to actually LOOK at a recipe for it -_^) so i am really greatful for your recipe post tonight! i love bird w/some good root veggies and a warm sweet potato! i sense a menu for tomorrow night formulating! lol!

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jenna January 29, 2008 at 1:45 am

Michelle,

yes, I think that would work fine. it might be a bit high cal though because of the flax, but the calories would be coming from such a great source of omega 3′s that it wouldn’t be a bad thing. Sometimes I substitute oat bran or whatever else I have on hand…this recipe is super easy because you really can just throw in whatever you have on hand. Ive made it with a variety of different types of nuts and fruits…I love hazelnuts and almonds in it the best though!

Mandy,

I live right next to the millenia mall! Its a very good location for what I am in orlando for (culinary school)…but its hard not to go shopping all the time! Good thing I’m broke so I physically can’t go! hahah!!

Renee,

Dont you just LOVE nigella??!!!! She is my idol. Seriously. I don’t have that cookbook but now really want to buy it just to make that chocolate cake you were talking about. that sounds too die for!

Kath & Matt,

Lucky me I get both husband AND wife reading the blog!!! You two are too cute….Matt, i actually do have a thermy (have to wear it in my chef coat sleeve every single morning to school!)..that makes it super easy to tell when its done–I just figured the majority of readers didn’t have that on hand so I listed the general cooking times. Thats a great idea about freezing all the different cuts of meat…I’m into saving money so Ill have to try that next time. I need to eat all the bread in my freezer first though to make room!! Kath, the citrus idea sounds really good…I was surprised at how good stuffing a lemon in the chicken cavity made the meat and it made my whole kitchen smell amazing!! I’m jealous of YOUR dinner though….I love tabbouli!

clarissa,

I’m reading “Someone Knows My Name” by Lawrence Hill. Its a looong historical novel about a woman that was captured from her village when she was a child in africa in the 1700s and then sold into slavery…basically her life story of escaping, learning to read..all that. its really really really good!!!

hk,

I love hummus and pits too! haha jk! :) Its so easy to mess up typing when you are going fast (the “boobs are in right now” comment last night cracked me up!) Anyways, that is technically a really healthy dish but what would you order for your entree? A hummus and pita (depending on the size and how much hummus you choose) might be about 300 calories or so..then your main dish would probably be around 600-700 because you are eating out. The calories add up quickly! Hummus and pita seems like more of a main dish meal to me. When I’m out and want an appetizer I usually get something really light or I split it. I like to order soups as my first course a lot because it fills you up with the weight of it before your entree even comes out!

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jenna January 29, 2008 at 1:47 am

oh, ps- Matt (meat roasting guru) or others: do you ever roast vegetables IN with a meat? Ive heard different opinions about doing that because of putting veggies in with the raw chicken isn’t the best way to go sanitary-wise..or at least thats what they taught us in food safety class. People have been roasting chicken and veggies together for centuries though so I feel it must be ok but I’m still a little hesitant!

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Danielle January 29, 2008 at 2:01 am

What are your plans with the left-over chicken and butternut?? :)

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Katie in TN January 29, 2008 at 2:08 am

Ana,

I’m in Knoxville too! It’s a small blog world! :)

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Liz January 29, 2008 at 2:12 am

Hey Jenna, I heard that stuffing turkies/chicken’s with veggies or stuffing isn’t the best idea in the world, just because they run the risk of not cooking all the way through…and killing all the bacteria that might still be on it. Buuut, on another note, if you are careful to cook it pretty well I don’t see why it’d be a problem. On another note, you got me interested in AFPA nutrition and wellness certification! How long did it take you? Also, did you find the course ok with no formal background in it?

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Lily January 29, 2008 at 2:19 am

Petite Ecolier are the best cookies EVER. I get the extra dark ones, but the regular dark and milk chocolate ones are also delicious. I love all things French, too…I lived in Alsace for a summer and even the most basic grocery store items like yogurt seem a little more gourmet to me, just because they are French!

What is your (or anyone’s) favorite recipe with Brie? I just got some today and I’m stumped as to what to do with it. (Besides sneak pieces of it with a spoon…probably shouldn’t admit that, ha ha!)

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Lily January 29, 2008 at 2:20 am

Oops, I meant “petit”… gotta keep my French in check :)

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jenna January 29, 2008 at 2:35 am

Lily,

I like to add brie pieces to linguine…My mom taught me how to make a pasta dish using asparagus and brie and its fantastic! I’m not sure on an exact recipe but what I would do (if u are cooking for one) would be to: heat 2 or so ounces of linguine, save a bit of the cooking liquid. set aside. in a saute pan, put 2 tsp olive oil and saute the asparagus tips til tender. add a chopped garlic clove…then add a splash of white wine so it makes a nice little pan sauce. add the hot linguine and maybe 1 ounce of brie chopped up in cubes.Toss well to melt the cheese and mix everything together. Add a little of the cooking water if it seems dry and season to taste. this is really good!

also–I LOVE to melt brie in the oven (or micro) with brown sugar and walnuts….serve with crackers! Not the “healthiest” appetizer but, oh my gosh, is it ever tasty!!!!!!!!

oh, how i love brie!

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jenna January 29, 2008 at 2:36 am

Liz,

I think it took me 4 months to do..it was a home study program . I really liked it and learned a lot!! :)

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Mandy January 29, 2008 at 2:44 am

jenna –

millenia mall?? I could not live next to the millenia mall… with anthropologie that close by… I would be broke in no time :) My sister is thinking of going to cordon bleu! She has been talking about it for a few months but can’t make up her mind :)

Katie and Ana – I am in Nashville… a couple of hours from Knoxville!

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jenna January 29, 2008 at 2:48 am

Mandy,

I used to work at anthropologie! problem was that i never made money because i bought everything in site!!!!!

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Karissa January 29, 2008 at 2:52 am

Hi Jenna,

I think the half ball you are describing at the gym is a Bosu. I love the gym community too!

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hk January 29, 2008 at 2:54 am

wow…..someone else going by hk?? weird…i was so confuses with jenna’s response to hk..because i (a different hk, apparently) didn’t ask anything tonight. so funny :)

hk #1 (or #2 haha)

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brook January 29, 2008 at 2:55 am

Jenna I love the new hair. I got mine cut this weekend too and I am having one of the moments where I am not so sure i like it. The cut looks great on you. :) http://www.betterfit.wordpress.com

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Laura January 29, 2008 at 2:56 am

Jenna, inspired by your couscous dish, I looked up some recipes. Is there a difference between couscous and isreali cous cous? Also would you mind explaining what bulger and quinoa (sp?) are? They all look alike!

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Ryane January 29, 2008 at 3:31 am

I LOVE Brie! With anything really.
This is not exactly a healthy eating tip, but I was on a girl’s weekend renting a house on an island. On a quest for munchie making supplies later (it was labor day weekend!) I bought some brie. The house only had the food items we had brought with us – such as pancake syrup! I used that in substitution for brown sugar and just nuked the cheese…. ummmm delicious and perfect for such an extravagant weekend food and beverage-wise!

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Renee January 29, 2008 at 3:55 am

Yes, I really do love Nigella. She is incredible. I love her recipes, and her passion for good food. You HAVE to get the Domestic Goddess cookbook. It has so many wonderful recipes: cookies, cakes, pies (both sweet and savory), scones, breads, pastries . . . now I’m going to have to go pull it off the shelf and bake something tonight!

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Lisa January 29, 2008 at 3:59 am

Jenna,
that half ball you used at the gym today is called a bosu! Or that’s what we call them at our gym…they are great especially to do abs on! We have a class at my gym that uses the bosu ball the whole hour. I really want to try it but the classes are in the early morn and I have to be at work :( They seem pretty great though!

OH…and can old fashion oats take place of the rolled oats for the granola recipe?? i’m not sure the difference b/n them but the old fashion oats were on sale for $0.99!
Thanks!

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linds January 29, 2008 at 4:10 am

Lily-
My mom made a mango chutney this past christmas with macadamia nuts, raisins, ginger, onions and red pepper (I think) and then poured it on top of a round of brie and baked it. It was actually the most delicious cheese dish I have ever had…sweet and savoury and rich all at the same time. Oh my god I wish I had some now lol I should really get that recipe I don’t think it was all that hard to make…

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Liz January 29, 2008 at 5:07 am

You could buy some philo dough and wrap the brie in it, bake, and serve it with jam spread and crackers…mmmmmmm

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Liz January 29, 2008 at 5:11 am

I also have a question about seconds when your eating. I usually go back for more! If I eat with my boyfriend we usually have a large salad, or grilled/roasted veggies of some sort and I always have multiple servings….sometimes I go back for more rice/bread/meat or whatever we’re having. Just curious on how you all dish up!

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Annie January 29, 2008 at 5:27 am

About what to do with brie, Whenever we have a party, my family always slices the brie in half, layers apple slices between the two “slabs” and then coats the oatside with nuts and dried cranberries, and then we bake it in the oven till its hot and melty. Its my absolute favorite appetizer.

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VeggieGirl January 29, 2008 at 12:23 pm

Jenna, I just now saw the comment that you left for me, on your “Go Blueberry” post (sorry I didn’t see it until now!) – I’ve been following the “Yeah That Vegan Shit” blog for a quite a while now; and the person who runs the blog lives in my city!! how wild is that?! :0D

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Sarah January 29, 2008 at 12:58 pm

Jenna,

Have you ever tried the fresh fruit smoothie place at the food court in Milenia?? I use to work at Holister (ugh….worst job EVER) and I would always go to that place on my break. I don’t like their smoothies bc they add this thick sugary syrup, but they make these fruit and yogurt parfaits with any fresh fruit you want and fat free frozen yogurt (I LOOOOVE fro yo) and granola!!! They are sooooo good! Now every time I go shopping I get one! Sometimes I’ll just have one of those for lunch bc they are HUGE!!

I know this sounds funny, but my dad always used to make “beer up the butt” chicken. You literally roast a whole chicken with a can of beer shoved inside. It is sooo yummy. He actually had a special little stand that held the beer and stood the chicken upright, but I bet you could just do it in a regular roasting pan.

(PS. I sometimes can’t even allow myself to go inside of Anthropologie! I have their oven mitts and aprons in my apt and every time I cook with them I feel like a sassy housewife! And I love all of their dresser knobs, and cups and tables….I seriously want to register for my wedding there! and William and Sonoma!)

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Katie January 29, 2008 at 1:03 pm

VeggieGirl,

What is the link to that vegan blog??? i am a vegetarian and am seriously considering starting a blog like jennas and kaths only with a vegetarian lifestyle…i am just not sure how to get started! my outlook on food is almost identical to jennas and kaths, and i love reading their blogs so much…i just want to start a vegetarian version! but yeah that vegan link would probably provide some good ideas. anyone else have any other ideas for me to start the veg blog?

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Katie January 29, 2008 at 1:04 pm

ps-DITTO TO THE ANTHORPOLOGIE comments, i. am. obsessed. !!!!!!!

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jenna January 29, 2008 at 2:18 pm

Lisa,
Old fashioned oats and rolled oats are the same thing! I always use just a big thing of quaker old fashioned to make the granola.

Sarah,

I haven’t tried that! Now I might have to–thanks! :)

Laura,

Yes there is Moroccan couscous, which is the more prevalent kind, then there is Israeli, which I am not as much familiar with but I know it is more of a pearl couscous. Does anyone know the “real” difference? Quinoa is actually one of the only vegetarian “complete proteins”—it is actually an ancient grain but packs in a punch with its amazing protein power! I like to make salads with it or cook it like I would rice or risotto. Kath made a very yummy looking quinoa tabbouli last night so check it out! Bulgar is cracked wheat..it can be served hot as a breakfast cereal or cold as a salad. All of these grains are excellent sources of fiber and provide an interesting touch to the dinner table. I suggest experimenting with a few….they can be much more fun than just always eating boring rice!!

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VeggieGirl January 29, 2008 at 3:54 pm

**Katie:

The link to that blog is: http://yeahthatveganshit.blogspot.com/

I have my own blog too (my name is a link) – there’s really no “proper way” to start a blog; just post what’d you’d like! :0)

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