Shout Out Sunday

Good morning, friends! I hope you all only had to work 3 days last week. Even though the 4th of July is a really complicated holiday from a social justice perspective, I had the privilege of a great day by the pool and somehow managed to only get a sunburn on my shins. I can sense a major case of the Sunday Scaries coming on…how do I go back to work after 4 days off? What is a desk? All I want to do is lay around reading and eating Mexican food…is that such a big ask?

Enjoy this week’s round-up!

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my fourth of july look was leopard & crystals because i am a sentient glass of chardonnay
  1. I took the MTEL on Friday (the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure) and even though I have no clue whether I passed, the test did remind me that I’m obsessed with Toni Morrison. One of the passages I had to write about was from Song of Solomon, which I actually haven’t read, so I’m putting it on the reading list immediately! Not to brag, but I do own a signed copy of Beloved *flips hair*
  2. I don’t bake but maybe I should start?
  3. Started reading incredible Twitter person, Kristen Arnett‘s Mostly Dead Things and it is a stunning masterpiece.
  4. The NYTimes tried to answer the age-old debate between iced coffee and cold brew, but they forgot one very important detail—cold brew is just tastier.
  5. Halle Bailey has been cast as The Little Mermaid in Disney’s upcoming live-action flick, and I, for one, couldn’t be happier that they didn’t just shove some white girl in a red wig for verisimilitude to a cartoon based on a Danish horror story. If you haven’t heard Chloe X Halle, give them a listen!
  6. Stranger Things season 3 is out!
  7. Rob Sheffield, one of my favorite writers and (fun fact) the brother of my high school chemistry teacher, wrote a great review of the new Beatles movie, Yesterday. I’m still going to see it, but I’m going into it with a critical eye.
  8. LOFT sale is an extra 60% off until Tuesday. I went yesterday and got three pieces for $20—it felt like stealing. I may or may not have just gotten a ton more stuff from the website…I love LOFT for my work wardrobe!
  9. I went up to Salem, MA last weekend and fell in love with all of the amazing shops up there. Hauswitch was one of my faves…give me all the crystals, please! I also loved Modern Millie—I wish I could wear a vintage dress every day!
  10. Tried the Yellow Door Taqueria in Lower Mills (Milton-Dorchester line) and it was bomb. My friend even made me taste duck! If you’re in the Boston area check ’em out!

Tunes of the Week:

The girl 2 cubicles over plays the radio at work, so as a result, I have had “GIRL” by Maren Morris stuck in my head for ~a month.

In honor of the 4th, PHILADELPHIA FREEDOM.

Bonus content: Wanna see my chart? It’s trouble.

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A Smoothie Life Hack for the Ages

I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, so one of the biggest challenges to the whole wellness/smoothie life thing I’ve committed to is, how do I get a smoothie and a cup of coffee into me during my 20-minute drive to work? I need the coffee to do the smiling and the talking (very important in the business we call retail), but I need the smoothie and the protein to not starve to death within my first hour of work. I’ve never been a chugger of liquids—my La Croixs always go flat before I finish them, and I’m used to dealing with watery iced coffee and cocktails. I needed a solution—one that didn’t involve me actually waking up earlier, duh.

So, many moons ago, while make the baby steps towards the wellness journey on which I now find myself, I discovered a little website called Nutrition Stripped. The lifestyle site is run out of Nashville by dietician/nutritionist McKel Hill. It’s basically a smoothie-recipe Mecca. As the completist I am, I pre-ordered McKel’s cookbook and everything. It’s been a big hit here at the Fig household.

So, when I discovered the Mood Boosting Cocoa Smoothie, it was my Eureka moment.

It puts the coffee IN the smoothie!

I’ve made this smoothie, like, a hundred times, with minor variations here and there based on ingredients I have on hand. I’ve been adding spirulina to get those greens! But when you have something every day, you’re bound to get a little restless and want to try new things. Therefore, I give you, The Strawberry Morning Milkshake! It’s just a variation on McKel Hill’s theme, credit where credit is due, but my oh my is it a delight.

Strawberry Morning Milkshake

makes just under 4 cups, serves 2

  • 1 banana, fresh or frozen*
  • 1/2 c. chopped strawberries (about 4 large strawberries), fresh or frozen*
  • 2 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 scoop Vega vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 c. to 1 c. of cold brew
  • 1 c. unsweetened organic almond milk

In a high-powered blender, add all ingredients and blend until smooth! Serve immediately, and refrigerate leftovers for up to two days.

If you have a normal blender, like me, add all ingredients except almond milk, and process at a slower speed until smooth. Then add in your almond milk and go to town on that high setting!

I prefer a thinner smoothie, so I add all of the coffee I possibly can to this. But if you want a classic milkshake feel, I’d keep the 1/2 c. cold brew : 1 c. almond milk ratio.

*I recommend frozen fruit for this recipe, both for the temperature of the smoothie, and the milkshake-esque texture.

Optional Add-ins for Optimal Nutrition

  • 1 tsp spirulina*
  • 1 pitted date (for sweetness)
  • 1 c. baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp. flax seeds or flax meal
  • 2 Brazil nuts

*The spirulina will slightly alter the color and taste of the smoothie, so I recommend trying it once without to get a frame of reference.

So, there you have it. A full cup of coffee and enough protein and nutrients to keep you full until your lunch break. No compromises necessary! You’ll be able to finish this on your morning commute in between embarrassing performances of every song from Hamilton. And if you think strawberries and coffee are an odd combination, have faith, don’t forget your vanilla protein powder, and enjoy!

—DellaBites

 

 

That Bulletproof Coffee Trend

So, unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past few years, you’ve heard of Bulletproof Coffee. When you Google it, about 1,000 think pieces about it come up; some people praise it like it’s Sliced Bread 2016, others mock it for being possibly the world’s stupidest idea. I haven’t tried the real thing (drinking butter seems highly gross to me), but I do drink a lot of coffee, so any way to pack more nutrition into it seems like a good idea to me!

Lucky Goat coffee beans, chia seeds, organic coconut oil, & cinnamon

 

An amazing dairy-free version already exists, via Nutrition Stripped, but as I don’t have powdered medicinal mushrooms or maca at my disposal, I thought I’d try my hand at a layman’s version. Vegan living isn’t that hard if you’re creative in the kitchen!

I only used ingredients that I always keep in my house, and it tastes pretty delicious! I can see myself making this on work mornings to stave off hunger until break time.

Frothy Power Coffee

serves 1, hot or iced

8 oz. cold brew or freshly-brewed hot coffee

2 oz. unsweetened organic almond milk

1 tsp. organic coconut oil

1 tsp. chia seeds

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. of nutmeg

sweeten to taste (I recommend 100% maple syrup)

Pour all ingredients into a blender until frothy and then serve! A word of caution—if you choose to serve this cold/iced, the coconut oil will start to solidify over time, giving the drink a chalky consistency. Hot is probably the way to go for those of us with texture issues!

All the above measurements are estimates. You know how you like your coffee! If you take your coffee black, skip the almond milk altogether and sub in more coconut oil. Add some cocoa powder to make it a mocha or blend in some fresh raspberries. Totally customizable.

There are endless ways to enjoy this super easy drink, without bankrupting yourself at the health-food store.

Well, I’m off to start cooking brunch! We ran out of tempeh so I can’t make my kickass “bacon.” So much sadness!

Happy brewing!

—DellaBites

Coffee Cocktails: Summer Edition

So, I realize typing this that there’s no “Coffee Cocktails: Winter Edition,” but everyone has had espresso martinis & coffee with Bailey’s! One thing I guarantee you haven’t tried? Vodka Mazagran! I was going to call this cocktail “Ghetto Four Loko” but I realized quickly that a. using the word “ghetto” to describe ratchet things is wicked offensive and b. this drink is actually way, way classier than Four Loko.

Those layers tho.

Mazagran is a drink that I discovered on my recent trip to Tallahassee, courtesy of Catalina Café. It’s lemonade over ice topped with cold brew. It sounds kind of weird and potentially gross, but it’s actually delicious. Not delicious in the way people say that kale is delicious—even a picky kid could get down with this drink.

Vodka Mazagran came to me while I was writing a paper for Philosophy of Law. I was drinking my afternoon cup and realized—this boring legal document would be a thousand times more interesting if I spiked my drink with vodka!

I’m a simple woman of simple desires.

So there you have it: a 3-ingredient cocktail that will make your summer. Seriously.

Vodka Mazagran

1/4 c. cold brew coffee

1 c. lemonade

1 shot of vodka (or 2, you do you)

1 tall glass filled with ice


The entry-level version of this cocktail just involves pouring these ingredients over ice, stirring, and sipping. The liquid measurements are relative to your glass size. Basically, you want more lemonade than coffee and more coffee than vodka (obviously).

If you’re not already making cold brew by the gallon every week (or like, three times a week) get on that.

Mazagran’s simplicity makes it a perfect platform for serious upgrades! Garnish it with a lemon wedge, and consider these options:

Fresh-squeezed lemonade sweetened with all-natural maple syrup

Rosemary (or rosemary-maple) infused simple syrup

Thyme-infused lemonade

Garnishing with sprigs of fresh herbs

Muddling raspberries into the sweetener

Shake these up and serve them in your best barware to dazzle your friends! Bonus points if you read up on mazagran’s Algerian origins…talk about cocktail party trivia!

Bon appétit…or rather, bonne soif!

—DellaBites

Author’s note: Please drink these babies responsibly! The mixture of coffee & vodka will result in a lessening of the obvious effects of intoxication, but trust me, they’re there! Also, who needs the calories? Savor, don’t chug!

*all photos taken with an iPhone 6 and edited with A Color Story

Iced Crack

And by “iced crack” I mean cold-brewed coffee! Cold brew is all the rage right now, and for very good reason. For those of us who like their coffee very milky *raises hand*, it is an elixir from heaven. No joke, I can drink this stuff black with no sugar. When I finally perfected making this, I drank so much of it I barely slept for a week. My fiancé says that I have ruined him for all other coffees. He calls it “Fig-proof”, as in, he can’t possibly screw it up, no matter what he does to it or puts in it. You can find recipes for cold brew anywhere on the internet (Pinterest is a lifesaver), but if you’re reading this and you haven’t yet tried to make this at home, DO IT and stop paying $3+ a cup to get it at Starbucks!

Here’s my method.

Preparation:

Supplies
Supplies

You’ll need whole bean coffee in your favorite blend, quart sized mason jars (or a gallon jug, whatever), and a coffee grinder. A funnel is optional, but encouraged. I like to buy my coffee in bulk, since I make this cold brew every 2-3 days. Trader Joe’s has a great selection of inexpensive, quality coffees. Costco is another great place to get bulk whole bean coffee in brands like Starbucks or Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

Grind your beans to a slightly coarser grind than you would for auto-drip coffee. Not as coarse as a French press, not as fine as espresso. Eyeball it.

The golden cold brew ratio is 1 cup ground coffee to 4 cups cold, filtered water (or .25 cups coffee to 1 cup water if you’re making batches smaller than a quart). This might as well be printed in the Bible. You can go stronger, but you’ll just end up diluting your prepared drink more later.

Halfway there.
Halfway there.

Measure your coffee, grind it up, and add it to your water. This is where the funnel comes in handy. I’ve wasted so much precious coffee by spilling it all over my counters. I like to use mason jars to steep my cold brew because they have measurements on the sides, and I’m all about reducing the amount of dishes used in any given meal prep.

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After you finagle the grounds into the jar, then comes the fun part. Screw on a lid (I like these Ball brand plastic storage caps as they don’t rust, are dishwasher safe, and come in wide-mouth and regular size) and shake it like a Polaroid picture or James Bond’s martini. Dance while you do it!

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Blouse is Zara via Buffalo Exchange.

IMG_8751Let it sit for 12-24 hours. I usually make mine in the evenings and strain it before work in the morning. The straining is the tough part. This took me a while to perfect. Finally, I consulted the Pinterest oracle and learned that cheesecloth is the way to do it. I have heard that nut milk bags work beautifully.

I place a mesh strainer, lined with a small piece of cheesecloth, over a 2qt or larger pitcher. I agitate the jars one last time so that the grounds don’t come out in one giant clump, and slowly pour it out through the strainer and into the pitcher.


Another method, which I use semi-frequently, is to pour your cold brew and grounds into a French press and strain them that way. When I use this method, I still like to pour the coffee through the cheesecloth so that the finished product isn’t cloudy.There’s no way to completely avoid sediment in your cold brew, but it sinks to the bottom of the container so it doesn’t interfere with the overall coffee experience.

Serving:

As soon as the cold brew has been strained, it’s ready to drink! It will come out slightly stronger than regular iced coffee, so I recommend diluting it slightly with filtered water. Most sites say a 2:1 coffee to water ratio, but I use slightly less water, as my coffee only steeps for 12 hours and I take it with ice, which dilutes the mixture over time. Apart from the dilution, prepare your cup exactly as you would any other cup of coffee. My absolute favorite way to take it is with unsweetened almond milk and all-natural maple syrup for a touch of sweetness.

 

All of the almond milk, all the time.

Happy brewing!

-DellaBites

 

Currently enjoying my cold brew on break at work with some Trader Joe’s goodies.