“Lazy” Sunday Afternoon

Ok I am not really lazy.  My brain is working hard.  It’s just all the sitting I’ve been doing!  I have spent the last two days reading multiple chapters trying to learn Statistics, gather research for my major case study, and critique some atherosclerosis research.  As I start to sound as if I am complaining….  I am not!

i know there will come a day when I long for the joys of being a student.  Everyday I do something different. Everyday I learn something new. Everyday I am challenged.  Although I hope to be able to say the same thing when I have entered the work-force I know it will not be the same.  So I will happily sip my coffee and be occasionally distracted by the action at my local cafe.  Life is good.

Red Lentil Thai Chili

We all have issues with left-overs. Boring! It is natural to crave variety. This recipe, which is perfect for the coming season, never gets old. Chili is also a great opportunity to plan ahead. Put one serving each into some tupperware, slap a date on them and throw them in the freezer for a quick lunch for the next three months.  For those of you that can’t stand the heat don’t worry, this is NOT spicy, just full of flavor. If you do like spicy, as I do, add some Sriracha hot sauce. It goes really well with the Thai flavors.  Enjoy!

Red Lentil Thai Chili  

Serves 12

Olive oil (1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons, however much you feel like using)
1 large yellow onion, diced medium
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced medium
3 cloves garlic, minced ( I like more )
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 3/4 lbs sweet potatoes (about 3) peeled and cut into ¾ inch chunks
1 1/4 cup red lentils
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 cups vegetable broth
2 15-oz cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
1 15-oz can lite coconut milk
2 15-oz cans diced tomatoes
½ cup fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
Limes for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat a 4-quart pot over medium heat. Saute onions and pepper in oil with a pinch of salt, for 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Add garlic and saute a minute more.

3. Add chili powder, sweet potatoes, lentils, salt and vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Let it boil for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.

4. When lentils are cooked and sweet potatoes are tender, add the remaining ingredients and heat through.

Tasty Husker Saturday Update

Before the work begins, it’s about to get warm in this kitchen!

A success! Dishes were tried by all and enjoyed by most.

Coming in 1st place… Gluten-free Salmon Patties with Creamy Dill Sauce!!!

              16 mini-cakes  Active Time: 30 minutes  Total Time: 45 minutes



  •   6 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  •   1 large onion, finely chopped
  •   2 stalk celery, finely diced
  •   4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  •   2 15-ounces canned salmon, drained
  •   4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  •   1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  •   3/4 cups instant potato flakes
  •   1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

    Thanks for your help Anna!



  1.   Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2.   Heat 3 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion   and celery; cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in parsley; remove from the heat.
  3.   Place salmon in a medium bowl. Flake apart with a fork; remove any bones and skin. Add egg and mustard; mix well. Add the onion mixture, potato flakes and pepper; mix well. Shape the mixture into 16 patties.
  4. Heat remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in the pan over medium heat. Add 4 patties and cook until the undersides are golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a wide spatula, turn them over onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining patties.
  5. Bake the salmon cakes until golden on top and heated through, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare Creamy Dill Sauce. Serve salmon cakes with sauce.  Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 3. Cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.

Browning some salmon patties

Creamy Dill Sauce

  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Coming in close second… Crock-Pot Mexican Chicken!!!!!

Sam, Micah and Luke agree… “It tastes like Chipotle!”  A fine compliment to the chef!

Is this round 2? I think Joel likes it!

Crock Pot Mexican Chicken

Cook Time: 5 hrs 10 mins

2 cups chicken broth
10 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup taco seasoning (one store-bought packet)
45oz can diced tomatoes
6oz can diced green chilies
15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained


1.  Mix all ingredients together and submerge frozen chicken breasts into mixture. Place Crock Pot on High and cook for 5 hours.

2.  Take chicken out and shred. Place back into Crock Pot and turn the Crock Pot off. The flavors will adhere to the chicken and make this moist and tender.

3.  Adjust the moistness of the chicken by draining some liquid if you are serving tacos.

Red Lentil Thai Chili

A great meat-free, heart healthy twist on your traditional chili.  This steamy dish really hits the spot on a crisp fall day.

We all know we should eat more fiber. Fiber helps maintain regular digestion… ya know… being regular? It’s good 🙂 Fiber also lowers cholesterol, controls blood sugar levels, aids in weight loss, lowers your risk of hemorrhoids and other diseases of the colon.  Red Lentil Thai Chili has 15 grams of fiber!!! That is 62% of what the ladies need and 47% for men.

If you don’t like it I will use this spatula as a weapon!! (The birthday girl aside Mrs.Pelton)


An important antioxidant Vitamin A is found in orange veggies and in this chili at 200%. It may be vegetarian but it sticks to your ribs with 14 grams of protein from beans and lentils and really satisfies with savory coconut milk. Red Thai curry paste gives it enough spice to make you feel adventurous without scorching your taste buds. Cilantro adds fresh color and a fresh bite.

Quorn Bread


Quorn bread (made from quinoa vs. corn) was served as well as some Kale Carrot Apple Juice to finish off the meal!

It was fun to create this special menu and thanks

to Anna for making this great opportunity possible for me.

The Pelton’s are gracious hosts!

Tasty Husker Saturday

I have the challenge and pleasure today of catering a Happy Birthday Husker Lunch. This meal is gluten-free, corn-free, rich in calcium and antioxidants, low in fat and cholesterol and delicious!  Stay tuned for pictures and an update on how the event goes.

Spicy Dessert Green Beans

Uncle Joseph, you always have the best advise. My next exam is Friday so I have a whole week to research some dirt 🙂

Mom Juan, sorry your book ruined your day off… did you goof off a little anyway?  I hope so. “Other” things always get done around the house when studying an unattractive subject is the alternative!

Sunday Joren bought some green beans, among other things, at the farmers market and was quite creative. He fired up the grill, trimmed the beans, laid them out on some foil, added two pats of butter (not margarine) and seasoned them with garlic, crushed red pepper, and cinnamon!  It was a risky move but it paid off. I enjoyed eating them leftover straight out of the fridge as finger food.  Yum!

Let me know if you’re daring enough to try it and/or if you like it.


In the Swing of Things

I conducted my first solo experiment in the lab last week and  didn’t screw it up! I loaded 2 96-well plates with plasma samples I prepared for cholesterol and triglyceride testing.  I used a multi-channel Pipet to load cholesterol/triglyceride reagent so the samples could be read/analyzed by a spectrometer. We are supposed to get fecal samples in the mail soon to test lipid levels… not rushing that project… I hear it’s a stinky job.

I took my first BioChem exam two weeks ago and still haven’t gotten my results!  Want to know why?  Well I will tell ya.  They aren’t finished being graded because it was a “short” answer test!  In BioChem!?  Ridiculous I say. One of the reasons why I like science is for those multiple choice exams. Not this time! Let’s just say… I’m not expecting an A.

I continue to enjoy my rotation at OMNI. I think I am better at my educational presentations. So far I’ve done presentations on food safety, vitamins, minerals, and fluids/hydration. This week I will be teaching and giving tips on how to shop/cook/plan meals for 1.

Well I better get back to the books. They are always staring at me from across the room. I’d love to hear from y’all.

Hope you have a good week! It’s supposed to be in the 80’s all next week here in Lincoln, perfect bike riding weather!

love, Vanessa

p.s. the underlined words are links if you’re wanting to learn more

Struggles abound! I’ll survive (with your help)

Grad school is proving to be more difficult than I expected.  Now I will be more clear.  I knew it was going to be challenging, thorough, deeper into the subject matter and time consuming.  What I didn’t anticipate is the freedom.  Freedom can be the enemy.  I, along with many of my colleagues, describe myself as a procrastinator.  This personality type doesn’t do well with freedom.  Procrastinators need urgency.  This is where the unexpected difficulty lies for me… Creating urgency everyday to move one step closer to all of my goals when they are not close enough to be on a “normal” person’s radar.

I have created a master list of deadlines, too general.  I need mini deadlines.  I am debating whether creating such a spreadsheet will take more time than it’s worth.  I guess there is only one way to find out… Or maybe I will just sit down every Saturday morning and create my to do list for the weekend and upcoming week after consulting the major deadlines for my projects.  Any suggestions?

I am also having trouble switching roles in the home!  I was the queen of the kitchen and felt as if I was pulling my weight.  It’s been difficult for me to not feel like a self-centered, self-important jerk.  I sit and read my BioChem text, answer emails, research articles and create powerpoint presentations while Joren does laundry, goes grocery shopping, cooks dinner and tidies the house.  Sounds wonderful but I have trouble with it!  Another obstacle to overcome.

A pleasant surprise this semester, I am really enjoying my time at OMNI Behavioral Health in the disordered eating clinic.  I get to learn about nutrition evaluations and nutrition therapy by shadowing the Registered Dietician and then I spend time with the day program in group therapy and nutrition education.  I really feel like this is the beginning of my professional experience… feeling like a grown up!  Finally 🙂


I’ve been waiting for the $*@# to hit the fan and realize that the anticipation of stress is stressing me out!!  Seriously Vanessa 😛  Enough is enough!  I am feeling ready to get to work after a lovely holiday weekend with my family and friends.  I think I should just get started on all of my projects, regardless of deadlines.  Keep busy, eat right, get quality sleep, stay active, and remember my loves back in sunny California!

Masquerade Party

Zombies & MSG

Anna, you know I can say no to Milky Way alll day!  Unless you were to melt cheese on them…  but yes, we as human beings are wired to crave carbs/sugar.  It’s a quick and easy source of energy.  Something we really don’t need anymore so every day we get to fight our basic human instincts so we don’t kill ourselves with food and lack of activity.  Bummer dude!

The old thought was that MSG created holes (very small) in the brain in some people.  Sounds pretty awful huh? I can’t imagine that if it was proven to do such a thing that it would still be part of our foods so I looked it up!  Here is an article from the Mayo Clinic (by an R.D. of course 🙂 )   The damage almost always manifests itself as a headache so if you don’t get a headache then you are free to eat the tasty stuff all you want!

On a lighter note (sounds like we need to cheer up a bit) I may be participating in Lincoln’s Zombie Walk this afternoon as a break from my chemistry textbook.  I will let you know if I have the courage to act silly.  Zombies don’t overeat and they are always going on long walks haha!

HotCheetos and Takis?

Wow, um…. I don’t have much to say so far.  I want to have a convo about what you think.  To start off…I love the ambition and passion from these youngsters.  They do say it’s their favorite snack so hopefully all their other meals are healthful.  I think it’s important to enjoy this and not be too serious but also lock away this information about our culture to be better prepared for what we are up against.  We LOVE our snacks. Moderation should be the nutrition lesson not elimination.  Snack on!  🙂