Easy Peach + Mozzarella Salad

Easy Peach and Mozzarella Salad

Earlier this summer when I went on an elimination diet, I was worried I would have to stop eating peaches (one of my favorite fruits, ever) forever. For a solid month, I had to go without peaches (or any stone fruit), never mind that July is essentially the peak month for these fruits.

It’s not fun trying to figure out if you can’t eat your favorite summer fruit, while everyone else is eating it happily. I got to watch family and friends savor the sweetest fruits of summer like peaches, nectarines, cherries, and watermelon while I had to stick to kiwis and a few other berries. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t a big deal, but at the time, it was one of the most annoying things to endure (ha, endure, I sound so dramatic).

After my elimination diet ended, I slowly started bringing eliminated foods back into my regular diet.

Guess what? I’m good with peaches! 

Since I went so long without peaches, I’m on a bit of a peach binge right now, making up for lost time. 

I’ve been eating them as snacks but also adding them to salads.

This easy peach + mozzarella salad only takes 5 minutes to put together, and it’s the perfect meal for hot days when you aren’t too hungry and you don’t want to be within ten feet of your stove/oven. You can always make more and serve as a side salad for multiple people, but I’m going to give you the recipe for one serving. 

Easy Peach and Mozzarella Salad Easy Peach and Mozzarella Salad Easy Peach and Mozzarella Salad Easy Peach and Mozzarella Salad Easy Peach and Mozzarella Salad Easy Peach and Mozzarella Salad

Easy Peach + Mozzarella Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 cups spinach, mixed greens, or arugula
  • 1 ripe yellow peach
  • 2 oz. mozzarella balls
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tbsp balsamic reduction

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, add the greens of your choice.
  2. Cut the peach into slices and arrange in over the greens.
  3. Add mozzarella and basil over the peaches and greens.
  4. Drizzle with balsamic reduction. If you don't have any store-bought balsamic reduction, heat up 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar with 2 tbsp honey in a saucepan on the stove on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes until reduced.
http://www.thesassylife.com/easy-peach-mozzarella-salad/

Homemade Kappa Maki (Cucumber Sushi Rolls)

Homemade Kappa Maki (Cucumber Sushi)

If you had asked me six weeks ago if I liked sushi, I would have told you something along the lines of “I don’t really eat sushi because the raw fish freaks me out.” Fast-forward a few weeks later, and I can’t seem to get enough of the stuff. 

What changed, you ask? 

I went on an elimination diet that heavily restricted what I could eat. Gluten and dairy were off the table, as well as some ingredients that are in almost everything, like onions and garlic. It was frustrating to not only crave foods I couldn’t have, but find foods that were satisfying enough that fit within the diet. 

That’s where sushi became my go-to meal at restaurants. Since the ingredients are straightforward, it was easy for me to determine what I could eat.

For a month, I was absolutely obsessed with kappa maki (cucumber sushi rolls) and tuna rolls. I ended up having sushi 2-3 times a week because it was convenient and perfect during hot days. 

I got to a point where I was craving kappa maki. I felt frustrated that sushi restaurants weren’t open 24/7 because hello, I really want that kappa maki.

Since kappa maki is made up of only a few ingredients, I thought it would be a fun to try making some at home. It’s really just cucumber, seaweed, and rice. 

Tamari (Gluten Free Soy Sauce) and Roasted Seaweed (Nori) for the sushi

I didn’t have a bamboo mat, but I didn’t let that stop me. I used the towel trick, which I will show you below, to roll up my sushi. The rolls may not look like they were made by a restaurant sushi chef, but they stayed together and they tasted the same as the restaurant sushi I have been having. 

My recipe ended up making 3 full rolls, and each roll had 6-8 full pieces each. The reason I say full is because I am not the best at spreading the very sticky rice across the seaweed, so the ends of my rolls weren’t too desirable. 

Here’s how to make the sushi:

Homemade Kappa Maki (Cucumber Sushi Rolls)

Yield: 3 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced into sticks
  • 1 cup sushi rice, cooked, and cooled.
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 3 sheets of seaweed (nori)

Instructions

  1. Mix together the white sugar and rice vinegar. Then, pour over the sushi rice and mix in.
  2. If you're using the towel trick, lay out the towel on the counter and add parchment paper or plastic wrap over the towel. Place one nori sheet on the parchment paper, with the rough side up.
  3. Use your hands or a spatula to add rice to the bottom 1/3 or 1/2 of the seaweed. Spread the rice to the sides as evenly as possible. Leave a little bit of room, about 1cm, at the bottom of the seaweed for easy rolling.
  4. Add a little bit of water at the bottom of the seaweed and at the top. (this helps seal the roll)
  5. Lay out the cucumber across the nori sheets as evenly as possible.
  6. Use the towel to carefully roll the seaweed into a roll. Repeat for 2 more rolls.
  7. Cut into small pieces. Serve immediately with soy sauce/tamari, pickled ginger, and wasabi.

Notes

Calrose rice is another name for sushi rice. You can use another sticky white rice (like jasmine) or brown rice as well. Sushi is at its prime when freshly made, but this recipe can keep for up to 24 hours.

http://www.thesassylife.com/homemade-kappa-maki-cucumber-sushi-rolls/

 

It might take you a little while to get the hang of it and get into the groove of making the sushi. It’s also a little bit messy since you’re working with your hands. But, at the end of the day, it was so worth making some sushi at home. My stomach was satisfied and I was proud that I was able to learn how to roll sushi. 

When it comes to making sushi at home in the future, I think I’m going to stick to vegetarian options just to keep things simple. I would love to add in some avocado, carrots, and spinach to mix things up a bit.

As for eating sushi at restaurants, I am still a bit overwhelmed by the idea of trying a more sophisticated sushi roll, but I’m open to the idea. There are definitely some rolls I am willing to try that I haven’t just yet. 

What are your thoughts on making sushi at home? Are you up to the challenge? I think the pay off is excellent if I do say so myself!

-S

The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle

Have you ever come across a story where there’s just no way someone could make it up? The Glass Castle is one of those stories. (some spoilers ahead)

The Glass Castle has been on my reading list for about a year. After a good friend said it was one of her favorite books and had a big impact on her life, I knew it was worthy of adding to my Goodreads list. I started the book about a week ago and finished in a matter of days, unable to tear myself away from the unbelievable but true memoir of Jeanette Walls. 

The book follows the WallS family and their hippie, nomadic, and free-spirited lifestyle. Their family is rarely in one place for too long, constantly moving around from one rural town to the next. Jeanette, the storyteller, is the second child of four. Her mother is an artist who spends almost all of her time and energy focused on herself and her work, and her father gets short blue collar gigs and works odd jobs here and there. 

The WallS family is dirt poor. They don’t have enough money to feed their children every day. Everyday showers are not a thing, but rather weekly baths whenever possible, sometimes with recycled bath water. Sometimes they would live in abandoned buildings. Other times they would live out of the family car. 

Though Mom and Dad tell themselves they were doing the best they could for their families, they often acted selfishly. They provide here and there, but neither parent can (or want to, depending on your opinion) put forth enough effort to give their children a stable home. Both parents have issues where they are facing their own demons, preventing them from being good parents to their kids. 

Jeanette and her siblings are always off doing their own thing with little supervision. Inevitably, she and her brother, who was basically her partner in crime, sometimes would wind up in trouble after a tiff with neighborhood kids or she would get entangled in a bad situation where she would be the victim of bullying. She always has to help take care of her siblings and always has to take care of herself. 

The Glass Castle is what Rex WallS (Dad) is working toward. His plan is to build a home completely made of glass, powered by solar energy. He creates the blueprints for the house, having studied up on physics and all things science to research, but the family needs money in order to build such a home.

He tells himself that everything he is doing, searching places to mine for gold to strike it rich, gambling to try to win the jackpot, and leaving for days at a time on jobs, is for his family. But he gets so caught up in those things he can’t focus and make The Glass Castle a reality. 

Jeanette and her siblings love the dream of living in The Glass Castle. After all, her father makes it sound like the coolest house, and as a child, why wouldn’t she trust her father? 

As the story progresses and Jeanette grows older, we can see how she matures from an innocent, adventurous, and forgiving child who loves and trusts her parents to a young woman who is skeptical, smart, hard-working, and if I had to use a modern-day term, “woke”. Having faced hardships left and right, whether those hardships are due to family circumstances or school bullying, Jeanette becomes a humble, strong, and nearly fearless woman. 

The beauty of the story is how Jeanette and her siblings persevere trying times, unite and help each other when needed, and grow to create lives wildly different from their parents’. Her growth throughout the book is so beautifully realistic. When she is seven, she thinks, acts, and speaks just like an average seven year-old, yet you see her situation and what she is surrounded by and how she adapts. 

It’s impossible to go through Jeanette’s story and not have opinions on the Walls’ parenting, their careers, their life choices, and more. In fact, a lot of our own analyses of what goes on with the Walls family can end up being quite political.

For example, the Walls are poor but they are too proud to sign up for food stamps or any other type of assistance. Some of us may agree with that and say we would do the same if we were in their shoes, while some of us cannot even fathom not trying to get some type of assistance. 

The Glass Castle really gives readers a lot to think about. Jeanette Walls is an inspiration. Also, her story is real. 

If you’re interested in reading The Glass Castle yourself (and I highly recommend you do), you can pick up a copy on Amazon. I originally went searching for the book at my local library only to find about 15 holds waiting on each copy of the book, so I ended up purchasing the book and I’m really glad I did. 

Oh, and there’s a movie of The Glass Castle coming out on August 12th, starring Brie Larson, Naomi Watts, and Woody Harrelson. I must say, I am really excited to see the film, especially since Brie Larson is one of my favorites. 

If you’ve read The Glass Castle, are reading the book, or are planning on watching the film, let me know in the comments! I would love to talk more about the story. It’s really special when we come across stories like these.