Saturday, May 28, 2011

Down & Out

That's what my week has been. Sick and tired. And stressed. I was just thinking the other day how long it's been since I have actually been sick. At least a year. And then bam, I get sick. Coincidence?

As a result, I haven't been tracking my food as planned (saltines, gatorade & tea anyone?) but I will resume again this week and add on my next goal.

Anyone watch youtube videos? If you do, you must check out "healthyvegan". You can find videos on everything from homemade rice milk to tips on healthy eating. Her recipes are simple and focus on whole foods. Everything we could use a lot more of these days. Heather's latest video was on a tropical rice pudding. You can check out the video on YT or on her website here. With no breakfast ideas in mind today, I decided to make a version with what I had on hand.

Orange Rice Pudding with Blueberry Compote

1 c brown rice
1 c orange juice
1 c water
1 c almond milk
2 t vanilla extract

In a large pan, combine above ingredients. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Cover & cook over medium heat for 45 minutes. DO NOT touch this pot. Leave it alone to do its thing :)

This is probably the easiest compote you'll ever make.
Blueberry compote
1 c fresh blueberries
2 T orange juice
1/2 T maple syrup
1/4 t corn starch

In a small, covered pan simmer blueberries, orange juice & maple syrup over medium high heat until blueberries begin to burst about 5 minutes. Whisk in cornstarch and cook another minute or two until thickened.

To serve, top rice with compote and toasted almonds & voila a healthy breakfast that's delightfully sweet with no added sugar (minus the maple syrup) and high in fiber.

Now it has to be said, this didn't turn out as creamy as I expected. Not really like traditional rice pudding. Perhaps more almond milk, less water next time? Arborio rice would be perfect for this kinda thing although you would sacrifice the fiber. All in all it was tasty. The orange juice was not too overpowering and I could really taste that vanilla (mmmm). Next time, I think I will use freshly squeezed orange juice and add in some fresh orange zest in the rice after it's been cooked.

Any unique breakfasts you've had in the past worth sharing?

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Do you ever look into your fridge and get overwhelmed by the delicious possibilities? I do. Often. It's great to have options so your not caught ordering crappy takeout or deciding to have tortilla chips & salsa for dinner to get your head out of the fridge (yea, that happens to me too). On the other hand, it leaves me indecisive and sometimes unsatisfied. Or the real downside, I have so many options that food wastes away as one person can only eat so much each day. Does this happen to anyone else??

Take this morning for example. I have a massive container of spinach in the fridge. Along with delicious blueberries that i'd like to eat. Smoothie? Pancakes (minus the spinach of course)? Omelet? Oatmeal? Or do I eat leftovers from dinner (because they were so good I would eat them for breakfast)? Do you see my dilemma?

Instead of dirtying two or three pans (cause why only use 1?) I stuck with simple...

Corn flakes, blueberries, banana, almond milk, cinnamon. Simple. Delicious. Nutritious (Attention vegans: Corn flakes have b12!!).

I can't be the only person who has had this happen to them, can I?

What are some of your strategies to prevent feeling overwhelmed at meal time?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

10 years goes by too fast.

Yes, that's right. I have completed one decade since my high school graduation. A concept that still does not settle in my mind. Up until recently, I had been undecided as to whether or not I would attend. I mean, I keep in touch with the people from high school that I want to keep in touch with so what's the sense in spending my hard earned money to see people i'm not sure I really care to see. May sound harsh, just being honest.

Now i'm about 95% positive that I am going to go. It's at the end of august. We are doing a dinner (somewhere) and a Sunday family beach day. I think I may be more interested in the beach day than the dinner.

So, with that being said. It is 14 weeks (starting yesterday) until the reunion. I have decided to use this time frame to work on a couple new/old healthy habits. In the last year due to A LOT of stress & anxiety i've somehow gotten away from the person I was striving to be (Don't ask me to define, i'm still figuring that out). But I was exercising regularly, spending time with friends and family. Enjoying life for the most part.

You could say I hit a landslide. And fell. Hard.

Although I am an entirely different person than when I graduated (in more ways that one) I still feel a little empty. I'm not married, nor do I have kids. Two things I had hoped to accomplish by this time of my life. Lifetime career is still unknown (though I CAN tell you it does not include 24-7 office work lol). I feel my health is the one thing I have going for me. At least I did. Which brings me back to the beginning of my rambling. Using this time to create/resurrect healthy habits. I've chosen to work on 7~giving myself two weeks to work on each one before adding a new one to the mix.

Although not a priority, I would like to lose weight during this time frame~specifically 5 lbs. And before you comment on how trivial 5 lbs is, it brings me over my healthy BMI which I am not ok with. I don't really care how much I lose so long as I get back in that healthy range. Which leads me to my first goal~journaling.

Journaling is something that is not only proven to work for weight loss, but has proven to work for me in the past. Although I have to admit, it is tedious but it's worth it. Instead of writing it on paper I am using caloriecount{dot}com as it is absolutely free. It's already been a bit more of a hassle then just writing it down, but I DO like the fact that it breaks down the different nutrients we should be striving for each day.

So if any of you are out there are looking to expand, resurrect or create new goals/habits and are looking for a reason to start..join in. I'd love to hear them. And if you have any suggestions on my goals/habits please don't hesitate to comment :) I'll be posting a new one every two weeks along with updates on my progress!

Here's to healthy habits :)

Friday, May 13, 2011

I have a problem.

I am a hoarder.

Of recipes. Cookbooks. DVDs/DVR'ed cooking shows. Some say it's an obsession. I think it's perfectly normal. I have a medium sized library of cookbooks. Buuuuuut my e-folders are overflowing with "to be tried" recipes. So what that I have a least a half dozen regularly pre-set cooking shows to be recorded throughout the week? Or that I enjoy spending my Sunday mornings curled up on the couch enjoying some down time with Giada, Nigella or Aarti? Nothing wrong with this..

At least I don't think it will get me hauled off to the loony bin or aired on TLC. Right?

I've been *attempting* to check off two of the many recipes in my e-folder for the last two weeks. Each time I open my laptop, there they are. Staring at me. Begging to be made. Since I had to bake a cake tonight, I figured 'hey, kitchen will already be a disaster, why not make more mess?'

Two down. One million to go.

I chose these two recipes as I will be going camping in a few weeks and while i'm no novice to camping, I AM newly vegetarian. Read: Camping meals of the past included burgers, hot dogs, eggs, bacon, sausage, chips & pretzels. No, i'm not joking. So, i'm starting out now, so I won't be scrambling at the very end. Packing, for me, is hard enough lol.

1) Mama Peas Baked Oatmeal Squares

I followed her recipe exactly EXCEPT I subbed golden raisins in for some of the cranberries. Mine did not seem to set as well as hers. I did bake them at 375 degrees for 30 minutes though instead of 350 for 45 min (was baking recipe #2 and I didn't want to waste electricity by having to bake yet another item). Perhaps that made the difference? Either way, will be trying these at least 2 more times before camping--1) I will make the recipe, refrigerate overnight & then bake & 2) Follow her baking instructions :)

2) Ashley @ Edible Perspectives Buckwheat Bread

I did adapt her recipe some as a) I didn't have millet & B) I was craving pizza when I started baking :) The spices need a tad more tweaking but delish first time 'round!

"Pizza" Buckwheat Bread
1/2 c + 2 T raw buckwheat flour [ground from raw buckwheat in a blender – not Kasha or toasted buckwheat]
1/2 c + 2 T whole wheat pastry flour
2 T chia seeds
2 T ground flax meal
3/4 c nutritional yeast
2 T dried oregano
1 T dried basil
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t sea salt
LOTS of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c +2 T unsweetened almond milk
3/4 c water
1/2 t baking powder
1 T unsweetened apple sauce
1 T olive oil
Sesame seeds, for topping

1) Preheat oven to 375* and grease bottom + sides of a 9×9 square pan.
2) Stir together buckwheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, chia seeds, flax, baking powder, nutritional yeast, and all spices in a medium sized bowl.
3) Add in water, nut milk, applesauce + oil and stir until just combined.
4) Pour into pan, and evenly spread. Sprinkle top with sesame seeds.
5) Bake for about 42-46 min, until golden brown + cracked all over the top.

Perrrrrrrfect with a schmear of tomato paste.

All in all two very successful yummy trial recipe runs. Very pleased to have 2 checked off! What are two recipes you have been wanting to check off? What's stopping you?

Morroccan Magic

Sometimes I get these great ideas that I can do "X" amount of things on my 1 hr lunch break. Like make lunch....and dinner. *Magic*


I had all these poor veggies that were waiting to be used and so I decided i'd try to make some kind of morroccan inspired dish~specifically a take on a tagine. I've always had a sweet tooth and the thought of adding dried fruit to a savory dish had always intrigued me..until now.

I'm undecided on how I feel about this addition to the dish. I either cooked it too long or need more fruit. They certainly did plump though...

Personally, I loved it. I think it was tasty as is...may work on balancing the spices a bit more though.

Side Note: As i'm writing this post, I think..wait, I need the recipe. I then realized I forgot to write it down..oops. Good thing my food memory is better that my regular memory :)

The ingredients list may be long..but it is seriously so simple!

Morroccan "Magic" Tagine
2 T canola oil
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 t minced garlic
1 t minced ginger
2 t cumin
1 t turmeric
1 cinnamon stick
1 t red pepper flakes
2 c chopped broccoli
1 large sweet potato, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 large zucchini, diced
2 c fresh spinach
1 can diced tomatoes
3 oz tomato paste
2 c vegetable broth (I used 2 c water + 2 t vegetable base)
1/4 c golden raisins
6 dried apricots, chopped

1. In a large pan, heat canola oil. Add onion. garlic & ginger and cook 2 minutes.
2. Add spices~cook 1 minute.
3. Add vegetables, broth, diced tomatoes, tomato paste & dried fruit. Simmer 20-30 minutes until veggies are tender.

So good. And it took me 15 minute to make (minus cooking time). You could use just about any vegetable in here (would probably either decrease the amount of broccoli & sub in another vegetable or use something different--tends to get a little overcooked the second time around). Served mine over couscous topped with sunflower seeds (I am REALLY loving these lately!) along side of roasted chickpeas. mmmm.

If I am going to be making more morroccan inspired food, i'll be needing one of these in my life. Don't you agree?? :)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Veggies + Dessert= Yummmmmmy

Of all the ways i've come to appreciate veggies, none will ever stand up to the addition of veggies in a dessert. Yes, that's right. Dessert. For those who think veggies do not belong in dessert obviously never had a delicious piece of carrot cake or zucchini bread.

Go ahead. Argue with me that there is no nutritional value of veggies in something loaded with sugar. I don't care. Let me eat cake!

Dilemma though. While those two delectable treats have two of my favorite veggies they are also LOADED with the bad for you stuff I am trying to avoid. So, what does one do when they want something so yummy and delicious but don't want the garbage that's usually in it? Experiment, of course.

Enter Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread.

With melted earth balance...oh my (BF thought it was real butter..ha!)

So moist, so delish. It was so good, we have polished off 3/4 of the loaf (in one day!). I was forced to put the second loaf in the freezer. So as not to be forced to make more.

Pretty delicate though. Might need to try another flax egg. Hmm.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread Makes 2 loaves
Servings: Depends on how restrained you are ;)
1 c AP flour
1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
2 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
2 c shredded zucchini
3 T flax eggs
1 c sugar
3/4 c brown rice syrup
4 T earth balance, melted
4 T canola oil
1/2 c applesauce, unsweetened
1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, sift dry ingredients together (except sugar). Mix in chocolate chips. Set aside.

3. Using a box grater, shred enough zucchini to make 2 c (about 1 1/2 zucchini). Squeeze out any liquid and set aside.

4. In another bowl, mix together sugar, brown rice syrup & flax egg until incorporated. Add oil, earth balance, applesauce & mix until combined.

5. Add liquid to dry ingredients, stir to combine. Fold in shredded zucchini~be careful not to overmix.

6. Pour batter into loaf pans coated in cooking spray OR earth balance & flour. Bake for 45 min or until knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

*Ideally I would rather have used all whole wheat pastry flour, but I just barely had 1 c left.
*You could completely omit the white sugar and use all brown rice syrup or agave nectar.
*I think this would work equally as well with shredded carrots.
*Side Note: I was kinda surprised to see that dark chocolate has dairy. Whereas semi-sweet chocolate did not. Hmm.

Don't get me wrong, this probably isn't a whole lot better than any other zucchini bread as far as calories are concerned. But it's homemade. With better ingredients than I would find in those at the grocery store. And who else would use Ghirardelli chocolate chips in their zucchini bread?? :)

A day to remember....

For all that you've done, all that you've given up for me, and all that you would give up for me. Thanks for going without so I could have. Thank you for all the meals you cooked despite being exhausted and for always making sure I had clean clothes and a roof over my head.

Please accept this cake as only a small token of my gratitude for all that you've done :)

Yes, she accepted.

Hope all you wonderful mothers out there have a great Mother's Day and be sure to remember your own mama!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

My bowl overfloweth....

I am really enjoying the simplicity of taking a bunch of different food, throwing it in a bowl and mixing it all up (which is really no ground breaking concept, I know). It's just never been my style~until lately.

In the mix:

Veggies {sauteed or roasted~ depending on how busy I am} (some faves: broccoli, sweet potato, zuchinni, red pepper, spinach, asparagus, eggplant) you really could put anything in here obviously.....
Protein (roasted tofu, quinoa, roasted chickpeas (mmmmm mmmmm mmmmm), hummus, guac, nuts, seeds)
Whole Grain (mostly brown rice, couscous, pita bread, naan)
YUM. And SIMPLE. which quite frankly is about all I have time & patience for lately. This really comes in handy for the (MANY) nights I find myself starting to think about dinner around 7:30p.

Even my seasonings (for the most part) have been simple...

Italian: Oregano + Basil + Red Pepper flakes (OR you could use the premade Italian Seasoning)
Mexican~ish: Cumin + Oregano
Indian: Garam masala + Cumin + Turmeric OR Curry Powder + Cumin + Fennel Seed + Paprika + Turmeric
Asian: Sesame Oil + Soy Sauce + Toasted Sesame Seeds

(I eyeball the amount of spices based on the amount of veggies/chickpeas I am cooking)

I mainly use these seasonings for the veggies but they also have come in handy for the roasted chickpeas. Seriously, i'm obsessed with them lately. Oh, and hummus too! Like eating it 3 or 4 days a week sometimes twice a day.

Case in point. 7:30p rolls around. Start to think about dinner as a result of a late lunch with my mama. Started to think about the lunch I had the other day. I enjoyed it so much I was craving it.

What's in my bowl of goodness?

Roasted Veggies (zucchini, asparagus, red pepper & broccoli) + Indian spice blend #1
Roasted Potatoes (from my garden!!) + Indian spice blend #2
Brown Rice
Sunflower Seeds
Baba Ghanoush

So satisfying. So yummy. So healthy. This time last year, I can't say that I was craving vegetables. Or chickpeas. Proof that people CAN change.


I'm back...been a little busy....been a little lazy. I'm in the middle of making a mother's day cake so this will be a quick photo post. Everyone loves pics though. Despite the lack of time, I have still had some yummy eats.....

some good times....

and even a little fiesta....

Off to finish the cake..then lunch with my mama.. :)