Banana Ice Cream

Oh how I love my sister-in-law!  In an answer to my question about frozen fruits the other day, she sent me a great link to a Rachel Ray recipe for banana ice cream.  I'm usually skeptical about Rachel Ray recipes, and many that come from Food Network because they tend to have a lot of extra virgin olive oil, butter, or sugars in the recipes.  This one, however, is as simple as it gets with no added fat or sugar.  Here it is:

Banana Ice Cream
Ingredients: Serves 2
3 frozen peeled bananas
1/4 c almond milk

Directions: Place bananas and almond milk in a food processor.  Process until smooth.  Serve immediately.

Amy's Notes: Make sure to peel your bananas before freezing them.  If I don't get around to eating bananas before they turn bad, I always stick them in the freezer.  I have found that the riper (more brown) bananas are when you freeze them, the sweeter they will taste, with that delicious banana flavor. I topped my banana ice cream with a small amount of honey and some walnuts.  Mmmm!

So, again, I have not had a crockpot Monday, and the reason for this is because I have so many (SO MANY!) leftovers from the Halloween Party my roommate and I hosted on Saturday.  The schedule for the week is rearranged to be as follows:  Monday- Banana Ice Cream, Tuesday-  pictures from Halloween and strategies for eating and exercise during the holidays, Wednesday- World Wed. recipe, Thursday- Favorite recipe of the week.  Hope everyone has a great Monday, and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

I know that my bad season of eating is always from Halloween to after New Years.  What is your best strategy to staying fit and eating right during this tempting season?


Thai Peanut Lettuce Wraps and Jean Overalls

As promised, here is my recipe for Thai Peanut Lettuce Wraps.  A few weeks ago I went to a local restaurant with Kevin and some friends of ours for dinner.  I'm always nervous going out to dinner because I never know if there will be any nutritarian/vegan options.  I find that most restaurant's interpretations of a salad are some lettuce with cheese, meat, and creamy or oily dressings.  Not exactly a "healthy" option.  At this restauant (South Fork), I found a great appetizer that worked perfect with my nutritarian diet.  The lettuce wraps were fairly inexpensive and had the following description:  Spring salad mixture of lettuce cucumber, vermicelli noodles, cilantro, peanuts, shrimp, and honey-lime vinaigrette, served with a peanut sauce and crisp butter lettuce.  I have to say, it was one of the better things I've had eating out for sometime.  The only thing I kept thinking the whole time I was eating it was "I could just make this at home so easily!"  I payed particular attention to all of the tastes in the peanut sauce to be able to replicate it, because it was TO DIE FOR!  So was born last week my Thai Peanut Lettuce Wraps.  I made this once last week, and then for my parents this weekend.  From making it twice I realized that this is a very versatile recipe that can be served as more of a cold salad starter, or a warm main dish.  Below I will provide the two ways I made the recipe and some tips on making it work for you.

Thai Peanut Lettuce Wraps (Cold)

Ingredients: (serves 2-4)
 1 head Butter lettuce, iceburg lettuce, or other wrap-able lettuce
Lettuce Filling:
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed, save 1/4 c bean juice
1 c shredded carrots
1 c shredded broccoli
1/2 c green onion, chopped
1/4 c unsalted peanuts
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 T lime juice
1 t honey
1 T water
Dipping Sauce:
1/4 c reserved bean juice
1/4 c peanut butter (homemade, or natural and unsalted)
1/4 c low sodium soy sauce
1/4 c water 
(or 1/8 c soy sauce and 1/3 c water)
1/8 t wasabi powder (or 1/4 tsp pre-made wasabi paste)
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 t minced garlic
1/2 t ground ginger powder (or 1 t fresh minced ginger)
1 T rice vinegar

Directions:  Separate lettuce leaves onto a plate for serving as wraps.  For lettuce filling, mix together chickpeas, carrots, broccoli, peanuts, and red onion in a medium size bowl.  Separately mix together lime juice, water, and honey, then drizzle over filling mixture.  For the dipping sauce, combine all ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk until peanut butter is broken up, then stir occasionally until sauce comes to a light boil.  Whisk constantly keeping the sauce at a boil until it becomes thick, add more water if you want sauce less thicking (in 1/8 c increments).  Serve Dipping sauce warm with cold salad filling and lettuce wraps.
Thai Peanut Lettuce Wraps (hot)
Ingredients: (serves 6-8)
 2 heads butter lettuce, iceburg lettuce, or other wrap-able lettuce
Lettuce Filling:
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed, save 1/2 c bean juice
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
10 mushrooms quartered
2 bell peppers chopped (or other veggie like asparagus or zucchini)
1/2 c unsalted peanuts
1 c broccoli cut into strips
1 c matchstick cut carrots
+water for sauteing
1/2 T lime juice
1 t honey
1 T water
Dipping Sauce:
1/2 c reserved bean juice
1/2 c peanut butter (homemade, or natural and unsalted)
1/2 c low sodium soy sauce
1/2 c water 
(or 1/4 c soy sauce and 2/3 c water)
1/4 t wasabi powder (or 1/2 tsp pre-made wasabi paste)
1 t red pepper flakes
2 t minced garlic
1 t ground ginger powder (or 2 t fresh minced ginger
2 T rice vinegar

Directions: Separate lettuce leaves onto a plate for serving as wraps.  For lettuce filling, saute onion, broccoli, mushrooms, and peppers (or other veggie) in a large skillet until onions are slightly translucent.  Add chickpeas, carrots, and peanuts and saute for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Place sauted ingredients into a large bowl.  Separately mix together lime juice, water, and honey, then drizzle over filling mixture.  For the dipping sauce, combine all ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk until peanut butter is broken up, then stir occasionally until sauce comes to a light boil.  Whisk constantly keeping the sauce at a boil until it becomes thick, add more water if you want sauce less thicking (in 1/8 c increments).  Serve Dipping sauce warm with hot filling and lettuce wraps.

When I first made the hot recipe for my parents this weekend, I tried to replicate the original recipe's vermicelli noodles by boiling angel hair pasta, and cutting it into 1 inch long pieces.  This ended up being way to much effort for a very small part of the recipe, so I decided to eliminate it from the blog recipe.  My favorite part of the recipe has to be the dipping sauce.  In the future, I want to try using half peanut butter and half tahini (sesame butter) to give it a different taste.

Now on to our favorite thing to talk about... Exercise?  This week at my university there is a competition between Pac-12 schools for who can log the most exercise points with their students.  So far I have racked up 120 points for my school this week, and I have a date with the Rec center and my core class tonight!  Not only has motivation to go to the gym come from the fitness challenge, but also from the upcoming Halloween party my roommate and I are throwing this Saturday.  We have made a great list of yummy and festive foods we will be serving including Sweet Potato Chili, meaty chili, Cinnamon-Apple Chex Mix, "Boo"-riffic Kisses, and One-eyed Green Monster Cupcakes.  On top of drinking and eating some of these yummy things that night, I will be wearing jean overalls that fit me like a glove, and I don't want to be exploding out of them by the end of the night.  So there is my motivation for this week: beating the other Pac-12 schools and jean overalls!

Our weekly schedules undoubtedly change, but do our motivations for exercise keep up with them?  Would it be better to set goals for yourself weekly rather than a big goal a couple months down the road?

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Apples and Walnuts

I'm so happy to have apples again!  I brought home nearly twice as many as last time, and I can't wait to start using them.  The following recipe was sent to me from Dr. Fuhrman because I am a website member.  Members get recipes sent to them daily along with other special offers.  My membership costs around $4 a month and gives me access to online tools such as custom menus, "ask the doctor" forums, and a large archive of recipes.  The recipes alone make the membership worth it.  My only complaint is that a very small fraction of the recipes have pictures with them, which is usually the reason why we choose to make most things: because they look good.  First is my recipe as I made it today, followed by the official Dr. Fuhrman Baked Sweet Potatoes with Apples and Cranberries.

ANK Baked Sweet Potatoes with Apples and Walnuts

1 very large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
1 large golden delicious apple, peeled and diced
3/4 c chopped frozen prunes
1/4 c raisins
1/4 c pineapple juice
1/4 c walnuts, lightly chopped

Directions:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place sweet potatoes in a baking dish and top with diced apples, prunes, raisins, and walnuts.  Pour pineapple juice over evenly.  Cover tightly with foil.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.

Dr. Fuhrman's Baked Sweet Potatoes with Apples and Cranberries
4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
3/4 c cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 c raisins
1/2 c orange juice

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place sweet potatoes in a large baking dish.  Top with diced apples, cranberries, and raisins.  Pour orange juice over all.  Cover tightly with lid or foil.  Bake for 1 and 1/4 hours or until sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.

I have to say this recipe is just delicious!  I made it very late on Tuesday night and did not get to try it till Wednesday for lunch.  It was savory enough to have for lunch or for more of a dessert.  I'm planning on having it in my oatmeal tomorrow morning.  Yum!

I've gotten in the habit of keeping a couple different choices of frozen fruit in my fridge, such a prunes, bananas, and pineapple.  What is your favorite frozen fruit to keep on hand?


Easy Vegetable Pizza

*Pictures will be posted on this post later this evening, sorry for the delay
Well the weekend is over and we are back to another Monday.  My blog schedule will be changing a bit due to some of the events of the weekend, namely, getting a flat tire on my way home from Spokane on Saturday night.  

The weekend started off nicely with a drive up to Spokane with Kevin.  When we got to my parent's house, I helped my mom make this great pizza recipe from Dr. Fuhrman's book, Eat to Live.  The recipe is called Easy Vegetable Pizza (recipe copied below if you are not a Dr. Fuhrman member).  My mom has been ranting about this recipe to me for a while, so I loved getting to try it.  It tasted great, and was nice to have a small amount of cheese, which I haven't had in over a month or so.  The broccoli topping the pizza had a nice crunch to it, while the mushrooms added good texture and the onions good flavor.  I will definitely be making this again on my own sometime soon.  I think it would be a great weekend dinner when I'm tempted by Kevin ordering Pizza for watching football.  This option is much more nutritious and will leave me feeling full, and not food-guilty.

Easy Vegetable Pizza

Ingredients: Serves 4
4 large whole grain pitas
2 c pasta sauce, no salt added or low sodium
1/2 c chopped shiitake mushrooms
1/2 c chopped red onion
10 oz frozen broccoli florets, thawed and finely chopped
1/2 c shredded mozzarella-type cheese

Directions:  Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.  Place pitas on two baking sheets and warm for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and spoon on the pasta sauce.  Sprinkle evenly with the mushrooms, onion, and broccoli.  Add a light sprinkle of cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes.

Amy's notes: We used halved pita pockets, which was a nice choice because side-by-side with another pita pocket, it makes a whole pizza shape, but after baking there is no need for cutting and was nice and easy to eat.  For our mushrooms we used basic white button mushrooms.  Instead of frozen broccoli we used fresh broccoli, which ended up being 2-3 c when chopped.  We used regular (not nondairy) mozzarella cheese, but mixed it in a large bowl with the rest of the veggies before piling them on top of the pitas with tomato sauce.  We also added red pepper flakes on top just before eating the pizzas to add a bit of heat to the pizza.  Yum!

For the rest of Friday night, Kevin and I made a trip downtown to go to Real Steal in the IMAX theater.  It was a pretty good movie, a little cheesy at times, but had great music and action scenes.  The IMAX screen was huge, and I got a free body massage from all of the vibrating bass of the room!  Haha!  Big thanks to my mom and dad for donating your free movie pass to us!  We haven't seen a movie in theaters since I don't know when!

On Saturday morning we got up nice and early to go up to Green Bluff orchards to pick apples again.  This time the golden delicious (my favorite) were ready for the pickin'!  We found a smaller orchard this time to pick from and found that the prices were quite a bit better, at $1 per pound for every type of apple.  We got a very large box of beautiful golden delicious apples, a small amount of red delicious (for some reason they were not as fresh and sweet as we had been hoping), and some empire apples that were surprisingly yummy.  We also found another farm with some good produce.  I got a small pumpkin, which I will attempt to bake and make a few dishes out of this week.  My parents also got two aromatic sweet onions and a few fresh picked pepperoncinis (banana peppers).  They sent me home with a few of the pepperoncinis, which I will be including in a salad or something this week. 

For lunch on Saturday I ended up making my parents Thai Peanut Lettuce Wraps (recipe coming this week on World Wednesday).  The peanut dipping sauce turned out a little salty because they had regular soy sauce, when I had used low sodium when I had made it for myself before.  They liked it all the same.  Also, for the insides of the lettuce wraps, when I had made it before it was cold and more like a salad, but for theirs, I made it sauted with onions and mushrooms in their iron skillet.  Can't wait to share this recipe (the first recipe I've created from scratch) with you on Wednesday.

During the afternoon Kevin and I played Backgammon, which I may or may not have kicked his butt at!  I got him the backgammon game as a fun surprise for us to play.  It is a pretty nice travel set that I found on ebay for super cheap.  We both love the show Lost, and backgammon is symbolistic in it throughout the series, so we loved learning the game.

Later that evening, Kevin and I decided to drive back to Pullman so we wouldn't have to get up as early to get back for watching football.  About halfway through the drive we realized that the car was not driving right, and was swerving when it went into potholes and ruts, so we stopped at a po-dunk gas station to check the car for problems.  To our dismay, the front driver's side tire was running pretty low on air... uh-oh.  Because it obviously had a leak, we sat around debating to call Triple A to change our tire, or to do it ourselves, or to have my dad come help us.  We decided to just call Triple A, but were helped out from some people driving through who happened to be a gal who's husband was a mechanic with their friend who was a tow truck driver.  Thank god it wasn't a lawyer or docter in the car haha!  They looked a the tire for us, helped us use the hair pump and gage to get our tire to a good level, and said we'd be fine till we got to Colfax at least.  We got the rest of the way home safely, and I've decided to just keep filling the tire up when it gets low until my dad comes down in a couple weeks for dad's weekend and will be changing my car to winter tires.

Sunday was gloriously uneventful for the most part.  I got some knitting and chores done, then Kevin and his roommates and I went to play intramural flag football.  Our team, for yet another week, mercy-ruled the other team (got so far ahead before the clock ran out that they called the game).  

Now it is Monday, and because I am trying to keep my driving to a minimum, I was unable to get groceries on Sunday like I usually do, to today I won't be able to make a crockpot dish.  Instead I will be making Baked Sweet Potatoes with Apples and Cranberries from Dr. Fuhrman.  I will be posting this recipe tomorrow along with my exercise discussion.  Wednesday will feature Thai Peanut Lettuce Wraps, and Thursday... who knows!  Hope you all have a great Monday!

Have you ever felt stranded and unable to (god forbid!) get groceries (example: car problems, weather)?  What is your go-to recipe when this happens?


Yummy Chai Green Smoothie

It's Thursday and the week is nearly over!  Kevin and I have plans to go visit my parents this weekend to go apple picking in the orchards just north of town, and I can't wait!  The apples from our last trip maybe lasted a little over a week, and I haven't been able to bring myself to get store-bought apples lately.  The store's apples are nearly the same price, but have been shipped from who knows where, and not nearly as fresh compared to Green Bluff apples straight from the tree.  The orchard staff told us last time to come back in a few weeks and the red delicious and golden delicious(my favorite) would be ready for picking.  I'm also looking forward to all the cooking that will be involved in our weekend activities.  When we arrive in town late tomorrow afternoon my mom and I will be making veggie pizzas (recipe after the weekend), then on Saturday night, I will be making dinner for my parents, as a belated birthday present to my mom who had her birthday yesterday.  I'll keep that recipe a mystery for now, as she reads the blog, and I wouldn't dare spoil the delicious surprise!  

The recipe for today's blog post is from Healthy Girl's Kitchen, which is by far my favorite blog to read and get inspiration from.  One of the best recipes I've found on this blog is for a Chai Green Smoothie.  She also has a blog post with a long list of green smoothies from her blog readers, I have tried a few of them and can't wait to try more!  Here is the recipe I use for a chai green smoothie (very slightly different from HGK).

Chai Green Smoothie

1 c almond milk
1 T ground flaxseed
1 frozen banana
1 T raisins
big handful chopped celery
big handful fresh parsley
giant handful fresh spinach leaves
1 tsp chai spice blend (scroll down on link for recipe)
7 ice cubes

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a blender with the frozen ingredients at the top.  Blend till smooth. Enjoy!

Amy's notes: From the original recipe on HGK, I made a few very small changes.  I cut 1/4 c of the almond milk out because I thought the smoothie was wet enough without and saves me time in measuring.  I use raisins instead of dates because I have raisins I've been needing to use up, but I'm sure you could use any sort of dried fruit you would like.  Today I used the leftover tops of celery stalks, which worked out great and saved on trashing veggie scraps.

Have you ever tried a green smoothie?  Have you ever had greens in a breakfast before?

Mediterranean Garbanzo Salad

World Wednesday again! For me, Mediterranean food reminds me of three things: tomatoes, olives, and olive oil. The recipe I made today has two of those three ingredients. Can you guess which ones? Yep, this recipe has no added oil. The only small amount of oil that goes into this bean salad is what comes in the 2 Tablespoons of Italian Dressing. Today, I made Mediterranean Garbonzo Salad from Whole Foods Market. Before this recipe I had never had zucchini or yellow squash uncooked, but I have to say I prefer it this way. I find that then I use them in stir fries they become too squishy and almost rubbery on the edges. In this salad they are cut fairly thin and add a nice crunch to the recipe.

Mediterranean Garbanzo Salad

12 grape tomatoes, halved
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 small yellow squash, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 can garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained and rinsed
10 black olives, halved
1/4 c fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2 T light Italian Dressing
1 T lemon juice
ground black pepper to taste
chopped romaine lettuce

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Top servings of chopped lettuce with bean mixture. Enjoy!

Amy's notes: In my recipe I doubled the original and added more olives and tomatoes, with less lemon juice. This could be a great dish to serve as a side salad or for the main meal. My recipe will serve 4-6 people depending on serving size.

What is your favorite Mediterranean dish?  Do most Mediterranean recipes you find have a ton of olive oil?


Sore, sore, sore! Keep running!

I am the sorest these last few days than I have been in years, and I played volleyball and tennis in high school!  So lets recap my few days of physical exhaustion.  On Sunday night Kevin and I played on a flag football team, which mercy ruled our opponents (when it get's to 35-0, we automatically win the game despite the time clock).  Then on Monday, I walked to and from campus twice, then went to my half hour core class at the Rec.  Today (Tuesday), I went to the Rec for a 1.5 mile run and 0.5 mile walk before and after the run, I also used some weight machines to target my arms.  The soreness oddly started on Monday after football, and I can only reason that it was because I was using muscles that I hadn't in a while.  That's actually one of the best things about trying a new exercise or sport, is realizing what muscles you've been forgetting to work out, or didn't know existed in the first place!  Kevin and my roommate along with a couple other friends have heard my moaning and groaning, literally, about my muscles, so I hope things are less sore tomorrow.  My upper thighs in particular have been pretty stiff, and the best they've felt for the past few days is when I was running earlier today, probably because they were warmed up and moving.  I'm looking forward to running again tomorrow before my core class and getting those few minutes of thigh muscle relief. Haha!

Have you ever played a new sport or done a new exercised where you rediscovered (or just discovered) a muscle you haven't worked out in a while (or ever)?


Sweet Black Bean Lettuce Burritos

It's Crockpot Monday, and today I'm made Hearty Black Bean Soup... which turned into just well cooked black beans, which I then made into black "refried" beans.  So, this is my first experience with successfully cooking dried beans, and I have to say it turned out well, but not as the end result I was expecting.  I got a recipe off of Crock-pot.com, called Hearty Black Bean Soup.  It took quite an extensive amount of time in the Crockpot till the meal was done, so I would suggest starting it very early if you want to eat at a normal hour.

Hearty Black Bean Soup

1 pound dry black beans, soaked overnight, drained, and rinsed
2 TBSP vegetable oil (I omitted)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 TBSP fresh cilantro or Italian parsley, minced (I used parsley)
8 c vegetable broth
1/4 crumbled cheese (I omitted)

Directions: Combine all ingredients (except cheese) in a crockpot.  Cover and cook on high for two hours, then on low for 5 hours.  Switch back to high for last 3 hours.  The soup is done when the beans are at a good consistency.

When the recipe was finally done (around 9:30pm for me), the soup did not look very appetizing at all.  The broth had been tinted a black color, and the onions had turned purple.  Because there were no spices added it was rather bland, so I ended up draining the excess liquid and considering this recipe as to merely make well-cooked black beans, which it definitely did!  For dinner tonight I used the beans to make Sweet Black Bean Lettuce Burritos.

Sweet Black Bean Lettuce Burritos

1 c cooked black bean mix, pureed
1 c cooked black bean mix
8 grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 c diced pineapple (I used canned)
1/4 c pineapple juice
2 tsp jalapeno, miced (I used jarred)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Directions: In a medium sized skillet, combine pureed and whole beans with the pineapple juice and heat over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Add pineapple, grape tomatoes, jalapeno, and cayanne pepper to the skillet.  Continuing to stir, fry ingredients until most of the excess liquid has evaporated.  Serve topped with fresh copped green onions, and wrapped with lettuce.

Amy's note:  You can serve this with many types of lettuce.  I would normally prefer butter lettuce, but this time I used ice burg lettuce.  It tends to be a bit messy, but using lettuce as wraps is a great way to get your greens in!

Have you ever not cared too much for an original recipe, but found something better to make from the leftovers?

Late, Late Weekend Post

Well this should be called the weekend of failed recipes.  The first that I tried on Saturday was a carrot cinnamon bread, a recipe that I had found on a random blog.  It had some odd ingredients such as 1 TBSP on baking powder and a can of white beans and its juice pureed.  I decided to give it a try anyways.  It turned out terrible, maybe because I didn't bake it long enough or something, but it had a very bitter almost sour taste that I couldn't even get down.  So that when into the trash unfortunately.  On Sunday I attempted to make my own sweet potato chips, but those did not turn out very well either.  I made the chips from sweet potatoes that I peeled to make 1/8 inch slices, covered them with a water, oil, and spice mix, then baked them for 15+ minutes laid out on a baking sheet.  This too did not turn out as I had hoped.  The chips at the edges of the pan were burnt, while the middle of the pan chips were still floppy.  Needless to say, this recipe was also a flop.  My sister-in-law suggested I invest in a mandoline slicer, and I may someday, but for now I will be sticking with store-bought sweet potato chips such as, the all natural Sweet Potato chips from Food Should Taste Good.  So, unfortunately, I will not be posting a recipe from this weekend, but look forward to my post later today.

One great thing about this weekend was the publishing of my photograph from my recipe a while ago, Roasted Apples and Parsnips, on the Whole Foods Market website.  Follow this link to see the official recipe and photo on WFM.

Back to failing recipes:  One recipe I can never seem to make work are chickpea patties.  I've found multiple recipes for them and have tried and tried, but no matter how hard I try, they always seam to fall apart in the skillet.

Is there a recipe that you just can't seem to get right?


Beans and Greens the Wonderful Dish!

Ok, ok, I'll admit it: I ate a rueban last night.  Ruebans is just about my only red meat temptation when I'm out to eat, but I would never think to make one myself.  Something about the sour kraut and thousand island dressing just makes it such a delicious sandwich to me.  Although this is definitely not in my ideal eating plan, I did not let my slip up ruin the week, or give me an excuse to eat other bad things last night.  But let's forget about the food past and concentrate on the yummy, nutritious food present

There are many different Beans and Greens recipes I've come across, but my favorite would have to be a recipe I fell upon after accidentally buying escarole, thinking it was butter lettuce this summer.  I had no idea how to use escarole, so I searched for a recipe on Dr. Fuhrman's website.  I came across 'Scarole and Beans (not sure if you can see this if you aren't a E2L member so I will copy the original recipe at the end of this post).  This recipe was great on it's own, but, as always, I had to add my own spins to it.  Read my notes at the bottom of ANK Beans and Greens recipe for explanation of the recipe.

ANK Beans and Greens

8-10 c fresh chopped escarole (note 1)
1/4 c raw cashew butter (note 2)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
water for sauteing
8-10 white mushrooms, quartered
2 c vegetable broth
1 can cooked black eyed peas, drained and rinsed (note 3)
1 tsp red pepper flakes (+/- for heat)
cooked wild rice
chopped green onions

Directions: Begin cooking rice or other grains you will be serving before starting other prep-work.  Blanch escarole for 1 minute in a large pot of boiling water.  Drain and press out excess liquid.
Heat a small amount of water in a large skillet and saute onion and garlic until tender.  Add mushrooms and saute while continually stirring slowly for five minutes.  Add vegetable broth and whisk in cashew butter.  Add blanched escarole and cook for one minute.  Add beans and red pepper flakes.  Simmer covered for five minutes.
Serve hot over cooked wild rice or whole grain of choice, and topped with chopped green onions.

Amy's Notes:  
Note 1- I usually make this with escarole, but in times when I can't find escarole, or find it for a good price (which seems like constantly, lately), I have used baby bok choy, bok choy, and butter lettuce.  I'd be interested in trying other types of greens, especially kale and spinach.  The blanching time for different lettuces may be more or less than one minute, so experiment as you get used to this recipe.  My rule of thumb is: the harder/tougher the lettuce, the longer blanching time required.  
Note 2- I use more nut butters than the Dr. F recipe because my recipe is creamier and meant for having over rice.  You can use whatever nut butter you have available, but preferably natural and unsalted.  I have used my homemade peanut butter (how to directions from a blog I read) for the recipe and because it is unsalted, the peanut "essence" doesn't overwhelm the dish.
Note 3- I used black eyed peas because that's what I had available the first time I made the recipe, and it tasted so good, I just stuck with it.  I'm sure that most white-types of beans will work for the recipe including cannellini, great northern, white beans, etc.

'Scarole and Beans- Dr. Fuhrman
8-10 c fresh chopped escarole
1TBSP raw cashew butter
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c vegetable broth
1 can cooked cannellini beans, undrained
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes, if desired

Blanch escarole for 1 minute in a large pot of boiling water.  Drain and press out excess liquid.
Heat 1/8 cup water in a large skillet and water saute onion and garlic until tender.  Whist in cashew butter.  Add escarole, cook for 1 minute.  Add broth, beans, and red pepper flakes.  Simmer covered for 5 minutes.  Allow to cool and serve hot.

All in all, both recipes are very good, but I find that my recipe stretches a little farther when I can serve it with wild rice and adds in mushrooms that are protective against many types of cancer and diseases (for more information on this I would suggest looking into Dr. Fuhrman's newest book, "Super Immunity").

What is your favorite green leaf vegetable to have blanched or in cooked dishes?


Solo pilates!

Today is the first day that I did pilates on my own, and it actually turned out very, very well!  It was really nice to be able to pick my own music, how long I stretched for, and what exercises I did.  One of the only downsides is having to remember how much of each exercise I did in one size series to be able to do it evenly on the other side.  In a way to keep myself motivated to push through muscle pain and finish a exercise, I tried to mentally tell myself what my pilates instructor normally would, like "Go for five more", "raise just a little further", and "keep your core tight."  I did pilates for around 50 minutes and left off the 5 minutes of final relaxation for 3 minutes of deep stretching instead.

A project I've been working on today is an Excel workbook with a long list of fruits and vegetables and marked in which months they are in season.  From now on, I will be posting at the beginning of each month which vegetables are of season.  This is a very "in general" list of seasonal produce and may not be available during that part of the season where you live.

What's seasonal?- October

Acorn squash
Bok choy
Brussel Sprouts
Butter Lettuce
Chard greens
Dragon Fruit
Green Beans
Honeydew Melon
Sweet Potatoes

My favorite produce of October would have to be sweet potatoes.  I love them in soups, stews, and as fries in a side dish!  Sometime this month I hope to experiment with baking a pumpkin... a small pumpkin.  Have you ever had experience with this?  Tips?  Suggestions?

What is your favorite produce of October?


Cold Monday, Warm Moroccan Barley Stew

Today was a breeze with getting my crockpot going!  All I had to do was put my frozen leftover Moroccan Chickpea Stew and 1/2 can tomato sauce I also had frozen into the crockpot, along with one more can of chickpeas and 2 cups vegetable broth.  After cooking on low in the crockpot for several hours, I tasted it and added barley (~1 cup uncooked) and a small sprinkle of cyanne pepper.  I served it with a large handful of rice to mix in and some green onions on top.  Just delicious!  (But I still have tons of leftovers!)

Moroccan Barley Stew

After frozen leftover Moroccan Stew melted down
Moroccan Barley Stew after barley is cooked

 Another recipe I made today was making homemade chai spice blend.  I enjoy making blended salads, or green smoothies in the mornings, and a few of my favorite recipes call for chai spice.  Previously I had been ripping the spices out of chai tea bags, but decided that this was wasting packaging and otherwise good tea I could be having.  I found this recipe on Choosing Raw as directed by my favorite blog Healthy Girl's Kitchen.  I tweaked the recipe, as I always do, it leave out ground cardamom because my grocery store sells it in a tiny bottle for nearly $10!  Here is what I used:

Chai Spice Blend

2 T ground ginger
1 1/2 T cinnamon
2 t ground cloves
2 t ground nutmeg
3 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp white pepper

Directions:  Measure out all ingredients and mix together well.  Store in an old washed and dried spice container, or in a glass jar if you want to make a double batch like I did.
Amy's Notes:  I have never used cardamom, so I don't quite know what the recipe is missing, but I like it all the same.  I plan on using this in smoothies, sprinkled onto desserts, in decaf coffee or tea, and in my oatmeal in the morning.

Yet another monday has gone by, and the crockpot has been my best friend.  The stew leftovers are going to be great for lunch all week for me!  I might try it cold in a salad or warmed up by itself.

What is your favorite dish for leftovers?  What's your favorite leftovers to have hot and cold?


Football weekend and all I want is some fries!

What a great weekend!  I literally spent the weekend on the couch with Kevin, watched season 1 of "Arrested Development", watched football, watched TV, and knitted... all while in sweatpants!  The highlight of Kevin's weekend was when the Oakland Raiders beat Texas (25-20), in what is considered a memorial game to the Raider's long time owner Al Davis.  Probably my favorite part of the weekend was getting to work on some of my knitting. I started on a scarf for Kevin which will be in a dark green yarn, and have plans for an eternity scarf for me in a coral orange/pink color.

For my food for the weekend, I sadly caved-in for Pizza Hut breadsticks with marinara sauce.  These particular breadsticks are a craving food for me that not only has hunger cues, but nostalgic cues.  I have very fond memories of when I was young and would go spend the day or weekend with my grandma, who passed away June of 2010.  Staying with my grandparents, of course, meant lots of spoiling in the form of food.  If I slept over, I would wake up and my grandma would make my grandpa and I french toast, we would then bake something like cookies and/or cake in the afternoon, and before my parents came to get me we would have Pizza Hut delivery with a deep-dish pepperoni pizza and plenty of breadsticks with marinara sauce.  I've never been a huge fan of pizza, so that is never too tempting to me, but the taste of breadsticks and marinara sauce just triggers me into memories of certain smells and feelings of being at my grandma's house playing cards and laughing while baking.  This weekend, I am particularly proud of myself that I only had as much breadsticks as would nicely fill me, and compromised to have one slice of veggie loaded pizza.  Next time we have Pizza Hut, my new goal is to only have breadsticks with marinara sauce.

For me, weight loss and getting to a healthy lifestyle isn't about perfection, it's about living, and living with the idea that you are never going to deviate from your ultimate goals is not practical, enjoyable, and is just setting youself up for failure.  I could have eaten Pizza Hut this weekend and have went on a binge for the rest of the weekend on unhealthy food, but I didn't.  I allowed myself this deviation and got right back on track!  One of the best nutritarian food I had all weekend was vegetable fries!  This is a recipe I have put on my blog before, but this time I used sweet potatoes, carrots, AND parsnips.  I have to say parsnips was a great addition to the recipe!

Vegetable "Fries"

2 medium sweet potatoes
2 large (8 small) carrots
1 large (2 small) parsnips
1 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP water
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Peel potatoes, carrots, and parsnips, and cut into fry shapes.  Mix oil, water, cumin, salt, and pepper in a medium sized bowl.  Stir in vegetables till well coated with oil mixture.  Arrange coated vegetables in one layer on baking sheet (I cover with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick spray).  Bake for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the outsides are lightly browned and the edges are slightly crisp.  Serve plain or with a favorite dipping sauce.

As I have said earlier, this is one of my favorite "treat" recipes.  It really tastes great with addition of parsnips.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

What is your "bad nostalgic food"?  Do you have some goals for minimizing this food trigger, or compromising to have it in moderation?