1.31.2014

Spicy Buffalo Wing Hummus for Superbowl Sunday!

Go Hawks!

Some of you may know from previous blog posts that I live in Spokane, Washington... so naturally, I have been a Seahawks fan my whole life.  All season long Kevin and I, along with all of our friends who are also Seahawk fans, have watched them march to victory.  And now, with only two days left until the Superbowl, we can't wait for the best victory of all!!!

In the meantime, the Inland Northwest has gotten a bit of snow.  The driving hasn't been too bad (not Alabama bad), but the key is just to go slow, have the right tires, and to stay away from cars as if everyone is out to get you.  It has worked so far for me!
Here is Kevin shoveling snow at my parent's place after working out at the gym.
I can't believe he wasn't freezing in a t-shirt and shorts!
 I was happily inside playing with my puppy. :)
Last night we went to the gym and Kevin did weight training and cycling while I went to a yoga class.  I am always so relaxed afterwards, but also thoroughly sweaty from the hot temperature and challenging moves.  Tonight, after Kevin is finished with one of his last exams before becoming a Certified Secondary Education Teacher in Washington, we're planning on going to the gym to workout.  I'm planning on working in the workout below into our session.


We are planning on spending our Superbowl at a bar just down the street from our apartment.  We were lucky enough to win a raffle for a $20 gift card and pick of tables for the Superbowl the last time we went for the playoff game.  Before heading to the bar for the game, we are planning on having everyone over for some pre-game snackies and beer (so our gameday tab doesn't end up being too horrible).  For the party I will be making one of my favorite dips: Spicy Buffalo Wing Hummus!

Spicy Buffalo Wing Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup Frank's RedHot Buffalo Wing Sauce (more to taste)
  • 3 Tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 2 Tbsp bean liquid
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper *Optional*

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor.  Blend until smooth and creamy, adding more Wing Sauce and/or cayenne pepper to reach the desired spiciness.
  2. Scoop the hummus into your desired serving or storage dish and sprinkle with some extra cayenne pepper (or paprika if you are not a fan of the heat... that the Seattle D will be bringing on Sunday!).
  3. Serve immediately or chill until game-time!  Serve with whole wheat pita slices and veggies to dip. 

Amy's Notes:

I LOVE this hummus with celery sticks.  My husband loves to eat spicy chicken wings, so when we go out and he has those, I often order a side of wing sauce with a bunch of celery to enjoy.  Celery seems to always accompany wings, and it makes the perfect flavor combo here.  I find that celery has a way of cooling down the heat in a sauce or dip, while still allowing you to enjoy all of the flavors.

Check out this hilarious Superbowl commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBKX2RV3Ajw

1.30.2014

Cranberry Dijon Dressing

I hope everyone's week is going well.  We have had a busy whirlwind of the last week or so!  Kevin and I finally (FINALLY!) joined a local gym last week.  We have put this off for a while, (1) because we are still working on paying school loans and trying to save money wherever we can, and (2) we did not want to be part of that notorious "New Year's Resolution" group that get gym memberships and crowd up the gyms at the beginning of the year, but soon lose motivation and get snickered at by the regular gym people.

So far, I love it!  It is a fairly large gym, but not so much so that you feel intimidated.  They have an approachable weight room, mats for stretching and floor exercises, an open cardio area, several basketball courts, a cycling room, a large studio room for Zumba, and a lovely relaxing yoga studio.  I have been doing 3-4 days on, 1-2 days off.  I also alternate between yoga days, and weight and cardio training days.  I have felt moderately sore in certain areas, but the yoga helps a lot to keep me from feeling too stiff.

Since we have started a routine of going to the gym in the evenings (I don't know if we will ever be morning workout people!), much of my nights are eaten up by working out, showering, heating up frozen leftovers or making a quick salad, reading or knitting, and then bedtime.  Yesterday, however, was a rest day and I had one of my best girlfriends over for dinner.  I made us a lovely salad with baked sweet potatoes on the side.  For the salad I decided to create a new dressing (Yay!  Finally a new recipe!).  Hope you enjoy:

Cranberry Dijon Dressing

Servings: 2 cups dressing, approximately 8-10 servings
Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (craisins)
  • 2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp miso
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
  2. If the dressing is too thick for your liking, add water by the Tablespoon and blend until you have reached your desired consistency.
  3. Serve as a sweet and tangy dip, or on a nutritious salad of your choice.
  4. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week or so.  Add more water and shake if the dressing thickens after being stored.

Amy's Notes:

I used this dressing on the salad pictured below, which contained mixed salad greens, broccoli, carrots, red onion, chopped almonds, raw pumpkin seeds, and craisins.  So Yummy!
Also, please forgive the lower quality of pictures!  I have been working with my iPad camera, and have been testing out different Photo editing apps to get the best quality for my time and money.  Remember that all my images are Pin-able now too!



1.22.2014

Rant, Recipe, Pictures

Ah!  I can't believe it has already been over a week since I've last blogged.  I seem to always get on a blogging roll, and then life happens.  Any-who... last week I came down with some very unpleasant stomach bug that caused me to be home stick from work for a day and a half.  I just felt super nauseous for a few days (ginger in club soda helped that a bit), then the second day I had horrible body aches and a mild migraine.  Not fun at all, BUT, compared to the flu that everyone else has been getting that has major symptoms coming out of both ends along with a fever and chills, I consider myself lucky.

To top off the end of being sick, my "lovely" lady time of the month came.  Perfect...  (***Girl rant coming, boys skip to the "Safe Zone" below.  You have been warned!***)  For those of you who have followed my blog for some time, you may remember almost a year ago when I was having major issues with my birth control pills.  I started getting TMJ migraines, I felt constantly tired, and I felt the need to panic about everything, even to the point of causing a panic attack or two.  For anyone who has never had a panic attack before, it feels like you have tunnel vision, you can't breathe but oddly breathe too much, and you sometimes lose feeling to your extremities, including your face.  It's terrifying!  I finally figured out that the hormones in my birth control pill were causing all of these weird symptoms, along with a mild case of anemia.

In the end, I completely went off of the birth control pill to try to get my hormones back to normal and I started taking some iron supplements.  I felt like I was slowly getting better over the summer, and then fall hit.  All of a sudden, my once very regular like-clockwork period was late... or rather, skipped an entire month.  What the french toast!?  After some mild panic crying and several pregnancy tests later, I knew for certain that I wasn't pregnant, but I had to wait an entire month for it to finally come.  Since then my periods have been getting slowly closer together (1 month and 3 weeks, 1 month and 2 week, then this time was 1 month and 1 week).  At this point, I am hoping I will be fully back to normal within a cycle or two.

Why am I telling you this?  Because I think it is important to remember where we have come from and where we are going.  Looking back nearly a year ago, I felt like my health wasn't in my control and that everything that was happening to my body could not be helped.  Now, I feel calm and energized and in control, compared to the sense of panic, perpetual tiredness, and helplessness I felt through much of last year.   Last year made me realize that health is not just a number on a scale, but how you feel during all 24 hours of the day.  I can say that I live my 24 hours a day in 2014 much more fully than I did during most of 2013, and I'm truly excited for what this year will bring.

(***Safe Zone, Rant Over***) 

Anyways, I haven't had too much time to cook over the last week or two, so no new recipes to report.  Tonight I will be trying a new recipe that I discovered on Whole Foods Market's website.  My husband, Kevin, often likes spicy sausages with hotdog buns for dinner because they are easy enough for him to make and very filling.  Obviously, NOT healthful food, but this last time he ate them, he told me that they gave him an awful gut ache and bathroom consequences later (hmm, wonder why? ;)).  Lately he has been enjoying more meals with beans that I have been making, like teriaki chickpeas and lentil soup, so I thought I might give this recipe a try to replace the spicy sausage in his hotdog buns: Lentil Sloppy Joes.

What has everyone else been making lately?

And here are some fun random pictures:

I feel like all Nutritarians or those who eat a
Plant-Based diet could qualify to wear one of these ;)
My first knitted item for myself in over 6 months!  I got the yarn
 from my mom for Christmas and a pair of beautiful custom made
bamboo knitting needles from my brother and sister-in-law.
I found this at a fancy kitchen gadget store downtown about
a month ago.  It instantly went on my wish list!
Kevin and I got around to hanging up some pictures from our wedding
now that we have some wall space to do it.  This is one of both of our
 favorites when we surprised everyone on our first dance by doing a dance
compilation of Thriller, the Charleston swing, the dance song from
Napolean Dynomite, and Summer Lovin' from Grease.
One of my best girlfriends and I sharing a moment while we were out
for our annual Lady's Holiday Evening Out.  This year we called it
"The Night of Sparkles" and dressed up in shimmery cocktail dresses.
I found this killer ab workout that Kevin and I are going to do
tonight at the gym we just joined.  Wish us and our poor abs luck!
Check out this hilarious dinosaur tray.  Love it!
Here is an interesting convo I had with Siri the other day.

1.09.2014

Articles I found interesting today.

I hope everyone is having a great week so far.  I'm lucky that I get every other Friday off, so this is the start of my weekend, yay!  I'm spending my Friday off by hanging out with my mom while my dad is away on a business trip and we are going to test out a few recipes and have some girl time.  These recipes might include one from Happy Herbivore's fairly new cookbook called Light and Lean,  a few Ethiopian recipes, and perhaps something new.  I will let you know how it all goes and I will try to remember to take pictures.

Have I told you yet that my mom got a Vitamix for Christmas this year?!  All I can say is "Wow!"  That thing could make peanut butter out of rocks!  Hopefully there will be a recipe we try tomorrow using it.

Unfortunately, I don't have any new recipes for you today, but I do have a few interesting articles I was reading today to share with you. Happy reading and let me know your opinions on the articles if you would like! :)

http://news.msn.com/us/roaches-found-at-california-chicken-plant



1.08.2014

Veggie Loaded Stir Fry


Do you ever have those days that you know you didn't eat the healthiest of lunches?  I had one of those days yesterday.  At my work, to celebrate the Mountain West Region reaching its profit goals, we had a pizza party.  Luckily, I was the one tasked to order all of the pizzas, so I was able to put in an order for a thin crust, all veggie, and light cheese pizza.  Although this was a better choice than to have a thick, hand-tossed pizza loaded with cheese and meat, it still wasn't as plant-strong as I normally have for lunch.  To make up for the white flour and cheese in my gut last night, I made myself this Veggie-Loaded Stir Fry.

***Remember to Pin any images on this post that you would like to share on Pinterest!  Just hover over an image and the "Pin It" button will appear in the top left corner of the image***

Serves: 2
Time: 20-30 minutes

Ingredients:
  • approximately 1.5 to 2 lbs of raw vegetables (I used yellow onion, celery, carrots, green beans, bell pepper, broccoli, then tomatoes and green onion for topping)
  • Sauce:  You can use any sauce that you prefer, but I happen to LOVE peanut sauces
    • 1/4 cup peanut butter
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce (more to taste)
    • 2 Tbsp white rice vinegar
    • 1 Tbsp brown rice syrup (or preferred sweetener)
    • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (more to taste)
Instructions:
  1. Wash and cut all of your veggies (I like to cut my celery and carrots at a diagonal, then thin slices for my pepper and onion)
  2. In a large skillet, heat several tablespoons of water over medium-high heat until a rapid boil.  Add in the veggies and saute, adding more water as needed to keep the veggies from burning.
  3. In a smaller bowl to the side, combine the ingredients for your chosen sauce.  Allow the veggies to cook until tender and add the sauce.  Heat until the sauce is bubbling and turn down the temperature to a simmer.  Allow any excess liquid to boil off.
  4. Add in your choice of bean if you prefer at this time and heat for a few more minutes (I added some leftover black eyed peas.)
  5. Serve by itself, or on top of brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat noodles, etc.

Amy's Notes:
I ate my stir fry by itself, but as I said above, I added in some extra black eyed peas, then topped off with fresh tomatoes and green onions.  This is a great way to still enjoy a warm dish without a grain (that is not another soup!).  For those of you doing the first 6 weeks of ETL, when it is recommended to eat 1 lb of cooked vegetables daily, this recipe will help you get there!


What is your favorite veggie to have in a stir fry?

1.06.2014

Spicy Indian Dal

****Check out the new "Pin it" feature on each of my pictures!  If you hover over the picture, the "Pin It" logo will appear, allowing you to pin any image from this post.  I will continue to do this with all of my future posts.  Thanks to my readers for the suggestion!****

Over the last few months since I have been on a blogging hiatus, I have fallen in love with Indian food.  Locally, we have one of the best Indian restaurants, and we enjoy going there once or twice a month, usually with my parents.  Although they have quite a few vegetarian options, I know that there is a ton of oil/ghee in all of the recipes.  Since I was craving Indian food this Sunday, I decided to make a big batch of Indian spiced lentils. 

Ingredients: 
2 cups dried mixed lentils (I used 1/3 cup of each pictured)


1 can diced tomatoes
1 can lite coconut milk
2 medium sized tomatoes (or an extra can of diced tomatoes)
1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed (yellow or orange bell peppers work too)
1/2 yellow onion
1 dried red chile, stem and seeds removed
Spices:
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp ground corriander
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika 
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less as desired)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric 

Instructions:
  1. In a large pot, bring the mixed lentils and around 8 cups of water to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and allow the lentils to cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until "al dente".  Pour into a strainer and allow to drain while you prepare the sauce.
  2. In a high speed blender, combine the canned and fresh tomatoes, bell pepper, coconut milk, onion, and chile.  Blend until the creamy and the dried chile has been broken into very small flecks.
  3. Return the empty pot to the stovetop and pour in the tomato sauce mixture you just blended.  Heat over medium heat until simmering and add the spices and cooked lentils back into the pot.  
  4. Simmer until the lentils are thoroughly cooked and the sauce has reduced to become creamy.  Adjust spices to your liking.  (I generally add extra cayenne pepper for some extra heat at the end.)
  5. Serve hot over your preferred grain.  I served mine with mixed quinoa and steamed kale.


Amy's Notes:
I was so excited yesterday (and today) that Kevin was willing to try this dish and actually asked for a bowl or two for himself.  I guess I will have to keep this recipe in my regulars.  ;)

I absolutely LOVE lentils!  They are great to add to soups, salads, you name it.  It is a big plus for me that they cook up relatively quickly without needing any soaking.  I am lucky enough to have a few grocery stores to choose from where I can get all of the varieties below in the bulk section at a relatively decent price. 

What is your favorite way to enjoy lentils?



1.03.2014

Oil-Free Baked Falafels

Yummy!  I made these these falafels today for lunch and enjoyed on a sandwich topped with tahini, kale, green onion, and pepper slices. The spices in this mixture just hit the spot!

Oil-Free Baked Falafels
Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 5-6
Ingredients:
2 cans garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed), or 2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 onion, finely chopped 
1 Tbsp minced garlic (3-4 cloves)
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp tahini
1 tsp miso paste (optional)
2 tsp whole wheat flour
1 tsp low sodium soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander 
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 375 and coat a baking sheet with non stick spray.

Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and pulse until the mixture is partially crumbly and partially pasty.  Add amall amounts of water to the mixture if needed to help it stick together  

With your hands or a cookie dough scoop, make 1 to 1-1/2 inch balls and place them on the baking sheet.  Press each ball down to form a plump mini patty. Fill your baking sheet leaving about an inch between each patty. 

Bake for 15-20 minutes, flipping the falafels halfway through. To keep the patties more moist, I suggest placing a casserole dish with water in the oven while it is preheating and baking.

Allow to cool and serve however you desire. I served mine on a half sandwich with whole grain bread, tahini, kale, green onions and peppers, with extra tahini drizzeled on top. 
Amy's notes:
This recipe is easily halve-able, so if you would like a smaller servings/ less leftovers. 

I am keeping my leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container to have on top of salads and in sandwiches over the weekend. 

1.02.2014

Happy New Year and an Update

Dear blogging community,

I have been absent from writing my blog for quite some time, 174 days to be exact.  Since then I have had some good times and some bad times, but for now, let's focus on the good:


My husband Kevin and I celebrated our 1 Year Wedding Anniversary.

I went on a weekend trip to Montana see my sister-in-law, Katie, for a girl's weekend while my brother was out of town.  We had a great time going floating down the river, soaking in hot springs, enjoying a few bars in Bozeman's quaint downtown, and watching roller derby. (I think the unintentional photo-bomb in the picture below is pretty funny.)

Kevin and I took a trip with some wonderful friends to Leavenworth, WA for Oktoberfest.

I moved from being a temporary employee to a full time permanent employee at my company (with killer benefits!)
My offer letter!
Kevin started student teaching for his Masters in Secondary Education and will be fully done with his masters program in two weeks. 
Cheers to that!

We found out that my oldest brother's wife is expecting twin boys in April/May, and my mom and I threw her a High Tea Baby Shower while they were in town for Christmas.  I made her two knitted foxes like this one.
Really!  What DOES the fox say?!

We moved from our tiny (seriously, tiny) one bedroom, dark, half basement apartment into a lovely third floor, two bedroom apartment with tons of windows, a laundry room (room! not laundry closet! room!), a large pantry, plenty of kitchen storage, a real-sized fridge, room for my yarn storage, and nearly twice the square footage of our previous place.  Did I mention that it comes with an indoor lap pool and hot-tub, all for only $15 more than we were paying at our last place?  Needless to say, I am much more relaxed and happy in our new place.

Kevin and I traveled to his hometown of Sequim, WA to have Thanksgiving with his family.  I successfully avoided cutting any of my digits like two years ago.

I finally made a homemade Christmas wreath that I can use for years to come.  I got all of the supplies from Michael's while all of their Christmas decor was 50%-60% off.  I put together the wreath myself and it cost about $18 (compared to the pre-made ones that go for $30+).

My biggest Christmas present this year was a surprise from Kevin for a Western Caribbean Cruise for our belated Honeymoon in May.  We are so excited to have something so fun to look forward to... 136 days can't go by fast enough!

Lastly, I had a wonderful Christmas and New Years with Kevin, and our friends and family.  We are so excited for the upcoming year to welcome two nephews, to go on a Honeymoon, and to go to Oktoberfest again.  We are also grateful for the friendships we have made this year.

Bring it on 2014!  This year is going to be great!

Please note that I hope to get back into a blogging routine of one or two posts a week.  I haven't had too much time to seriously cook or make up recipes over the last few months, but I'm beginning to be inspired again!  Thank you all for your patience in waiting for me to return.