Happy Fall from Amy's Nutritarian Kitchen!

I have mentioned probably about a million times on this blog how much I love fall... I love pumpkins and apples and crisp temperatures and cozy blankets and rainy days.  But, before I start sounding too much like a "Basic B*tch", I'd like to share some of our new house's fall/Halloween decor I have recently put up.

Last Wednesday's decorating started with stopping by my favorite farm stand for some pumpkins.  The three big pumpkins were $10, while each set of three little pumpkins were $1.  $12.  Not bad for so much fall color!  I sent this picture to my husband before heading home.  
I bet he was thinking "So it has begun..."

The mini pumpkins went perfectly on our front living room mantle.  This room doesn't have much in it to begin with (which I am currently working on, but that is a post for another day).  The one extra white (pokemon) pumpkin went on a coffee table for decoration.  In case you are wondering, the three pictures above are of old Tacoma, WA (30 minutes from where we live).  Kevin estimates that the two on the right are early 1900's, while the left is a bit later around the 1930's.  Several months ago my work was going to get rid of these out of someone's office who had left the company years ago.  I snagged them and they fit our front room perfectly.  

Here is where the three larger pumpkins went along with some purple string lights, spider web net, a metal pumpkin patch sign, and a scarecrow.  Other people on our block go all-out for Halloween with fake gravestones in their yards, strobe lights, and black lights, but I think for our first year owning a home, this will do.

Here is bit of a better view with our porch light on.  Poor Kevin that first night after I put up decorations.  We were cozy in bed when I remembered that I forgot to turn off the purple lights.  I wasn't sure how warm they might get against the spiderweb and if that could be a fire hazard, so Kevin went out and turned them on.  What a gentleman!  Hehe!  I think I will work on getting a timer for the lights that we can use later for Christmas lights this winter.

Here is a closer view of the fall wreath that I made for the house a few weeks ago.  I purchased all of my supplies from Michael's for only $20 and put it together myself.  Not bad when the pre-made wreaths at craft stores go for $30-$75 depending on their size.

What things are you doing around your place to enjoy the spirit of fall?

Health and Happiness,



Results so far on my version of Chef AJ's Ultimate Weight Loss Program

So how have I been doing since beginning with my version of Chef AJ's Ultimate Weight Loss program?  Mentally, I'm worlds better!  Physically, I'm on the right track.

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I have had a bad relationship with food and food cravings.  This program has helped with that tremendously, along with being vigilant to not look at food blogs.  Instead, I have been enjoying reading some knitting and home improvement blogs.  Overall, I feel like I am more in-tune with my body's needs and have consistently been eating only when truly hungry.

Since starting the program, I am down 7 lbs and have been steadily losing from week to week.  Along with actual weight loss, I have been feeling slimmer overall, as if what I have been losing has been only fat that has been holding on for a while.  My clothes have been fitting better, even to the point that one of my favorite pairs of jeans were too lose even after a wash and dry.  I think that I still have a good 20-30 lbs to lose before I get within a comfortable healthy weight, but I am encouraged to keep on my same path and let that happen over time.

Another physical change that I have noticed is my skin.  Since I was 15 or so, I have been dealing with acne of some sort.  Some times have been better than others, but I have always had a blemish or pimple on my face to deal with or cover up.  After starting the program, I haven't had a single breakout.  As if weight loss wasn't motivation enough!  It has been so nice to use minimal makeup and to not be self conscious of my face.  I have felt more confident as a result.

One thing that has helped me a lot to stay on track is planning my weekly meals ahead of time.  By this I mean my lunches and dinners.  My snacks and veggies for breakfast change up daily depending on what veggies and fruit I have on stock.  For lunches and dinners, I have been batch cooking many of my essentials including brown rice, baked sweet potatoes, as well as soups and chilis.

For brown rice, I cook it once a week in my pressure cooker, generally making 8-12 cups in the end.  I leave about 2-4 cups in the fridge and freeze the rest in 2 cup portions in baggies.  Over the next week, I pull out and defrost what is needed.  Kevin eats quite a bit of rice although he is not following my same plan, so we go through my stock pretty regularly.

The sweet potatoes I either bake 4-6 at a time and store them in the fridge until I need them, or I have been taking raw potatoes to work and baking them in our toaster oven in a pinch.  My sweet potatoes are generally my favorite food within a day.  Often I chop them up and add them to my soup or chili, eat them plain by themselves, or top them with a vegetable or bean based sauce (like Chef AJ's Yummy Sauce).

The chilis and soups I have been making include my favorite Three Bean Chili, Summer Vegetable Corn Chowder, Potato Leek Soup, Mexican Pinto Bean Soup, and Creamy Broccoli Soup.  The nice thing about most chilis and soups is that my husband will eat them, so I don't have to worry about his meals very much.

That's all for now folks.  I'll be coming back later next week with a few more posts about some fun traveling, crafts, and home improvements we have been doing.  See you next time! :)

Health and Happiness,



I'm back and have made some changes...

I have been absent for some time from the blog, and I'm actually not sorry for it.  I have been needing some time to re-balance and refocus.

For the last few months, we have done quite a bit of traveling, which generally translates to compromising the quality and healthfulness of what I'm eating.  I won't go into details, but it seemed after I got off our cruise in August, I kept on cruising in my mind with regard to my eating.  I kept thinking, 'Oh, I will just start again tomorrow, or on Monday."  This thinking never ever works for me.

Finally, a few weeks ago I buckled down and started my version of Chef AJ's Ultimate Weight Loss Challenge.  Earlier this summer, I donated some money to her IndieGoGo campaign to fund finishing her first season of her Foodytv.com show, Healthy Living with Chef AJ.  If you haven't checked it out yet, I would highly recommend it!  She has some plant-based rock stars on her show including Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Campbell.  In new episodes she has recently filmed but are not up yet include Lindsay Nixon from Happy Herbivore and Wendy from Healthy Girl's Kitchen.

As part of my donation perk, I got a digital copy of her 21-Day Recipe Guide for Ultimate Weight Loss.  You can find more information about her full program here.  Her full program comes with video and audio downloads as well as the 21-day recipe guide, but I didn't quite have the budget to afford the full thing.

So I went at it alone with a few give and takes here and there.  Here is generally what I did/have been doing:

Morning: water and tea on the way in to work

Breakfast: 1 lb raw, water sauteed, steamed, or roasted non-starchy veggies

Mid-morning snack (if I'm feeling hungry, but generally I haven't been): fruit or fruit with a bit of raw oats soaked in soy milk

Lunch: baked potato, vegetable or bean soup/chili, apple or other fruit

Afternoon snack (if I'm hungry): 1/2-1 lb raw veggies

Dinner: bean and rice or bean and potato dinner with more veggies

The first day I did this, it seemed like a lot of food!  And it was!  In the week or two following, I found that I wasn't hungry for my mid-morning snack, but enjoyed my afternoon veggie snack on my way home and before making dinner.  One of the items I am still needing to work on is not to overeat at dinnertime.  I make these meals at home every night, and tend to overestimate how much I need to plate for myself.

Some items I have limited or removed from my diet include excess salt besides the occasional low sodium soy sauce, all oils, refined carbs, nuts and seeds (which ARE NOT bad, but I have a hard time limiting myself within my caloric needs), baked goods, avocados, olives, most alcohol, and obviously all animal products.

Another aspect that I have been working on are managing my cravings and to limit my exposure to "food porn".  Being a blogger, I like to follow other bloggers to see the beautiful and creative recipes they make, but this really does nothing more than tease my brain and cause me to have an unhealthy relationship with food.  It's hard to admit, AND even harder to stop, but until I get a full handle on my cravings, my weight, and overall health, food blogs are a no-no for me.  Wendy at Healthy Girl's Kitchen explains this same thing very well here.

Overall, I have been keeping my meals very simple.  It is when I make more complicated recipes with dozens of ingredients that I get into trouble with overeating.  These past few weeks I have had staples of brown rice and baked sweet potatoes.  One of my lifesavers has been Donna's Cheeze Sauce that I found on Nutmeg Notebook's blog here.  I find that it goes well with just about everything and is potato and carrot-based, so it follows my rules and goals.

Ah... that seemed long-winded, but I wanted to give an update with what I have been doing during my absence.  My next post will be about my results so far, so stay tuned!

Health and Happiness,



Curry Carrot Soup

We just got back yesterday from a week long vacation on an Alaskan Cruise (a few pictures are at the bottom of this post), and I came home to a bare bones fridge without any willpower to make it to the grocery store.  I grabbed all of the surviving veggies out of the pantry and fridge and got to work.  Sometimes the best recipes come from those we throw together out of necessity, and this is a keeper!

It is ever so slightly starting to feel like fall in western Washington, so this creamy, comforting soup just hit the spot.  Along with an afternoon of football, knitting, and tea, this soup got me in the mood to cuddle up on the couch, wear fuzzy socks, and relax.  Ahhhh... :)

I made this recipe in my InstantPot Duo pressure cooker, but it can easily be done on the stovetop or a crockpot by adjusting the cooking times.  See my notes below for suggested adjustments.

Curry Carrot Soup
(Pressure Cooker Friendly)
Time: 10 minutes prep, 6 minutes high pressure
Servings: 6-8 servings

        2 cups chopped onion
        2 celery sticks, chopped
        4 cups chopped carrots
        1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
        1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
        1 tsp minced ginger
        1 tsp cumin seeds
        1 tsp fennel seeds (optional)
        1/2 tsp dried mustard powder (optional)
        1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubbed
        1 cup dried yellow split peas
        1 cup dried red lentils
        6 cups water (boiling water will bring pot to pressure faster, optional)
        2 Tbsp mild curry powder
        1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)

        3 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, deseeded, and chopped

Pressure Cooker Instructions:
1.)  In a large pressure cooker, saute the onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, ginger, cumin, and fennel seeds for 3-5 minutes.
2.)  Add in the remaining ingredients except for the roasted red bell peppers.  Stir to distribute spices throughout.
3.)  Lock the lid in place and cook at high pressure for 6 minutes.  Allow the pressure to come down naturally for 15 minutes, and then release any remaining pressure.
4.)  Carefully remove the lid once pressure has been released.  Add in the chopped roasted peppers.  Serve chunky or use an immersion blender to cream the soup, adding additional water to reach the desired consistency.  Serve hot and enjoy!

Amy's Notes:
To make this soup on the stovetop, follow the same directions to saute, but simmer for 20-30 minutes in place of the 6 minutes cooking at pressure.

To make this soup in a crockpot, throw all of the ingredients in and cook on high for about 4 hours.

I would suggest topping with green onion, cilantro, parsley, basil, or nutritional yeast.  Again, I was running on empty cupboards, so mine pictured is merely garnished with fresh ground black pepper.

Now, here are a few pictures from our Alaskan Cruise last week... :)

Our first stop was in Ketchican.  We started the day by going to Creek Street (the old red light district), and then continued for a hike up Deer Mountain.  I hiked about halfway up (1500 feet) until we got to a beautiful overlook.  We met my parents halfway up the trail and Kevin and my dad decided to continue to the top of the mountain (3200 feet) while my mom and I slowly made our way down the mountain so I would have time to check out a yarn shop in town.

This is Kevin after the long hike.  The peak above is where him and my dad made it up to.  We were all a little sore the day following, but the views and scenery made it all worth it!

Our next stop should have been up the Tracy Arm Fjord, but unfortunately someone had a medical emergency that day on the ship and we had to proceed to Juneau instead of  seeing the Tracy Arm Glacier.  Huge bummer!  Thankfully, we didn't have any hard-set plans in Juneau and were able to take a shuttle up to Mendenhall Glacier.  The weather was perfectly sunny, but just cool enough that I got to rock some of my favorite knitted pieces.

Later in Juneau we took another shuttle to the Alaskan Brewery for a guided tasting.  Lots of fun to learn about the innovative ways the brewery has adapted to produce the quantities they do with more efficiency and less environmental impacts (recycling CO2 from fermentation and using spent grain biomass for energy).  The beer was delicious!

Health and Happiness,



Berry Poppy Seed Dressing

My two favorite parts of a grocery store are the produce section (for obvious reasons) and the bulk bin section.  Bulk bins are getting much more popular these days and carry just about everything including dried beans and legumes, whole grains and flours, nuts and seeds, as well as spices.

Buying items in bulk is great for getting as little or as much as you want of an item.  I also appreciate how it cuts down on packaging for sustainability reasons.  I find that when I shop in the bulk bins I save money on items in each section, but particularly on beans, whole grains, and spices.  When bought by the bag, beans can cost $2-$3 per pound, whereas I find them in the bulk bin around $0.50-$1 per pound.  Grains are about the same ratio in price differences as beans.  Spices are often where the biggest difference is.  Some tiny spice jars can cost $4-$8 depending on what you are getting, but in the bulk section can be a quarter of those prices or less.

Some of my favorite items from each section that are staples in our house are as follows (because I love making lists!):

  • Dried beans/legumes: pinto beans, small red beans, garbanzo beans, black beans, black eyed peas, brown lentils, red lentils, yellow and green split peas
  • Whole grains: rolled oats, steel cut oats, brown rice varieties, wild rice, pearl barley, millet, quinoa
  • Flours: whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, chickpea flour, almond flour, smelt flour
  • Nuts and Seeds: (all raw) cashews, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, hemp hearts, and ground flaxseeds
  • Spices: cumin, coriander, chili powder, cayenne pepper, dried basil, dried parsley, dried thyme, dried rosemary, dried oregano, dried ginger, dry mustard, onion powder, garlic powder

Last time I loaded up in the bulk bin section, I thought I would try something new and decided to get poppy seeds.  I thought a sweeter poppy seed dressing sounded wonderful and remembered that I had froze some raspberries and blackberries a week ago when they were on sale at the produce market.

Berry Poppy Seed Dressing
Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 6 servings

        1 cup frozen mixed berries
        1 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
        1/2 cup raw cashews
        4 pitted dates
        3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
        1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
        1/2 tsp ground dried ginger
        1/2 tsp dry mustard
        1/4 tsp cinnamon

        1/4 cup poppy seeds

1.)  In a high-powered blender, blend together all of the ingredients except the poppy seeds.
2.)  Blend until smooth and creamy, adding additional plant-based milk to reach desired consistency.
3.)  Add in the poppy seeds and blend on low to mix.
4.)  Serve chilled over a salad or as a sweet, tangy dip.

Amy's Notes:
In my recipe I used a mixture of frozen raspberries and blackberries.  You could also use blueberries, huckleberries, strawberries, or any mixture of your favorite berries.  I also used unsweetened soy milk, but feel free to use whatever plant-based milk you like best.  Because of the sweeter nature and the acidic ingredients in the recipe it has a slight yogurt-tangy flavor.

For my pictured salad below, I served the berry poppy seed dressing over a bed of green lettuce (from my neighbor's garden, score!), shaved carrots, fresh strawberries, sliced radishes, diced avocado, hemp hearts, and ground flaxseed.  Yum!

Health and Happiness,



Week 3 of ETL 6-Week Challenge

This last week was hard for me and I know that I did not get in as much fresh produce as I should have.  I ran into several situations where we were out with friends and there just wasn't anything to eat, so most of the time I didn't eat, or ate small amounts of acceptable items.  By Sunday morning after being out and about most of Friday and Saturday, I was so relieved to have a nice big salad going into my system.  It's funny how salads become second nature when you are on ETL.  My body and energy levels definitely change when I am missing my daily greens.  All the more encouraging reason to keep at it!

Breakfast on Monday
Leftover from our Saturday trip the
weekend before to Ocean Shores for the 4th.
  • Monday
    • Breakfast: apple slices and carrot sticks
    • Lunch:  warmed kale and chickpea salad with sundried tomato dressing
    • Dinner: steamed zucchini and Indian Mixed Dal
    • Exercise: no exercise this day - my hip was sore from walking over the weekend
    • Extras: apple after lunch

Breakfast on Tuesday
Peaches are so easy to throw in my work bag
and chop up quickly once I get into the office.
  • Tuesday
    • Breakfast: 2 sliced peaches
    • Lunch: warmed kale and chickpea salad
    • Dinner: I got busy painting and wasn't hungry for dinner.
    • Exercise: painting my kitchen for 2 hours
    • Extras: 2 dove dark chocolate pieces after lunch, glass of white wine in the evening

Lunch on Wednesday
  • Wednesday
    • Breakfast: 2 golden pluots, 1 peach, 1 apple
    • Lunch: warmed kale and chickpea salad, Indian Mixed Dal
    • Dinner: plain veggie nachos with extra beans (no cheese)
    • Exercise: painting my kitchen for 1 hour
    • Extras: 1 beer at trivia

Breakfast on Thursday
This was probably my favorite meal of the week.
The little bit of avocado was just right to
 fuel me through a busy morning at work.
  • Thursday
    • Breakfast: 1/2 avocado, 1 peach, 1 apple, and 1 golden pluot
    • Lunch: steamed zucchini and Indian Mixed Dal
    • Dinner: I got busy painting and wasn't hungry for dinner.
    • Exercise: Finishing painting my kitchen for 5 hours in the evening.
    • Extras: 2 dove chocolate pieces after lunch

"Lunch" on Friday
I got so busy painting and cleaning my kitchen I skipped a meal or two.
I had two handfuls of Brazil nuts to tide me over until I was able to eat
when we got to Seattle for a friend's birthday celebration.
  • Friday
    • Breakfast: Skipped breakfast while deep cleaning my kitchen after painting.
    • Lunch:  Two handfuls of Brazil nuts to hold me off until early dinner.
    • Dinner:  Vegan sausage with grilled onions and sauerkraut in downtown Seattle. 
    • Exercise: Cleaning in the morning, walking in the evening.
    • Extras:  A few drinks out with friends

Us at a Mariner's game on Saturday.  We got tickets from a friend's work for free.
It happened to be Nelson Cruz bobblehead night AND they won!
  • Saturday
    • Breakfast:  Slept in and didn't eat breakfast
    • Lunch:  Vegan mac and cheese
    • Dinner: Chips and salsa out with friends
    • Exercise: Walking around Seattle
    • Extras: 1 beer at the Mariner's game

Lunch on Sunday
This salad was super good!  I made berry poppy seed dressing (recipe coming this week).
The salad consisted of green lettuce from my neighbor's garden, sliced radishes,
shaved carrots, sliced strawberries, diced avocado, hemp hearts, and ground flaxseed.
  • Sunday
    • Breakfast: Sliced strawberries
    • Lunch: Large green salad with berry poppy seed dressing (recipe coming this week)
    • Dinner: Whole wheat spaghetti with veggie loaded marinara sauce and chopped field roast vegan sausage
    • Exercise: 20 minutes biking, 10 minutes stretching, 5 minutes arm exercises
    • Extras: 1/2 glass of red wine with dinner, olives while prepping dinner

Health and Happiness,



Indian Mixed Dal

I first tried Indian cuisine a few years ago while my brother and sister-in-law were in town for Christmas.  They insisted that my nutritarian parents and I give it a try since many recipes are vegetarian and often rely heavily on beans and legumes.  Wow!  Fantastic!  We couldn't get enough.  Soon most dinners out with my parents were to our new favorite Indian restaurant.

Now, I know Indian restaurants aren't necessarily Nutritarian friendly since they are generally higher in salt and often use ghee (clarified butter), but that's why I'm bringing you a recipe today that can be made at home with no salt, oil, or ghee!  For other Indian recipes I've done before including whole wheat naan bread, click here.

Indian Mixed Dal
Time: 5 minute prep, 8 minutes in a pressure cook or 30 minutes on the stovetop
Servings: 4 servings
        1/2 large onion, chopped
        2 cups sliced mushrooms
        1/2 jalapeno pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped
        1 Tbsp minced garlic
        1 tsp minced ginger
        1 tsp cumin seeds

        1/3 cup red lentils
        1/3 cup yellow split peas
        1/3 cup green split peas
        3 cups water

        1 Tbsp gram marsala
        2 tsp ground coriander
        1 tsp smoked paprika
        1/2 tsp ground cumin
        1/2 tsp cinnamon
        1/2 tsp turmeric
        1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes            /

1.)  Saute the first 6 ingredients over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, adding small amounts of water as needed to prevent sticking.
2.)  Add in the dal, water, and spices, and stir well to combine.
3.)  If using a pressure cooker, set the cooker to 8 minutes at high pressure.  When 8 minutes is up, release the remaining pressure and stir thoroughly to mash up the dal.
      If cooking on the stovetop, bring the pot to a boil, and then lower the heat to a simmer.  Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes stirring occasionally and adding additional water if it becomes too dry.
4.)    Serve hot over a whole grain or with steamed veggies.

Amy's Notes:

Since doing the ETL 6-Week Challenge, I'm trying to limit myself on whole grains, so instead of serving my dal with brown rice, I decided to cut up zucchini really small (like rice) and steam it.

Health and Happiness,



Week 2 of ETL 6-Week Challenge

I felt so much better doing the 2nd week of the ETL 6-Week Challenge!  I had the obstacles of date night with the husband as well as traveling out of town for the 4th.  In the end I did my best and was happy to get back into routine this Monday.  Last week I was also able to incorporate more exercise since my tweaked hip has just about recovered.  Here is what I ate and how I did:

  • Monday
    • Breakfast: large apple
    • Lunch: large green salad with chickpeas
    • Exercise: 3.15 walk outside after work
    • Dinner: steamed sugar snap peas topped with Thai peanut sauce and raw sunflower seeds, big bowl of veggie soup
    • Extras: homemade chocolate banana nice cream

  • Tuesday
    • Breakfast: sugar snap peas, cucumber slices, apple
    • Lunch: large green salad with chickpeas, banana
    • Exercise: 2.5 mile walk outside after work
    • Dinner: water sauteed mushrooms, onions, and kale topped with sesame seeds, sugar snap peas
    • Extras: glass of wine with dinner

  • Wednesday
    • Breakfast: cucumber slices, apple
    • Lunch: medium green salad and leftover sauteed mushrooms, onions, and kale
    • Exercise: no exercise today, some stretching before bed
    • Extras: snack of some gooseberries and red currants on the way home, two beers out with friends
    • Dinner: late dinner after we got home from trivia of corn on the cob and veggie soup

  • Thursday
    • Breakfast: peach and berry fruit bowl
    • Lunch: large green salad
    • Exercise: 1 hour at the gym with 30 minutes biking and 30 minutes lifting weights
    • Dinner: corn grits and Cajun shrimp - This was date night with my husband to a Cajun restaurant he had been wanting to try for a long time.  I was hoping they would have red beans and rice for me, but no such luck, so I settled on the corn grits and Cajun shrimp.  This was about the only thing on the menu not fried.  I ended up eating only 1/3 of the portion and my husband was happy to have the leftovers the next day.
    • Extras: one beer with dinner, raspberries after dinner out

  • Friday
    • Breakfast:  slept in and skipped breakfast
    • Lunch:  green salad and 1/2 slice of whole grain bread at a deli
    • Dinner:  Steamed baby bok choy with Thai peanut sauce and sesame seeds
    • Exercise: 1 hour of gardening
    • Extras: snack of roasted chickpeas and veggies while prepping food for traveling the next day, chocolate banana nice cream after dinner

Here is a picture from today (Monday) of the kale salad I had on Sautrday while at the beach.
  • Saturday - 4th of July and day trip to Ocean Shores, WA
    • Breakfast: large apple as we arrived at Ocean Shores
    • Lunch:  1 grilled baja taco, celery, carrots, apples
    • Dinner: kale and chickpea salad with sun dried tomato dressing, veggie dog
    • Exercise:  tons of walking around the beach (over 12,000 steps this day)
    • Extras: dark chocolate covered almonds and cashews, two beers on the beach

So sunburnt! :(
  • Sunday
    • Breakfast: raspberries and blackberries
    • Lunch: veggie dog sauteed with onion and mushrooms
    • Dinner: not hungry, skipped dinner
    • Exercise: no exercise this day - we woke up very tired, dehydrated, and sun burnt from the day before :(
    • Extras: chocolate banana nice cream later in the evening


Overall, I think I handled the harder situations of dining out and traveling fairly well.  Was it a perfect week?  No, but I made very conscious decisions to include as many veggies as I could while limiting my not-ideal foods to a minimum.

Over the weekend while we traveled I got pretty dehydrated because using the restroom on the beach on Saturday was extremely limited.  I'm looking forward to staying very well hydrated in the heat this week, as well as incorporating more beans into my daily diet.

Health and Happiness,



Cilantro and Hemp Seed Dressing

I love Mexican flavors.  My husband will tell you that if anyone mentions Mexican food I immediately perk up and ask where and when are we going, often not dropping the subject until the date has been set.  Since starting the ETL 6-Week  Challenge last week, I realize that there probably isn't much for me to eat at a Mexican restaurant for the next few weeks.  Cheese comes on just about everything, the chips are deep fried, and the sauces, salsas, and beans are heavily oversalted.

BUT, that won't stop me from making dishes with some Mexican flavors at home!  Cilantro is a fantastic herb that can go well with many different cuisines, and I love it in Mexican dishes.  Since on the 6-Week ETL Challenge I have been eating big big salads and lots of steamed veggies daily, I thought I would make a yummy cilantro dressing to use throughout the week.

This recipe features hemp seeds (also known as hemp hearts), which are small seeds from a commercial hemp plant (related to marijuana plant family, but with none of the inebriating side effects).  I buy my hemp seeds in a large bag from Costco and I store it in my fridge next to my ground flaxseed and chia seeds.  To find hemp seeds where you live try Costco or your local health food store.  They can often be found in the bulk bin at the grocery store as well.  If all else fails, order them on Vitacost or another health/bulk food website.

If you don't have access to hemp seeds and HAVE to have this dressing right this minute, the hemp seeds can easily be replaced with raw cashews or raw sunflower seeds.

Cilantro and Hemp Seed Dressing
Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4-6 servings

Here I enjoyed the Cilantro and Hemp Seed Dressing drizzled over
steamed green beans and topped with raw sunflower seeds.
Best way to get your 1 lb. of raw veggies in a day!
        1/2 cup hulled hemp seeds
        1/2 cup chickpeas
        1/2 to 1 cup water
        1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
        2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
        2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
        1 Tbsp your favorite no-salt seasoning blend (optional)
        1 tsp minced garlic
        1 tsp chili powder

1.)  In a high speed blender blend all ingredients starting with 1/2 cup water until smooth and creamy.
2.)  Add more water and blend for the desired consistency.
3.)  Serve on top of steamed vegetables, or chill and serve as a veggie dip or salad dressing.

Amy's Notes:

Now, some people don't have a taste for cilantro, and that's fine, but for those of you who do, check out some awesome reasons to add cilantro to your repertoire today!

On another note, check out the gorgeous lavender I harvested from my garden earlier this week!
Some of it ended up in a vase in my kitchen and the rest is drying in bundles to be saved for tea and aromatic crafts.

Health and Happiness,



Week 1 of ETL 6-Week Challenge

So, last Monday I started Dr. Fuhrman's Eat to Live 6-Week Aggressive Weight Loss Program.  I talk more about specifics of how and what I eat on this page here.  Back when I first read Eat to Live in January 2011, I went through this 6-week program... for 4 weeks, and then I met Kevin (my now husband) and gave a little here and there tweaking the program to fit with my life better at that point.

In the years since then I have had ups and downs of following a Nutritarian lifestyle through huge changes in my life including moves, marriage, new jobs, etc.  I have gone through a personal struggle with weight following hormonal complications with birth control I took when Kevin and I first got married.  I don't believe I've mentioned this much on the blog, mostly because I would start to write a post and delete it thinking it wasn't right or good enough.

Long story but, when we first got married in 2012 I went on a pill for birth control.  Several months later I was noticing that I was having extreme fatigue issues (my iron, Vitamin D, and B-12 levels were fine).  One day I went home from work with what I thought was the start of an ear infection.  While driving one side of my face went partially numb and I had a panic attack before making it to a health clinic.  It was probably the worst day of my life.

The clinic doctor attributed the pain and part of the numbness to a migraine onset by TMJ muscle issues, which were aggravated by excessive caffeine from coffee I had that day.  He suggested I go home and relax the rest of the day, and take ibuprofen daily for my TMJ issues whether I was feeling pain or not. (Thanks doc... super helpful.  I didn't follow this advice with the medication BTW.)

If you have ever had a panic attack, you will understand how helpless and out of control I felt.  After this incident I continued to feel an awful overhanging feeling that something was about to go wrong... all the time.  When you have had one panic attack, your "emergency" hormones and chemicals in your body are going crazy, and your body reacts to those regardless of what the mind tries telling the body.  Because of that and an incessant fear of having another panic attack, it took me over a year to feel normal again.

After the panic attack, I went off of my birth control pills and went with something that did not mess with the hormones in my body.  During this time of feeling unlike myself and constantly anxious, I gained close to 20 lbs.  Since then I have slowly released some of those pounds while practicing a very loose nutritarian diet.  Now that I feel like my mental and hormonal health are under control, I wanted to complete what I didn't quite do over four years ago: the 6-week ETL challenge.  Last week was my first week and here is how it went (These pictures are from a great food tracking app that I use called Two Grand.  If you'd like to join me on there, the app is free and you can search for my username, "amynutritarian".):

Monday Dinner: Sauteed Asian Veggies with Butter Lettuce
(I used the lettuce as little wraps to eat the bowl of veggies with...
yep I ate that whole head of lettuce!)
  • Monday
    • Breakfast: banana and strawberries
    • Lunch: Large green salad and 1/2 bowl homemade bean chili
    • Dinner: Lettuce wraps with water sauteed Asian veggies
    • Dessert: watermelon
    • Exercise: Actively walking around work, first day at our new gym with a 1 mile walk, stretching, and arm lifting exercises
Tuesday Lunch: Large Green salad topped with hemp hearts and ground flaxseed,
along with leftover chili and two golden beets that were sliced and steamed.
  • Tuesday: 
    • Breakfast: apple and peach slices
    • Lunch: Large green salad, 1/2 homemade bean chili, 2 sliced steamed golden beets
    • Dinner: Steamed kale with water sauteed Asian veggies
    • Dessert: watermelon
    • Exercise: This day I went home early from work because I tripped up on the treadmill the day before and badly strained my hip, so no exercise this day.
Dinner Wednesday: Water sauteed onions, garlic, mushrooms, and kale
with a peanut sweet and sour sauce, topped with hemp hearts.
  • Wednesday:
    • Breakfast: apple and peach slices
    • Lunch: Large green salad and an apple
    • Dinner: water sauteed garlic, onion, mushrooms, and kale
    • Dessert: watermelon
    • Extras: 1 beer at weekly trivia
    • Exercise: Again, my hip was injured and I was unable to exercise this day.
Thursday Dinner: Lightly steamed collard green leaves wrapped up with hummus,
cilantro, red onion, carrot, mushroom, and celery.
Steamed green beans with cilantro hemp dressing topped with raw sunflower seeds.
This was by far my favorite meal of the week!
  • Thursday:
    • Breakfast: apple and peach slices
    • Lunch: Large green salad and two red plums
    • Dinner: Collard green veggie wraps, steamed green beans with hemp seed dressing
    • Dessert: watermelon
    • Exercise: I went home early from work again this day from an onset of nausea and just feeling unwell.  I thought the nausea might be from detoxing.  That evening, my sinuses stuffed up with what I think is a reaction to some chemicals they sprayed in my work building due to some flooding of a water fountain (I have to remember, this is just my body protecting me, but I sure felt miserable.)
Friday Lunch: Large green leaf lettuce salad (lettuce from my neighbor's garden)
with chickpeas, red onion, carrot, ground flaxseed, hemp hearts,
sundried tomatoes, and cilantro hemp dressing.
  • Friday:
    • Breakfast: banana
    • Exercise: Mid morning I met with a trainer at my new gym.  She kept it very easy on my hip that was healing and stuck to arm exercises.
    • Lunch: Large green salad
    • Dinner: Small green salad out at a restaurant (I ordered tomato soup, but it was far to salty and I didn't eat more than a few bites)
    • Extras: sampling beer at a brewery
Saturday Lunch and Later Dinner: Collard green vegetable soup flavored with
black pepper and Mrs. Dash no-salt seasoning.
This was the day that I was feeling the worst,
so a nice mild bowl or two of soup was just what I needed.
  • Saturday:
    • Breakfast: Skipped, did not feel well from my sinuses and cough
    • Lunch: Plain vegetable soup
    • Dinner: Indian chickpeas and brown rice while out running errands with my husband
    • Extras: more vegetable soup later at night
    • Exercise: Walking around running errands
Sunday After Lunch: A big bowl of delicious red raspberries!
  • Sunday:
    • Breakfast: Skipped, did not feel hungry in the morning
    • Lunch: Lettuce wrapped bean burger with sugar snap peas, bowl of raspberries
    • Dinner: Grilled potatoes and whole wheat toast with preserves while out with my husband at a breakfast food place
    • Dessert: homemade chocolate peanut butter banana nice cream

Summary:  I feel like I had a good rhythm to the week despite generally falling apart from an injured hip and having respiratory issues.  Places I'm looking to improve on this week are increasing my exercise now that my hip is feeling better, making dinner a smaller meal so that I am truly hungry for breakfast the next morning, and limiting my consumption of beer to one on Wednesday and one on Friday or Saturday.  Overall, I am down 3 lbs, and am hoping to progress more this week without as many hurdles as last week.

Health and Happiness,



Current Happenings

Wow!  Where has spring gone!?  We hit warm weather in western Washington about two weeks ago, and it has stayed around 75-85 and gorgeous!

This last week was a whirlwind of fun and craziness!  My 25th Birthday (gasp!) was on Friday, so I took an extra few days off of work to travel to my hometown and spend it with family and friends.  Kevin and I were also in some of our best friends' wedding this weekend.

On Wednesday I left (Kevin was driving over with his dad later) for Spokane and once in town I spent the evening with my best guy friend from high school.  It had been a long time since we have gotten time to catch up alone outside of a group party.  I always lovingly refer to him as our "Ted" from How I Met Your Mother.  He is about the nicest, most gentlemanly guy there is who often goes on dates with girls who say they want "the nice guy" when they really don't appreciate those qualities in the end.  What can I say... girls can be dumb.

The next day (Thursday), I spent shopping with my mom around town.  My parents don't usually get me a wrapped present for my birthday because my mom and I enjoy shopping together so much, she gets me presents while we are out and about.  Oh, how I have missed shopping since we have been so good about saving for a house!  While bargain shopping I ended up getting a bright blue purse, khaki shorts, blue blousey top, three dresses, and a few B&BW shower gels.

That evening at my parent's place we had a small backyard party with some of my closest friends for my birthday.  We dug out the croquet set and had a fun time attempting to play.  I got dead last in the game!

The next day, my good friend April came over to enjoy the sunshine on the back porch with my mom and I.  My mom made my favorite for lunch: veggie Thai pizza!  Yum!  After lunch, April took me to get a pedicure which was fantastic.  Sparkly gold was my color pick this time ;).

Beers in the sunshine!

Gorgeous earrings April got me for my birthday!
I'm also wearing the blue blouse and shorts my parents got me.

My brother and sister-in-law also got me a Fitbit Zip.  I've enjoyed using it this week so far!

Friday evening, I headed up to the wedding rehearsal dinner at the bride's parent's home where the wedding would take place.  Rehearsals are always so exciting and hectic, in a good way of course!  The rehearsal dinner food was mostly BBQ, but I enjoyed the big platters of veggies and fruit provided.

Where the ceremony took place.  At the rehearsal we practiced walking on their gorgeous flagstone walkway.

The bride and groom practicing their first dance.

All of the wedding party practicing how to dip when we join in at the end of their first dance.  Another bridesmaid's boyfriend was standing in with me because Kevin was across the state for his youngest brother's high school graduation.

The day of the wedding was a long one.... but so much fun!  I got up around 6:30 so I had time to pack up my things, pick up some teas/lattes, pick up another bridesmaid, and get dropped off at the Bride's house by 8.  From there we packed her up, picked up one more bridesmaid, and headed up to her parents' house.

The morning and most of the afternoon was spent enjoying mimosas with lots of giggling, as well as getting our hair and makeup done.  After that was pictures and waiting for guests to arrive.  The ceremony was beautiful, and the reception was a blast!  We stayed until nearly midnight after the bride and groom left.

The men all dressed up in their finest.  My hubby looking the most adorable of all on the groom's left shoulder.

The bride and groom getting their pictures before the wedding.  She looked like an absolute princess

April and I enjoying the party.  Damn she tans well!

Me and the Husband :)

My dad and I joining in on the father-daughter dance.
It got chilly once the sun went down, so I was happy when we started
 the more lively dancing later and I could keep warm
with jumping and dancing around.
This week is another crazy one... although not nearly as crazy as last week.  Yesterday evening we had a friend over to help us put together a poker table he acquired off of Craigslist to go in our bar room.  Tonight we have another friend staying the night with us because he is here as a sports writer for the U.S Open.  We'll also be going to our favorite local trivia spot for some fun.  Then on Friday we have retirement party to go to for one of Kevin's coworker's.  I'm most looking forward to Saturday when we have local friends and co-workers over for a house warming party.  It'll definitely give me some motivation to keep working at cleaning up the yard!

Hope everyone else's week goes well!

Health and Happiness,