Superbowl XLIX Recipe Roundup

Is everyone ready for the Superbowl this Sunday?  Obviously, being from Washington I am a Seahawks fan!  We are having some friends from Spokane visit us this weekend so they can come to Seattle to watch the game in a big bar with us.  Should be loud, fun, and exciting!
They aren't getting here until late late Saturday night, so earlier in the evening, I'm going to a local natural food market called Marlene's for a WFPB class hosted by Nina from Urban Vegan Chic.  Although, after 4 years of practicing a Nutritarian lifestyle, I know my way around the WFPB-block, you never know what new things you will learn.  I'm excited to have this opportunity to meet others in my community with similar interests.

Since moving to Puyallup in July, I have felt a little disconnected from not having any face-to-face plant-based support in my life.  (I'm a part of several facebook group centered around ETL, which are wonderful.)  My parents, when I lived in Spokane, were my nearby support where I could go for a meal and never have to worry about being served SAD foods or being challenge for my ideals.  Hopefully I can find some of that support through classes like these.  I'm optimistic. :)

Now on to the Superbowl... what are you going to make!?  Although we are going to be spending the day in Seattle for Superbowl, I ended up making some snackies for a work party and for Saturday snacking.  Here are a few of my favorite game-day dishes: (links to each recipe are included in the titles)


We ALL know that the best part of Superbowl is grazing on appetizers for a good portion of the day.  Keep yourself and your guests satisfied with these healthy appetizers alongside whole-grain chips/crackers and veggies.

Spicy Cajun Cauliflower Bites

Guacamole and Mexi-Salad

Pico De Gallo

Vegan Ranch Dip

Roasted Pine Nut Hummus (Mock Sabre Hummus)

Spicy Buffalo Hummus (This one is my favorite for game day with celery sticks!)

Whole Wheat Vegan Naan to go with hummus (Step-by-step instructions with pictures!)

Oil-Free Baked Falafels with this Tzatziki-like Dip

Baked Vegetable "Fries"


Here are two of my favorite "side dishes" that would go well with Superbowl fare:

Spicy Macaroni Salad

Quick Collard Wraps


This is my absolute FAVORITE chili!  It cooks up quick and easy in a pressure cooker from dried beans, or can be done fairly quickly on the stovetop with canned beans.  This recipe will feed a small crowd, but it never lasts too long when we have friends over.

Three Bean Chili (Pressure Cooker Friendly)


Every Superbowl party has to have something sweet to go with all of the savory appetizers.  Try this dessert dip with apple slices or some whole wheat gram crackers.  It is sure to hit the sweet-spot!

Brownie Batter Dip

Health and Happiness,



How I get Healthful Groceries on a Budget

Hi All,

I'm sorry I haven't had any new recipes for you lately.  Kevin and I have been busy with a few of our goals for the year, including saving money for a house, reading, and being more active and eating better.  All goals of which I am happy to report that we are making great progress on.  (I'm currently reading through Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World, which is super interesting how industries are built around food systems.)

Because we have been eating more homemade meals (saving money AND being healthier, YEAH!), I have been spending a bit more on groceries.  This balances out to save more money overall, considering that it costs us anywhere from $20 to $40 when we eat out once, compared to $60-$80 for a week of meals on groceries.  Not bad at all I think! :)

In the fall and summer months I had been getting most of my produce from a produce stand on my way home from work, where I would get in-season produce for SUPER cheap!  2 for $1 kale and collard bunches, 69 cent per pound apples, $1 per pound sweet potatoes, etc.  After December 23rd, that produce stand has closed for the winter months and won't open until April 1st.  So, I have a little over 2 more months to live without my regular inexpensive produce source!

My solution: 
  • get produce mostly from Costco, 
  • buy smaller/unique produce items from my local grocery
  • stock up on staples from Winco on a bi-monthly trip, and
  • get hard-to-find items from Vitacost 2-3 times a year

I love Costco.  I remember going there as a kid after church some Sundays and getting to snack on their samples.  I live in Washington, where Costco's headquarters are in Kirkland, an hour or so north of where I now live, so I like the idea of supporting an in-state business.  Costco has awesome deals on produce items compared to other grocery stores.  Here is my weekly/bi-weekly Costco grocery list as of late:
  • Bi-weekly items:
    • 2 cartons of apples
    • 1 box oranges
    • 1 bag bananas
    • 1 bag of 6 assorted bell peppers
    • 1 carton baby bella mushrooms
    • Occasional items:
      • 1 bag russet potatoes (for Kevin)
      • 1 bag sweet potatoes (my Costco has organic, so I can eat the peels, YAY!)
      • 1 bag yellow onions
      • 1 bag organic frozen white corn
      • 1 bag raw almonds
      • 1 large container chili powder
      • 2-pack natural peanut butter

    • Weekly items:
      • 1 carton blueberries
      • 1 carton blackberries
      • 1 carton raspberries
      • 1 bag Power Greens (contains baby kale, arugula, spinach, and baby red chard)
      • 2 3-packs english cucumbers
      • 1 bag sugar snap peas (my absolute favorite veggie to munch!)
      • 1 bag cookable green vegetable (I rotate through broccoli, stir fry mix with cabbage, green beans, and Brussels sprouts)
    Local Grocery
    The closest grocery to us happens to be a Safeway.  From here I get smaller produce items and a few things for Kevin when we need them.
    • red onions
    • green onions
    • carrots
    • celery
    • garlic cloves
    • fresh herbs - basil, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, thyme, chives
    • Tofu and meat replacement products (very rarely do I get these)
    • Yogurt (for Kevin)
    • Milk (for Kevin)
    • Plant milk (usually I make my own)
    I'm not sure how widespread Winco is throughout the U.S., but I really like this store.  It has a Costco feel in pricing, but with grocery store sizes.  The best thing about Winco is that they have an extensive bulk bin section.  This is where I get all of my items like beans/legumes, flours, grains, nuts/seeds, and spices.  I haven't gone to Winco in some time because I have been trying to use up what I have by way of beans and grains, but a trip is due soon because I have run out of smoked paprika and cumin seeds (Gasp! I know!).  Here is a list of a few items I like to have in my pantry and I get at Winco every other month or so when I run out.
    • Dried Beans/Legumes
      • black beans, white beans, pinto beans, small red beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans, garbanzo beans/chickpeas
      • brown lentils, small green french lentils, red lentils, green split peas, yellow split peas, mung beans
    • Whole grains/flours
      • old fashioned rolled oats
      • steel cut oats
      • wheatberries
      • quinoa - red and white
      • rice - long grain brown, short grain brown, jasmine brown, basmati brown, wild black, wild rice mix, Aroborio (risotto rice)
      • flours - white (for Kevin), whole wheat, rye, almond, chickpea
    • Nuts/Seeds/dried fruits
      • sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, raw pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds
      • raw cashews, walnuts, pecans, unsalted peanuts, hazelnuts
      • dried cranberries, raisins, dates, currants
    • Spices
      • dried parsley, oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, Italian seasoning
      • ground cumin, corriander, smoked paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, tumeric
      • onion powder, garlic powder, dried mustard, dried powdered ginger
    • Other grocery items
      • tahini
      • almond butter
      • jarred ginger
      • jarred minced garlic
      • frozen mixed vegetables
    Have you heard of Vitacost?  It is a food, beauty, and supplement ordering website that has tons hard to find health/natural products at discounted prices.  I like that they have search filters that help you find products that are vegan, organic, non-GMO, etc.  If you use THIS LINK, you will get $10 off your first purchase of $30 or more.  Here are a few of the items I like to get from Vitacost a few times a year:
    • Cartons of diced tomatoes and tomato sauce (no BPA-lined cans for me!)
    • Arrowhead Mills millet and amaranth grains (I can't seem to find these anywhere!)
    • Boxes of tea
    • Organic ground flaxseeds and chia seeds
    • Natural beauty and cleaning products
    Making Lists
    In the end, almost nobody I know likes grocery shopping, and grocery shopping on a budget can prove to be a big challenge.  With a bit of planning and being creative, you can keep your grocery receipts trim, while the healthful groceries will help you do the same!  By shopping at different stores during different intervals of time, I'm able to get the things I need at the best price.  One of the apps that helps me keep track of 3-4 grocery lists is called Buy Me a Pie.  I've had this app for a while and have come to depend on it to stay organized at each store buying my groceries (and to avoid impulse buying).

    I'd love to hear some of your grocery shopping budget-managing tips.... :)

    Health and Happiness,



    My Scale

    ... I broke it.  I broke my scale.

    No, it is not what you are thinking.  Although in the years since I started (sometimes loosely) following a Nutritarian diet, my weight has fluctuated from stress, too much socializing (oh, beer!), and occasional binge eating from food addictions that I continually need to work on, my weight hasn't gone up nearly enough to result in breaking a scale from my weight.  My husband weighs more than me and uses it often, for Heavens sake!

    I also did not maliciously break it for telling me anything I did not want to hear.  Nor did I break it to symbolically prove a point that a number on a scale does not reflect my value as a person.  I broke it completely by accident.

    The other day I stepped on the scale and got a normal reading.  Since we have had a digital scale, the number blinked and stayed on the screen for a minute or so when it had the final reading.  And every time it did this, I would step off and briefly put a toe on the scale to get it to reset and make my number disappear from the screen.

    I don't exactly know why I do this.  Maybe if I see it for too long it will become something of permanency that I have a less chance of escaping.  My husband is the only other one in the house and knows my weight anyways, so it can't be that I'm embarrassed to have him see it.  Maybe some ghost is in the bathroom and I don't want them to know either (If I were a ghost I don't think I would hang out in a small bathroom, but hey, to each ghost his own!).

    This particular time when I stepped onto the scale to reset it, I accidentally stepped on the very edge, causing the scale to lift up on the other side, then come crashing down with a loud BANG when I lifted my foot off.  Kevin from the other room: "Oh gosh, what did you break?"

    The screen was blank.  In a moment of panic, I stepped back on the scale and heard a scratchy crunchy sound, like sand being rubbed between two surfaces.  Digital reading went crazy, never settling on a number.  Kevin stepped on it and it eventually settled on a reading: 55.8 lbs.  "Look!  I'm good.  I don't need to exercise."  The sad little broken scale went into the garbage. And Kevin and I talked about spending money on a new scale, because we needed one... right?

    I generally weigh myself just about every morning.  Sometimes the reading makes me do a little happy dance, sometimes it makes me shrug for being about the same, and sometimes it makes me reconsider what I had consumed the days before (or convince myself that I just need a good trip to the bathroom).  Either which way, it often sets the tone for the day to come, whether that be negative, positive, or indifferent.

    But in thinking about this, it struck me.  I let a little square thing that sits on my bathroom floor to have some input into how I go about my day.  The weather?  A bit.  My calendar?  Yes.  But a scale?  How dare I let a scale effect my happiness and how I live my life.

    Then I noticed how successful I had been in sticking to the nutritarian guidelines around when my scale broke.  I have been eating more fresh and cooked vegetables as well as more fresh fruit.  I have been paying better attention to satiety and eating only what I need of the right foods.  Now, I'm not going to attribute this positive progress only to not having a scale.  I have also been strict to prep my meals ahead of time and to have plenty of fresh produce available in my fridge.  But I'm guessing my attitude towards food and satiety has been altered a bit while not seeing that blinking number between my toes every morning.

    Does this mean we will never own a scale again?  No.  I'm probably going to go buy one today.  But I might just not open it yet.  And when I do open it, I'll probably tuck it away under my sink and only use it weekly, or bi-weekly, or monthly.  I haven't decided.

    My point is: I'm grateful that I happened to clumsily break my scale.  Although Kevin isn't super happy to be spending money on a new one (which probably won't be used as much), I'm happy to have been able to go through this impromptu experiment to see how I felt without knowing exactly how gravity was effecting my mass every particular day.  And you know what?  It felt pretty damn great!

    Health and Happiness,



    Goals for 2015...

    Hi All!  I thought I would drop in and give you guys an update with me.  At the start of the new year, Kevin and I set some goals with each other.  Some of them are individual, while some are going to be a team effort.  Here are some of our goals...

    1.) Reading - Kevin wants to read 50 books in 2015, while I would like to read 30.  Yes, he is a bit of an overachiever, but this difference in goals between us has to do with the types of books each of us reads.  Kevin enjoys novels and fiction like Stephen King and the James Bond series, while I like non-fiction dealing with nutrition and environmental issues.  Both entertaining in their own ways, but my books tend to take longer to read... not to mention, he gets extra reading time while I am in the kitchen cooking.  What a lucky guy right?

    So far this year I have read "The Botany of Desire" by Michael Pollan, "Love Your Body" by Talia Fuhrman, and I am currently reading "Dr. Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes" by Neal Barnard (I don't have diabetes, but am a nutrition nerd that likes to learn! :)).  Next on my list is "Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World" by Dan Koeppel.

    2.)  Saving for a house - This goal has a couple of other mini-goals imbedded in it, including goals of only eating out at restaurants or take-out twice a month, finishing paying off our second car, minimizing credit card bills, and saving money by homemaking meals rather than buying convenience foods.  I find the last portion of that goal to be fun and challenging.  So far, we have been enjoying a lot of homemade meals with rice, beans, and veggies.

    To reach this goal we also have given each other $75 budgets for fun personal things each month.  The goal is not to spend it just because its there, but to plan out fun things we want to do around this budget.  For example, we are both putting in $10 each this month to go to the Seattle Mariner's Fanfest this Saturday.  I'm also planning on taking a $10 knitting tutorial class on how to begin knitting a sweater.  This budget would also count if either of us wanted to go out to lunch on our own, or out with friends.

    3.)  Earn healthy bodies - This portion encompasses more than just weight loss, but Kevin's goal is to lose about 10-15 pounds, while I would like to lose 30.  So far, I have been improving our diets one meal at a time.  Kevin and I have both been eating big, beautiful bowls of fresh fruit for breakfast.  For lunch, I have been having soup and salad, or just one large salad, while Kevin has some chopped veggies and a helping of the night before's leftovers.  For dinner, Kevin and I sometimes do our own thing, but I have been making sure to include more veggies for the both of us.  We hope to incorporate more exercise into our weekly routines as well.

    Here is a quick overview of a typical day for me:

    Breakfast: 1/2 apple, 1 orange, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries with earl grey tea

    Lunch: Large salad with 1/2 iceburg lettuce mix and 1/2 power greens mix, yellow peppers, radishes, carrots, french green lentils, raw pumpkin seeds, and my 1-2 dressing

    Dinner: Panini with Dave's Killer Bread, buffalo wing hummus, power greens, onion, lentil burger patty, spicy mustard.  Steamed broccoli with tahini "cheese" sauce.  Apple for dessert.

    4.)  Go on an Alaskan cruise - Since Kevin has been sold on cruising after our (late) honeymoon last May AND the fact that we moved less than an hour away from the Seattle port, we have been wanting to take an Alaskan cruise.  We have planned for Kevin's parents as well as mine (all separate rooms of course!) to join us, and we are currently looking at dates in August and early September.  To help strive to this goal we are being conscious of spending money on unnecessary things, as well as keeping an eye out for cruise prices we like.

    How are your 2015 goals coming along?

    Health and Happiness,



    Trip to Vancouver, BC for Kevin's Birthday

    Hi all!  I mentioned in a post earlier this week that Kevin and I had gone on a long weekend trip to Vancouver, BC for his 25th birthday.  Because of the time of year, Kevin's birthday is often overshadowed by Christmas and New Years, so I always put in extra effort to make his birthday fun and exciting.  Since this is his first birthday since moving across the state where we would usually celebrate by going out on the town with friends, I decided a little surprise trip somewhere we hadn't been together would be fun.

    I had everything planned down to a T with the hotel, activities, restaurants to try, and it was a very fun trip besides a few negatives (a.k.a. how crazy traffic is in Vancouver and the fact that our car battery was dead after sitting in a garage for 3 days.  Thank goodness for AAA!).  I won't bore you with all of the gory details of the trip, but here are a few pictures of our adventure.

    Capilano Bridge Park - one of the suspension bridges in the background.

    Bridge suspended off of a cliff face.  This one unnerved me more BECAUSE it didn't sway.

    Kevin has fun with the Christmas decorations at the Park.

    Kevin on one of the tree suspended bridges.  They still had their dazzling Christmas lights up.

    This is the largest bridge in the park.  It suspended across a large canyon with a river below.

    One of the nights we had dinner at an African Cuisine restaurant (Hello red kidney bean curry!),
     then went to a skyline lounge that rotated so we got a few of the whole city at night.

    Isn't this neat building and old taxi so picturesque?!

    On our last day in town we bundled up and went to the waterfront and Gastown.

    Here is a view of the downtown skyline from their convention center on the waterfront.

    Happy 25th birthday to the greatest man I know!

    Health and Happiness,



    Lentil and Wild Rice Pilaf

    Pilaf... isn't that a fun word to say?  Pilaf.  A pilaf is essentially defined as a rice dish cooked in a seasoned broth which may also include vegetables (yay!) and meat (yuck! let's go with lentils instead.).

    Last weekend Kevin and I took a trip north to Vancouver, BC for his Birthday (I'll share pictures in another post this week).  We had a great time, but probably spent a bit too much on dining out and at attractions, so we went into money saving mode this week.  For me, that means using up all the food in the fridge and being creative with our pantry staples on hand before thinking about grocery shopping.

    Voila!  Lentil and Wild Rice Pilaf!

    Lentil and Wild Rice Pilaf
    Prep Time: 5 minutes (plus 30 minute soak)
    Pressure Cooker Time: 5 minute saute, 9 minutes at high pressure, natural pressure release
    (OR) Stovetop Cooking Time: 5 minute saute, 40 minutes simmering, 10 minutes resting
    Servings: 4-6 servings

        Rice and lentils: soak the following for 30 minutes before cooking      
            1/2 cup black or green lentils
            1/4 cup brown rice
            1/4 cup black rice
            1 cup sliced mushrooms
            1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
            1 stalk celery, finely chopped
            3 cloves garlic, pressed/minced
            1 Tbsp italian seasoning blend (no-salt added)
            1 tsp fennel seeds
            1 tsp dried coriander
            1 bay leaf
            1/2 tsp ground black pepper
            1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
        2 cups vegetable broth

    Pressure Cooker Instructions:
    1.)  Combine the lentils and rice in a medium bowl and cover with water.  Allow to soak for 30 minutes before draining and rinsing thoroughly.
    2.)  In the pressure cooker, saute the vegetables over high heat for 3-5 minutes, adding small amounts of water as needed to prevent burning.
    3.)  To the pressure cooker, add the lentils, rice, spices, and vegetable broth.
    4.)  Lock the lid in place and bring to high pressure.  Cook at high pressure for 9 minutes.  Once time is up, cancel the warming feature (IP) or remove from heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally.
    5.)  After the pressure has released, stir the pilaf.  If liquid remains, allow the pilaf to sit for 5 more minutes uncovered before serving to absorb more liquid.  Serve alongside fresh or steamed vegetables.

    Stovetop Cooking Instructions:
    1.)  Combine the lentils and rice in a medium bowl and cover with water.  Allow to soak for 30 minutes before draining and rinsing thoroughly.
    2.)  In a medium/large sized saucepan, saute the vegetables over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, adding small amounts of water as needed to prevent burning.
    3.)  To the saucepan, add the lentils, rice, spices, and vegetable broth.
    4.)   Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Once a boil is reached, turn the head down to low to maintain a simmer for 40 minutes.  After 40 minutes, remove from heat keeping the lid on and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
    5.)  After 10 minutes, stir and serve alongside fresh or steamed vegetables.

    Amy's Notes:
    I have made this recipe in my pressure cooker, so have not tested out the stovetop cooking instructions first hand.  You may need to monitor the stovetop version to add more water while cooking.

    Fennel seeds are one of my new favorite spices, but if that doesn't float your boat, try adding 1 tsp of your favorite dried herb instead, such as rosemary, thyme, basil, parsley, or oregano.  The fennel seeds are not overwhelming, but if even just a tiny bit isn't your thing, go with something else.

    This recipe can be adapted to use just about any type of rice, so if you don't want to scare of some non-ETL-ers away with the dark color, try just using all brown rice.

    For this recipe, I used homemade vegetable broth, but feel free to use store bought instead.  Just make sure to watch for the excess sodium in some store brands.

    Health and Happiness,