My Awesome Lunch: Easy Chick Pea, Cucumber & Tomato Salad

I had an awesome lunch today. And it took me all of 15 minutes to make it last night.

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Easy Chick Pea, Cucumber & Tomato Salad

  • 2 cups grape tomatoes (halved)
  • 1 English cucumber (quartered and chopped)
  • 1 can chick peas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1/2 a medium red onion (minced)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced or grated)
  • Juice of half a lemon (or a whole lemon depending on how juicy it is)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Mix, mix, mix and enjoy. You can eat it solo, on a bed of lettuce, in Romaine lettuce cups, or as a side dish! It’s light, fresh and delicious!

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What the Heck is Queen-Nah…Salad

I love football (even though the Steelers aren’t doing so great this season…sigh). I also love witty football commercials. And this one, this happens to be one of my faves…

It’s actually pronounced “keen-wah” but hey that’s close enough. What’s more important is that it doesn’t (or at least doesn’t have to) taste a dirty tree branch! I make a delicious quinoa salad that I thought I’d share since it makes an awesome dish for potlucks and parties (and umm in case you forgot party season is upon us!) So without further ado…

Italian Roasted Tomato Quinoa Salad

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Delicious quinoa salad! If you leave out the parm cheese it’s also a dairy free/vegan recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1C dry quinoa (any kind) rinsed thoroughly… if you don’t rinse quinoa it will taste nast-teeeee
  • 2C water (or chicken/veg broth if you want it to be extra tasty)
  • Approx 4C grape or cherry tomatoes… really any tomatoes would work
  • 3 cloves of fresh garlic (peeled, smashes, and roughly chopped)
  • 2 springs of fresh rosemary or Italian flat leaf parsley it’s cheap and yes, it makes a HUGE difference
  • 1 TBSP EVOO
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 C fresh grated Parmesan cheese (optional…clearly leave it out if you’re dairy free)
  1. Cook quinoa following normal method: Boil water, add quinoa, return to boil, reduce heat, simmer until little halos form around the quinoa grains.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  3. Line baking sheet with tin foil and curl up sides (or cook in a shallow baking dish)
  4. Toss tomatoes, garlic and rosemary in EVOO; add salt and pepper to taste.

Mmm… looks so tasty right!? IMG_4089

  1. Bake for approx 30min or until the tomatoes begin to burst, give up their juices. (I like to turn on the broiler after they burst to get a nice char on them too!)
  2. Mix tomatoes and all of that juicy goodness into your cooked quinoa, add cheese, stir and enjoy!

I eat mine on Romaine lettuce leaves like as a sort of non-traditional lunch time lettuce wrap. ENJOY!

Girl you know it’s true: wine in a jar & almond cookies

First, some #motivationalmonday thoughts… It’s good to be yourself no matter if it pleases everyone or not! I promise it’ll make you happier than trying to be someone you’re not!

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And thinking about being true to yourself made me think about some Milli Vanilli (oh yea)

Second, I’m currently in the process of packing up my life to move back to Pittsburgh and pursue my Master’s Degree. That means all of my dishes are pretty much in a box, so last night this happened…

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Not that I’ve never drank out of a jar before, but it’s usually not filled with a classy $7 bottle of wine from the grocery store. 😛 And I also made these scrumdiddlyuptious Coconut Almond Butter Cookies… they’re gluten/sugar free and vegan…make them, eat them, love them!

almond cookies

Coconut Almond Butter Cookies

Ingredients:
1 flaxseed egg (1TBSP milled flaxseed + 3TBSP water)
1C almond butter (I use Maranatha)
1C shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tsp powdered stevia (or other sweetener)
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350

2.) Make flax egg and set aside to coagulate

3.) Mix other ingredients

NOTE: I recommend measuring your almond butter by weighing it rather than trying to get it from the jar it into a measuring cup and then back out into a bowl… you’ll have a mess and waste a lot of almond butter (who wants to do that?!)

4.) Line a baking sheet with parchment

5.) Using a small ice cream scoop or teaspoon, put rounds on cookie sheet

6.) Flatten with a fork making a criss-cross pattern

7.) Bake until golden brown (about 12-15min)

 

Thankful Thursday: I might be a hippie edition

I have loads of things to be thankful for today… the beautiful weather, great friends, the fact that summer movies have started up again here in DC! Went to see Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade al fresco last night…there’s just something about sitting outside in the grass without shoes on that just feels right

nomaAnd, like last Thankful Thursday I’m thankful for my kitchen abilities and adventurousness that might be leading me toward becoming a hippie! Today I got to taste the first batch of home brewed Kombucha my friend Joyce and I have been working on!

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We recycled some GT’s bottles for our own brew

Joyce procured us a very robust SCOBY (we call him Scooby Doo) and we’ve been brewing (or should I say fermenting, which kind of feels like babysitting) for about 2 weeks now. Today was the first day the Kombucha was finally fermented enough to try it out. We made a gingerberry flavor and regular ginger… SWEET SWEET SUCCESS!

Right now you’re either thinking one of two things… Scenario #1: OMG how did you do that I freaking LOVE Kombucha!  Scenario #2: What the heck is Kombucha?

Well, to kill two birds with one stone… Kombucha is simply a fermented tea. A “mother” AKA SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) feeds off of the sugar in a sweet tea base you brew up.

How did we make it? Brew up…

  • 2C hot water
  • 2 TBSP (about 5 tea bags) of any kind of tea
  • 1C Sugar

You take 3/4C of this base and 3 1/4C filtered water (all at room temp) and add it in with your SCOBY (we are doing continuous brewing and it’s super easy!) Save the rest of the base for later in the week. You add on a schedule of 3 days, 3 days, 4 days, until there is enough Kombucha to be bottled. Then, you drain some off into glass containers and add more base/water large mixture. The bottles need to sit for at least a week at room temp to ferment and get fizzy 🙂 which is when you can add your own flavoring…next stop for me is Strawberry!

What the heck is it? Kombucha came from China (altho the word itself most likely comes from the Japanese word for tea), spread to Russia in the early 1900s and then the rest of Western Europe. It’s medicinal properties are highly disputed and WedMD will tell you NOT to home brew because you can brew bacteria, but hey…they’re doctors…they have to say that! Down with the man! <—hippie comment I know!

But the hippies really knew what they were talking about…It’s dang good and (altho it’s disputed) dang good for you and your gut…

kombucha!

What does it do? The claim is that Kombucha has detoxifying properties because of it’s acidity. Our bodies are constantly fighting to maintain homeostasis, which also means maintaining a neutral pH. Since most of the foods we eat are acidic (meat, eggs, dairy, sugar, coffee, most processed foods, fruit, grains, yeast, etc) we should be eating more alkaline based foods (dark leafy greens and veggies) to balance ourselves out.

Kombucha and other forms of probiotics help in this pH neutralization quest because the “good bacteria” in them work with (and not against) the acids in your stomach and react with minerals such as Calcium, Sodium, Potassium and Magnesium in the body tissue and blood, to form alkalies.

Too much acid can be harmful though so 4-8ozs is the RDA (and if you’re supplementing with Apple Cider Vinegar, Kombucha should replace it for the day).

Ok enough science…

Have you ever tried Kombucha? Have another favorite health drink you swig every day? 

Thankful Thursday: #KitchenLoveAffair Edition

Sometimes I take things for granted. Like growing up with a mom who taught me how to cook! Thanks Mom! My dad cooks too, and I can remember the whole family in the kitchen for Thanksgiving hand mixing the stuffing (all three of us)…

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The padres spent Christmas with me in DC!

So this Thursday I’m thankful that I learned how to cook!

I was reading a few articles recently about the childhood obesity epidemic and one thing from a US News article by Yoni Freedhoff caught my attention…

“I’d argue that the simple act of cooking—a health-preserving life skill—is a skill that risks extinction. In some families, regular home cooking is a phenomenon not seen for three generations.”

When I was in 8th grade we took home-economics, which included a cooking section and a sewing section. I was surprised to learn that most schools (I think mainly due to budget cuts) just don’t have those types of programs anymore because I’m not that old! (or maybe I am but I won’t admit it 😉

And that’s what I hear from people a lot… “I don’t know how to cook!” Now, there are lots of healthy options that need minimal cooking, but how do you learn how to make this…

Black bean, tomato, & quinoa salad on top of a bed of spinach, with a taco seasoned tilapia filet on top (literally took 20 min to make!)

if you grew up eating this one or twice a week…

McDonalds_Meal

I really hope this was shared between a few people!

Both are tasty… I’ll admit, but if your tastebuds are hooked on the fats in fast foods, the sugars in soft drinks (it’s really called pop, but that’s for another post), and feeling of being overly-full because of the bloating that usually comes along with processed foods…where do you start on the road to health?

Personally, I think it comes down to prioritizing health over convenience and dedicating time and effort to really learn the basics of cooking (including how to season things so that health food doesn’t equal bland food). Sign up for a cooking class, ask a friend for some lessons (I’ll help you if you want!), or talk to your grandma (believe me… she probably did more cooking than a normal family does nowadays)!

Now don’t get me wrong…I’m no Julia Child! But neither is he…

And, there are still things that I’m scared to cook/bake (pie crusts are the bane of my existence!) But knowing how to cook has allowed me to be able to experiment with new flavors, create Cannellini Bean Ranch Dressing, and be confident in the kitchen with delicious results!

Did you take home-ec when you were in school? What’s the one thing that scares you in the kitchen? 

p.s. I started my cross fit classes this past Tuesday and all I can say so far is… I.can’t.feel.my.arms!

#KitchenLoveAffair (AKA creating Cannellini Ranch Dressing) & #plankadayinMay Challenge

First off…watch tomorrow for some info about #plankadayinMay a challenge to do a plank, any kind each day in May! Sign up through Challenge Loop HERE! I’m working on getting some super sweet prizes for the winners 😉

Second… Happy Monday! Here’s some late afternoon #motivationmonday love…

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This quote really holds a dear place in my heart because even though I know I have special skills, I’ve never thought about myself as inherently talented in the sense that I’m not a great athlete or musician…I have no outstanding external talents that make people go ohhhhh ahhhhhh (that’s not a cry for pity… keep reading)

It’s taken me a long time to appreciate all the internal and amazing talents that I DO possess, that everyone possesses! The question is do we use them to benefit the world? Aristotle posits that that’s where we find our vocation (our purpose) and I would argue where we find true, passionate joy. Part of my joy comes from my #kitchenloveaffair

minnie cooking

This past Saturday I spent about 2 hours in my beloved Minnie Mouse apron prepping for the week to come with pretty awesome results! I’ll share the most absurd and highly creative of the recipes now, but I roasted some veggies, made quinoa burgers, pecan sandies cookies, oat bars, kiwi dressing, and…

brocc soupSuper Easy Broccoli Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 head broccoli (cut into florets)
  • Cheyenne pepper
  • Black pepper
  • lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Water to boil broccoli
  • Chicken/veggie broth

Place the broc in a large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Allow to boil until you can stick a fork through the stems. Remove brocc placing it in a blender with the spices, a few cups of the water you used boil it, and a squeeze of lemon juice. NOTE: you could use broth to blend the soup for added flavor but either way, it tastes super fresh!

In the pic above I stirred some pre-cooked quinoa into the soup to make it a #powerbowl combo of veggies and protein.

I also made the most absurd sounding and amazing recipe I’ve ever created entirely on my own!

                                                                              Cannellini Ranch Dressing

ranchIngredients:

  • 1 can (15oz) cannellini beans, drained and throughly rinsed
  • 1tsp dried parsley
  • 1tsp black pepper (more if you want a peppercorn ranch flavor)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4C almond milk (or use regular milk if you’re not #dairyfree)
  • drizzle of EVOO

Put all ingredients in food processor and pulse a few times. Then start to drizzle EVOO into the top of food processor until you have the consistency you desire. It’s not exactly like ranch, but it is a darn good substitute for dressing that actually adds protein and healthy carbohydrates to your meal! You’re welcome!

What the craziest thing you’ve ever created in the kitchen? 

And p.s…I also may have spent the vast majority of my Sunday trying to complete this…

#dontjudge

#dontjudge