Are YOU Going to Win My Very First Giveaway?

Happy Monday!! I’m so excited because we are kicking off this week with a first for me: a GIVEAWAY!!

Last week when I was on AM Northwest talking about all the fun Easter / Spring finds from World Market, I gave you some ideas for ‘hostess’ gift baskets, remember? Well, World Market was kind enough to let me keep a basket of some of my favorites… to SHARE WITH YOU!

Here’s the deal:

The basket is worth approximately $50 and includes: a Microplane Zester ($13), Meyers Hand Soap and Dish Soap in Basil scent ($10), a citrus reamer ($5), a pair of veggie scrubby gloves ($10), a mini cutting board ($5), a darling fork, knife, spoon dish towel ($8), and some spring-themed muffin cups ($2)… all packed up in a darling basket ($8). All items are courtesy of World Market and were hand picked by me!

World Market Giveaway

World Market Giveaway

Once you click the link below you’ll have several ways to enter… and one of those ways allows you to enter once each day!

The giveaway starts today, April 14th, and will end at 11:59 this Friday, April 18th.

You must be over 18 to win (so please only enter if you’re over 18).

Finally: sorry, only addresses in the United States and US Territories can enter to win. (I’m covering shipping costs and shipping can get expensive… so I gotta keep it contained.)

 

Anyway, fun, no?

So, take a moment and I hope you’ll enter as much as you can this week. SOMEONE has to win… why not YOU??

a Rafflecopter giveaway

YOU CAN DO IT: Spicy Quinoa Chickpea Patties (aka Quinoa Falafel)

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I don’t know where my love of chickpeas comes from – but it runs deep.

I love them rinsed and raw and tossed in a salad…

I love them sautéed in some olive oil, fresh garlic, herbs, and seasonings for a warm power snack…

I love them baked…

I love them in soups…

I love to mash them up and make homemade hummus.

Chickpeas and all their buttery goodness make this mama happy.

Now, I have to admit something to you: while I’ve eaten more than my share of falafel, I never knew chickpeas were the main ingredient. Seriously. But when I discovered that’s what a falafel is – a chickpea patty – what do you think occurred to me? Yep, you guessed it: I must blend my two loves - quinoa and chickpeas – and whip up my own version of falafel.

You ready to try it? I hope so, because they are little cakes of savory protein goodness.

Here’s what you need:

Special tool: food processor

Gather your ingredients (you’ll end up with 10 3″ diameter patties):

  • 1.5 cups precooked quinoa
  • 1 can organic chickpeas (garbanzo beans) – drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup diced white onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 TBSP gluten-free flour (or any regular flour will do if you’re not gluten free)
  • 2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP  olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Get to work:

In the bowl of your food processor, add everything EXCEPT the quinoa and flour…

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Process until mixture is smooth like a paste…

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Add in your precooked quinoa and the 2 TBSP flour (the flour didn’t make it into this picture, sorry)…

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Then, with the best tool around – your hands – mash together all the ingredients until well incorporated…

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(NOTE: I made these without the flour first and they didn’t hold together at all. So, the flour is KEY to getting these to bind properly into patties.)

Heat a flat fry pan and coat the bottom with a little olive oil…

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Form your patties, and then gently lay them into the hot pan…

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Cook them on medium high heat for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown like this…

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When they’re all done, you can eat them like I did:

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Quinoa falafel on a bed of chopped organic greens tossed in olive oil and lemon juice, served with a handful of cherry tomatoes and topped with a dollop of greek yogurt

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Or, you can just make up a bunch to pop in the fridge and eat them like a finger food when you’re craving a little something.

Just know this: they are super satisfying, have fabulous texture, and are just the thing to keep on hand for your busy mama days.

(SIDE NOTE: These would be fabulous for little eaters! If you’re going to feed them to your little ones that aren’t used to fully seasoned foods yet (5 and under, for example), cut the onion and lemon juice portions in half, and leave out all the dried seasonings except for a dash of the cumin and a little salt. Even a little bland the quinoa and chickpeas together have excellent flavor for training little palates.)

Thanks for being with me… and hey! Please SHARE this post and tell your friends:

MONDAY IS MY FIRST GIVEAWAY DAY!!!

I have a great gathering of goodies featured in my World Market TV segment from earlier this week – and someone has to win!

So, take a moment and “INVITE ME TO YOUR INBOX” on the right so you won’t miss a beat. And, if you have time, connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram for ALL my news.

Much love to you today – and remember: YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, YOU ARE STRONG, YOU ARE LOVED.

 

Avocado Prayers

fresh avocado

…..And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

Ephesians 6:18

I had a rough week last week and had a great talk with my daddy in the midst of my angst.

He listened… he sympathized… and then he said, “Honey, I know it’s hard, but you’re right where God wants you to be – you just have to give it all to Him and trust He will see you through.”

As he said that to me, I was reminded of something I wrote years ago about a lesson I learned from my little guy when he was only 4. Today I want to share it with you because, if I need an occassional reminder of how to pray, I bet you could use the reminder, too.

Here it goes:

_______________________

The other day my kiddos and I were eating lunch. I cut up a fresh avocado, squeezed a little lemon juice over the top, sprinkled a little salt and pepper, and then laid it out for them to dig in. My big girl ate some, my middle girl ate some… but my 4-year old little guy said, “Oh, no thanks mommy.”

“Seb, you have to eat some, honey. Just a piece. I promise you’ll love it.”

Not quite believing my promise, my boy stuck a slice of avocado with his fork, cautiously brought it to his mouth and barely stuck out the tip of his tongue to “taste” it.

“I don’t like it,” he said.

“Seb, you haven’t even really tried it yet. You’ve got to put the whole thing in your mouth to really get the taste of it – and you’ll love the lemon and the salt and pepper on it.”

His entire body slumped over towards the counter as he closed his eyes, squinched his face and quietly fake-cried at my request.

“Come on, just one piece,” I encouraged. “It’s so healthy for you – and you know mommy wants you to be super strong and super smart. Right? So, just take a bite! You know I only give you what’s good for you.”

I let the conversation end there and turned my back to wash the dishes so he could have privacy in his anguish over the avocado. A couple of minutes later I turned back around and he was sitting there with the avocado on his fork about three inches from his face. “Well, are you gonna eat it?” I asked.

“I will, I will,” he said with a concentrated look on his face. “I just need to wait because I prayed God would make  it taste good, okay?”

My heart melted as I silently watched. Three seconds… four seconds…

“Wait… wait…,” he said. Then his eyes popped open, “Okay, it’s ready!”  As the taste hit his mouth he closed his eyes tight; I watched and waited trying read the expression. The second the avocado crushed between his teeth, he eyes shot open and he busted out with, “Mommy – He did it! God made it taste good!” His face was lit up; he eyes were gleeming with excitement His prayer had been answered; and, he swallowed the avocado down and headed outside to play.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “pray without ceasing.” And, Phillipians 4:6 instructs, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  These are just two of the many examples from the Word instructing us to bring EVERYTHING to God… and I have no doubt “everything” includes our simple avocado prayers. Why? Because it’s in the mundane, unsavory parts of our day where a small whisper seeking help from our Father can turn something unappealing into something savory for our soul.

Now, did God actually transform the taste of the avocado from between his first tongue-touch and his actual bite? Maybe… maybe not! But, here’s the deal: even if the avocado itself didn’t change, my boy’s heart changed – it changed from being focused on the ‘problem’, to being focused on the One with the power to make all things better.

Dear Sweet Father – oh, how I love you! Thank you for my precious boy’s heart that is a perfect example of the innocence and humility you call us all to have. Thank you for the reminder that everything matters to you – everything. From heartaches that are about to burst us open, to the minor irritations that simply give us pause in our fast-paced days. Thank you that Your ears are open to our whispers for help, and thank you that Your eyes search throughout the earth to strengthen those of us whose hearts are truly fixed on You. You are a great and mighty God and I jump for joy in all things – in everything! – knowing that you have plans to prosper me through every one of my avocado moments.  May our prayers keep our hearts and minds fixed on you. I love you. In the precious name of your Son Jesus, Amen.

AM Northwest TV Spot: Springtime Finds From World Market

The best part of being the Northwest Food and Lifestyle expert for World Market is I get to hunt through their stores for what I love best… and then tell you about them!

Today on AM Northwest I shared some of my ideas for brightening up your Easter brunch table, putting together unique easter baskets, and also simple hostess gifts for whomever you may be visiting with this month.

My biggest encouragement, though? While you’re thinking about decorating your tables, putting together the baskets, planning egg hunts, and bringing sweet treats to those you’re be visiting… don’t leave out the JOY.

Your joy… your laughter… your sincerity… your gracious heart – THESE are the things that will make every part of your Easter celebration – and this spring season – beautiful.

YOU are what brings color and life to each day. Don’t forget that.

Anyway, here’s the clip – and, check out my Pinterest board for specific items (and others!) seen in the clip.)

And don’t forget to enter the sweepstakes through the link that follows the clip! Someone has to win the $2000 and year’s supply of Divine Chocolate… why not YOU? (Sweepstakes ends on April 18, 2014.)

http://www.katu.com/amnw/segments/Spruce-Up-Your-Easter-Celebrations-254386781.html

FINAL_cpwm_hop-it-forward_auth

The Top 5 Grocery Goodies to Fall in Love With This Year

A couple of weekends ago I did something amazing: I spent two full days at ExpoWest in Anaheim with 60,000 other visitors. ExpoWest is the ‘natural, organic, healthy’ red carpet of food shows; and, over 2,600 of the Who’s Who of food brands get decked out, strut their stuff, and highlight what we ‘must’ eat this coming year.

If you’ve never been to (or heard of) ExpoWest, imagine walking the isles of a 1-million square foot Whole Foods store. While people push and rub against you and force you to travel in baby steps, every single item is displayed, sampled, cooked-up, and/or served for your unlimited tasting. There are bright lights, music, yoga classes, speakers, massage chairs, colors, energy, savory smells of goodness, impromptu living rooms set up in booths where deals get done, and Disney-attraction quality displays where branded workers are tripping over themselves to hand pins, bags, stickers, stress balls, and sealed samples (some even full size!) of their products.

Gluten free, vegan, meat free, flower infused, dairy free, dairy rich, cricket-powder fortified (yes, I found a bar made with crickets as the protein source!), herbal… whatever your bent, ExpoWest had the goods.

It was a total hoot.

It’s taken me a bit to process it all. I’ve reviewed my brand materials, re-read ingredient labels, re-tested samples in the comfort of my own kitchen, and gathered reviews from my man and kids. And, now, here it is:

My TOP 5 GROCERY GOODIES TO FALL IN LOVE WITH THIS YEAR:

 

Better Bean Company

1)   Beans from The Better Bean Company. I love beans, as you know, and typically make my own. What I love about this company and their ‘rethought’ beans, however, is they’re made the way I would make them: with nothing but real, wholesome ingredients and no added sweeteners, added flavors, or chemicals. The Uncanny Refried Black Beans are exactly what you want to have on hand for an instant burrito night; top a bed of quinoa with some Rethought Red Beans, Cuban Black Beans, or Three Sisters Chili for an instant lunch (I break one pod into two lunches for my girls); or, try the Chipotle Bean Dip as a dip, or even as a base for a southwestern chicken tortilla soup! Every recipe they have is delish – and, the fact this company is run by a passionate and engaging father/daughter team makes them even more special in my book. (They cost about $2.50 / 14 oz pod, and you’ll find them in the refrigerated section beside hummus and salsa.)

Tumeric Alive Vanilla Bean Elixer

2) Tumeric Alive Vanilla Bean Elixir. Ok, I’m not a ‘drink’ girl that navigates too far from water, coconut water, and coffee. When I stopped and sampled the options from Tumeric Alive, though, I found a new indulgence: Tumeric Alive Vanilla Bean Elixir. (I say ‘indulgence’ because they’ll run you anywhere from $5-$5.50 a 12-ounce bottle.)  It’s not a juice – it’s a ‘herbal formula’ made of turmeric, ginger, cardamom, spearmint, honey, lemon, sea salt, cayenne, and vanilla bean. What I loved about the Vanilla Bean blend is it has some kick to it, yet was extremely refreshing and soothing to my talked-out throat. MMMM…. so good – and so much better for an afternoon pick-me-up than any coffee bar drink.

Epic Lamb Bar

3) Epic Bars. I was super leery about trying these ’100% grass fed’ meat-based bars, but I did… and, thank God, because they are amazing. After tasting each of their four blends – lamb, bison, turkey, and beef – lamb was surprisingly my favorite. I felt like I was eating a really soft beef jerky with just a hint of sweet (from the cranberries). They’re geared for the Paleo crowd (but even non-paleo folk like me can dig ‘em), and run about $2.75 a piece. The ingredients are clean and there are no added sweeteners – hooray! So, if you’re looking for a savory bar to keep on hand for after workouts, I’d give this a shot. (Use their product finder to locate a store near you, or order online.)

Nancys Greek organic-greek-plain-yogurt

4) Nancy’s Plain Greek Yogurt and Straus Plain Greek Yogurt. Since yogurt is one of quinoa’s best friends in my world, of course I set out to see if there was a yogurt brand I’ve been missing out on. And, you know what I discovered? Fage, move over – I have two new loves in my life:  Nancy’s Greek yogurt and  Straus Greek yogurt. Nancy’s is out of Oregon and Straus is out of California; I’m telling you about both because, depending on where you are, you may not have both choices. Either one, however, will knock your socks off. Super creamy, just the right tang flavor, no grainy taste, and fabulous consistency of each. (If you’re dairy free, try SoDelicious Dairy Free Coconut Milk Unsweetened Yogurt, another one I really loved at the show.)

kolat

5) Kolat Espresso Hazelnut Superfood Fusion Fruit and Nut Butter. My kids beg for Nutella and, while we have one jar in the house for ‘special’ nights (I keep it high up out of the everyday intake because it’s literally a spreadable candy bar), I’ve told them when it’s gone, it’s gone and will never return. (Seriously – read the ingredient label.) This is why I was so excited to discover Kolat at the Expo. They make decadent tasting nut and fruit spreads with NO ADDED SUGARS. Serious! My favorite of their four recipes was the espresso hazelnut spread, and check out the ingredients: roasted almonds, hazelnuts, dates, organic coconut oil, ground espresso beans, and sea salt. No sweeteners, no preservatives, no flavors – just real good stuff I’m happy to keep readily accessible for all of us to enjoy. ($9.99 / 16 oz. Use their product finder to locate a store near you, or order online.)

Here are some other ‘must mentions’ to look out for:

Vegan Perfect Bar

Protein bars by PerfectBar. If you read ingredient labels for food bars, almost every one of them has sugar as a top four ingredient and a variety of other junk that should never be labeled ‘healthy’. (This is why I developed SmartyBars years ago – in rebellion to all the garbage!) Thankfully, however, I stumbled upon this fabulous bar at the Expo – and now I have something I won’t hesitate to buy: the Almond Coconut Perfect Bar. The founders have a great story. Plus, their bars really are ‘perfect’ with no added sweeteners, added flavors, or preservatives. (A few flavors do use honey, but honey is God-made and I have no problems with it in moderation.) I’ll hand these to my kids in a heartbeat.

Alter Eco Quinoa Dark Chocolate Crunch

AlterEco Quinoa Dark Chocolate Crunch Bar. A true treat: their gluten-free quinoa chocolate crunch bar. (I love they use Fair trade certified ingredients.)

chicapeas

Chic-a-peas. These baked chickpea snacks (plain and falafel seasoned) are a perfect lunchbox snack. Made of nothing but chickpeas, safflower oil, seasonings, and sea salt; and, perfectly baked to satisfy your savory cravings. (Hopefully coming to a store near you… and, until then, order online.) The company was also founded by two cutie-patooties from New York – and their passion and love for their products captured my heart.

There you go! Let me know if there’s a grocery product YOU’VE discovered that I should try out. I’m always looking for clean ingredient labels and good tasting options.

AM Northwest TV Spot: Almost-Instant Chicken Fajitas

fajitas
Today on AM Northwest I made a dish using one of the greatest ‘cheats’ available to us mamas: a store-bought rotisserie chicken. I pick a rotisserie up at least once a week (because I know it will come in handy for instant dinner somewhere), and I always ‘re-create’ it somehow – like with these fajitas, for example.

Simple.
Flavorful.
Fragrant.
Deconstructable, which means everyone can prepare theirs just the way they want it.

And, most importantly: FAST. (When you watch the segment you’ll see it made from start to finish in under 6 minutes. You can’t even boil pasta in that amount of time!

Enjoy… and come back and tell me after you try them at home. (I bet they’ll become one of your favorite family go-tos.)

http://www.katu.com/amnw/segments/Easy-Chicken-Fajita-Dinner-247554621.html

Here’s the recipe:
Serves 5 (with 2-3 corn tortilla-sized fajitas each)
RECIPE:
1 rotisserie chicken, breast and thigh meat removed and rough chopped (save the rest of the chicken for soup!)
2-3 large bell peppers, variety of colors – cut into thin strips
1 onion, sliced into thin strips
1/4 cup chicken stock (or water)
zest from 1 lime
juice from 1/2 a lime
corn tortillas

Fajita seasoning:
1 TBSP cornstarch
1 TBSP garlic powder
1 TBSP ground cumin
1 TBSP chili powder
1 TBSP paprika
1.5 tsp sea salt
1 tsp oregano

Heat large skillet and add enough olive oil (or canola oil) to coat the bottom of the pan. When oil begins to smoke, add in bell peppers and onions. Saute for a minute or so, then cover and saute for 3-4 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.

Add in chopped chicken, chicken stock, and sprinkle fajita mix over entire pan. Stir everything to coat evenly; add lime zest and the juice from 1/2 the lime. Recover and allow to cook on medium high heat for two minutes so flavors can meld together. Uncover, stir again, turn off heat, and prepare your tortillas.

Heat up a griddle (or flat pan of some sort) to warm tortillas. After you flip the tortillas to warm the flip side, sprinkle some grated cheddar cheese and top with warm chicken fajita mix. Top with fresh cilantro, salsa, sliced avocado, and sour cream.

YOU CAN DO IT: Baked Quinoa Egg Pie

It’s been awhile, sweet friend. I’ve missed you. I don’t know what happened… I don’t know where the days have gone from January 29th to today. I was on a roll. I was writing, and cooking, and savoring every connection with you – and, then, I got quiet.

Quiet.

I feel like three weeks ago I made an unconscious decision to slip out of my tough skin – the skin I wear when I command the troops, run the house, strive to build, and do, do, do, and slip back into the softness of motherhood, and marriage, and friendship. I needed to stop striving. I needed to turn inward, and pay attention, and be still. (And with tough skin on, being still and quiet is the last thing I want to do.)

But then a couple of days ago I was standing in my kitchen after a workout, and I needed to eat.  I wanted something powerful, because I was feeling powerful. I wanted something light, because I was feeling ready to take on the world. And in that moment, I felt something else: I felt the urge of quiet lift, and I wanted something to share with you – I wanted something to empower YOU with, too.

And you know what came from that thought? This:

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A baked quinoa egg pie.

I made it, ate it warm, and then snacked on it cold the next two days. I made another variation for my Friday morning bible study group – and it was devoured. Then, I made another one today after I returned from my morning workout – and it has carried me through the day.

Just a little slice or two, a glass of water or some tea, and a piece of fresh fruit. Can you say PERFECT MEAL?

Clean. Pure. Whole. Easy. DELICIOUS.

Here’s what you need:

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For saute:

  • olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 baby Portobello mushrooms, roughly chopped in quarter sized pieces
  • 2 large handfuls of spinach
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved (this is a great way to use up tomatos that are beginning to wilt)
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp peppr

For egg mixture:

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups of precooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled feta

Make sauté:

Heat a large skillet with some olive oil. Add diced shallot and minced garlic; sauté for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly so you don’t burn the garlic.

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Add in mushrooms and parsley and sauté until mushrooms begin to release their moisture (about two minutes).

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Turn off heat and add in spinach, cherry tomatoes, parsley, salt and pepper, and stir to mix thoroughly. Cover so the steam wilts the greens and tomatoes while you prepare the egg mixture.

Make egg mixture:

Butter a glass pie plate. (Yes, buttered. Don’t use chemical cooking spray – use real butter.)

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Whisk 6 eggs in a large bowl until they are loose.

Add in quinoa, feta, and then the warm sauté. Pour entire mixture into a buttered, glass pie plate.

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Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, cover with foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

DONE.

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Now, the possibilities are limitless with this dish. Just like an omelette or quiche, you can add sausage, arugula, other herbs, other greens. You could do it with leftover roasted root vegetables or potatoes. You could use any cheese – from cheddar, to goat cheese, to parmesean. Whatever your heart desires (or whatever is in your fridge) will work. Allow yourself the freedom (and fun!) to get creative.

So there. I’m back. And… I hope you’re inspired. (Because that’s why I’m here, you know? I’m here because I want you to know: YOU CAN DO IT.)

Much love to you.

You Can Do It: Kale Pesto

I love pesto.

Pesto, for me, brings back memories of my junior year in Italy. Of friends and laughs and love and long, lingering dinners where we’d hang our legs over the Arno bridge at sunset and dream of the future.

Pesto is divine.

I don’t often make pesto in the wintertime since basil (the base for traditional italian pesto) isn’t growing like a weed in my garden. So, the other day when a sweet friend told me about making pesto with kale instead of basil, I knew I had to try it… and then: I fell in love.

Here we go:

Special tools:

  • Food processor with the blade attachment
  • microplane (or other fine cheese grater)
Simple ingredients

Simple ingredients

  • 1 bunch of organic kale (remember: kale is one of the ‘dirty dozen‘, so always buy organic)
  • 1 handful organic arugula
  • 1/2 cup parmigiano regianno
  • 1/4 cup of raw walnuts
  • 3 garlic cloves (peeled)
  • olive oil
  • 1 lemon (for zest and juice)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Chop off and discard the bottom two inches of your kale bunch, and then rough chop the rest.

Place half of the chopped kale into the food processor and chop until fine, like this:

DSC09057Then add in the remaining kale and chop until no large pieces of kale remain, like this:

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Add in the arugula, walnuts, whole garlic cloves, and parmesan (and yes, it’s okay if there are some larger hunks of the cheese):

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Re-cover and chop and chop for approximately 8-10 seconds.

Next, add in the zest of the lemon (approximately 1 tsp), juice from 1/2 of the lemon, salt, and pepper.

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Re-cover, and then, with processor ‘on’, slowly drizzle in your olive oil until mixture is smooth and ‘pasty’. And, when you’re all done, it should look like this:

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Now, what do you do with it you ask? I say: what don’t you do with it!

Pesto isn’t just for pasta, even though I think that’s what most people think of when they hear ‘pesto’. To the contrary: think of pesto like a condiment – something to add a punch of flavor to just about anything. (It’s like a cousin to Argentinian chimicurri.)

You can toss potatoes in it or vegetables in it, like I did with these leftover brussels sprouts from last night’s dinner:

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You can toss quinoa in it (which I LOVE to do) and use it as a bed for a perfectly fried egg:

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You can use it as a dip for raw veggies, like I did for my cherry tomatoes today:

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You can slather it on a piece of toasted, rustic bread with a little turkey and brie…

You can add it to soup, or meatballs, or use it as a spread for grilled steak or a hamburger…

You can even mix it with a really yummy yogurt to make a perfect yogurt dipping sauce like this:

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(For the yogurt dipping sauce, use 1 part kale pesto and 1 part yogurt and mix until incorporated. The Straus yogurt is hands down my favorite yogurt to use for this type of mixture because the texture is looser than most, and also because Straus uses real sweet cream buttermilk, which gives a delicious tang to the dip.)

The key is this: just make it. Once you taste it, I promise you’ll invent ways to creatively get it into your mouth.

Be forewarned, though… pesto brings on some serious garlic breath; it’s simply the price we have to pay for the amazing flavor pesto brings. But, no worries! Thanks to visual.ly, you’ll see what garlic is great for our health – but also how to kill the impending garlic breath :)

Garlic - Amazing Natural Cure for Your Health

by stedas.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

And, there you have it! You can do it kale pesto.

Thanks for being here – and I hope you’re leaving inspired.

You Can Do It: Homemade Fruity Greek Yogurt

One thing that drives me absolutely crazy is flavored yogurt. Why? Because it’s junk masquerading as ‘healthy’ for us.

Yes, I said it: JUNK… because flavored yogurt is filled with sugar and other nonsense we have no need of. (I’m not totally against sugar, but I like to keep it in it’s place.)

Let’s take a mainstream ‘blueberry yogurt’, for example. (By ‘mainstream’ I mean one of those yogurt brands that has 50 different flavors and is often found on special for 5 for $5.) This is what the ingredient label looks like:

Yogurt Ingredient List_Blueberry

Now, when you read a lable, you may not know this, but they are listed by greatest to least. This means the first three ingredients typically make up the bulk of the product; and, in this case, your first three are milk, SUGAR, and blueberries. So, you see what I mean? SUGAR is one of the top 3 ingredients and comes before blueberries, meaning there’s more sugar than blueberries! Yuck… and then you get down to stuff like corn starch, preservatives, flavors, etc. etc.

Now look at the nutritional label:

Yogurt Nutritional_Blueberry

You see that sugar content?? 26g of sugar is the equivalent of 6.5 teaspoons of sugar. 6.5 teaspoons!! And in one INDIVIDUAL serving!! Granted, yogurt and blueberries have their own naturally occurring sugars. However, the fact one of this brand’s top three ingredients IS sugar and the sugar came before the blueberries, I lean towards believing most of it is processed and not natural; and, hence, you will NEVER find it in my kitchen.

(If you have flavored yogurt in your fridge right now, go take a look at the ingredient label and the sugar content. Shocked?)

With all that said, because commercial flavored yogurt is so full of everything I totally REBEL from, I make my own… well, blend my own. Is it as sweet as the commercial stuff? No, not even close – but that’s why I love it! By keeping the hyper-sweetness of commercial brands off my tongue, my palate has been trained to appreciate the subtle, natural sweetness of what I make at home. (And, you know what? If I eat commercially produced flavored yogurt now, the hyper-sweetness is overwhelming.)

Now, don’t be overwhelmed at this idea! It’s very simple… and it’s all about your tools and your ingredients.

Before you begin, you’ll need to find some glass cups with lids, like these:

Ball canning jars and a storage jar and lid

Ball canning jars and a storage jar and lid

(You can buy a flat of Bell canning jars for about 12 bucks.)

Next, assemble your ingredients:

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  • Fage PLAIN greek yogurt (my favorite of all the greek yogurts)
  • Frozen fruit

(Notice I don’t list sugar, beet juice, corn starch, gelatin, or natural flavors… because we don’t need them!!)

Now, porition out about 1/2 cup of frozen fruit into each of the jars, cover/cap the jars, and place them in the fridge to defrost overnight. (I like to do several jars at a time before bed so they’re ready for me the next morning.)

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Once the fruit is defrosted, you’re ready to pulverize it so it will blend nicely into your yogurt. (There are many ways you can do this, but I don’t think I’d do it without an immersion blender. It fits right into each of my cups and clean up is a snap! So, if you don’t have one, I highly recommend spending the $35 to get one; it’s one of the best tools I have in my kitchen.)

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Add in about 3/4 cup of your PLAIN greek yogurt into each cup…

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Stir with a simple spoon…

raspberry/blackberry greek yogurt

raspberry/blackberry greek yogurt

blueberry greek yogurt

blueberry greek yogurt

mango greek yogurt

mango greek yogurt

And that’s it! Your very own homemade fruity yogurt!!

You can make up several jars and store them for the week. I like to pull them out for afternoon snacks and add in some precooked quinoa, or top a cup with some of my quinola crunch.

A few final thoughts that may be stirring up questions in your mind:

1) Which fruits are best? Fruits that mash well, like berries, peaches, mangos, pears, kiwi, pomogranates, bananas. (Apples would require you to cook them first to soften them.)

2) Why frozen fruit? I used frozen for this post because it’s February and not a lot of good fruits are available right now. (In the summertime I’d do all of my yogurt with fresh fruit.) Also, frozen fruit is often fruit picked in it’s prime and flash frozen, so it’s often just as sweet as when it’s in full season.

3) What if I want it sweeter than it is with just the fruit? Use honey. (I’m not an agave fan, but that would be my second suggetion.) I actually use honey quite often… but just a little bit, like a tsp or so. It adds really nice flavor.

4)  What if I don’t want to wait for the fruit to defrost overnight? You can put it into the cups and then put the cups in the microwave for a minute or two. (Just long enough to defrost, though… you don’t want them overwarm.)

5) Why greek yogurt? Because it’s nice and thick, which makes a particularly good base for this recipe. But, most importantly, the protein content is almost double that of regular plain yogurts. (If you choose to use a regular plain yogurt, it may be very watery – more of a drinkable than spoonable.)

If you’re a yogurt fan, I hope you’ll try and do this at home. It’s healthier, it’s cheaper, and, again, cutting out the processed sugars from just one more place is always a good thing… always.

Much love to you today.

 

You Can Do It: Spicy Quinoa Meatballs Simmered in White Wine

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I’ve been wanting to come up with a meatball recipe for some time… and last night I finally did it. No, I didn’t grow up with meatballs; meatballs are not a “Guamanian” sort of thing. They are, however, protein packed powerhouses – and that is why they appeal to me.

(There’s no better snack than one that’s packed with protein and fiber.)

Now, when you think ‘meatballs’, you probably get a visual of the typical: meatballs simmered in a heavy, sweet BBQ sauce, or meatballs served over a carb packed bed of pasta. But, hey, this is the Rebel Grain… and you can bet your bottom dollar that my meatballs are going to be against the grain of what is ‘supposed to be’.

The final result? Spicy Quinoa Meatballs Simmered in Herbed White Wine.

No heavy sugary BBQ sauce. No pasta to weigh you down. Just pure, clean deliciousness to power you up, satisfy your cravings, and keep your healthy habits on track.

NOTE 1: I made these with a large cast iron skillet. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet that can go from the stovetop to the oven, you can use a large fry pan for steps 1-4 and 6; and, for step 5 you’d just transfer everything into a glass baking dish.

NOTE 2: You’ll need about an hour to get these done. Make them when you’re feeling leisurly and inspired and can take your time to taste along the way and appreciate the beauty of what’s happening at your stove. Sip a glass of wine, play some music while you work. The process and delicious smells of every step are part of the fun.

You ready?

Ingredients:

For meatballs (steps 1-4)

  • 1/2 pound spicy italian sausage (if kids will eat these, I’d use regular italian sausage)
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 cups precooked quinoa
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced and smashed with the back of a fork
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano (yes, it’s the good stuff… and worth it)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh curly parsley
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp corse black pepper
  • 2 eggs

For herbed wine simmer sauce (steps 5-6):

  • olive oil to coat pan
  • 2 cups of white wine
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 1″ cubes of parmesean rind
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup water

To deglaze the pan and make the finishing sauce (step 7):

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Here we go:

1) Preheat your oven to bake at 350 degrees.

2) Make the vegetable quinoa saute:

Heat olive oil in a large pan on medium high heat.  When pan is hot, add onions and saute for about three minutes, stirring constantly. Add garlic, grated carrots, peas and carrots. Continue to saute, stirring occasionally, for approximately 3-4 minutes. Add precooked quinoa, salt, pepper, and chopped parsley. Continue to saute, stirring occasionally, for another few minutes. Remove from heat.

3) Make the meatball mix:

Add sausage, ground pork, and saute into a large bowl. Using a large spoon, incorporate the warm saute into the cold meat to temper the mixture. Once the mixture is tempered to a point you can work it with  your hands, use your hands to squeeze the ingredients together so there is no longer any separation of the ingredients.

In a separate bowl, whisk two eggs. Add eggs to meat mixture and, with your hands, squeeze through the ingredients until eggs are well incorporated.

Gather a handful of mixture into your palm and, with both hands, form large balls so they look like this:

meatballs before they're cooked

meatballs before they’re cooked

4) Brown the meatballs on the stove.

Using the same pan you used for the saute, add enough olive oil to create a thin film on the bottom of the pan. Once oil is hot, carefully add the meatballs into the pan with kitchen tongs and brown the meatballs on medium high heat. Carfully turn the meatballs every couple minutes to brown each side of the form. (NOTE: the quinoa makes this a little more crumbly than a typical meatball, so turn them very carefully. If you try to roll them in then pan, they may break apart.) As they brown they should look like this:

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When all sides are brown, carefully remove the meatballs from the pan and onto a plate.

5) Make the wine sauce the meatballs will simmer in.

With the stove still on medium high, place the white wine, the fresh thyme sprigs, 1 tsp of lemon zest*, and the chunks of parmesean rind to the pan, like this:

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The wine will begin to immediately bubble, and you’ll want to use a spatula to deglaze the pan and stir these ingredients together.

*If you don’t yet have a Microplane zester, please go buy one!

6) Put meatballs into the oven to simmer and finish cooking.

While wine sauce is simmering, use your tongs and return the meatballs to the pan. Be careful not to overcrowd them. Turn off heat, remove the pan from the stove, and put pan into the oven where the meatballs will simmer and continue to cook for 35 minutes. (NOTE: After 20 minutes in the oven, add 1/4 cup of water to the pan.)

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7) Make the finishing sauce.

When you remove the meatballs from the oven, they will be GORGEOUS like this:

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Transfer them to a plate with your tongs. Now, see all the goodies left behind in the pan? This is where the magic happens with what’s left behind. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. Place the pan back on the stovetop and put your heat on medium high. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, the fresh squeeze juice of 1 lemon, and a little more sea salt and black pepper to taste. Allow the mixture to boil while you whisk with a fork, being sure to unstick any of the goodies that might be stuck to the bottom of the pan. Turn off heat and pour sauce into a small dish.

And… you are done!

As far as how to eat them, there is no wrong way :) You can drizzle a little spoonfull of your sauce over them and eat them plain, or you can make a meal of them the way I just did like this:

Baby arugula drizzled with white wine sauce and served with Spicy Quinoa Meatballs

Baby arugula drizzled with white wine sauce and served with Spicy Quinoa Meatballs

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Let me just tell you: they are AMAZING and so full of flavor! My man couldn’t keep his fingers off them last night… and, as I write this I’m drooling for another serving.

Anyway, YOU CAN DO IT… and I hope you try.

Have a great weekend – and GO SEAHAWKS!