August 31, 2011

What I Ate Wednesday

I'm joining the party this week! 
For breakfast:

Zucchini Bread Oatmeal - I made this last night from a recipe on It didn't taste exactly like zucchini bread but it was similar and I love having veggies in my breakfast but not tasting them! (Kinda like a Green Smoothie!) I added a peach & a spoonful of pb.

Plus a mug of Pomegranate White Tea from my favorites store, Trader Joe's!
For lunch:
Massaged kale salad w/ EVOO, balsalmic vinegar, garlic powder & s&p, plus carrots & chickpeas. On the side, a slice of homemade cinnamon raisin bread topped with peanut butter.
For snacks:

Pineapple in the morning and a peach in the afternoon!
For dinner:

Guacamole & Bruschetta (by Mckensie & Dan, our fabulous hosts!), Kale chips (we brought these), & Yuengling Lager (from Charis).
Thanks for hosting us! You made my What I Ate Wednesday post so much more interesting!

August 30, 2011

Grilled Sweet Potato Beer Fries

Sweet potatoes are amazing.

I haven't always thought that. They used to make me gag. Then I discovered I could roast them instead of mushing them up and covering them in sugar. I think they're much better as a savory food than sweet.

That's saying a lot because I have one mega huge sweet tooth.

A few weeks ago, right after I found the recipe, we tried Sweet Potato Beer Fries from They were delicious, of course, as all roasted sweet potatoes are, but they didn't have as much beer flavor as I was expecting. In fact, I only tasted a verrrrrry slight hint of beer. I was expecting more of the beer bread flavor, where you get the smell/hint of beer in every bite. Maybe I should have soaked them longer? I love Ashley's recipes and these were seriously delicious. We scarfed up every bite! I just craved more beer flavor & wanted to grill them.

We decided to go back to our favorite, Baked Curry Sweet Potato Fries from I simplified Joy's recipe a litte, skipping the egg white, the turmeric & the yogurt sauce. I just toss the sweet potato slices with the seasonings, lay them on a sprayed baking sheet, and lightly spray them. Seriously delicious. You must try these.

But then I kept thinking about the beer fries and how I wanted to try again. Soaking the potatoes reminded me of the Grilled Salt & Vinegar Potatoes we tried & loved from I played around with a few deas, and here's what I discovered.

As you can see from the pictures, we used a combination of sweet potatoes and white potatoes for this batch. The sweet potatoes definitely won my vote, but in case you were thinking about substituting white potatoes, I wanted to see how they compared. I didn't get as much of the hint of beer, so they might need to soak in it a little longer than the sweet potatoes. Let me know if you try it and get better results than I did!

To make your sweet potatoes have that hint of beer, you only need 2 ingredients. Sweet potatoes & beer. Easy? I thought so! Oh, and you need a grill. But it's summer, so that's easy, too.

Pure deliciousness.

Grilled Sweet Potato Beer Fries
Serves 2-4

2 or 3 large sweet potatoes
1 12oz bottle of beer (We used Yuengling Lager. Yum!)

Cut the ends off of the sweet potatoes and cut in half. Cut each half into wedges about 1/2" thick. Place wedges in a medium saucepan and pour in the beer. Cover with lid and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir potatoes and then simmer for 7 minutes. Stir again and simmer another 7 minutes. Turn off heat, remove cover, stir and let set for 15 minutes or until ready to grill. Potatoes should be tender but not mushy. Drain potatoes and place in a grill basket. Grill on medium-high heat for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Question: What's your favorite way to eat potatoes? Do you like regular or sweet potatoes more?

August 29, 2011

Green Smoothies

All your life you've been dreaming of drinking something this green. Right?

I promised you a recipe for the leftover kale from Kale Chips!

When I first read about green smoothies, I was a little skepical. Lettuce? In my smoothie? Won't that taste weird? What about chunks? I don't want to have to chew my drink...

My first attempt, in the spring, was awful. We had a head of romaine lettuce in the fridge that I fed into the blender with some fruit. I offered to share with the Bup but he looked at me like I was crazy.

I forced it down (I can't stand wasting food!) but there was a lot of chewing and plenty of green pieces stuck in my teeth. Not quite what I was going for and definitely not a drink to bring along to work for a mid morning snack.

I figured I needed a crazy expensive VitaMix and therefore would never have a green smoothie. Then I read a tip on Ashley's blog about pre-mixing the greens before adding the other ingredients. I tried again, and now even the Bup can't stop drinking them!

We have a Ninja Master Prep, which works as both a food processor and blender. It comes with 3 different sized containers to blend in, which is perfect for multiple kitchen projects. It's also great when you just want to mix/chop something small because the little one only holds 2 cups. For a smoothie to serve both of us, I use the mid-sized container.

The key to a super smooth smoothie is to blend the greens + milk first. Blend them until it looks smooth and then blend a little longer, just to be sure. You really don't want chunks of kale in your smoothie.

It looks about like this when you're done. See how much less appears in the blender than when we started? I can see a blade!

Add the fruit, juice, and whatever else and blend again. Then it looks like this. That bright green just screams healthy and it tastes delicious!

It goes without saying that all the leafy greens are nutritious. This is a perfect way to get more of them in your diet without feeling like you have to eat salads for every meal. No one wants salad for breakfast but almost everyone would say yes to a smoothie!

Breakfast doesn't seem filling to me if I don't chew something, so I usually have this with peanut butter toast or later as a mid-morning snack. Because of that, I try to keep it between 200-300 calories. If I want it to be more filling & keep away hunger longer, I add nut butter or coconut, which are optional in my recipe below.

Stick in a straw and slurp away. No chunks involved. Only smooth deliciousness.

That is a word, right? ;-)

Kale Green Smoothies
Serves 2

3 c kale, torn
1 c unsweetened almond milk (any flavor)
2 bananas, frozen
1 1/2 c fruit (mango, apple, strawberries, etc.)
1/4-3/4 c liquid (any flavor juice or milk)
1 1/2 T nut butter or shredded coconut, optional

Tear kale leaves into pieces. Add to blender with milk. Process until mixture looks smooth, and then process for another 30 seconds. Add bananas, your choice of fruit, and 1/4 c juice or milk. Blend until smooth. If mixture is too thick, add more liquid. Pour and enjoy! Smoothie will keep overnight in the refrigerator but may have a thinner consistency than when fresh.

Some of my favorite flavor combinations are:

Strawbery Banana
Fruit: frozen strawberries
Liquid: Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

Coconut Mango Pineapple
Fruit: frozen mango chunks
Liquid: pineapple juice
Add: shredded coconut

Vanilla Almond Pineapple
Fruit: pineapple chunks
Liquid: Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
Add: almond butter

Question:  What flavor combinations would you put together?

August 27, 2011

Crock-pot Steel Cut Oats

I rarely take time out to cook breakfast in the morning. It's my favorite meal of the day, but I'm always in a rush and would rather spend more time eating it than prepping it.

That's why this recipe is so perfect. Stick everything into the crockpot at night, then wake up in the morning and eat!

I love this oatmeal because it is a blank slate for toppers. It's not sweetened, so you have the freedom to use anything you want. Right now, my usual toppers are blueberries and a banana or peach, but there are lots of ideas below the recipe.

On this bowl, I had blueberries, natural peanut butter & maple syrup.

While you're here, check out my new widget at the end of the post with links to 3 other posts you might like! And the Bup designed a new header for you like it?

Crock-Pot Steel Cut Oats
Inspired by HealthySlowCooking
Serves 4-6

1 c organic steel-cut oats
2 c unsweetened almond milk
2 c water
2 tsp vanilla
1 T cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Spray the crockpot lightly with cooking spray to keep the oatmeal from sticking. Combine all ingredients in crockpot, stirring briefly. Set to low and let cook overnight, or 7-9 hours. Once cook time is complete, stir well (It will look very wet at first. Don't worry!) and serve. Store leftover oatmeal in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Here's the fun part!

1 banana, sliced or mashed & stirred in
1 peach, chopped
1 apple, chopped
1/2 c blueberries
2 T dried fruit
1 T nuts
1 T shredded coconut
1 T nut butter (I love pb or almond butter!)
1 T maple syrup
1 T agave syrup
1/4 c almond milk
1 T jelly/jam/preserves

Question: What toppers to you put on your oatmeal? I'm always open for suggestions!

August 26, 2011

Baltimore & The Cheesecake Factory

Last weekend I went to Baltimore with these friends! We went to Howl at the Moon, a dueling piano bar, on Friday night. They have great pianists and it's a fun atmosphere. Tiffy won a party, so we got discounts on drinks.

Since we got there right at the end of her scheduled party, we ordered both of our discounted drinks at the same time. I got a lemonade with blueberry vodka (above left) and a pineapple juice with coconut rum. Bryttani got a strawberry margarita (above right) and we ended up switching because she thought it was too sour. I love sour, so it was perfect for me!

The next day we wandered around the harbor and ate lunch on the patio at The Cheesecake Factory.

Have you ever eaten there? I might be the only person on this earth that doesn't go often. I'd been there once before, about 5 years ago, but didn't really remember it. I think maybe I split a pizza with my friend? Anyway, this was an eye opener.

Their menu is freakin' HUGE.

I don't even know how they can possible make all that food and keep everything straight. Everything we got was well-prepared, but there were just too many options!

Our waitress was only on her second day and she did pretty well, considering. We loved the brown bread (I need to make this!) and she brought us another basket with just brown bread and no white. Nice!

"Guacamole Made-To-Order - Ripe Avocado, Onion, Tomato, Chiles, Cilantro and Fresh Lime. Served with Tortilla Chips, Salsa and Sour Cream."

As an appetizer, we got guacamole. It was just okay. We asked for medium heat and it was killer spicy. Plus, I load mine with lime when I make it at home, so this was lacking in flavor to me. I still ate plenty, though!

"Fresh Baked Pizzettes - Roasted Pear and Blue Cheese: Pecans, Arugula and Caramelized Onions"

I loved this! By the time I was done with the bread and guac I wasn't very hungry, but it was perfect. I ate half plus the arugula off the other half so it wouldn't get soggy.

"Vietnamese Tacos - Steamed Asian Buns with Roasted Pork, Marinated Cucumbers, Carrots and Onion with Chiles, Cilantro and Sesame Seeds."

This was Bryttani's meal. So pretty! I tasted a carrot and the dressing on it was pretty good.

"Grilled Shrimp and Bacon Club - Charbroiled Shrimp, Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato with Our Special Dressing. Served with French Fries or Green Salad."

Tiffany & her sister shared this monster sandwich. They got a side of avocado to add to it. I've never been into club sandwiches, but they said it was delicious.

Ater we finished eating, we walked around the harbor. There was a man doing a sideshow who was balancing skateboards on his chin. He had quite a crowd but we didn't stay long. It was hot in the sun and we just weren't into it.

There was a new candy store in the shopping area, so of course we went in! They had giant versions of lollipos, rice krispie treats, jaw breakers, etc. plus some clothing.

Can you imagine putting your baby in this? Haha.

On our way back to the car, we stopped for cheesecake to go. I got the Chocolate Coconut Cream Cheesecake ("Coconut Cheesecake Topped with Coconut Cream Custard, all on a Chocolate Macaroon Crust") and the Chocolate Tuxedo Cream Cheesecake ("Layers of Our Fudge Cake, Chocolate Cheesecake, Vanilla Mascarpone Mousse and Chocolate"). The Bup always likes the Tuxedo Cream, but I wasn't a huge fan of either. They were okay, but I'm definitely a pure chocolate cheesecake person. None of that white cheesecake for me!

I'd go back again, but I wouldn't seek it out, mainly because I enjoy trying new restaurants and supporting the local businesses.

Question: Do you like eating at The Cheesecake Factory? If so, what is your favorite menu item and cheesecake flavor?

August 25, 2011

Yoga Girl Challenge: Complete! + Yummy Links

I made it!!! 21 days that all involved some form, however large or small, of yoga.

{Because hotel floors are kinda gross.}

I'm not going to bore you with the details of the second half, but it was very similar to the first half. My favorite days were the ones when I used the audio downloads from I love the unexpected challenges and the soothing background music during the sessions. It was great to break out of the video rut I'd been in. You can only watch the same exercise videos for so long before memorizing their next words!

Although I may not do yoga every single day from now on, I will definitely be doing it a lot more. It's a great way to unwind after a busy day and really helps to get the kinks out of my back. Last night I did Lunar Flow and while it was super slow and flowing, when I stood up after it was over, my hips were shaky and loose. It felt so good to wobble a little and realign myself.

For those of you skeptics who don't love yoga...I think you should try it. Just a simple class or video. Let me know how you like it!

And now for some yummy links in the blog world. I'm overwhelmed by the amount of recipes I want to try! Here's a short list:

Chocolate Chunk Toffee Bars from  - For the church picnic, I think.

Grilled Corn Summer Breakfast Hash from  - Dinner soon, perhaps?

Easy Oat Wheat Bread from - Easy, delicious, quick.

Cookie Dough Dip from - It's a healthier version!

I think we could make a meal out of that. Happy Thursday everyone!

Question: Has anyone tried Hot Yoga?

August 24, 2011

Nature as a Reason

When I read other blogs, I love learning about what makes the person tick. Everything from their thoughts on important topics to their reasons for becoming a blogger to their passions (other than food!) to why they chose to eat the way they do, it all interests me. I like getting to know them as a person. The Bup says I get a little too involved, but I truly enjoy connecting with people with similar interests, even if it is only through a blog. I learn something new every day!

So today I'm going to share something I care deeply about.


I want fresh air and nature's beauty to still exist decades from now. I love to be able to go into the woods and hear only the wind, the birds, and the scurrying of the chipmunks.

To look up and see a bright blue sky, framed with green, each leaf a unique shape that stands out but also blends into the whole picture.

To climb high and peer out over the tree tops from the edge of a cliff. To see woods and hills in the distance and imagine what's going on there.

To stand on the slippery rocks of a stream and inhale the fresh air, damp from the moss and foliage.

To see daisies everywhere I go, just littering the gardens and fields with their sunny faces.

And so I try my best and do all that I can to keep peace with nature.

Sheena captures my feelings in both photos and words. Check out her post on taking her family into nature! Her photography is amazing. I'd love to do this with my future children just like my parents did it with me.

Question:  Does nature make you relax?

August 23, 2011

Curried Pumpkin Quinoa Soup

Even though it was hot and humid the other day, we wanted soup. It was gray and dreary and by the time we started the soup, it was pouring down rain.

While we were cooking it, the Bup said he thought we should invite my parents to have some with us. It was already dinner time so we figured they were already cooking and didn't call. All of a sudden, they appeared at our door, asking for some tomatoes. Mom was making Roasted Tomato Sauce and needed a few more. But they hadn't started far enough that they didn't say yes when they smelled the soup! 

So this soup attracts guests. It's just perfect for a late summer day that's bordering on fall weather. Especially if you're starting to be hungry for pumpkin and apples and all those fall foods. Try it!

Curried Pumpkin Quinoa Soup
Serves 8

1 tsp coconut oil
1/2 c chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeds removed, chopped
3 T curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 quart (4 c) pumpkin puree
2 1/2 c cooked quinoa
1/2 c coconut milk (from can)
5 c water
2 c chopped kale

In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt coconut oil. Add onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeno, cooking about 2 minutes. Mix in curry and cumin, toasting lightly for 30-45 seconds. Slowly pour in pumpkin puree, coconut milk, and water. Stir well, then add quinoa. Cook for 20-30 minutes to allow flavors to combine, stirring occasionally. Do not allow soup to come to a full boil. Add kale, stir, and cover with lid. Cook for another 5-10 minutes, until kale softens. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if necessary, before serving.

August 21, 2011

Kale Chip Tips

If you've never eaten kale before, my Dad will tell you that you're lucky. But deep down, he loves it.

If you've never eaten kale before, I will tell you that I'm very sorry for you. Go eat some.

Look at it! Crazy curly leaves, pretty blue-green color...what's not to love?

Our favorite thing to make with kale is kale chips. In the winter, when I'm buying kale, I try to ration it. One big bunch = 3 times of eating kale chips. That's sad. Right now, I cut as many big leaves as fit into my garden basket and squeeze them all onto a tray, or two trays if I get crazy with picking it.

There are a lot of recipes on the web for kale chips, so this is not an original idea. It's just a really great one. I'll post our method here, because we (and by that I mean the Bup) have figured out some tips and tricks. He's the master of kale chips. I almost always burn them because I'm busy doing other stuff.

See? Squeezed. Spilling over the edges. Delicious bites of green.

Look how much it cooks down! This is why it's okay to squeeze it on there. The more the better.

When they're done, they should look about like this. Not brown, but less blue than before. The biggest test is to just pick up a piece and see if it's crispy. If not, put them back in for 1 minute and check again.

Do not, under any circumstances, put them back in for longer than 1 minute when they're just about done. You'll be sorry.

Ignore the chipped nail polish & focus on the chipped kale. It's crispy but not burnt & has a little crystal of sea salt on the edge.

It didn't last long after I snapped the picture. 

Bonus for all of you protein lovers out there - kale has protein! Check out The Stone Soup for several other surprise sources of protein.

Kale Chips
Serves 2
Bup's tips are in blue.

1 large bunch of organic kale
olive oil spray
~1/2 tsp sea salt crystals

Preheat oven to 400*. Lightly (VERY lightly) spray a baking sheet with olive oil spray (4 quick passes usually does it). Wash kale and shake dry. Rip leaves away from stem into large pieces. Reserve any small pieces for other use* & discard stems. Lay leaves on tray in a single layer, pushing together as closely as possible ( I usually fold them in half and set just the edges on the tray. You want as little of the piece of kale to be touching the tray as possible, but each leaf does need to touch the tray. Don't pile them up). Very lightly spray leaves (Too much spray will cause them to wilt. Use even less than you used on the pan.) & then sprinkle with sea salt. Go light on the salt - a little goes a long way. Bake for 5 minutes and then check leaves. If the leaves are laying flat on the tray or are brown in color, flip them with a spatula (This is caused when there is too much oil or they were laid flat on the oil). Otherwise just shake the tray to make sure they're not sticking. Return to oven for 1 minute and check again. If the leaves are still limp, it needs another minute. If the leaves are crisp, they are done. Remove from oven and eat. (Try not to be sad when they're all gone!)

*Green smoothies!!! Post coming soon.

August 18, 2011

In My Pantry

I have a few new recipes coming up for you, but I'm not sharing them until I get some pictures. Sometimes I forget to take pictures in my excitement to eat the food. That just means I have to test them again. Darn. :-)

In the meantime, I'm working on an "In My Pantry" page. You should see the page link in the top bar, too. This is in response to a comment requesting more info on the flours I use. There must be more of you that look at some of the recipes and wonder about the ingredients, so I hope this helps! One of the Bup's co-workers showed my blog to her grandma who wanted to make Blueberry & Applesauce Cookies but couldn't get over the flax egg.

My goal is not to intimidate you or have you shy away from my recipes. I want to share what I've learned in my research on nutrition and broaden the list of foods we all eat to include some seriously delicious and nutritional ingredients! As I add recipes to my page that include foods on the "In My Pantry" list, I'll try to update the page and link to them.

If you have any questions, I'd be happy to do my best to give an answer. The new page is a work in progress, so more items and tidbits will be added as I learn. We can learn together!

Question for you:
What's the most unusual thing in your pantry right now?

August 16, 2011

Grilled Eggplant Sandwiches

If you ever want to eat a sandwich the size of your head, come on over. We'll dive right in and let the juices run down our arms. If you can open your mouth wide enough to bite into it, that is!

First you prep everything. Once the food gets on the grill, you want to be able to stay there. Or if you're lucky enough to have 2 people cooking, that works even better. The Bup does the grilling in our house, so I'm usually running in and out making sure he has everything.

See the small cuts all around the eggplant slices? They're very important. It'll taste the same whether you cut the skin or not, but it's a lot easier to eat if you take the time to cut it. 

Sprinkle the seasonings over the slices and get ready to grill. 

If you have seasonings left after you sprinkle one side, you can add them after you flip the slices on the grill.

Now for the toppings.

Crisp up the bread a little bit and then add eggplant. Next comes Mmmm Sauce (from Mama Pea), swiss chard, and sliced tomatoes.

You can vary your toppings. If you're a cheese lover, use that in place of the sauce. If you don't have swiss chard, use spinach. Some other great additions are mustard and/or half of a grilled bell pepper. We like the flavor combo here, but have had this sandwich with many variations and it's always delicious!

Add more eggplant and another slice of bread to complete the sandwich.

Stare it down. Don't be intimidated. Attack it with confidence and with a napkin at the ready.

Then sit back, sigh a little, and enjoy the meal!

Grilled Eggplant Sandwiches
Serves 2

1 medium eggplant
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 medium tomato, sliced
1 cup swiss chard, chopped (any green - spinach, lettuce, etc. - would work here)
4 T Mmmm Sauce (or mustard or sliced cheese, if preferred)
4 thick slices sourdough bread
cooking spray

Score the skin of the eggplant by using just the tip of the knife and dragging it from the stem to bottom of the eggplant. Make a cut about every 1/2" all the way around. Slice into 1/2" thick rounds and lay on a tray in a single layer. Mix Italian seasoning, garlic powder, black pepper and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over the eggplant slices. Lightly spray grill rack with cooking spray and cook eggplant slices for about 5 minutes per side, or until grill marks appear. Meanwhile, toast bread on the top rack of the grill. Assemble sandwiches, layering 1 slice of bread, 2-3 eggplant slices, Mmmm Sauce, swiss chard, tomato, another 2-3 eggplant slices, and 1 slice of bread. There may be a few eggplant slices remaining, depending on the size of the eggplant. If so, serve on the side or reserve for future use.
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