Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lentil Veggie Marinara with Angel Hair Pasta

This is a delicious hearty marinara packed with protein from the lentils. It's both gluten free and vegan, which makes my body super happy! It's also pretty darn tastey, which makes my mouth happy.

The first time I made this dish I created a smaller batch, so this time around I didn't hold back. I've honestly been eating this pasta for lunch every day this week, and I'm not yet sick of it. Pretty astonishing. Granted, I don't want it to go to waste either—lots of hard work and goodness down the drain—so part of me is wishing I'd frozen some or taken some to the neighbors. PS, I love sprinkling feta over top—yum!

Serves 8

1 cup uncooked brown lentils
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tomato, diced
2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 tablespoons homemade Italian seasoning (click here for recipe)
Gluten-free brown rice angel hair pasta, cooked (or any pasta or veggie noodles of your choice—we love spaghetti squash and zucchini noodles)

To cook the lentils, put lentils, water, and salt in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Lower to simmer and cook with the lid off for 45 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. The water will be nearly gone.

Add oil to a large skillet and sauté garlic and onion. Once the onions are soft, add bell pepper. Cook for another few minutes. Then add tomato, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and cooked lentils. Let it simmer until the bell pepper are cooked as thoroughly as you like.

Spoon over top a steaming plate full of pasta. (Okay, not literally a whole plate full, because that would not be a very balanced "green" meal, so maybe fill half your plate with a spinach or kale salad.)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Meditation—What's all the hype?

Meditation is a state of deep peace due to the absence of thought—quieting your mind enough to then listen for answers you're seeking or to receive whatever peace or tranquility you need. Why do we need to clear our mind of thought? Well, according to a study done by the National Science Foundation, we produce from around 12,000 to 50,000 thoughts per day! Some of us up to 60,000 thoughts. Though baffling, the majority of these thoughts aren't the most productive or even self-supporting. Our minds are filled with worry about paying the bills, regret or self-belittling from rehashing a previous conversation, or fear that we won't have what it takes to succeed in our daily roles. Notice how most of our stress comes from what has already happened or what is to come! Whoever thought we could just enjoy this moment, right here, right now?

Meditation can be therapeutic, calming, and rejuvenating because we give our minds a break, which gives our bodies a break from stress, and takes us to a place where we can be free of that barrage of negative shatter. The American Medical Association has identified stress as the root cause of 60% of all human illnesses and disease. Stress often starts with skipping meals, overeating, insomnia, headaches or stomach aches, anxiety, ADHD, and lack of motivation. Click here for more fun facts on stress.

Meditation influences people in different ways, but from what I've found they are all positive influences. So why not give it a try? One article I found in Psychosomatic Medicine (Speca 2000) reported that after taking a group of cancer patients and having them participate in a weekly 1.5-hour meditation class for 7 weeks, the participants reported that a 65% decrease in Total Mood Disturbance and a 31% reduction in Symptoms of Stress. Patients reported less depression, anxiety, anger, and confusion, and more vigor. They also reported fewer cardiopulmonary and gastrointestinal symptoms, less emotional irritability, and less cognitive disorganization. This is just one report, and there are hundreds more out there!

Day 1 of a free 3-week meditation course starts today, offered by Deepak Chopra, an expert on calming the mind and inviting self-discovery through meditation. Click here to sign up. This is my third time participating in a 3-week meditation course with Chopra, and I've LOVED every one. I admit, in my last two courses I missed about half of the days. Some mornings I had a hard time making it through the whole meditation because I was already feeling the rush of my day, but the mornings I did allow myself to be still I felt a difference in my perspective on life and had less tension in my body.

This 3-week meditation course focuses on how each one of us is put here on earth with a purpose, and when we still our minds, clarity can come so that we can know what we are here to do. If you've never meditated before, give this course a try. You've got nothing to lose. Just find a quiet spot each day where you can sit comfortably and listen. If you've meditated before and it didn't stick, this is a super easy way to try again because they email the meditations to you, and the meditations are guided. Way easier than flying solo!

Enjoy your journey to mindfulness!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Coconut No-Bake Balls

By popular demand, I introduce to you the Coconut No-Bake Ball. It's edible, it's memorable, and it's just enough sweetness to hit the spot. Not to mention, it is packed full of much-desired lauric acid! Most of you know my healthy obsession with coconut oil because of all its anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, so eating one of these coconut balls is kind of like getting a mini flu shot, but much much more enjoyable.

My husband is allergic to nuts, so instead of using almond butter we use sun butter, made from sunflower seeds. You can hardly tell the difference between peanut butter and sun butter, so it's a great substitute when recipes call for any kind of nut butter.

Makes 18, 1-inch balls

4 tablespoons melted coconut oil (raw and unrefined coconut oil)
4 tablespoons coconut milk
1 cup almond butter (or sun butter for nut allergies)
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup + 5 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons xylitol (or stevia if you prefer)

Add all ingredients except the 5 tablespoons shredded coconut to a turbo blender. Make sure to add the ingredients in the order listed above. The mixture will get pretty thick very fast, so you want your liquids at the bottom of the blender. Blend mixture and then pause to push sides of the mixture down with a spatula. Blend again if necessary. The mixture is going to be thick like cookie dough, so be prepared to keep an eye on your blender so the motor doesn't burn out. The mixture should be thoroughly blended, but not smooth.

Now roll dough into 1-inch balls and roll each ball in the reserved shredded coconut. Place coconut balls on a plate and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before eating. Enjoy!

This recipe just so happens to be part of a candida cleanse, which I found on the Candida Diet website. Candida is a form of yeast found naturally in the intestine and the mouth. When you have an overgrowth of candida, it can make you get frequent colds and flus, feel lethargic or irritable, have chronic body pain, unable to focus, crave sugar or alcohol, unable to lose weight, and experience digestive problems. An overgrowth can happen with a slight change in your body, like going through a few rounds of antibiotics, eating a diet rich in carbs and sugars, or experiencing high stress. The Candida Diet website gives great background on what candida is, how an overgrowth effects your body, how to know if you have an overgrowth, and how to get rid of it.

You are meant to feel good! Listen to your body and do what it takes to get back to your natural state—health. There are so many resources out there to help you along the way!

Friday, September 13, 2013

One Reason Not to Go Raw

I just had an ah-ha moment. Did you know that some greens actually provide more of a certain vitamin or mineral AFTER they are cooked? Chard is one of those and so are spinach and kale. I got this data below by going to Self Nutrition Data and comparing cooked kale's nutrients to raw kale's.

Click on the images for a closer look. Are you surprised? It looks like if you're wanting more vitamin C, go for the raw kale, but if you're looking for an even more gargantuan amount of vitamin A, go for the cooked version.

What really caught my eye was the "Inflammatory Factor" numbers. Kale is already a highly anti-inflammatory green, but look at how that factor almost doubles when cooked. I had no idea! The lesson we learn, as always? Eat more kale. Eat more greens!

Just in case you're wondering why this information matters, stress causes inflammation and a whole lot of the foods we eat cause inflammation. People who deal with chronic or acute pain issues would do themselves good to eat more foods that are anti-inflammatory. I am always looking for ways to decrease the inflammation in my joints, so discovering this little secret about kale is huge. This morning, before I even made this discovery, I had some scrambled eggs cooked with garlic, bell pepper, and kale. Guess I'll be keeping that up and creating all kinds of new concoctions with cooked kale.

Go to Self Nutrition Data and type in chard and spinach (or any other food) to check out their nutrition facts and inflammatory factor.

(Out of curiosity I just looked up dandelion greens too. Same pattern of the nutrients skyrocketing when cooked. I'm going to have to look into this some more. Any insights? What is it that increases the anti-inflammatory property in greens when they are cooked? Time for me to do some research.)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Horchata Rice Pudding

I found this recipe in Veg News magazine and then slightly tweaked it to make it my own. It's great warm or chilled. Promise to share!

serves 6

3 cups rice milk
2 cups coconut milk
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated cardamom
6 tablespoons raisins, toasted unsweetened coconut chips, for garnish (optional)

1. In a large saucepan over high heat, combine rice milk, coconut milk, rice, and syrup, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 to 40 minutes, or until rice is soft and mixture has a thick, pudding-like consistency.

2. Stir in vanilla, cinnamon, and cardamom. Remove from heat. Serve warm or cold, topped with raisins or coconut chips. (I prefer it without toppings.)

Homemade Italian Seasoning

This blend is some marvelous stuff. We toss it in salsa, stir it into veggies, sprinkle it into pasta salad, and add it to marinara. You're going to love having a stash of this in your cupboard or pantry. It's a great go-to seasoning to replace any prepackaged Italian seasonings that may have unwanted fillers.

1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon basil
1 tablespoon parsley
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
2 tablespoons sea salt

I found I was going through this amount really fast, so I like to double this recipe.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Healing the Body, Mind, & Spirit w/ LIGHT: A Talk

Almost 2 years ago a good friend and past roommate of mine, Kaylynn, invited me to go hiking. Her bishop (similar to a pastor), loved the outdoors and every weekend would organize a hike for the members of their congregation. The hike was beautiful, and even though I didn't meet any new dating prospects (no guys even showed!), I connected with new friends to the point that this wonderful bishop wanted to hear more about my experiences of healing from rheumatoid arthritis—he felt like I had something his congregation needed.

So a few weeks later my friend and I went to lunch with the bishop, and he asked me question after question about my health journey that had turned into a profound spiritual journey. After I told him the details of how I came to know how to heal my body, he asked me to be a guest speaker during the main church service for his congregation. I was floored! I was overjoyed! But I was most of all humbly grateful—it humbled me to the core. After learning so much, all I wanted to do was be able to share that knowledge and those experiences to help other people, and here the opportunity came so easily! I accepted without hesitation.

Now, I've had this blog entry and audio recording prepped and ready for almost 2 years. I've been waiting for the right time to share because it is deeply personal, and especially personal because it was recorded in a holy space. Because I care about you all as my friends, I know that you will respect this part of me as I appreciate and even rejoice in your unique traits. All of you teach me so much! When we come together we can all learn and grow in ways we never could alone. (And before I go any further, we have my sweet grandma to thank for this recording . . . she couldn't be there, so she asked that we record it for her. My mom did come to support me, which meant the world to me, and a surprisingly familiar face was coincidentally in the audience too!—my dear friend Amber. She and I both know it wasn't a coincidence.)

I know that regardless of your religious background you can glean something from this talk that will speak to your heart and be just what you needed to hear. You'll notice that when I mention God, I call him Heavenly Father—for you this can be your personal Higher Source. I also talk about the Spirit, which I believe inspires and prompts and fills us with peace and joy. You may have felt this delicious feeling before and call it something else. I talk a lot about the Light of Christ, which is what breathes life into all living things. This can be compared to chi, or the life force. As you listen, apply the words and what you feel directly to your needs and your desires.

Most importantly I want you to know that there is untapped greatness inside you. I KNOW that God wants you to discover your highest potential and live it wholeheartedly! And I know that most of us are living far below our potential. Please listen to this talk and let it inspire you to not settle for the side of the trail but continue upward to the untold beauties at the top of the mountain, as I share in this recording.

Click here to go to SoundCloud to hear the audio.

You each have much to teach me, too, so please share your comments and let's get an enlightening discussion going.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Vegetable Laksa

May this curry find its way into your happy little heart . . . and belly. It is definitely one of our new favorites! Will and I didn't quite bond with the rice noodles like we'd hoped (as seen in this photo), but we loved the Vegetable Laksa over brown rice. The next time I make this recipe my plan is to either use Singapore rice noodles, which are much thinner than these Pad Thai rice noodles, or cook the rice noodles longer so that they're softer—they were too stiff to enjoy in the same bite with the veggies and curry.

3/4 pound (350 grams) rice noodles, Singapore noodles, or brown rice, cooked according to package
2 tablespoons coconut oil
5 tablespoons Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste
1 (14.5 oz.) can vegetable broth
3/4 cup carrots, sliced into batons
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup red bell pepper, sliced into strips
3/4 cup small zucchini, sliced into batons
1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari*
Cilantro, chopped

1. Place coconut oil in frying pan and add curry. Stir fry for 2 minutes.
2. Add vegetable broth and carrots, and bring to a boil. Cover and let cook for 1minute.
3. Add coconut milk, zucchini, and red bell pepper, and cook until tender.
4. Remove from heat. Add soy sauce and cilantro.
5. Pour over noodles or rice and serve.

*If you are making this recipe gluten free, make sure you use gluten-free soy sauce.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Honey Cornbread Muffins (and, yes, they are gluten free!)

I feel like I'm constantly on a quest for gluten-free recipes for waffles, pancakes, muffins, breads, etc. Most of them I just don't rave about. It's always a thrill when I create something in the kitchen that is made with a flour other than wheat that actually tastes delicious, is light and fluffy, and is a similar consistency to the wheat version! Are you with me? Well, tonight I present to you a very tasty cornbread muffin recipe that literally tastes like it came from the comfort of your mama's kitchen.

Makes 18 muffins

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup brown rice flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup unrefined cane sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup coconut milk
2 medium eggs
3 tablespoons unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup raw honey*

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a large bowl mix together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
3. In a separate large bowl mix together milk, eggs, apple sauce, coconut oil, and honey.
4. Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, stirring to combine.
5. Place paper muffin liners in muffin tins and divide the muffin batter evenly.
6. Bake 15 minutes or until golden.
*Suggestion: If you love spreading honey over your cornbread or you know your family will still want to put honey on top of these muffins, consider eliminating the honey from the batter or at least lessening it. The muffins are sweet and delicious without needing honey spread over top.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Snoring Has Finally Met Its Match: Thyme

mmarcotte51 / / CC BY
If you could choose between sleeping peacefully through the night or waking up every few hours and not being able to fall back asleep, which would you choose? It's pretty safe to say that most, if not all, of us treasure our sleep enough that we would do anything to get a good night's rest. Anything!

According to a study at the University of North Carolina, 30 percent of women and 40 percent of men snore, although those numbers depend on the person surveyed actually being aware that they snore. This study is to test how making lesions on the soft palate by heating a needle electrode with radio frequency energy can tighten up the soft palate to potentially eliminate snoring. I'm telling you this to illustrate how we as a society are going to great lengths to find ways to get rid of snoring—it disrupts our sleep and the sleep of the people around us.

This Friday Will and I are going on three months being married! We are so in love (I just had to throw that in there) and have so much fun together. Who knew it'd be worth the wait to find a love that would happen so naturally and easily (compared to ALL the other attempts of trying to force love and "make it work") and find the person who would make us truly the happiest? I am so grateful for this man.

Well when we were dating I found out that Will snored. And not just snored but raised the roof with his snores and woke neighboring cities. His friends and family know this from personal experience, and Will was well aware of it too. So I started praying really hard that he'd stop snoring by the time we got married. Didn't work. I told Will to do positive affirmations, which he kindly told me he'd do, but to be honest I'll have to ask him if he really did them. We looked up the emotions on snoring, and I researched the meridians associated with snoring in Chinese medicine. After three months of ear plugs and experimenting and lots of nights lying awake, what would you say if I told you we have found something that works??

Jack Fussell / / CC BY-NC-ND
Thyme. Yes, thyme was our unsuspecting answer! You know, the plant you cook with? The herb? We bought the essential oil Thyme almost a month ago, not even realizing it is known to help with snoring. About three weeks ago we read how you can help snoring if you rub it on the bottoms of your feet before going to bed at night, specifically at the base of the big toe, and Will started doing it. After two days there was no change, and he stopped putting it on. Then maybe a week later Will decided to give it another try and started putting it on religiously—he keeps the bottle of thyme on his nightstand, and it's now become part of his bedtime routine. (Really I am just trying to give him things to do before bed since my bedtime routine is like an hour and his is 2 minutes. We regularly discuss this imbalance and the unfairness of life.)

After about a week I still didn't notice much of a change in his snoring, BUT the second week I noticed that if he was snoring, all I had to do to get him to stop was gently touch his arm, not even waking him up. This was a huge breakthrough! Before Will started using Thyme if I nudged him he'd stop snoring for 5 seconds, roll over, and start snoring again. On average this second week I would touch his arm to stop his snoring about three times a night. 

Now into the third week, I would classify Will as a non-snorer! I know, crazy, huh? If you don't believe me, you are welcome to sleep on the floor beside our bed tonight. This is the truth. The snoring has changed to a very deep breathing that is free of any rattle and does not wake either of us up. Sometimes he will do a few seconds of sounds that would typically turn into a snore, but then they stop. It is magical, really—heavenly! And, to be honest, surprising. I knew essential oils worked great for preventing colds and for helping with my arthritis, but now I know even more so not to limit their possibilities. Who knew thyme was where it was at?

UPDATE: Click here to read the part II to this post.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Massaman Curry

Thanks to Kenny, one of my past authors who first introduced me to the unforgettable Massaman Curry at a small Thai place in American Fork, and even more thanks to Sam, my best friend, for passing on the actual recipe for Massaman Curry to make it for dinner any time we want. We love it!


Massaman Curry

2 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons red curry paste
1 small piece ginger (approx. 3/4-inch thick), minced
3 tablespoons sucanat brown sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1/3 cup organic peanut butter (or sun butter if you're allergic to nuts)
1/2 cup cubed sweet potatoes (the white ones)
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup fresh green beans
1/2 cup chopped broccoli
1/2 cup chopped cauliflower
2 (13.5 ounce) cans coconut milk
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Steamed brown rice

1. Heat coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in curry paste and ginger. Cook and stir for 2 minutes.

2. Stir in sucanat, fish sauce, peanut or sun butter, sweet potato, carrots, green beans, and then the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes. Add broccoli and cauliflower, and cook until tender, about 10 more minutes.

3. Add lime juice and cook for an additional 5 minutes before serving. Serve over brown rice.

Just a heads-up: If you make this recipe without the sweet potatoes, make sure you not only replace them with another veggie but add in some other extra veggies. The potatoes absorb some of the sauce, so when you nix the potatoes there's a lot more sauce than usual.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Creating Balance in a World of Chaos

harold.lloyd / / CC BY-NC-SA
I don't know about the rest of you, but I have the hardest time slowing down long enough to eat! And I mean slowing down to make a healthy meal and then calmly eating it. I actually think that's why I married my husband, Will, because his daily priority is eating good food and enjoying it. I do love food, don't get me wrong, but it feels like such a burden to stop what I am doing even if I know it's what's best for me. Feeling okay about pausing to take care of myself comes down to self-love and trusting that I have an abundance of time, which truly is the root of living a balanced life.

And isn't that the ultimate goal, to create balance in our lives? I've been participating in the 21-Day Meditation Challenge by Deepak and Oprah, and in week 1 it helped me reflect on the divinity of my body and, now in week 2, on balance. Monday's centering thought was, "My outer world reflects my inner world," and it was great to take it a step further and think about what is happening right now in my outer world.
joiseyshowaa / Amazing Photos / CC BY-SA
(Yes, this is literally a shot of my outer world. I moved to India.)

Clutter was the first thought that came to mind—mental clutter, physical clutter, emotional clutter—anything that I am keeping in my life that no longer serves me. Once we get clear on our future and what we want, it is easier to let go of clutter.

We first have to know what clutter is to be able to let go of it.

Mental clutter could be put-downs or self-criticism, comparing ourselves to others and telling ourselves we're not good enough. Mental clutter could be thoughts that tell us "The world is a scary place," "Money is bad," "You can't trust anyone," or "I never do anything right." A lot of our mental clutter is made up of false beliefs that were engrained in us since we were little, so we've grown up tied to them without even realizing it.

Physical clutter may seem pretty obvious—a garage crammed full of old belongings, a closet spilling over with clothes that don't fit anymore, or an inbox filled with old and unopened emails. But what about physical clutter like unhealthy relationships, a stagnant job, and energy-zapping food? Physical clutter can take on all kinds of forms, but it basically is something tangible we have a hard time letting go of that is not making our lives better.
orangeacid / / CC BY
Emotional clutter is a much deeper kind of clutter, and interestingly it is often the cause of mental and physical clutter. Emotional clutter can be not letting go of a falling-out with a friend or a never-ending rerun in your head and heart of a bad break-up. Emotional clutter stirs up old feelings that provoke anger, sadness, guilt, whatever, rather than letting those feelings go and forgiving. Emotional clutter acts as a poison in our soul, refilling us with negativity every time we relive those horrible experiences.

Little by little as we clear away the mental, physical, and emotional clutter, we start to regain balance. One day, one thought, one emotion at a time.

Usually we know what we need to do to declutter our lives, but it's draining and slow going or we're inconsistent. Being inconsistent is my biggest struggle! The "not doing what I should be doing" reignites the mental clutter, telling myself, "Katie, stop being dumb. Just do it! It's your own fault you feel overwhelmed now and have a blaring headache." Not very nice, right?

I've found that if I do my "5 Pillars" every morning my day goes much smoother, I'm nicer to myself, and I feel much more at peace about the chaos around me. Even though I am sometimes inconsistent, I know that if I do my 5 Pillars I am laying a solid foundation for my day. You may have a variation on these 5 Pillars, so do what works for you. If you haven't created foundational pillars for your day, I strongly suggest that you do—it increases the inner peace you feel and re-instills clarity to know what you want your life to look like.
Stuck in Customs / Travel Photos / CC BY-NC-SA
My 5 Pillars

1. Green Smoothie: vitamins and oxygen to cells, energy, nourishment
2. Meditation: clarity, calmness, relaxation, perspective, peace, enlightenment
3. Prayer & Emotional Releasing: reconnection with God, peace, purpose, gratitude, help, releasing of emotions I no longer need and giving them over to him
4. Uplifting Reading: motivation, spiritual perspective, vision, grounding, focus, nourishment, peace, answers
5. Exercise in Nature: self-love, connection, peace, calm, adrenaline, energy, flexibility, wisdom

If you notice a trend in this list, seems like our lives attain balance when daily we do things that bring us peace. When we consider that 90% of all disease is caused or complicated by stress, it makes sense why these 5 Pillars help me feel so balanced. Guess I better stop all this blogging and go do yoga before the day's over!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

La arepa...both exotic and gluten-free

I was first introduced to the arepa 11 years ago when I moved to Venezuela. I lived there for a year, and from the time I arrived to the time I left I went from eating 1 of these bad boys a day to eating up to 3 or 4! It's an understatement to say I fell in love.

In the last few years I started making arepas a lot more frequently. When I became allergic to gluten 2 1/2 years ago, the arepa became an easy and safe go-to since it's made from corn flour. And my food-connoisseur of a husband has declared the arepa tasty enough to eat on a weekly basis, so after being married only 2 months I'd say we've had arepas 4 or 5 times for either lunch or dinner.

Where can you buy arepa mix? A local Latin market or even your local grocery store. I was pleasantly surprised to find some at Target!

What ingredients do you need to make an arepa? 
2 1/2 cups filtered water
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups harina P.A.N. arepa mix
1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil

What do you put inside an arepa?
Tuna mixture: tuna w/ chopped onions, tomatoes, and cilantro w/ a little garlic salt, mayo, and lettuce, spinach, or beet greens.
Tuna mixture: tuna w/ chopped kale and purple cabbage w/ a little garlic salt and mayo.
Replace mayo with veganaise, guacamole, or smashed plain avocado.
Organic nut butter and raw honey.
Other sandwich condiments of your choosing—some people love butter and cheese, others love a good ole turkey arepa w/ lettuce, tomato, and pickles.

How do you make an arepa? 
1. Pour water into a bowl and add salt.
2. Pour arepa mix into water and squish and knead together with your hand. (The water soaks in fairly quickly, so it's better to have the dough more wet than dry.)
3. Separate dough and form into 4 balls.
4. Then one at a time gently flatten the balls into your hand to form a patty, similar to forming a hamburger patty.
5. Warm some coconut oil or olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat.
5. Gently place the patties into the frying pan. Flip when golden brown.
6. Remove from heat when both sides are golden and let cool for a few minutes.
7. Using a knife, slice the arepa in half, forming a pocket. Sometimes the arepa separates completely, pulling apart and making it hard to keep it as a pocket, which is fine—it'll be more like a hamburger bun then with a top and a bottom. The dough on the inside of the arepa will be soft and sticky, so just in case you think it's not totally cooked, it is.
8. Add your choice of fillers.

I will always be grateful to Venezuela for introducing me to the deliciously wide-open world of arepas! Let me know what other great combinations you discover to put in your arepa.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Energy Balls for a Sweet Healthy Snack

A fast, easy snack that is packed full of healthy goodness. A no-bake cookie sprinkled with ground flax seed, packed together with nut butter (or sun butter in our case, for Will's nut allergy), and sweetened with raw honey and carob chips. This is definitely our top go-to sweet source of enjoyment, with the recipe sticky-noted on our cupboard.

1 cup dry oats (gluten-free for those of you who choose)
2/3 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup nut butter (I love organic almond butter, but sun butter works great for nut allergies, as it's made with sunflower seeds)
1/2 cup ground flaxseed (We grind our flax seed in our Blendtec.)
1/3 cup raw honey or maple syrup (The last few times I've used all-natural syrup and it's really good too!)
1/3 cup carob chips (or dried fruit if you prefer)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and stir it all together. It's a pretty good bicep workout, so plan ahead and on the day you make these maybe don't work out your right arm when you go to the gym. Chill in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes and then roll into balls. If the balls don't stick together very well, next time add a little less oats or a little more nut butter or honey. We roll ours into balls that are about 1-inch in diameter, which makes about 20 energy balls.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Recipes Worth the Wait: Banana Oatmeal Smoothie and Roasted Veggie Burritos

It's been so long, where do I begin? Maybe with a recipe or two? That's easy enough and will quickly bring you into my new married life where I am feeding two instead of just one. Here are two of the hits so far:

Banana Oatmeal Smoothie
serves 2

1/4 cup nondairy milk (We've been using coconut milk.)
1/3 cup Greek yogurt (preferably honey flavored)
2 bananas
1/2 cup cooked oatmeal
Dash of cinnamon and cardamom—we love cardamom!
2 cups ice cubes

Add ingredients to blender in the order listed. Use a turbo blender if you have one, as the ice can be hard on a standard blender. Enjoy!

Roasted Vegetable and Black Bean Burritos
serves 12

I found this recipe (with slight changes) on tasty, and we loved it. The only thing is it ended up making enough for about 18 rather than 6. My guess is that our tortillas were smaller than what the original creator used and maybe my red onion and sweet potatoes were larger. Who knows, but I'm just warning you that you may end up with enough food to feed the neighborhood. I also changed the cooking times since the sweet potatoes were still crunchy for us.

2 orange sweet potatoes, diced
1 jalapeño, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 red onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed (or 2 cups black beans, soaked and cooked)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2 cups shredded organic cheddar (optional)
2 packages Rudi's gluten-free tortillas or corn tortillas (or whole wheat tortillas if you eat gluten)
Extra olive oil or coconut oil for greasing
Aluminum foil, torn into individual pieces to wrap around each burrito

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place all chopped veggies in a 9 x 13 baking dish. In a small bowl combine spices and mix. Then sprinkle over veggies and stir to evenly distribute. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring half way through.

Add black beans, cilantro, and lime to veggies and stir. At this point you can store mixture in the refrigerator if you want to make the burritos later.

Lower oven heat to 375 degrees. Warm tortillas in a skillet or griddle, and place two large spoonfuls of veggies in each tortilla. Top with a handful of cheese. Wrap the tortilla burrito style so that all the goodies stay inside. Make sure not to add too many veggies or the tortilla won't stay closed. (If you're using corn tortillas, you'll probably only be able to fit one spoonful of veggies in the tortilla and will need to eat it taco style.) Place burritos seam side down on individual pieces of aluminum foil and wrap around burrito. Consider rubbing the foil with olive oil or coconut oil to keep the tortilla from sticking. Place burritos in a clean 9 x 13 pan or other baking dish, and bake for 20 minutes.

This recipe is great because you can wrap all the burritos, baking the ones you're going to eat right then and refrigerating the others you want to save for later.