Day Seven: Final Day

Both my husband and I are sitting here waiting for midnight to strike. Pepperjack cheese in the fridge is calling our name!

To kill those remaining 10 minutes, let me share our interesting trip to Costco this afternoon as well as some other ramblings of my findings during my *vegan* week. After a week of no animal products, this Costco visit was going to be a true test in our challenge. I felt it was going to be more torture than anything. ...And it was.

Why of all days of sampling did they have to have all the yummy animal products out today! Pork chops! Bacon! Quiche! Even twice baked potatoes we couldn't sample! Bah! The boy was disappointed but was good about inquiring at each sample station if it was a vegan safe choice and if it wasn't...why not. I'm sure people were completely confused by our vegan conversations while we had a cartful of cheese, eggs, pepperoni and milk. We chuckled in between our grumbling of having to turn down yummy samples. The hardest part of the whole shopping trip was not going to the food court. It is a treat for us in our bimonthly trip to Costco for the boys to get hotdogs while I get a piece of pizza or the chicken hot pocket style food. To appease the boy, we did buy a vegan safe snack, sat down to eat a couple handfuls each. The boy wasn't thrilled but obliged. Wish he could be this good while in class. That is a whole different rant altogether!

Wanted to make something festive and sweet for the family. It is the holidays afterall. Hey! Smores would be an excellent idea. I'll make them in the oven for easier eating and less mess. Made a point to check labels for animal products...organic graham crackers (check), dark chocolate chips (check) and marshmallows. Just made about 3 squares per person. Enough to enjoy but not overindulge. Naturally, right after eating them, my husband pipes up....doesn't marshmallows have gelatin in them? Oh crap! I thought I checked the labels...all but the marshmallows. Shit! They have gelatin in them. Oops, we didn't have many...scouts honor! (they were delish though!)

We had a Vegan Goulash for dinner. No recipe needed, I just pulled out some veggies that needed to be cooked (onions and cauliflower) tossed some seasonings while cooking. Added sundried tomatoes and leftover wild rice and called it dinner! :)

I would like to Thank my friend, Barb, for challenging me to go beyond my normal healthy eating regime. Being a vegetarian is not always easy but I was able to get more of a birds eye view of what a typical vegetarian goes through and even tougher as a vegan. The choices are just so limited. Not just in grocery stores but out in the real world of restaurants, food courts and social gatherings.

This took longer than 10 minutes. It is a quarter after midnight so off to the fridge we go! 


Day Six: Vegan Challenge

Sorry Vegan folks...this just isn't pizza without cheese. We have sampled non-animal based cheeses at the store and it was a very big no go. I do not want to offend those that do enjoy those cheeses so will leave it just as that without the many descriptive words I could use to describe the taste.

This was the toughest meal to make without adding cheese. Even consulted with my husband to whether or not to add just.a.little.bit. He said why not try it without. We agreed to the challenge so let's give it a try.

You know, it wasn't bad at all. Quite tasty. But, it was not *pizza*. I'll be honest, the likelihood of me making this again without cheese is pretty slim.

Because I have a pizza recipe already on here, I am not going to post a full recipe. I did add quinoa and wild rice to the flour blend. The topping was sundried tomatoes and broccoli blended into a bit of a chunky paste, topped with onions and olives (our fav).


Day Five: Vegan Challenge

Folks, it is late but wanted to make sure that I keep this challenge up to date.

The boy did ask today if we are ever going to eat animal stuff again. Said he likes the vegan stuff but the animal stuff is good too. Maybe we can sometimes have meat and sometimes eat vegan. Little does he realize, we do eat various types of cuisines. He is such a cute kid.

We did have to resist the urge to add sour cream and diced cheddar. I did think about it. Decided against it because I am a stickler about keeping my word. About halfway through eating, the husband pipes up about it being too bad we couldn't add the sour cream and cheese. I quickly laughed since I was thinking the same thing! Even without the *extras* the chili turned out very tasty.

Go ahead, I dare you to try and make a meatless chili! You just might like it. :)

Black Bean Chili (vegan style)

1 potato cubed
1 large onion diced large
3 carrots chopped large
4 celery stalks sliced large
1 can chopped tomatoes
2-3 tablespoon chili seasoning*
3 cups black beans cooked (I cook from dried, can will work too)
1 cup cooked TVP (optional)
water (varies to thickness preference)

Medium high heat, cook potato and onion until brown. Add carrots and celery, cook for an additional 10 minutes. Toss in cooked beans, fill with water (until it reaches just over beans, if you like more soupy consistency, add more water) and canned tomatoes. Allow to simmer for approx. 1 hour. Add TVP (textured vegetable product). This resembles ground meat. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes.

*If you are using TVP, it is best to reconstitute with warm water and the seasonings. If you are not using TVP, add the seasoning at the time you add the canned tomatoes.


Day Four: Vegan Challenge

Holy crap this has been fun! Equally as challenging since most recipes call for some animal product of some kind. The family also seem to be better adjusted to what acceptable to eat. Figured by this time, we would be feeling a bit lethargic due to the lack of *meat*. So far, we are doing pretty well.

I do miss cheese. Still have a small block of colby jack cheese sitting in the door of the refrigerator. It is a wicked block of cheese. Calls my name trying to entice me to take a nibble. Cruel world we live in. Little does the cheese know that it is going to be gobbled up soon. Ha! That will show it!

Thought I would give a heads up. I will be breaking my *no scale for 30 days* vow on Saturday morning. Curious to see how the vast change in food choices affects my weight. Since I did weigh Monday at a doctors appointment, I have a preview of what to expect. Will also be nice to shed the 4 pounds I gained during the holidays...looks around innocently. (I do plan on having a much healthier xmas dinner since I will be cooking at home this year)

This dish was an absolute hit tonight. This is one of those dishes that call for a lot of animal based products such as sausage, butter and egg. I was able to pull it off beautifully without any of those products. Isn't it purty? I'm rather proud of myself.

Stuffed Acorns

2 large acorn squash
coconut oil
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

1 large onion diced
2 celery stalks chopped fine
1 small apple chopped
1/2 cup fresh cranberries (1/4 cup if you use dried cranberries)
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon poultry seasonings (sage, thyme, marjoram)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1 cup cooked wild rice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Half the acorn squash and scoop seeds and pulp out. Rinse and pat dry. Rub a layer of coconut oil all over the meat portion of the acorn squash. Sprinkle sugar over all 4 halves. Lay in a glass baking dish (with approx. 1/2 inch deep with water) flesh side up. Bake for 20 minutes.

Sauté onions until translucent. Add celery, apples and seasonings. Cook for an additional 10 minutes. Add cranberries and pecans. When cranberries start to break apart, add rice and mix well.

Remove acorn squash from oven, scoop rice mixture into the squash pockets. Return to oven and bake 20-30 minutes.


Day Three: Vegan Challenge

My friend will be pleased to know that the Vegan Challenge made it's way to my workplace. Of course the conversations made me crave meat since that is just about all we talked about...how much we love our bacon, cheese, yogurt and all those animal products that many of us have a tough time walking away from. It also presents a way to talk about healthy eating habits without being pushy. I loathe people who push their agenda whether it be Pepsi is better than Coke to who is the better politician. My focus right this moment is whether I use wild rice or quinoa for dinner. Heavy decisions!

The boy enjoyed his lunch of honey roasted nuts (with oats and sesame seeds), an organic graham cracker square, pomegranate/spinach salad,  olives and a cup of coconut milk.

There was a salad that was purchased the day before the challenge that needed to be eaten or thrown out. My husband was more than happy to consume that for lunch since it was loaded with feta cheese and salami. I happily ate leftovers from last night's dinner.

We used the last of the vegetables tonight. Perhaps you have seen my recipe for Cabbage Rolls. A classic comfort food favorite. While my original recipe does contain ground meat and cheese, I created a vegan version. It was as big of a hit as the original recipe was. My husband was pleasantly surprised. The boy requested leftovers be put in his lunch. He is lucky I love him, leftovers are suppose to be for me!

Cabbage Boats

1 head large cabbage (do not cut up!)
1 large onion
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cooked beans (your choice, I used the remainder of kidney from last nights dinner)
1 tablespoon poultry spice blend (sage, parsley, marjoram, thyme, pepper)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
1 can organic canned tomatoes
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes

Put the full head of cabbage in a pot of boiling water. Allow to boil for 20 minutes. Allow to cool. Peel leaves (2 per person is my rule of thumb), chop finely and set aside. Sauté onions until translucent, add spices, salt and cabbage. Simmer for 15 minutes. Blend tomatoes, sugar and sundried tomatoes until chopped loosely and add to cabbage mix. Mix in quinoa and beans.

Fill each cabbage leaf with cabbage mixture, leave top open like a boat. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.


Day Two: Vegan Challenge

Well, I don't think we did too bad today. The boy forgot his lunch (insert growly mommy sounds here). He explained he tried to make good choices. He had a bean burrito and white milk. He held his head down in shame as he shared he had a dairy product. It tickled me that he was at least aware of our challenge for the week. Told him not to sweat it, he did well with the burrito. The husband didn't do too bad either...I think. I know he had a bowl of cereal late morning but not sure if he used the coconut milk or the remainder of the regular milk we have still left.

It is not uncommon for us to eat vegetarian style, even for a couple of days at a time, vegan is pushing our limit. Knowing we are avoiding whole classes of foods makes one crave for it. Passed a Burger King while out walking and wanted a chicken sandwich. I've not desired this in months! Been fine, but as soon as I put a restriction to it, I want it. This sums up how I feel about *dieting* in general. The moment you feel restricted, you crave it. Have to keep reminding myself that there is no restriction, it is a choice... decision in how we are eating this week.

With that said, we had the most delicious dinner!

Cauliflower Supreme

1 large onion chopped large
1 head cauliflower sliced
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 can organic diced tomatoes
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (I used the kind soaked in olive oil and seasonings)
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon spicy seasoning blend of your choice. I used a Northern African blend.

2 cups cooked kidney beans on the side (I use dried beans. Soak then cook.)

Saute onions until translucent, add cauliflower and celery. Continue to cook on medium heat while you prepare the tomatoes. In a blender, add can of tomatoes, sundried tomatoes and water. You just want to blend coarsely, not puree. Once blended, add to vegetables. Add your choice of seasonings, sugar and olive oil. Simmer for approx. 20 minutes. Serve with a 1/2 cup of the kidney beans on the side.


I've been challenged...

...to go vegan for a week. Well, actually, she said vegetarian but upped the challenge to vegan since we do eat a lot of vegetarian dishes. I did check with my family first to see if they would also like to be included in the challenge. Will also be easier for me to cook if everyone is on board.

Today, Sunday, is the day I chose to start. Hardest day for us since Sundays tend to be our big meat laced meal for brunch. Because we've been busy with holiday decorating, brunch kind of passed us by. The boy and I started our day with some organic grained granola and coconut milk (he had the original version while I had the unsweetened version for much lower carb count). He loved it. Snacked on nuts, fruit, veggies and organic graham crackers (checked the label, no animal products) throughout the day.

I should warn my friend upfront though, we do have a small amount of milk, 2 eggs and a 1/4 block of cheese that did not get eaten in time for Sunday's challenge. They do need to be consumed during the week but I promise, nothing else! :)

Love a good challenge. Will update during the week with ramblings of missing my eggs and cheese as well as postings of recipes of my non-animal product dishes.

Anyone want to join the challenge?

**Editing to add Day One's dinner**

3 small yams cubed
1 large onion chopped large
2 cups fresh green beans cut in bite size pieces
1 heaping tablespoon peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
1 heaping tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 can coconut milk

On the side:
fresh spinach
cooked wild rice

Cook cubed yams until almost tender, add onions and green beans. While cooking, mix the coconut milk and peanut butter together. Be sure to lick the spoon. When onions and green beans start to brown, add milk/peanut butter mixture to pan. Add salt and garam masala seasoning.

Simmer for 20 mins. Serve on a bed of fresh spinach. Add a serving of wild rice on top (or side as pictured).



Did anyone miss me?

Wow. My last entry was October 5, 2010. Not sure what happened, I love blogging about food and the many musings of my life. I stepped off the wagon for a pit-stop and apparently forgot how to get back on. No more bathroom breaks for me! Ha!

You may recall my disappointment in my 6 month weigh in. Wasn't horrid but still was a lesson that one should weigh at least once a month to make sure your body is still on the the right track. Just as I found with my positive lifestyle change in eating as well as exercise, the loss was not reflecting it. Wasn't even making the bare minimum.

Decided to go in on a Saturday to a walk-in clinic near my work. My husband has gone there in the past for a few appointments and had a positive experiences. Knowing to expect blood to be drawn, made sure I fast. The doctor was hesitant as I talked about my day to day routine with food and exercise. I mean, how can you blame her. A fat gal sitting there telling you she is eating all this healthy crap and walking 2-5 miles a day and no weight loss to back it up? I'd have a tough time holding back the laughter myself. I even told her so! The only thing that made her winkle her nose was the lack of diabetic meds. She requested to take my fasting blood sugar...99. Blood pressure was good 120/85. Hmmm. I know my thyroid was out of whack...hence the lack of weight loss. She went ahead and prescribed my old dose of 75mg of Synthroid. She reserved the right to make changes to anything after my blood test results came in. Likely, I will need to come in to discuss it.

She called me the following Monday. She had a lot of excitement in her voice. My test results were beautiful. Only thing was my thyroid was off as we expected. I didn't need to come in since my results were awesome. Did need to come in 30 days after being on Synthroid for 30 days for a check up on those levels.

30 days goes by and I feel no change (I did lose 8 pounds, though!). Still tired all the time but because I am busy, I do not allow it to interfere with day to day life. However, if I am stagnant at any point in time, I fall fast asleep. When I met with my doctor, I shared those feelings with her. The office vampire came for more blood. Sure enough, there was almost no change at all. This was puzzling to the doctor. She upped the dose to 100mg. I almost immediately felt a difference. I turned into Superwoman! My house has never been cleaner!

Ok, enough about me! Who wants to eat??!!

I realize this isn't fair but since it IS the holidays, how can I not share a holiday recipe. These turned out to be a big hit! My in-laws are comfort food eaters. They do not venture out into the world of food. I thought it was funny how this dish sat out for a long while before someone quizzically asked what it was. Smore's Bites. Imagine a line of in-laws all tilting their heads in the same direction...huh? I swear, I am not making this shit up! Ha!

Smores Bites

3 cups crushed graham crackers
1 stick butter
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

12 large marshmallows (cut in half)
2-3 hershey's plain chocolate bars

Mix graham crackers, sugar and butter together, I use my fingers to create a cornmeal like texture. In a non stick mini muffin pan (grease if desired), smoosh the mixture into each of the holes (about halfway). Bake in a 350 degree oven for approx. 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Melt chocolate in a warm pan or you can cheat like me and just add the chocolate pieces in a ziploc bag and dip it in hot water on the stove top. Once melted, slit a tiny hole in one corner. Add chocolate on top each graham cracker. Top it with one of the marshmallow halves. When all crust have a marshmallow, put under the oven broiler until toasted brown. Keep a close eye! They will burn easy.

Drizzle remaining chocolate on top of the toasted marshmallow and allow cool. Makes about 24 mini sized Smores Bites.


New dish, no name

This is the problem I encounter when creating new dishes out of the hat. No clue what to call them! Maybe I will starting calling them Goulash #1, Goulash #2 and so forth. Nah, that would be too dull. I am anything but dull!!

I have a confession to share with all of you folks first. About to commit the ultimate sin in my kitchen. For those of you that have forgotten, didn't care or are new to my blog. I have a very bare bones kitchen. Take great pride in not having the typical tools used in a proper kitchen. Was rebellious as a child, that trait has not outgrown with age. No microwave, no toaster, blender, measuring cups and the like. Cannot tell you how many people the years have tried to give me...almost DEMAND I take a microwave. Who the hell has more than one microwave?!

What was I talking about?

Oh yeah! The ultimate sin! I am also easily distracted, even in the middle of my own ramblings. It is rather embarrassing when I have to stop myself in the middle of a conversation and hope the listener was indeed listening then get me back on track.

Ready to slap me yet?

After years of coveting a fancy smancy blender, I am going to buy one! Spent the last few days looking at every freaking youtube video, reviews, stories on all the major brands. Will soon be a owner of a Vitamix! Hopefully, my kitchen won't rebel, maybe yet, they will rejoice that I will be in there less.

Ready for the mysterious new dish? It has an Indian flare...tried a new spice blend. Talk about a change in taste and texture but amazing. Nothing more fun watching the family try and identify what is in their food, looking at me for confirmation that I have not lost my marbles and decided to poison them. Can't understand why they did not believe me and demanded I take the first bite.

The new spice blend is called Panch Phora: fenugreek, brown mustard seed, nigella, cumin seed, fennel seed. They can be soaked in oil, ground or cooked in oil whole.

Aren't they gorgeous?!

1 pound of ground meat (pork or turkey work great)
1 onion sliced
1 can diced tomatoes drained (freeze juice for future recipes!)
2 cups broccoli sliced
2 heaping tablespoons Panch Phora spice blend
4 tablespoon plain yogurt

In a tablespoon olive oil, cook Panch Phora on medium high heat, when the seeds start to pop, turn heat down to medium. Add ground meat. Cook until barely pink, add onions. Allow to cook for approx. 10 minutes until onions are translucent, add broccoli. Cook for 15 more minutes. Add drained dice tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes.
Top with a tablespoon of plain yogurt. Wonderful served with a side of rice or as pictured, quinoa.

Tex Mex revisited

Made this a week or so ago and decided to make it again. Here is the original recipe. Tex Mex Surprise

Did not have all the original ingredients so used a different variations in the vegetables. Instead of kale, I used corn, garlic was a no go this round. Did not serve it with rice either. Thought it would be a good opportunity to kick the spice temperature up a bit. The boy handled it like a champ!

See? Still beautiful!

Also, wanted to report that I am still climbing the stairs each morning! 


Tortilla de España

I credit growing up in Spain to opening my palate to a wide range of flavors. We had a nanny, Maria, that cooked the most delicious foods. Since I was older, I was able to help and watch how she created these tasty meals for us children on a daily basis. This is one of them, Tortilla de España.

My mother carried the tradition when we returned to the U.S. and dubbed it my brothers favorite dish. Little does he know, it was all of our favorite. While I love my mother and turned out to be a wonderful cook, she did not make it the same way as our Spanish nanny. I prefer Maria's method. Not dramatically different, but I can taste the difference in preparation. Sorry, Mom.

There is some prep work involved, make sure you give yourself enough time. Because of the time involved, I do not make this dish very often. This dish involves *flipping* so I strongly urge you to use a smaller frying pan, not the large version.

2 potatoes, cubed small
2 clove garlic, diced
1/2 onion sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon basil
1 cup veggies
   -This various to what you have on hand or prefer. Popular to add peas, but I often use colored peppers, broccoli and spinach. Experiment! :)

7 eggs

Scramble eggs in a large bowl and set aside. (tip: do not add milk!)

Cook potatoes in olive oil until tender. Add spices, garlic and onions, cook for additional 5 minutes. Toss in veggies. Stir for 5 more minutes.

This process happens quickly. Add potato mixture to the eggs, mix well. Pour evenly back ton the pan. Cover and cook for approx 10 minutes on medium heat. Using a plate, cover the pan and flip. Don't second guess yourself, just do it...flip it! Make sure you have enough oil left in the pan, may need to add a teaspoon more.

Ready for this? Slide the plate back into the pan so the other side cooks. Allow to cook for 10 more minutes.

This may be served hot or cold.

Been six months since I weighed...

Even though my family has been working on a healthier lifestyle for a couple of years, six months ago, we became even more fierce in our eating/exercise regime. I have not stepped on the scale in six months until now.

It has been very visibly obvious in my husband that he has been losing weight....nearly drastically. His own mother was shocked and this was a couple of months ago. My husband started at size 44 pants. He is now wearing 36 and they are falling off of him. He weighed at the doctors office 4 weeks ago at 210. This morning he weighed 188. (the bastard! LOL) Even he was shocked!

Truly cannot be more proud. It is also proof to me that the way I have been cooking and enforcing exercise IS working. Just not for me...yet.

I've neglected my thyroid issues. In six months, I've barely managed to lose 20 pounds (I have dropped a size, almost two). I know men lose faster and all that jazz. But I also know from past experience when I was on thyroid meds, I lost weight appropriately to my eating lifestyle. Without meds, I have not.

Fret not my friends, I'm not upset. It is a lesson in what I need to do. A doctor appointment is in order to get me back on thyroid meds. It is good I weighed and not further delay the obvious. *smiles*

Also, I shudder at the thought of how much I would have gained had I not made the changes I have.

Looking forward to the continuing journey to a healthier lifestyle. I have many supporters to thank. Every encouragement and suggestions have been not gone unnoticed. Now know that I am NOT alone in the everyday struggle called life.


Peanut butter surprise

Would write something snazzy to accompany this recipe but a handful of people have been barking at me for me to hurry up and blog it! Pushy people I tell you! 


No clue what to call it so it is a surprise...with peanut butter.

2 skinless boneless chicken cubed (I prefer breast, but mix will work fine as well)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 onion sliced
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 can coconut milk
2 cups baby bok choy - chopped large
2 cups arugula or spinach - chopped large
1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)

Cook cubed chicken on medium heat with olive oil, when just barely pink, add garam masala seasonings, salt and onions. Let that cook for approx. 10 mins or until onions are translucent. Add peanut butter and coconut milk, allow to simmer on low heat for 15 mins. Toss in all the greens, mix well. Simmer for an additional 10 mins.

Serve with rice or as pictured, quinoa. Sprinkle with unsweetened coconut flakes. Enjoy! 


Tex Mex surprise

It has been awhile. I assure you, I've been cooking, even expanded to regular bread making. Cannot bring myself to buy store bread. I'm sure at some point, I will, hopefully just for a random event not permantely. It has brought me great comfort mentally as well as emotionally. This doesn't make sense, does it? Ha, didn't think it did as I look back at that sentence. How can bread bring one comfort?

The kneading brings some sort of meditation. I haven't meditated in years. Too much chatter to tone down long enough to allow some quiet. Even more funny to say this as a deaf person, well mostly anyways. Walking has helped reduce the chatter but something about kneading the dough just puts me in a slight trance. Think my arms will tell you differently. They think it is a torture session. Ha!

The other comfort it brings me is knowing that I am making my family as wholesome of a product as possible. Of course the wheat and other ingredients were not grown and processed by me, but I am very selective about the products I do buy. After doing extensive research, I've decided to purchase stone ground whole wheat flour. Found Bob's Red Mill to be the best choice aside from doing it by hand with a stone ground flour mill. I've looked around, they are very expensive, I think I will stick with buying the flour for now. Before making my own bread, I found Dave's Killer Bread to be a wonderful choice in bread for me and my family. Lower carbs and loaded with natural/organic ingredients and most of all, taste awesome! :)

Oh yeah, this is suppose to have a recipe in it! I got off track, I apologize. *wink*

Remember me talking about all the wonderful spices I bought from a local spice store, Summit Tea and Spice? No? I wrote about it in this post. Chugach Chili Blend is my new favorite spice. I use it in chili, taco seasoning and other random dishes that needs a kick ass spicy taste. I also used it in this dish...

Tex Mex Surprise

1 chicken breast diced
1 large onion sliced
garlic sliced (adjust amount to your preference, I used 1/2 a head)
1 bunch kale sliced
1/2 head cabbage sliced
2 large tomatoes diced
3 cups black beans cooked (or 2 cans)
2 tablespoons Chugach Chili Blend (or other spicy seasonings of your choice)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup pepper jack cheese shredded or diced

Cook diced chicken with a little olive oil on medium/medium high heat, when almost done, add chili seasonings. Stir for a couple of minutes, add onions and garlic. After 10 minutes, add kale and cabbage. Continue to stir frequently for approx. 10 mins. Add tomatoes and black beans. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Serve topped with pepper jack cheese.

May add rice or as pictured, served with a side of wild rice.

If you want to try out dried beans, it is super easy and very tasty! Just toss some dried beans in water in the morning before you take of for work. I never measure, just throw a bunch of beans (approx. 1-1.5 cups for this recipe) and cover. About a half an hour before you are going to cook, drain beans, add to a pot, cover well with water (about 3 inches above beans) and cook on medium high (after bring to a boil) for approx. 30 minutes. Drain and set aside until ready to add to main dish.


Did you see a fat lady jogging this morning?

If are in Anchorage, chances are, you did. No worries, it was just me. Yes, in my bright lime green jacket, scarf wrapped around my neck with a matching bright green backpack and a blinky light thingie attached to the backpack. I've been attempting (a very loose term right now) to jog.

I asked my knees a couple of weeks ago if I attempted jogging if they would give out or not. At first, they laughed at me. When the expression from my face went unchanged, they started to growl, actually, grind is more like it. Perhaps I should have waited a little longer, they are still bitter about the whole elevator fiasco.

I gave them a week to moan and groan, literally. I felt like such a wimp! I'd jog for about 5 seconds and about want to die! Damn those joggers, they make it look so effortless!! I jogged a few more times in 5 second intervals. Thought, this has to look like a joke! A 200+ pound woman jogging?! I'm sure folks don't know whether to cry or laugh...probably both....cry from laughing. I would quickly retreat from jogging as soon as I would see a vehicle approaching.

Gave up for a few days. I'm just too fat! My husband was bewildered I even tried to run, jog, whatever! What possessed me to do it? I explained I had a dream that I ran everywhere. Not the running from monsters or vampires, just joyfully and effortlessly running everywhere. Sigh.

Woke up to a dense fog this morning. Something stirred in me as I ventured out for my morning routine of walking to work. The urge to jog surfaced again. Peering into the deep fog, I looked around. Maybe there is a vampire watching me? After laughing at myself, felt that a warmup is required. Approached the main road, looked around again for vampires (or other vehicles). Started to jog. Granted it is very low impact kind of jogging but, I was doing it!

Saw headlights approaching...QUICK! What should I do?! I didn't want to stop, so my feet kept on with the jogging. Made it nearly 2 blocks then had to walk a bit. Wow. I just jogged more than 5 seconds! Made it pass some buildings, then the long stretch to work. Took turns for a half mile, jogging and walking. Shins were starting to burn, ankles getting numb. I think I felt safe under the blanket of the fog, not overly concerned if someone saw me. My knees did pretty good considering. They were not happy with my decision to climb the stairs. Oh well!

Felt a little bit sad that my friend who lives clear across the country was not there to share it with me although, I did tell her about it on facebook. I think we'd make fabulous walking/jogging buddies. She already said hell no to moving here. Maybe if I just tell her how totally awesome this place is, she'll have no choice but to move. Yeah, right. Hahaha!


Bagels !!

A friend of mine posted a challenge to make bagels. She made hers yesterday and they looked fabulous! I set out the challenge to make a whole wheat version since I'm not a regular flour fan. She found a recipe that gave me a baseline but I wanted to research more. Seemed the ingredient list was different than of regular bagels.

I have to say, I never had this much fun making bread before. *laughs at self*

I did something I've never done before, a narrative photo blog entry. I hope you decide to make this. It looks complicated but truly it's not. Does have more steps than I normally would make in a recipe. Time is precious to me so I don't like to spend my time with tedious steps but this is worth the extra couple of steps!!


First...the ingredients!

4.5 cups stone ground whole wheat flour
4 tablespoons raw honey
1 tablespoon sea salt
4 tablespoon oatmeal (not instant!)
2 tablespoon sesame seeds
1.5 water (boiling)

2 tablespoon yeast
1/3 cup lukewarm water

Boil water, add salt and honey. Turn off heat and allow to cool. Mix yeast and lukewarm water well. Add yeast to honey mixture when reached lukewarm temperature.

Add 2.5 cups of flour, oatmeal and sesame seeds to the liquid mixture. Stirring frequently for approx. 5 mins. Should look a little gloppy like picture below.

Transfer dough to a flat surface with approx 1 cup of flour. Knead flour into dough.

This is the longest process of the whole recipe. The kneading. I believe I kneaded for approx 15 mins. Working approximately 1 more cup of flour into the dough.

See? I'm a kneading fiend. 

See how nice and shiny it is? That is when you know you've kneaded the dough correctly.

Divide into 12 balls, stick your finger down the middle and spread out a bit. Should resemble a doughnut. Knowing it will rise a bit, I make sure the hole is a little big and shape it as I work my fingers around the outside of the bagel dough.

Once you have them all shaped, allow to lay flat covered with a cloth towel for approx 30 mins. One of the things I love about working with a whole wheat recipe, you do not have to rise the dough first before shaping. This is only needed after you've shaped them.

I'll admit, this part just freaked the hell out of me. Boil a large pot of water (I added a little salt). Once you have a rolling boil, turn down to a low boil. Drop about 3 bagels (my picture shows 4 and it got a bit crowded as you can see) in the water. Yes, IN.THE.WATER. Weird, I know! I thought for sure my dough was going to turn to mush. Sure enough, they didn't! After about 4 mins, with a slotted spoon, turn them over. Cook for an additional 4-5 mins. Lay onto a cookie sheet until all bagels are boiled.

Bake them on a ungreased cookie sheet (basically the pan you set them on after boiling) at 350 degrees for approx 20 mins or until nice and golden brown.

For lunch, I made sandwiches out of them! Egg, ham and spinach bagel sandwiches with fried green tomatoes and fresh blueberries! Yum!

Teriyaki pork w/blueberry salad

After spending the day making bagels and fried green tomatoes, I wanted something light for dinner. Since the weather has been absolutely fabulous, bbq was the only way to go!

Visited the butcher that is located just down the street from me yesterday. Picked up some boneless pork chops. They looked delicious and begging to be put on the grill. Because they are thick, I sliced them in half and marinated them in a homemade teriyaki sauce. Grilled to perfection and served with a beautiful blueberry/spinach salad.

Doesn't it look pretty?

4 thick pork chops, sliced in half to make thin slices
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
1/8 cup olive oil
2 tablespoon Frank's hot sauce
2 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

(min) 1 cup spinach per person
1/4 cup blueberries per person
balsamic vinegar
olive oil
garnish with sesame seeds

Let pork chops marinate for a minimum of 1 hour. Toss on hot grill. Cook a few minutes on both sides, serve with salad (recommend blueberry spinach salad).

Pork roast via crockpot

Finally decided to pull the crockpot off the top shelf and dust it off. After all, it has been at least a couple of years since we used it. I have a love/hate relationship with it.

Love the ease and carefreeness of using it but hate that it takes *cooking* away from me. Can't experiment or anything of that nature. I mean you can but won't find out the results until hours later and will be too late to try and fix it.

I've made no secret that summer has been crappy here in Alaska this year. We hit another cold raining week (this weekend has been beautiful!). Had a big ole pork roast sitting in the deep freezer calling my name. I'm coooooold, please warm me up! Ha!

Waiting to cook the roast until I got home would mean we wouldn't eat until 9pm and that is entirely too late for the little one to be eating dinner on a school night. It is then when the crockpot from up above hollered at me. Oh what the hell!

Made homemade cheesy bread and fresh vegetable melody to join the party on the plate! Even made gravy using whole wheat flour! I'm sure mashed potatoes would go lovely with this. I didn't want the added carbs but did think about it! Ha!

No *recipe* is really needed but if you have any questions, feel free to ask!


Homemade hamburger buns

Something has happened to me! Help!


I'm in that mode where I want to try and make everything from scratch! Not only is it cheaper and healthier, I downright enjoy it! Feels great to know each and every ingredient in the food I feed myself and my family.

On a board I frequent, someone had posted a little booklet in a pdf format about making bread. Thought what the heck, I'm far from an expert...took a peek at it. Contained a number of ingredients I don't foresee myself using but there were some yummy combinations I'd like to try. There was also a couple of instructional in preparing the dough. I'll admit, even though my trials have been fairly successful so far, I've been afraid of messing around with the dough too much. After reading the booklet, dared myself to knead the dough farther than I'd ever dreamed of. Okay, that was a little overly dramatic but you get the idea. Ha!

Had some leftover pork from a roast I made the night before (turned out delicious), wanted to make bbq pulled pork sandwiches. Was not in the budget to buy ready made hamburger buns and I was out of fresh bread. Scoured the internet for recipes in how to make hamburger buns. They all seem to require ingredients I either didn't have or want to use. Took chances and got messy. Nearly held my breath the entire time.

Don't they look pretty?! I was so proud of myself in how they looked. Now the real test was slapping some of that yummy smelling bbq pork and taking a bite. Of course I waited for the boys to try it first...beamed with excitement. These are good!! No wait, they are terrible! So terrible, I want a second one. Whew! I feared they would be too dense but despite how heavy they appeared, they really were moist and delicious.

This made 6 nice size buns.

2 cups stone ground whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar or raw honey
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup warm water

Mix well. Allow to sit covered for approx. 30 mins. Knead dough between 5-8 mins. Allow to rise covered again for another 20 mins. Divide into 3 parts, knead one part for an additional 5 mins or until dough has a nice sheen to it. It's okay, I was worried about over kneading as well. Trust me, you can do it!

Roll dough until it is 1/2 inch thick, cut a large circle (I used a large mouthed mason jar (no laughing!)). Place circle on a greased cookie sheet, ball up the remainder amount and roll out for a second bun. When all 6 buns are placed on a cookie sheet. Turn on the oven at 350 degrees. Allow to heat for 5 mins, turn heat off. Wait 5 mins, put cookie sheet inside. Allow to rise for an additional 10-15 mins.

Remove buns from oven, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for approx. 15 mins or until nice and brown.

**Yes, those are kale chips you see in the background! :o)


Getting the itch...

It's a good thing I'm too broke to initiate any possible relocation scenario.

I'm a military brat. I get that *itch* every couple of years. Surprisingly, as a military family, we moved very little in comparison to how long my father's service was. It was when we became a divorced family, the frequent moving surfaced.

It's not that I am unhappy here. I think this is probably the one place I've felt the most happy (currently 10 years). Sure I've had my fair share of unhappiness and will continue to, location will not change the flow of life's lessons. I left my old state to escape my dysfunctional family. The visits *home* made it painfully clear that my family did not truly know me. In the passing of my mother, my siblings became estranged from me. Didn't like it, but they made their positions clear, respected that and left it alone. Even a reconciliation started blossoming and I quickly squashed it. I'm getting too old for self righteous crap.

I thought in marrying my husband, his family would become sort of a replacement. Silly, I know, but don't know how else to explain it. Then we had a trauma occur, again, became painfully clear where I stood. To a level it was obvious but on the other hand, it was disappointing. Since then, that boat is easily rocked. They have their own form of dysfunctions. My husband knows it, chooses to just live at arms length.

At one point in time, we had enough money saved up, we could have financed a move. I hesitated greatly due to our young son. Even though we have very little involvement to my husbands family here, my son feels very strongly tied to our life here.

I think what we crave most is a community. Even while loving Alaska, we don't feel a sense of community. We don't have close family or friends. For many years, I blamed my weight as the deterrent. Maybe it is me after all. I know it is me. Not necessarily in a bad way. I've never conformed to any way of life. So in that, it is hard to find others who don't either let alone, a family.

Have you ever felt that way? Feel the *itch* to start a new life somewhere?  Near? Far?

Is there a place for folks like me, my family? If so...tell me where!

Cheesy bread rolls

While the rest of the world seems to be enjoying beautiful record breaking warm weather, us Alaskan's have not been able to partake in the festivities. I hear the heater kick on every morning and we have even had a handful of fires in the fireplace. It is clear, we've been shorted out of our short summer.

Had the desire to bake something today. Any excuse to turn the oven on! *wink*

My hands went to work. Threw some flour in a bowl, tossed a bit of this, a bit of that.

Viola! The boy was upset that I did not make enough (when trying something new, I tend to make very small batches so food is not wasted) and even more upset I saved a couple for his father whom was sleeping in. Poor kid, so so rough. Ha!

1.5 cups stone ground whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
3 tablespoons oatmeal (not the quick cooking kind!)
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup chopped cheddar cheese (can use shredded)

Mix all ingredients except for cheese (add additional water as needed). Allow to set covered for approx 20 minutes.

Turn oven to 350 degrees.

Knead dough for approx 5 mins. Cover and let set for additional 15 mins. Add chopped cheese and knead well for an additional 5-8 mins. Tear into 2-3 inch balls, smoosh flat with your hand and lay out onto a greased baking pan. Bake for approx 20 mins or until brown.


Tortellini and veggies

Found a package of tortellini in the deep freezer as I was moving the fish around. We seldom have pasta (too high a carb item for me) but since it has been awhile, what the heck! I gave myself a much smaller portion than the boys.

Nothing fancy, but plenty tasty!

1 package tortellini (enough for serving 4 people)
1 head garlic sliced
1/2 onion sliced
1/2 head cabbage sliced
1 large bunch spinach
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon tarragon
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Cook tortellini according to package instructions. Drain and set aside when finish.

In medium high temp, cook garlic and onions in a little bit of olive oil for approx 5 mins. Add cabbage and seasonings. Frequently tossing for approx 10 mins. Add pasta. Simmer for 10 mins. Before serving, add spinach and stir well.

Serve sprinkled with some freshly grated parmesan.


Banana nut bread

I'm in the mood for something sweet and the cupboards are nearly bare. Looked at various recipes for banana bread and all the recipes called for things I don't have. Frustrated, I stormed off to the kitchen and started throwing stuff in a bowl. I'll be damned if I can't have banana bread! I'll just make it with what I do have.

Will admit, held my breath while it was cooking. Smelled good though. Felt like I was on a reality show as I awaited for the boys to sink their teeth into the warm dark banana bread. Eyes got wide, smile surfaced. Both expressed it was very VERY yummy...no, no...it is oh-so TERRIBLE! (wink) Finally, I took my first bite. Nice and sweet but not too sweet. Banana and walnuts offered a subtle flavor, not overpowering. Dense and dark but not doughy or hockey puck worthy.

I've been instructed by the 7 year old to put a slice in his lunch tomorrow. :o)

In other words, I lucked out! Now, let's see if I can remember the recipe. Remember, I was a bit miffed while whipping this up!

2.5 cups stone ground whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
1 banana chopped fine
1/2 cup walnuts chopped
1/4 cup sesame seeds
2/3 stick butter slightly melted
1 cup warm water

Mix all ingredients. Consistency should be gloppy. Add tablespoon of warm water at a time as needed to create the right consistency.

Pour into greased bread pan.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for approx. 1 hour.


Spicy kale delight

Been thinking with all the consumption of kale chips through the months, I must be developing a love for anything kale. *laughs heartily* Even my boys have been commenting on (dishes that contain kale) how much they love it.

Decided on a meatless meal tonight. I try to limit meat to maximum 4 times a week. Some weeks I am able to adhere to that self-request whereas others, not so much. However, there are some weeks we consume very little meat. I think it all balances out in the end.

1 full head of garlic, sliced large
1/2 head cauliflower sliced
1 large bunch kale sliced
1 heaping tablespoon spicy herb blend*
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon water

Cook over medium high heat, garlic in a small amount of olive oil. When starting to brown, add cauliflower. Turn down heat to medium, let cook for approx. 10 mins. Add spice blend, mix well. Add kale and water, allow to cook for an additional 10 mins, stirring regularly. Add sesame seeds and walnuts. Turn down heat, let simmer for approx. 5 mins.

This dish is delicious served with some wild rice (as shown), pasta or basmati rice.


*I used Coldfoot Jalapeño blend from Summit Tea & Spice. It a beautiful spicy blend of: jalapeño, roasted garlic, white pepper, lime peel, kosher salt, coriander, chipotle & lime juice powder.


Meat, potatoes and chocolate?

I should start a new blog just on eating gourmet meals on a skinny budget! *laughs*

Doing my usual scouring of the fridge and cupboards, what could I make today? Wanting to steer away from cabbage tonight...plus I think the family is getting a little bit tired so they deserved a break.

Ever since my husband came home with a stash of herb blends from our local spice shop (see Chugach Chili thread for more information), I've been dying to try the North African blend! Started pulling ingredients out of the cupboards and fridge and went to work.

My family was very suspicious upon serving them this dish but as soon as a bite was taken, the 7 year old exclaims that it smells like hot coco! *laughs* The husband thought it tasted so terrible, he went for a second helping. It does not taste like *chocolate* but does have nice flavor of the bitter chocolate and the unique spice blend mixed well with this combination of ingredients. I dare you to try it! Add chocolate to your meat and potatoes...

1 pound ground pork
4 red potatoes cubed
2-3 cups sliced fresh broccoli
4 garlic cloves sliced
2 tablespoon North African spice blend*
3 small dark chocolate squares
1/4 cup water
salt to taste

Brown ground pork, while still slightly pink, add spices, potatoes and garlic. Cover and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes. Add broccoli, cover for additional 10 minutes. Add chocolate squares and water, cover for 5 minutes. Mix well and serve.

*Spanish paprika, sea salt, garlic, cumin, Korintje cinnamon, coriander, cayenne, Tellicherry pepper


Chugach Chili

Even though the weather didn't call for chili, the family has been craving it. My husband has been on a warpath in search for unique spice blends. It sort of started with me complaining with other people posting photos of their cupboards and many of them were jam packed full of various spices...even in the refrigerator!

We had a tough obstacle to overcome... low funds. Spices are expensive!! The husband was determined, scouted out our favorite local spice store's website (www.summitspiceandtea.com). Being the math nerd he is, figured out how much this and that would cost. Even made the 3.5 mile trek there to stock our cupboards with some spices, plus, we were out of our old chili mix. (A great excuse to try something new!) I think the 7 miles round trip was worth it, I made some kick ass chili!

First, check out the beautiful spice collection. Total came out to around 15-17 bucks. Can you spot my favorite? *laughs* Yes, that would be my 2 ounces of Garam Masala (universal)!! The Chugach Chili Blend is what was added to the chili tonight. Look at that deep mole/red color! So flavorful without too much spice. I think I will add a bit more next time now that I am aware of how hot the spice blend is.

In honor of the blend, I've decided to call this chili: Chugach Chili

1 pound ground meat (I used pork tonight)
1 onion chopped
3 Anaheim peppers chopped
1 can organic diced tomatoes
1 can olives chopped
1/4 cup non-cooked wild rice 
3 cups soaked beans (used kidney and black beans) May use canned beans.
3 cups water (may need more)
3 tablespoon Chugach Chili Blend (more or less due to preference)
6 ounces beer (I prefer dark bitter beers)

Brown ground meat, when almost done add Chugach Chili Blend, mix well. Add all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, simmer for 2 hours until rice and beans are soft.

Add toppings! Cheese, sour cream, chopped onions, cilantro, avocado, the list goes on forever!

*Be sure to soak your beans either the night before or first thing in the morning. They cook better and shorter if you presoak them first.


Wild wild rice!

I have this coworker who goes on and on about how glorious Minnesota is. The Mall of America, the best corn cob, the best of . LOL I let it slide because he is a good kid and works hard.

He had the nerve to take a vacation (snort) and I covered for him while he was gone. Naturally, little speed bumps here and there but nothing my 20 years of experience couldn't handle. The whippersnapper was having a blast at, yes...you guessed it, Mall of America. I can picture him as I do my 7 year old son running around, screaming off the top of his lungs...I LOVE THIS PLACE!! Ahh, to be young again.

Bless his heart, he brought back food for me. Coworkers like to rib me for my alternative eating lifestyle and my recycling fetish. I'm thankful they put up with me. Anyways, the-mall-of-america fan said he could have brought me a mug back but figured I would appreciate this more, he was right. Minnesota grown wild rice. He swears this is the best stuff...ever! I was excited and grateful but will admit, a sceptic. 

The last time I had wild rice was ages ago. From what I remember, it tasted like dirt. *laughs hard* I kid you not! Thought I liked it growing up. Can't give up the opportunity to try something new, especially the best stuff on this planet! I bet he would go as far as the universe even!! *wink*

Well, I kid you not, he was not joking! It was unbelievably delicious. My boys (son and husband) were very disappointed I did not cook the whole bag. Talk about the sad puppy dog eyes they gave me when I said there were none leftover for seconds. (whispers) I lied, there was just enough for me to take to work for lunch the next day. Promise me you won't tell!! Pinky swear?!

2 chicken breast cubed
1 head cabbage
1/2 sliced onion
1/2 head garlic chopped large
1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
1 tablespoon tarragon
1 teaspoon salt (optional)

1/2 cup wild rice
1 1/2 cup water
smidge of salt
1 teaspoon butter (optional)

Wild rice takes a long time to cook. Be sure to prepare the rice before cooking the main meal. Add rice and water, bring water to boil. Cover and simmer for 55 minutes (when you have 15 minutes remaining, start on main course). Add salt and butter. Turn heat off, keep covered until rest of meal is ready to serve.

Cook chicken until pink, add onions and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent. Add paprika, tarragon and salt. Mix well, add cabbage. Let simmer for an additional 15 minutes.


Tough week

I was on vacation last week. It was a in-town, nothing planned vacation. While it was a bummer we didn't go anywhere special this year, I did get a lot of needed chores done in my home. Winter will be upon us before we know it and we skipped spring cleaning so pre-fall cleaning was in order.

Another bonus is I was able to finally complete my bedroom! Before I whine about my struggles with food, take a look at my bedroom! I feel like a 5 year old little girl that finally got the room she dreamed of. My dear husband indulged into my fantasy (and I think he likes it as much as I do but wouldn't admit it in a million years. Shhhh, our little secret.)

The dresser on the right will be refinished soon. Another weekend project, plan to refinish in antique black to match the side tables.


Cravings hit hard while I was on vacation. The urge to weigh also kicked into higher gear. Fret not my friends, I did not weigh. I almost used the cat as a rational/logical way to weigh. Laughing at the thought that I almost tricked myself! How much does the cat weigh? Oh I know! I can get on then pick up the cat. Ha!

We did eat out twice (still maintained healthier choices) but we also had Baskin Robbins twice. I did get one scoop of ice cream, no cone however, we did all share a banana split the second time. I was pretty satisfied. We still did walk daily (not as much as my usual week but still kept active).

Today, we held a birthday party at our home for my mother in law's birthday. Made burgers (pork/turkey  for me, beef for the rest), homemade potato salad, fresh garden salad. Ice cream cake for dessert. I did not restrained myself from enjoying the food prepared and had a nice big piece of cake. Even went for more cake later. I started to feel shitty. Wanting to lay it hard on myself for eating all that food.

Normally, my husband is just plain clueless in how to help or support me when the eating disorder in me comes out. He shocked me tonight. Listened to me start to ream myself (in other words, vent) and said he still felt I did well and will continue to do well. Maybe he is right. While I feel I still over ate, the old me definitely would have consumed much much more. In turn, eating even more out of self pity.

*deep breath*

I'm not going to say that tomorrow will be better, I will get back on track or anything of the sort. There is no getting back to, there is no better tomorrow. There is nothing to feel guilty for in the first place. Today is today, tomorrow is tomorrow. Just as I can't change the past, can't change today nor demand tomorrow be any different than from what it will be. I will have to wake up and face it as I do any morning. Good, bad or indifferent.

Having a love/hate relationship with my self discovery journey. I'm learning to be more vocal of what I want without sounding like I am being selfish (I hope). While demanding more of myself, also learning when to step back and take a deep breath. Is it really worth getting flustered over? The balance is challenging as well as refreshing to learn.

What's in your cupboards?

Ever wonder what is in other people's cupboards? Especially those that proclaim to be foodies? I know I am! What is in Oprah's cupboards? How about Martha Stewart? For some reason, I envision Paula Dean's cupboards to look my grandmother's. *chuckles*

I'm even more curious what the more heavy hitters of natural/organic/raw cooks have in their cupboards.

Figured I'd take the first step...

Cupboard one (large cupboard, left side):

Cupboard one (large cupboard, right side):

Cupboard two (cereals/spices)

Fridge (main inside):

Crisper drawer (yes, I'm aware it is dirty! LOL):

Fridge door:

Freezer (main):

Freezer door:

When reviewing the photos, I did discover some old things that needed tossing as well as some areas needed some cleaning. So, go ahead, take photos, look at them. You will gain a different perspective of what is in your cupboards.


Salty and crunch snack (chickpeas)

Something I used to make years ago in my earlier attempts to find the road to healthier eating. It's been a few years and this topic was mentioned among friends. Oh yeah! I used to like those! Ha! I should make some for the boys. Turned out to be a big hit! The boy requested I put some in his lunch for when he returns to school. Hooray!

The seasoning combination is endless!

Ready for this? You will need hours and hours of prep work. Okay, I'm totally lying. Be sure to dust your forehead with some flour or something so it looks like you labored hard with this snack.

1 can garbanzo (chickpeas) beans*
olive oil
seasoning of choice (see a suggestions list below)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Drain beans and rinse well. With paper towels, dry beans. Discard any loose skins that fall off (important for beans to be thoroughly dry). Spread evenly on a cookie sheet. Drizzle a little olive oil, mix to coat well. Bake for approx. 30 mins (check on them around 20 mins to ensure they are not burning). Remove and sprinkle with your choice in seasonings.

Seasoning suggestions: (again, endless possibilities!)
Cinnamon/cumin with a smidge of maple syrup
Garam masala
Chili powder

*You can be a geek like me and use dried beans, takes longer but equally as yummy. I have also had good success with other beans such as black and kidney beans. Be sure to experiment!

*the* scale revisited

Yes, we are back to this topic. I have a feeling it will be a lifelong topic but that is okay! The more we talk about this taboo topic, the better. One day, we WILL conquer this war with the evil scale.

I am still scale free since mid March. The support on the scale-free revolution has been overwhelming. Ladies, you are awesome. Keep the challenge going!!

For those not familiar with the scale challenge: Do NOT weigh yourself for 30 days. Lock that scale up in the closet, take the battery out, etc. Out of sight, out of mind. It is harder than you would think. Will you try it?)

I want to talk about a special friend of mine, B. She has no idea that she has been a huge source of inspiration the past 2 months. She has been upfront and honest about the trials of torture with *the* scale. Because she is with the National Guard, she is required a yearly physical. Yep, you know where I am going with this. She didn't even look at the scale...but the scale had it's evil ways...through the nurse. Before she knew what could happen, the nurse uttered those words. You weigh XYZ. The results don't really matter. It's knowing what the numbers are. It sent her into a spiral. I loved her candor and honesty in what happened. What she doesn't realize is her own strength. It did not send her out of control for months on end. She got right back up and marched on. She doesn't know it but I cried reading her story. I cried for her, I cried for me, I cried for all of us who struggle with *the* scale. Most of all, I'm proud of her. She recognized what it was doing and stopped herself from becoming destructive. She took it's power away.

She recently reveled the most awesome way to strip *the* evil scale of it's power in her own home, body and soul. She took a piece of tape over the number reader of her scale and scribbled the following message: This does not dictate my worth. I recreated the image to share with all of you. Don't be afraid to do the same to yours. I promise you, empowerment is guaranteed.