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stuffed dates

Once again, I was starving when I woke up!  But, also really really thirsty so I chugged some water while making breakfast.  This is a normal occurrence seeing that I drink lots of water all day long.

I decided on a smoothie and toast for breakfast.

In my smoothie mix:

  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen mango
  • 7 frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxmeal
  • 2 tbsp hemp protein powder

Topped with Galaxy Granola for crunch.  This made for perfect us of my spoon-straw!

And paired with a lone piece of leftover french toast toasted and topped with raw almond butter and blueberry Crofter’s jam.

It felt very summery with my seashell placemat and fish plate today!  Ha.

Unfortunately, this left me feeling hungry around 11am!  So, I snacked on 2 whole wheat pretzels and pushed lunch back until 12:45ish.

Salad with lots of goodies for lunch! 

Green leaf lettuce with artichokes, spiced chickpeas, sprouted sunflower seeds, cucmbers and kumquats.

Last night while I was making dinner, I added some spices to plain chickpeas and baked them at 375° for about 15 minutes while my sweet potatoes were baking.  I dumped about 1/3 cup chickpeas into a baking dish and added about 1 tbsp real maple syrup, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp coconut oil, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, shake of ground ginger.

I mixed it all up, and baked.  They came out looking delicious, and smelling even better!

I stored them in a seperate container in the fridge overnight, then dumped them onto my salad for lunch.

Unfortunately, this salad stunk!  I loved the chickpeas, but something with the artichokes and lettuce just wasn’t right.  So, I ended up eating the cucumbers, chickpeas and kumquats out of the salad.  And, ate a banana to fill me up.

Of course, not even 2 hours later, I was hungry.  So, I made the best snack ever!!

Medjool Dates stuffed with Peanut Butter and Hazelnuts

Why have I not thought of this before?!  It was such a great snack, I could have eaten so much more.

I started by cutting a slit into the date and scooping out the pit.  Then, I put a small amount (maybe 1 tsp) of peanut butter into the date and stuffed in 2 hazelnuts.  The peanut butter is basically there to hold the nuts in place.  You could do so many different varieties of these.  YUM!  New favorite snack.

Swimming is on the agenda for tonight.  We’ll see if that happens!

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chickpeas!

The theme for our potluck dinner tonight was “On a stick” because apparently it is National On a Stick Day? 🙂  Just a fun fact for ya!

To keep in the theme, we made some salads-on-a-stick to contribute to our dinner.  We enjoyed kebabs and salad for dinner, and fruit kebabs, fruit pops and chocolate pretzel rods for dessert.

We decided to make 2 different ‘salads’.  First up, Caprese Salad (on-a-stick, of course).  I bought cherry tomatoes and mini mozzarella balls to keep things simple.

Next, I made a Pear Gorgonzola Salad (on-a-stick).

I envisioned them to look like those, but unfortunately the cheese was so crumbly!  I don’t normally buy gorgonzola, so I didn’t realize this was going to happen.  But, I made due with a cheese/tomato/pear plate with toothpicks to make your own salad-on-a-stick.  This was a delicious combo!

I used heirloom cherry tomatoes, which were delicious!

We had a great dinner!

Chickpeas!

I have been meaning to try to cook my own beans for awhile now.  I love beans, especially garbanzos (chickpeas), and hate that canned beans contain so much salt.  Buying dry beans and cooking them myself would mean much less salt, and it would be much cheaper.  I like to add some beans to my salads at lunch in order to get in protein.  By cooking a huge batch of beans, I could store some in the freezer to have whenever I want them.  So, this weekend I set out to cook my beans!

Chickpeas are a great source of protein, iron and cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other beans.  In addition to lowering cholesterol, chickpeas high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal which increases your energy levels.  Pair your chickpeas with a grain (such as quinoa) and you have yourself a complete protein meal.

I bought about 6 cups of dried beans from the bulk bins at my local heath food store.  Last night, I put them into covered jars filled with water and soaked them overnight (about 8-10 hours).

Why should you soak the beans before cooking them?  Well, for one – they will cook faster!  But, there are also other benefits as well.  By soaking the beans, you make them much easier for your body to digest.  It helps to break down all the complex sugars in beans, sush as the indigestible oligosaccharides.  Soaked beans are also more likely to retain their maximum nutritional value, mostly due to the shortened time required for cooking. Basically, the longer you have to cook your beans, the less nutritional value will be retained since many vitamins and minerals are lost with added heat.  So, definitely take the time to soak your beans first (FYI – the same goes with nuts)!

This morning, after my beans had soaked for a good 10 hours, I found that they had expanded to almost twice their dry size.  Make sure you leave room in your soaking jar or dish for this!

I dumped the soaked beans into a strainer to rinse with fresh water before cooking.  I read that you should never cook your beans in the water that you soak them in – I’m not sure why, but I chose to listen to the advice out there!

Then, I dumped the rinsed beans into my crockpot.

I filled the pot with water, so that it was about 2 inches above the beans, turned the crockpot on low for 6 hours and went on with my business for the day. 🙂

I checked the beans throughout the 6 hours, probably 2 or 3 times because this was my first time doing this and I did not want to overcook them.  But, I found that 6 hours was the perfect amount of time.

So, I dumped them into the strainer again and rinsed with cold, fresh water.  Then let sit for 15 minutes to dry.

I put some of the beans, that I will eat this week into containers in the fridge.  The others I wanted to freeze, so I dumped them in a single layer onto 2 baking sheets and placed them in the freezer until frozen.  This way they won’t all clump together and I can easily use them in batches from the freezer.

Once frozen, I checked them a few hours after I had put them in the freezer, I dumped the beans into a glass jar for storing.

This may seem like a long, time-consuming process, but it honestly took about 10 minutes of my time to make a huge batch of beans from scratch.  I basically dumped the beans into soaking jars, then dumped them into the crockpot, then put them in jars for storing – and they will last me weeks (at the very least)!!  It is totally worth it to have homemade, cheap, salt-free beans at your disposal whenever you want them.  Give it a try, and let me know how it goes!  I plan to cook some black beans that I bought fairly soon.

Have you ever cooked your own beans?  Or do you prefer the convenience of canned beans? As you can see from my experiment, home-cooked beans seem to be extremely convenient as well!

roasted chickpeas

It has been a good day so far!  I woke up on time (well, early enough to get a run in!) and had a great breakfast and lunch!

Once I finally peeled myself from my toasty bed this morning, I quickly got dressed and headed out on a 7 mile run (with some speedwork).  No time for a pre-workout snack and I was regretting that about mile 3.

Workout

7 mile run with 4×1600 (.25 recovery between each)

  • 1 – 7:40
  • 2 – 7:57
  • 3 – 8:00
  • 4 – 8:20

The other miles were warmup, cooldown and recovery between miles.  Guess I went out a little fast, huh?  Opps!  Lesson learned. 🙂

After my workout, all I wanted was a big glass of juice.  So, I searched the fridge for some fruit and veggies.  Lucky for me, we had some fruit that was on it’s last legs – a little too overripe for eating, but perfect for juicing!  I hate wasting food, so making juice is a perfect way to use up this stuff.

Into the mix went the following:

  • 1 green apple
  • 1 orange
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 (squishy) golden beet
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 4 kale leaves
  • 2 carrots

I love citrus in my juice, it really cuts the taste or kale or spinach or other leafy greens.

YUM!  A few minutes later:

A huge glass of delicious juice!

Just what I wanted.

I also had the best snack on my way to work.  A piece of millet toast with Cacao Bliss and Raspberry Superfruit Jam, and a banana because I was still hungry! 

I enjoyed this snack while reading my book on my T ride.

This is what the outbound redline train looks like at 8am in the morning.

That’s right, no one on it!  Just me and my book.  Lovely!

Lunch was a treat today!  Last night, I spent some time roasting chickpeas while our dinner was cooking.  I used Mama P’s recipe and followed it almost exactly.  They came out so good!!

Pumpkin Spice Roasted Chickpeas

  • 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed, drained and patted dry
  • 2 T. maple syrup
  • 1 t. canola oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 1 t. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 1/4 t. ginger
  • 3/4 t. cinnamon

I preheated the oven to 350°F, then combined all of the ingredients in a bowl and mixed well, until all of the chickpeas were coated.

I then spread them out onto a baking sheet (or pan in this case) and baked them for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so to make sure they cooked evenly.

They came out perfectly browned and delicious!  I’m adding them to my salad today, but I might make these again as an appetizer when we have friends over.

I added 1/2 of the chickpeas to my salad today (saved 1/2 for tomorrow).  My salad included baby spinach, roasted chickpeas, toasted pecans, green apple slices, cheddar cheese with oats and raisins (from TJ’s) and a splash of pear infused vinegar.

So good.  Enough said.  Try this combo, pronto!

I added an additional treat to my snack by trying a new product from Kaia Foods!  I have not tried many of their products, but I love the mission behind Kaia Foods.  Kaia foods was founded with the belief that our health is best supported by eating an abundance of minimally processed whole foods. We sprout, mix and dehydrate our organic foods at low temperatures so that they remain ‘raw.’ No baking, frying, bleaching, or weird processing steps!  Once I try everything, you’ll get a big review!

I tried out the Cacao Bliss Buckwheat Granola.

 

It looks delicious, doesn’t it?! 

 

I added 1/2 of a serving to my Oikos Chocolate Greek Yogurt.

My verdict:  I like it!  But, it has a bit of a different taste than you would expect.  I haven’t had buckwheat before, but I’m wondering if that is the distinct taste.  At first, I didn’t love it, but it grew on me bite by bite.  It is crunchy and chocolatey, and worked perfectly when I crumbled it into my yogurt.  I would definitely eat (and buy) this again!

The granola has 220 calories and 8 grams of fat in a 1/2 cup serving, and the ingredient list is great (compared to other mass produced granola’s out there which have lists to long to take the time to read).  Ingredients: buckwheat*, agave nectar*, raisins*, dried coconut*, cacao powder*, ground flax seed*, sunflower seeds*, pumpkin seeds*, walnuts*, natural vanilla extract, spices, and mineral salt. (*organic)

Just a little fact from me – If I look at a product’s ingredient list and it has a list a mile long, I just put it back.  It doesn’t matter how much I really want that product!  If it has a long list, then is it artificial and processed and I do not want to eat it.  You can most likely find a similar product out there that is much better for you (and it might surprise you how much better the healthier product tastes!).