Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Strawberry Pesto Pasta Salad

One of my favorite blogs (katheats.com) featured this salad recently and I instantly knew I had to try it out! Thad was a little wary of a salad being our entire dinner, but in the end he loved it so much he contemplated having another plate of it, til he realized that meant he wouldn't get to have it again for lunch tomorrow! I'd say that equals a rave review. Only slight adjustments made to Kath's recipe.

Strawberry Pesto Pasta Salad

serves 4

  • 1/2 lb whole wheat pasta, cooked according to package (I used whole grain shells)
  • 1 cup strawberries, washed + sliced
  • 1 small cucumber, cubed
  • 1 can navy beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup pesto (I used some from Trader Joe's I had in the pantry)
  • Mixed Baby Greens 
  • Goat Cheese
  • Walnuts
  • Fresh Basil (optional) - I didn't have but Kath used and I'm sure it would add just the right touch!

  1. Toss first 5 ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Chill for 30 minutes or longer.
  3. Serve over greens.(note - Kath massaged the greens first with 2 tsp olive oil & 1 tsp kosher salt)
  4. Add fresh basil, goat cheese & walnuts.

Oh How I Love the Beach!

I actually made it to the beach 3 days during my 3 week visit in Florida! While it's the total opposite coast from when we lived in Oceanside, CA, it feels like being 'home' to sit at the beach and listen to the waves, feel the sand between my toes, the wind and the warmth of the sun. How I've missed the ocean!

And now I miss it again! Hoping to be able to make a trip back down there in August.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Spicy Quinoa Cucumber Tomato Salad

I've been so good about continuing my healthy eating while down here in Florida and planning things to make. I looked this up this morning and whipped it up in about 20 minutes, all ready for lunch. I loved it and so did my sister-in-law's mom, Donna. Debbie is doing Atkins so planned her lunch and everyone else got McDonald's! I will definitely make this again, so wanted to share it here. It was from the New York Times.

photo from New York Times
Spicy Quinoa Cucumber Tomato Salad
serves 6


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 3 cups water
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 cups diced cucumber
  • 1 small red onion, finely minced (optional)
  • 2 cups finely diced tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 jalapeƱo, seeded if desired and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus several sprigs for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 avocado, sliced, for garnish
NOTE: I also added in some feta cheese, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
  1. Place the quinoa in a bowl, and cover with cold water. Let sit for five minutes. Drain through a strainer, and rinse until the water runs clear. Bring the 3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add salt (1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon) and the quinoa. Bring back to a boil, and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer 15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and translucent; each grain should have a little thread. Drain off the water in the pan through a strainer, and return the quinoa to the pan. Cover the pan with a clean dishtowel, replace the lid and allow to sit for 10 minutes. If making for the freezer, uncover and allow to cool, then place in plastic bags. Flatten the bags and seal.
  2. Meanwhile, place the finely diced cucumber in a colander, and sprinkle with salt. Toss and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Rinse the cucumber with cold water, and drain on paper towels. If using the onion, place in a bowl and cover with cold water. Let sit for five minutes, then drain, rinse with cold water and drain on paper towels.
  3. Combine the tomatoes, chiles, cilantro, vinegar, lime juice and olive oil in a bowl. Add the cucumber and onion, season to taste with salt, and add the quinoa and cilantro. Toss together, and taste and adjust seasonings. Serve garnished with sliced avocado and cilantro sprigs.

Advance preparation: The quinoa freezes well, and the assembled salad will keep for a day in the refrigerator. The leftovers will be good for a couple of days.

Nutritional information:
 per serving: 236 calories; 14 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 25 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams dietary fiber; 12 milligrams sodium (does not include salt added during cooking); 6 grams protein

Friday, May 13, 2011

Yoga away from home

I was both nervous and excited about trying out yoga somewhere new. Thad and I go to Divine Yoga in South Lyon, a Baptiste Power Yoga studio, and it's home for us. But since I'm in Florida for almost 3 weeks and I practice yoga almost every day, I thought it worth researching somewhere to go while I'm here. There's not a Baptiste studio here though. So, I read reviews, looked at websites and with the encouragement of one of my teachers, decided on one with the attitude of it being a yoga adventure.

After sitting in the car for 2 days, I jumped at the chance to go to yoga. The studio I decided to try out is beautiful inside - large room with stone walls, partially mirrored walls, black ceiling, candlelight, and black rubber floors. Very peaceful. It's also hot yoga - 95 degrees. I thought what I did already was heated yoga, but let me tell you, there is a huge difference between 90 or so and 95! I can guarantee you that I have never sweated so much in my entire life as I have these past few days! The first class I took was taught by the owner, who also runs their yoga teacher training program and was voted South Florida's best yoga teacher in January. The type of class is a bit different than the Baptiste style that I normally do and there are some poses that are new to me, but I have enjoyed it as well. I never thought I'd say that I miss working on inversions every day, but I do. I've made a lot of progress in the past few weeks with working toward headstand and handstand, having just started being able to do tripod and working toward wheel, so I hope I am not set back by not having these included in my practice for a few weeks - or else I need to do them here at my brother's house. 

I have mixed feelings about the mirrors. It was helpful in someways to be able to correct my own alignment, but at the same time I found I was feeling more self conscious about my still non-flat belly and arms that while more muscular than ever, still have some flab and skin that needs time to shrink up. Well I can do anything for a couple weeks and it's not like I know these people or really care what they think. 

Today I went to two classes actually! The first one this morning was taught by a woman, Jessica. Awesome class, I felt the most 'at home' in her class than any of the other ones I've taken this week. She just has this great fluid but powerful style. She even sang and played music during savasana at the end of class. I know that sounds terribly touchy feely spiritual, but it really wasn't - it was just beautiful. I definitely will not miss her class next Friday! The 2nd class I took while Brandon and Avery took a kids yoga class - the teacher was just okay, not very creative though. 

One thing I am getting a lot from this style of yoga is a lot of hip opening poses which I know I need, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. I do find that the warmth in the room has helped with making these types of poses, like pigeon and double pigeon, a bit easier for me. 

Well tomorrow morning I'm trying the owner's class again, this time an Advanced class. I'm ready to give it a shot in any case and expect to lose 4 lbs of sweat in 1 1/2 hours! 

p.s. Brandon and Avery loved kids yoga!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

No, not Cake Balls . . .Energy Balls!

A healthy snack that's both a treat and good for you at the same time, I make these and pop a couple before or after a yoga class, a long walk, or a quick snack to hold over to a meal. There's a bunch of different recipes for them, so I'm going to compile the ones I've made here and keep updating so when I go to do another batch I don't go searching again! For all of these - they are no bake and all ingredients are thrown in the food processor. I process dry ingredients first, remove them, process dried fruit, then add dry ingredients in and process to combine. I use a small Pampered Chef cookie scoop to measure and roll into a ball. If too dry to stick together in a ball, add drops of water til you get desired consistency. Roll balls in unsweetened coconut shreds or unsweetened cocoa powder for another bonus. You can make almost any combo with a ratio of 2 parts dates/dried fruit to 3 parts nuts/seeds/oats/dry ingredients.

Cherry Chia Bites
makes about 20 bites. Store in airtight container.

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup almonds (I used raw, whole)
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds

Apricot Coconut
makes about 24 balls. Store in airtight container in fridge.

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup dried appricots
1/4 cup MaraNatha almond butter with a hint of sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Date Nut Balls

2 ounces ground raw sunflower seeds
3 ounces ground raw blanched almonds
8 ounce of ground raw cashews
3 ounce of ground walnuts
1 tablespoons of ground flax seeds
10 ounces of soft date/coconut rolls, or soft pitted dates
2 TB cinnamon

Friday, May 6, 2011

Golden Beets & Sweet Potato Salad

A recipe from one of my favorite bloggers, Kath Eats Real Food. After reading her post about cooking beets I was at the store and saw some golden beets and decided to try them. I've never had beets before actually! The ones I bought had the green tops already removed, so I substituted some kale I had to go in this salad instead. Next time I make it I will buy the 'right' beets and use the greens! I really enjoyed the flavors of this dish and had it for a few days - it was also great wrapped up in a whole grain tortilla.

Golden Beets & Sweet Potato Salad
serves 4


  • 2 golden beets 
  • 1/2 bunch kale
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 cup dry wheatberries
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbsp olive oil plus 1 tsp
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 grinds black pepper


  1. Loosely wrap beets in foil and bake at 425* for 45 minutes. Allow to cool and peel the skin off. Chop.
  2. Chop sweet potato and rub with oil, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Bake with beets for 45 minutes.
  3. Combine 1 cup dry wheatberries with 2 cups water. Bring to boil and simmer for 45 minutes, until tender to the taste.
  4. Sautee greens in 1 tsp olive oil and some garlic.
  5. Combine beets, sweet potato, wheatberries, greens and sunflower seeds in a bowl.
  6. Combine syrup, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper in a jar. Shake to combine.
  7. Pour over salad.

Blueberry Flax Seed Muffins

While I didn't make this recipe lately, it's one that I made in the past and just ran across again today. It makes a great tasty snack or part of your breakfast, it freezes well too - just wrap individually then you can pull one out of the freezer when you wake up and it's ready by the time you're ready to eat - or microwave for 20 seconds! I made this for the first time when I was looking for something to do with some leftover buttermilk I had from another recipe - and since I'm sure to be in that position again, I thought I'd share it here. Originally found on Spark People.

Blueberry Flax Seed Muffins
serves 12

1 T flax seeds
1 c blueberries
1 c oats
1 c lowfat buttermilk
1 c whole wheat flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t cinnamon
1 t salt
1 whole egg
1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
3/4 c brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray muffin pans with nonstick spray or line with paper liners. Use a clean coffee grinder to roughly grind the flax seeds, trying not to process them into a mealy texture. (You can use pre-ground flax if that's what you have on hand.) Wash and dry the blueberries. In a small bowl, combine the oats and buttermilk, and let stand at room temperature for five minutes. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; mix with a fork to blend and set aside. In a large bowl and using a hand mixer, beat the egg, applesauce, brown sugar at medium speed for 3 minutes. Blend in the oat-buttermilk mixture. Stir in the flour mixture only to combine, try not to overwork the mixture. Fold in the blueberries. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and top with a sprinkle of flax seed. Bake 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

119 calories, 28g carbs, 1.4g fat, 3.1g protein, 3.7g fiber 

Peas, please!

Pea hummus that is! A woman at yoga earlier this week was talking about this delicious hummus, so I just had to give it a try. I loved it with both tortilla chips and sliced cucumber. It was very refreshing and super healthy too - 1 cup of peas has 8 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber, plus lots of folate and vitamin K.

I didn't have tahini, so I took my friend's tip and soaked 2 TB of sesame seeds in water for an hour before I made the hummus and included them in the mix instead. Using a food processor keeps it with a bit of texture, but I'm sure a high powered blender would make this really smooth!

This recipe is from the May issue of Whole Living Magazine.

Pea Hummus
serves 4

  • 1 cup fresh shelled peas
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 small clove minced garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt
  1. Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Add peas; cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Drain; run under cold water.
  2. In food processor, pulse peas, cilantro, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and cumin 30 to 40 seconds. Season with salt.

Vegetarian Tacos or Beans & Rice side dish

I've made this a couple times in the past week - for myself as a filling for a whole grain tortilla (with the addition of avocado and fresh tomatoes) - and for everyone else as a side dish alongside their beef tacos. Adapted from Eating Well. I don't have a photo, mostly because I've been so busy, but I wanted to record the recipe here before it got lost in my pile and never made again!

Vegetarian Tacos
serves 6 (about 1 1/2 cups each)

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels or frozen
  • 1 large tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked long-grain brown rice 
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Cook your brown rice if you do not have some already cooked. I used 3/4 cup dry to get 1 1/2 cup cooked.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and corn; cook, stirring, until the onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Coarsely chop 1 tomato. Add it to the pan along with rice, beans, chili powder, 1 teaspoon oregano 1/2 tsp coriander and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the tomato cooks down, about 5 minutes.