Chickpea Tagine

More and more people are choosing to go meatless for one or more meals per week.  The experts are suggesting this for health reasons and to decrease your carbon foot print.  I love veggies and find myself making more and more meatless meals.  This recipe for Chickpea Tagine comes from Fitness magazine.  As you can see in the pictures below, I find recipes that I like, cut them out, and put them into a notebook.  I have never made this recipe, but it looks colorful and delish!

The first step was chopping…chopping…and more chopping.

I had company in the kitchen.

But she didn’t prove to be much help!  At least she didn’t sit on top of the recipe this time.

After heating the oil, I added the red onion, carrots, butternut squash and spices.  I did not find the Harissa Paste, so I just omitted it.  And I accidentally added extra turmeric.

Add the tomatoes, zucchini, and apricots.  I found turkish apricots at the Whole Foods.  They were so good!  Not as sweet as your typical dried apricots and perfect for this recipe.  Add a little water and then simmer 20 minutes.  Look at the beautiful colors!

Then add the chickpeas and lemon juice.  Stir and heat for another 10 minutes.

I seasoned the dish with some extra Saigon Cinnamon.  The tagine smells amazing and tastes wonderful!  The butternut squash is a fun addition.  It adds nice texture along with the good taste.

The tagine is shown served over couscous but any whole grains (quinoa, barley, brown rice) will do.  Enjoy the unique flavors and the exciting colors of this dish.  Plus, it is easy to make and 4 servings is 4 week night dinners (or lunches).

Good Morning!

Oh my gosh!  I am SORE today.  That fabulous, yet brutal hot yoga class that I took yesterday has definitely left its mark.  My obliques hurt with every move I make.  I LOVE it. I now understand why the celebrities are so committed to their hot  yoga.  Although I consider the tough workout the bonus, the real appeal is the positive energy circulating the room as you delve deeper into your yoga practice.  Now on to breakfast…

I was so excited by last week’s oatmeal bake that I knew I was going to make another one.  I loved pumpkin and add it to everything, so I knew I had to try a baked pumpkin oatmeal.  I found this single serving breakfast recipe on Chelsey’s Blog.  She is a vegan and uses interesting ingredients (flax egg anyone?) which makes trying this recipe even more fun.

The ‘flax egg’ is 3 tablespoons of warm water and 1 tablespoon of flax combined and let to sit for 2-3 minutes.

I used 1/2 cup of oats and 1/2 cup soy milk  (because that is what I had in the house).   I added in 1/2 cup pumpkin, vanilla, my ‘egg’ and then I used pumpkin pie spice for flavor.  The mix tasted good, but not enough spice.  I added in some cinnamon and more to the top before baking.  I baked my oatmeal in a round Pyrex for 20 minutes.

It came out of the oven warm and tasty!  I used a touch of agave and a little more cinnamon to top it off.  Chelsey added apples and peanut butter.  I think nuts would also be a great addition for a little crunch.  The oatmeal was definitely filling and perfect before my spin class.  Plus, it was much easier to make it in the oven as opposed to the stove (where you have to sit by and watch).  I will be making this again and may try to turn it into a bigger bake for the week.  What a good way to start the morning!

New Class Alert!

Tri Balance

Photo borrowed from www.tribalance.com

I have been practicing yoga since college and over the past month, I have been able to return to a weekly evening class at my mom’s yoga studio.  It is so relaxing and I am finding myself less stressed throughout the week.  Over the past year, I have attended a few yoga classes at the large gym where I belong.  Although there have been some good classes, it is hard to get into the ‘yoga’ mind frame in a bright room where there is a cardio kickboxing class next door and free weights dropping outside.  Plus, the room is usually packed.

My trainer told me about a studio near my house where she has taken some classes.  I looked into it online and found that it is a HOT YOGA studio.  I have never done a hot yoga class before, but I have always wanted to try it.  I packed up my yoga mat, a towel, some water and headed off to try something new.  I had no idea what to expect.

Slightly intimidated, I placed my stuff in a locker. I usually leave my socks on and take an extra long-sleeved layer for Savasana, but it seemed that the other students were heading into the yoga room in shorts and tanks (and just shorts for the guys).  I followed along, opened the studio door, and walked into what felt like a large dark sauna.  In the past when I have taken a “hot”  class, it has been a yoga class where the instructor has turned the heat up and I haven’t noticed much of a difference.  This room already felt warmer than any studio I have been in.  There were lines across the floor to help line up the mats into 4 long rows.  The room was silent and the students were stretching, relaxing, and practicing their poses.  I found a spot in the corner, laid down on my mat, and set my intention for the practice.  For this morning, I chose an open mind to this new form of yoga.  I lay silently, focused on my breathing and waited…but for what I wasn’t sure.

I had no idea what time it was or even which mat the instructor was on.  So I stretched out my legs, my back, and all of a sudden, I heard a man’s voice from the back of the room.  The class began and we started going through the poses.  The instructor walked around the room telling us poses as we moved quickly over our mats.  I tell you, I must have done 30 push ups in the first 15 minutes.  There was a lot of strength work and we held many of the poses for longer than I expected.  I had sweat dripping down my arms and legs and just when I thought I couldn’t do any more, we began some serious core work!  I was happy to see that there were a variety of levels in the class and everyone was reaching for their towels and water bottles as often as I was.

After the core strength, we finished with some deep hip openers and other stretches.  I was able to stretch further than I do in my typical classes and it felt great.  We finished in a seated position with some wise words from our teacher.  Then proceeded into a self-directed Savasana.  I did not need my socks or long sleeve shirt as I was covered in sweat from head to toe.  After a few minutes, I started to hear people moving about and realized that your final relaxation was as long or short as you wanted.  I walked out of the class feeling fabulous physically and definitely open-minded.  I LOVED the atmosphere and spirit in the room and I was surprised at how well I tolerated the heat.  I usually keep my eyes closed during class, but found that I was able to remain focused with my eyes open in the dim room.   It will be hard to go back to another ‘meat-head’ yoga class at my gym!  My abs are already starting to feel sore and I am figuring out how to fit a HOT YOGA class into my weekly or monthly schedule.  They even have a discount for health care workers…hooray!  Next time, I just need to remember an extra towel!

Chickpea and Lentil Salad with Grilled Lemons

So I know I promised you a recipe and I will get to that, but I have to tell you about new favorite workout….jumping rope!  I have been wanting to get a jump rope to add some cardio to my weight workouts.  I finally found what I wanted at Sports Authority. It’s this Nike Weighted Jump Rope, which is also available online.  I added 1 minute of jumping between weight sets during my past 3 Thursday morning workouts.  The added cardio boosts my heart rate, which in turn burns more calories and increases my energy levels at the start of the day.  Plus, I must admit, it is super fun.  I advise everyone to get out there and add something new AND FUN to your workout routine this spring.  Ok, on to the recipe…you’ll be hungry after all that jumping.

 

 

Chickpea and Lentil Salad with Grilled Lemons

 

Ingredients

3 cups water

1/2 cup green (French) lentils, picked over, rinsed, and drained

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeded

1 (15.5 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

3 scallions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (I omitted because I didn’t have it)

HEALTHY EXTRA: Add a large cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced to the salad.

 

Directions

1. Bring water, lentils, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt to boil in large saucepan.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are tender but hold their shape, 15-20 minutes. Drain; transfer to large bowl to cool.

2. Meanwhile, whisk together lemon zest and juice, paprika, oil, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl.  Add lemon slices; toss to coat.

3. Spray ridged grill pan with nonstick spray and set over medium-high heat.  Lift lemon slices from juice mixture; reserve juice mixture.  Place lemon slices in grill pan and cook until browned, about 2 minutes on each side.  If desired, transfer to cutting board and coarsely chop.

4. Add lentils, lemon slices, chickpeas, scallions, and parsley to reserved lemon juice; toss to combine.

 

Nutrition (per 1 cup serving/375 g):

Calories: 185

Fat: 3 g

Sodium: 543 mg

Carbs: 35 g

Fiber: 9 g

Protein: 11 g

Points Plus: 5

What’s For Lunch?

In an attempt to defy lunchtime boredom, I went searching for a different lunch option (besides my usual turkey sandwich or PB & J).  I found this in a Weight Watcher cookbook. I am always looking for other sources of protein, especially at lunch.  Lentils and chickpeas are healthy, vegetarian options, so I figured I would try this.

I found the French (green) lentils at Whole Foods…surprise, surprise!  They are fun colors and I was excited to try them.

They were much easier to make than I expected.  Combine the water, lentils, and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, oil, smoked paprika, and remaining salt, whisking to combine.  I found this great addition to my Salsa Maker. I never knew I had a juicer, but what a great day to find it!

Slice the lemon and soak in the oil mixture.  Then grill over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Cut the lemons and return them to the oil mixture with the chickpeas (rinsed and drained), scallions, and lentils (rinsed, drained, and cooled).  Stir to combine.

I was pleasantly surprised with how tasty my salad turned out…especially with the smoked paprika!  The textures of the lentils mesh perfectly with the chickpeas.  My salad made for a fun lunch today with  grilled toasted cheese and some fruit.  I also had my baked oatmeal (from yesterday’s post) for breakfast…what an exciting day of food!

If you haven’t given lentils a try yet, I highly suggest it!  They are high in fiber AND protein AND very tasty!  I had to type this out twice (because of a computer error) so I am off to bed.  Stay tuned for the recipe later this week!

What’s For Breakfast?

I know we all ask this question every morning…looking for a different answer…although I usually settle on the same few things.  One of them is oatmeal.  When I found this recipe for an oatmeal bake, combining two of my favorites banana and peanut butter, I had to try it.  Plus, making many servings at once is always a bonus.  I won’t have to ask ‘What’s for Breakfast?’ all week!  The original recipe makes 9 servings, so I cut it in half today.

I combined 2 cups of oats with 2 tablespoons of Sucanat along with the other dry ingredients.

Then I beat the rest of the ingredients, except for the banana, until smooth.  I used fresh honey roast peanut butter from WF’s because that’s what I had in the pantry.

Add the mashed banana and stir in the oat mixture.  In the future, I would suggest adding nuts or dried fruit as well.

I poured my mixture into an 8×8 inch greased pan.

I didn’t have peanuts and in general, they are not my favorite nut.  Instead, I sprinkled the top with cinnamon.  Although as I mentioned above, I think walnuts, chocolate chips, or dried fruit would all taste wonderful!  The half recipe baked for ~25 minutes.

My entire house smelled FABULOUS!  Even though it wasn’t breakfast, I had to try some tonight.  The baked oatmeal is GREAT! I love the flavor and will definitely make this again.  It’s almost like a banana bread (which can be eaten any time of the day) and will be easy to make for a brunch.  I will keep it in mind the next time I have weekend house guests!

See the full recipe for Peanut Butter and Banana Baked Oatmeal HERE!

What is your ‘go-to’ breakfast?

Birthday Trifle

My family got together to celebrate my Dad (and Mom’s) birthdays today for some pizza and some basketball.  Since we were celebrating my Dad, he got to pick the desert.  He requested a trifle…not to rich, but no fruit, and maybe something crunchy like nuts.  Ok…I can do that!  I chose to make an Oreo trifle.

I have made a few trifles in the past and I always have fun making them.  You can get as creative as you want and the ingredients are simple!  Every time I mention bringing a trifle, someone jokes about the Friends episode where Rachel attempts a trifle.  I was never a huge Friends fan, but as I gather she combined some dessert and some meat from another recipe.  Luckily, my trifles always turn out better than that and I have never met anyone who doesn’t like the tasty combination of cake, pudding, and Cool Whip!

I am going to share today’s trifle concoction with you (which was a real crowd pleaser).  No recipe involved, so feel free to substitute  in whatever you want!  I chose to use chocolate fudge and a yellow cakes as my base.  In the past, I have also used brownies or pre-made pound cake.  I made the chocolate cake per box directions and used this fabulous Hungry Girl recipe for the yellow cake.  I highly recommend it the next time you are looking to make a cake, but I warn you…it is so delicious and dangerous.

You begin by combining your cake mix and 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce.  Mix well until blended.  This will look thick with a few lumps.  Then whisk in 1 cup of water.  Spread on a greased cake pan and bake per directions on the box.  The cake tastes nothing like applesauce and is super sweet and moist!  You can use this technique with any cake mix, but HG suggests yellow cake.

Look who came to help with the baking!

It looks like a typical yellow cake, but the taste and texture are fabulous!  Especially with the trifle!

 

Now on to the trifle…

I used my immersion wand, which also happens to be a chopper to create some Oreo crumbs.  I used the small snack sized Oreos (because I had a coupon) and because they are super cute to decorate with.

Is this not the best kitchen gadget ever?

To make the chocolate pudding, I combined 1 large box of sugar-free INSTANT pudding with 3 cups of milk and 6 oz of Neufchatel cheese (at room temperature).  The cheese thickens up the pudding a bit.  Since I had the wand out, I tried using the whisk to combine everything.  Chocolate pudding went in ALL directions, so I switched to my hand mixer.  Since you can control the speed, this worked out much better.  Once combined, your pudding will still be lumpy.

Now the fun part begins…assembling the trifle!  I randomly layered the cakes, pudding, Cool Whip (I used the Lite one) and Oreos, finishing with the Cool Whip on top.  It helps to have a trifle bowl.  Now I know you are thinking…how often will I really make a trifle, but I tell you…once you make one, you will be hooked.  Plus the bowl is super fun for layered salads and dirt cake.  The key is to try to make the layers smooth so that they look pretty from the outside.  A little tip I’ve discovered,  use a wet paper towel to wipe off the messes along the inside.

Ideally, your Cool Whip should be room temperature. I just got back from the store and so it was still too cold to spread well.  If this happens, you can run the container under warm water or try mixing it with a spoon.

I definitely made sure my Cool Whip was smooth before spreading it across the top.

I topped the trifle with Oreos, crumbs, and pecans (for the requested crunch).  Isn’t it beautiful?!

It looks messy, but tastes SO GOOD!

The best part (after eating the trifle of course) is licking the bowl and spoon!

Not My Most Successful Dinner

A couple of months ago, I found a ‘healthy’ mac n’ cheese recipe.  I was skeptical, but I decided to try it.  It turned out really tasty.  The only problem was that in order for it to be ‘healthy’, I needed to eat only 1 serving.  This is always tough with delicious cheesy recipes!  Ever since then, I get these cravings for mac n’ cheese (and not the stuff that comes in the blue box), so last weekend, I headed into the kitchen for some fancy mac n’ cheese.  I came across this recipe for Sweet Potato and Brie Mac & Cheese on another blog site.  Since I have been all about sweet potatoes lately, it was the perfect fit.  I must say it was not my most successful evening in the kitchen.

The sweet potato puree was easy to make.  I stuck 2 sweet potatoes in the oven in the afternoon.  I baked them at 400 degrees for a little under an hour.  Then, I let them cool and used my immersion want to make the puree. I think I got a little over 1 cup of puree, possibly more.

However, when it came to making the pasta, I realized I only had 5 oz of whole wheat pasta (by combining what was left in my pantry).  The recipe calls for 8 oz.  I considered adding a little whole wheat spaghetti, but I figured two pastas were enough. Instead,  I tried to decrease my amounts of milk and cheese to compensate…key word ‘TRIED’!

I used 3/4 cups milk combined with 1 full cup of sweet potato puree.  Whisk and bring to a boil.  Then whisk in the 3 cheeses.  I also slightly decreased the amount of  each cheese to try to adjust the recipe to the pasta.

The mixture looks good, but a little thick.  I stirred in the nutmeg and the noodles.  Then it was time for a taste…

Although the taste was good, especially the sweet potatoes and nutmeg, the texture was all wrong.  There was too much sweet potato compared with the cheese and I definitely didn’t have enough noodles. The BOY tried it and was not amused!  He picked up on the sweet potatoes right away!  Like I said, I liked the taste, but the texture was off.  I moved it to the fridge and took it for lunch the next day.  After sitting for a day, the flavors mixed better and the texture smoothed out a bit.  Not sure why, but I was definitely happier with my meal day two.

I will definitely try this recipe again when the next craving hits (AND the Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese that I just found from Rachael Ray) BUT with the correct amount of noodles next time!

Just an FYI, the pictures on the original site are much prettier, but hey…I’m working on my photo skills.

Enjoy some Mac & Cheese today!

Everyone’s Irish on St. Patty’s Day

As I was getting ready this morning at the gym, it was interesting to look around and see who was wearing green.  All the teachers definitely had on some green, mostly tops and most of the corporate-types were still in their black suits.  I (along with most of my staff) wore green.  I even wore my St. Patty’s Day socks.  Did you even know they existed?  I have two pairs actually (one I wore yesterday).  What makes today super fun is that the majority of our kids were dressed head to two in crazy shades of green…even the babies!

In honor of the day, I made a Brown Irish Soda Bread from Cooking Light. It has an interesting list of ingredients, including wheat germ, giving it a hearty texture.  See the full recipe HERE!

As always, the first step is the dry ingredients.  I measured the flour and added the steel-cut oats followed by the rest of the dry ingredients.

Then combine the wet ingredients.  The buttermilk looks interesting, especially when mixed with the egg.

Combine your wet and dry ingredients until just combined.  Since I was making breads to give to friends and family, I used my two smaller bread pans.  I had some extra dough (I will be out looking for new ones this weekend), so I added some light colored raisins.  I used the extra to make mini muffins and I tried to use my new leaf pan.

I baked the bread for about 45 minutes.  The muffins were  a little less time.  Check out how cute everything looks…except for the leaf that is.  More Pam next time I think!

The muffins turned out a little dry but the bread is hearty and tasty!  Especially with the raisins.  Delish!  And definitely a healthier version.  The bread is so easy, so go make some today (or tomorrow)!  It doesn’t have to be St. Patty’s Day to enjoy this bread with soup or a homemade jam.

I also made a traditional Irish Soda Bread to bring to work today.  This recipe happens to be dusted with cinnamon and sugar and the raisins are soaked in boiling water ahead of time which makes them really sweet and wonderful!  I hope you all had a little GREEN in your day today!

A New Find at Trader Joe’s

The Cycle Club at my gym did a two our spin ride this morning.  With the time change, I was a little nervous about a 9:30 class, but I set my alarm and got to class early for a good bike.  Today’s ride was steady-state intervals.  For those who aren’t familiar, this is interval training, but for longer periods of time.  We started with a 12 minute ON interval and 6 minute recovery and worked our way through 8 intervals decreasing by 1 minute each time.  It is brutal workout, but an amazing fat burner and endurance boost.  Although I didn’t have my heart rate monitor (it is in the mail from Polar after a tune up), I know the ride was successful.  I felt strong and motivated and was absolutely covered in sweat.  I chugged a Gatorade on the way home and was ready for a healthy lunch.

Someone at work told me about this salad.  To be honest, I was kind of skeptical, but the next time I was at Trader Joe’s, I accidentally found it near the lettuce.  It is my new favorite lunch, so I thought I would share it with you.  The salad is made up of 8 raw veggies that are super crisp and crunchy.  I have eaten it with lettuce and without.  I like to add feta and use a balsamic or olive oil based dressing.  I hear it tastes great with the TJ’s Goddess dressing as well, and  I have also heard that you can make it into a stir fry, but I haven’t tried that yet.  I usually get 3-4 servings out of one container.  Today I piled mine on top of lettuce with feta and dried cranberries.  So yummy! 

Let me know if you have any creative ideas for my colorful container of chopped goodness!