Saturday, January 31, 2009

Friday Night With Friends

We had our friends Nick and Alison over for dinner last night. A few sangrias in we took this picture (we actually took 6 pictures until we settled on the perfect one). We ate a really good meal, played Wii, and blared our stereo while singing along to Old Crow Medicine Show, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Beatles, and John Prine.

For dinner we had a very flavorful and healthy Mexican lasagna.
Mexican Lasagna (From Cuisine Nie) My add-ins are in red.
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
4 scallions, coarsely chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
10 ounces fresh baby spinach
Nonstick cooking spray
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans
2 chicken breasts, seasoned,cooked and shredded
1 cup prepared salsa (mild or medium)
8 ounces pepper Jack cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a food processor, combine cilantro, scallions, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper with as much spinach as will fit; pulse, adding remaining spinach in batches, until coarsely chopped.Coat an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Lay 4 tortillas in bottom of dish (they will overlap slightly). Layer with half of beans, salsa, spinach mixture, chicken, and cheese; repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with cheese and pressing in gently.Cover dish with foil; place on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes; remove foil, and continue baking until golden, 15 to 20 minutes more. Cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Alison made a delightful and fruit-filled sangria. I had a wee bit too much but it was sooo worth it.
Sparkling Sangria (from Michael Chiarello- Food Network)
1 cup brandy
1/2 cup orange liquer (we used Grand Marnier, we're fancy like that- ha!)
1/4 cup sugar
1 orange, thinly sliced
1 pint blackberried (or any other berry)
1 lime, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
2 bottles sparkling wine, chilled
In large pitcher or bowl, combine the brandy and orange liquer. Pour in the sugar, stir until the sugar dissolved. Add all of the fruit at once. Add the sparkling wine and serve.
The sangria maker poses with a glass.
The dinner table set. What a great night!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chicken and Chips

I'm not going to write much about tonight's dinner. It was good. It was basic. It was healthy. Here's the inspiration for it. I do want to add that I absolutely adore roasted red peppers. YUMMY.
I am going to go on and on and on and on and on and on...about kale chips! OMFG, these were just as good as everybody has raved about. They took a total of 2 minutes prep and 15 minutes baking. Jake, who is a big junk food fan, said these were just as good as potato chips and was sad when we had eaten them all up.

I got the recipe from I was really generous with the paremsan because I love parmesan. Only thing about these delicious little snacks is that you have to eat them immediately after baking because they get soggy if stored overnight. If you have any ideas on how to keep them crispy, let me know.

Kale Chips:
1 bunch of of kale
2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to about 375 degrees
Tear the leaves off the thick stems into bite size pieces. Spread out on cookie sheets.
Sprinkle with Parmesan and salt and peper.
Bake for about 15 minutes, until edges are brown and kale is crispy when moved in pan.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Long Weekend

Jake and I just returned from a long weekend in his hometown. We went back to attend the funeral of a dear family friend who lost her life after a courageous 6 month battle with pancreatic cancer. Funerals are never easy and we are emotionally drained. However, we did get a chance to celebrate Linda's life with many loved ones. Jake's mom delivered a beautiful euology at the funeral that made us laugh and cry. Please remember to live each day fully, and always remember, "at least you made a memory." (Linda's words)
Before leaving for Atlantic, Jake and I whipped up a meal with random stuff in the refrigerator.

We ended up with tomatoes, kale, mushrooms, and green onions over whole wheat spaghetti. I sauteed the kale in olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes before adding the tomatoes, mushrooms, and green onions. Pretty darn good!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hump Day

Happy Hump Day, All!!! The weather has warmed up in Iowa (30's!!). My body is feeling amazing. My wonderful husband had a gift waiting for me when I got home (a post to come on that!!!!). And, supper was quick, satisfying, and tasty. Veggie burgers with hummus, spinach, and tomatoes. A fresh spinach salad with red peppers, mushrooms, zuchini, and feta cheese.

Just look at the yummy hummus.
Love me some salad.

The Obama Kitchen

During my morning musings on New York Times I came across an article about a woman, Alice Waters, who is at the forefront of a campaign to urge the Obamas to "set an example for the nation on culinary issues like the naming of a White House chef and growing organic vegetables in the White House garden. "

I find Ms. Walter's campaign to be intriguing and worthwhile. So many people look up to the Obamas and they can set a great example for millions of people whose diets are poor. Afterall, 34% of Americans are considered to be obese and 32.7% are considered overweight!

I am convinced that everybody, regardless of their economic status, can eat healthy. It's going to take education and what a better place to start educating than the White House?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Veggie Curry

I have been craving a curry like CrAzY lately. So, I made it! I threw cauliflower, green beans, carrots, red peppers, and chick peas into my saute pan. Seasoned them with curry powder, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper. Covered and steamed for 10 minutes. Added about 1.5 cups of plain yogurt to the pan, mixed it up and served over quinoa and sprinkled some cashews on top. My craving was satisfied in about 20 minutes. Perfect.
The inpsiration for this recipe came from Savvy Vegetarian, which is a great website.

While eating this meal I came to realize that chick peas are quickly becoming one my new favorite foods. I just love their nutty, earthy taste. It doesn't hurt that they are really good for you too!



Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Supper and a Few Other Notes

I had a very active weekend and I'm preparing for a very busy week. In prepartion for the week I prepared one of Jake and I's favorite comfort foods, French Onion Soup. I slow cooked it so our house smelled of delicious carmelized onions for most of the afternoon. Today I added a bit of bbq sauce, brown sugar, and a tablespoon of flour to thicken it up a bit. I was pleased with the results. Instead of swiss cheese I topped it off with freshly shaven parmesan.

On Thursday night Jake and I made a really good stir-fry and I couldn't resist adding a pic of the delectable bowl. We used the vegetables I chopped last Sunday.It made cooking so easy when things were already chopped.

On Saturday I took a group of Club kids to the Des Moines Playhouse to see Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It was hands down the best theatre experience of my life. No joke. It was truly magical to see Willy Wonka come to life like that! I really do LOVE my job.

These kiddos and I go to all of the Children's Theatre performances during the year. Plus, we get to eat lunch with all the actors before the performance. How cool is that?!
I start classes back up tomorrow and I'm a bit anxious about it. The syllabus for the course I'm taking is 14 pages long!! That's right, 14 pages! I'm going to do Moon Salutations Yoga tonite in order to get rid of some of that anxiety.

Big day at the Club tomorrow. It's MLK DAY!!! and we have all sorts of fun stuff planned. I'll post some pics from the festivities. :-) With that, remember to get out and do something tomorrow. Keep the spirit of MLK alive.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I'm chillin' at home today because school/Club was cancelled due to the VERY cold temperatures (-25, -45 degree wind chill!) Arlo and I have been relaxing. I had a boiled egg, sprouted grain bread with peanut butter, and a cup of red tea for breakfast. Then I did 20 minutes of yoga, took a bath, and read. For lunch I worked with what I had in the refrigerator. I ended up making a salad with spinach, red and green bell peppers, green beans, yellow squash, zuchini, tomatoes, onions, lentils, and feta cheese. I drizzed olive oil and basalmic vinegar on top, and seasoned with some salt and pepper. IT.WAS.GOOD.

Happy and Healthy Eating!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

White Bean, Kale, and Chorizo Soup

All I can say is OMG! This soup was soooo freaking good. The flavor, the texture, the smell, all of them wonderful. Just look at all the goods stewing togehter below. The starch from the potatoes thickened the soup just enough to make a hearty bowl of soup for a VERY COLD night in Des Moines, Iowa.
A simple recipe will assure this soup will be a keeper in your recipe box ( I know it's a keeper in mine). I adapted the soup from a Sara Moutlon recipe. The changes I made to the recipe are indicated in red.
White Bean, Kale, and Chorizo Soup:

1/2 pound dried white beans, such as Great Northern, rinsed and picked over - I used two cans of Northern White Beans so I didn't have to soak dried beans
8 1/2 cups chicken stock, (preferably homemade) -I used 5 cups
1 bay leaf, preferably Turkish
Kosher salt
Pinch saffron threads - didn't use
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 Spanish chorizo sausages, about 3/4 pound, cut into 1/2-inch dice -- I used organic chicken chorizo to reduce the fat in the recipe--really good!
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large red bell pepper, finely diced
2 medium potatoes, cut potato chip style
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 small bunch kale, about 3/4 pound, tough stems removed, washed well, and coarsely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Sherry vinegar, to taste -didn't use
Cayenne Peper

-Place the beans in a large pot or soup kettle. Pour in 8 cups of the stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add the bay leaf and a pinch of salt. Cook, partially covered, stirring often and adjusting the heat to keep it at a slow steady simmer, until the beans are tender, about 2 hours. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
-Soak the saffron in the remaining 1/2 cup chicken stock.
-Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate. Add the onion; reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the red pepper and the paprika,cumin, and cayenne pepper. Cook for 2 minutes longer, then transfer the contents of the skillet to the bean pot. Stir in the saffron with the soaking liquid, the chorizo, potatoes, and the kale. Bring back to a simmer and cook just until the kale is wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the vinegar, and serve hot in warmed soup bowls.

Dinner was enjoyed with a tasy bottle of Warsteiner Dunkel.


I've become inspired to eat more oatmeal thanks to a great new blog my friend Chelsey reccomended. Kath Eats Real Food is a fantastic website full of great healthy foods prepared by Kath (who is going to school to become a RD). Kath is also an oatmeal fanatic; she makes all sorts of delicious looking oatmeals and her blog was even featured in an article on that talked about National Oatmeal Month (yes, it's National Oatmeal Month-get out the horns and celebrate!)
One thing that makes Kath's oatmeal look so good is all the yummy stuff she adds to the steaming bowls of healthy heart goodness. This morning I made up my own bowl of yumminess. I started with quick oats and flax seed. I added bananas, a teaspoon of peanut butter, and some chopped pecans to the oatmeal. WOW! It was so good and so filling.

I will call this little creation Banana Nut Oats.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Veggie Spaghetti

After a looooonnnngggg day at work I wasn't in the mood to cook anything too complex, so I settled for spaghetti with lots of veggies and fresh shaved parmesan cheese. Thankfully I chopped veggies yesterday, so I didn't have to do any chopping tonight. YAY for easy!

I served my homemade sauce over the Barilla Plus Thin Spaghetti; the stuff is really yummy and good for you.

I love Muir Glen's Organic Crushed Tomatoes with Basil for the base of my sauce. In my opinion, Muir Glen's tomatoes have the best flavor of all canned tomatoes.

Spaghetti Sauce with Veggies
1 can crushed tomatoes
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
A few good glugs olive oil
1/4 cup chicken broth or water
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Fresh thyme
Your choice of veggies ( I used zuchini, red bell peppers, and green bell peppers)

- Saute garlic in olive oil until light browned. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, cayenne pepper, thyme, and veggies to the pot. Simmer for 20 minutes to 1 hour.

I CANNOT wait for tomorrow night's dinner!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Salmon and Green Beans

Tonight's dinner was simple and delicious; salmon with a simple asian glaze, sauteed green beans with garlic and soy sauce, and a baked potato.
Salmon with Asian Glaze:
16 oz. salmon filet
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Wisk together soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, and brown sugar. Glaze salmon filet with mixture; marinate 1-2 hours. After salmon has marinated, heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake salmon for 10-12 minutes or until it's flakey.
Sauteed Green Beans with Garlic and Soy Sauce:
Fresh green beans, snapped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
vegetable oil
Place green beans in a stock pot and boil for 20 minutes; drain. Heat vegetable oil in saute pan; add green beans, garlic, and soy sauce. Saute for 2-3 minutes.

Weekly Lunch Prep

My grocery shopping trip was fun today. It felt good to go with a meal plan and buy all sorts of whole foods for the week to come. After returning from the store I put in a Beatles CD, turned up the stereo, and prepped for this week's lunches. I started by making a basic hummus.
Yum: Olive oil and lemons.

2 tablespoons Tahini
1 can Chick Peas
2 large cloves garlic, sliced
Juice of half lemon
Approximately 2 tablespoons olive oil
Cayenne Pepper
Place tahini, chick peas, garlic, lemon, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper into food processor. Begin to blend together while drizzling in olive oil. Blend until smooth consistencey. It might be necessary to add a bit more olive oil or a little bit of water to reach your desired consistencey.
After making the hummus I chopped all sorts of colorful and bright veggies. Don't you just love the colors of vegetables? This weeks veggie selections: Carrots, yellow squash, zuchini, red pepper, green pepper, and celery.
All packaged up for easy packing in the morning.

Let us not forget the nutritional value of these SUPERfoods!

Tahini (made from sesame seeds)



Cayenne Pepper


Yellow Squash



Bell Pepper

Lunch with Little

Jake and I are planning on doing our grocery shopping this evening so we didn't have much left in the refrigerator or pantry to cook up a lunch. Luckily, I always keep several bags of frzoen veggies in my freezer; I found a bag of stir-fry vegetables (broccoli, red pepper, carrots, onions, and mushrooms) and decided that was going to be the base of today's lunch. I also had a jar of Patak's Korma Curry (this is not a healthy sauce, so don't pile on too much) and some lentils. PERFECT! Lunch was stir-fry veggies with korma curry served over lentils. Delicious and healthy!

I boiled 1 1/2 cups of lentils for 20 minutes. In the meantime I sauteed the veggies and added the Korma Curry. I added the yummy veggie mixture over the lentils.

This meal is really healthy and provides quite a few SUPERfoods: Lentils, broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, red peppers, and onions.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I <3 Kale

"The beautiful leaves of the kale plant provide an earthy flavor and more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost any other food around."
"Although there are over 100 different glucosinolates in plants, only 10-15 are present in kale and other Brassicas. Yet these 10-15 glucosinolates appear able to lessen the occurrence of a wide variety of cancers, including breast and ovarian cancers. "
SOURCE -- check out all of the benefits of Kale here.
I threw in a cup of kale leaves to my leftover spicy Thai noodles and tofu. The earthy taste of the kale blended well with the Thai spices.


Heidi at has some amazing recipes for kale that can be found here.

This is also a great link to kale recipes.

Eat your kale, people! It does your body good!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lunchtime Made Healthy

Since starting the SUPER food diet I've been taking my own lunch to work. One of my favorite SUPER food lunches is the Green Giant Health Blends. The Health Blends come in portion controlled steam packages that you throw into the microwave for 3 minutes, and voila you have perfectly steamed vegetables for lunch. One steam package can fill me up if I pair it with cottage cheese and a fruit. At $1.89 per package, it won't break your bank either.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Lentil Soup and Mushroom, Onion, and Muenster Cheese Sandwiches

This meal was packed full of SUPER foods and really, really, really good. The Lentil Soup recipe came from I made cery few changes to the recipe and I was quite satisfied by the final results; a steaming bowl of soup with lots of lentils, kale, fire roasted tomatoes, and mushrooms. I added a bit of red pepper powder and cuming to spice it up a little bit.
The sandwich idea came from CuisineNie. (thanks to LJ for introducing me to such a fabulous blog).
I'm attempting to provide nutritional information for all of the SUPER foods listed on my website. From this point on, each SUPER food will be a clickable link that will take you to a nutrition fact page. Here's to happy and healthy eating!
Lentil Soup:
2 cups lentils, rinsed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
3 cups of a big leafy green (chard, kale, etc), rinsed well, deveined, finely chopped
-Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan, add the lentils, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.
-Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat, then add the onion and salt and saute until tender, a couple minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, lentils, and water and continue cooking for a few more minutes, letting the soup come back up to a simmer. Stir in the chopped greens, and wait another minute. Serve with plain yogurt.
Mushroom, Onion, and Muenster Cheese Sandwiches:
1 onion, sliced
1 package baby bella mushrooms, sliced
4 slices muenster cheese
Spinach leaves
4 slices whole wheat bread
-Saute onions and mushrooms in olive oil. Toast bread. Place cheese, onion and mushroom mixture, and spinach on toasted bread.

Morning Starter

As part of my SUPER food diet I have stopped easting my bagels and traded them in for something a little more nutritious (I still sneak a bagel every once in a while!). I've really been digging my breakfasts of fat free vanilla yogurt (SUPER food), granola, and blueberries (SUPER, SUPER food). I simply mix the granola and blueberries (frozen) in with my yogurt and I have a delightful breakfast that energizes and revitalizes me. Drink with a cup of green or black tea (both SUPER foods) and you have one SUPER breakfast. YUM.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Who doesn't love fajitas? We made these the other night and we pretty much ate all of 'em up! I put a lot of onions in my fajitas because I love onions. This is another great SUPER FOOD recipe when paired with a yummy bowl of black bean (SUPER FOOD) soup.
1 lb. chicken, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced - SUPER FOOD
1 red pepper, sliced -- SUPER FOOD
1 medium onion, sliced
Chili Powder
Salt and Pepper
-Season chicken and vegetables with a mixture of the above spices. Saute peppers and onions in oil until soft; remove from pan and place in bowl. Saute chicken until throughly cooked; add to vegetables and mix.
-Warm tortillas up and place fajita mixture in warm tortillas. Serve with tomatoes (SUPER FOOD), cilantro, and sour cream.