Paella Primavera

20 Apr

I’ve had this recipe on  my Pinterest board for quite some time.  I am SO glad I finally tried it!!!  Look at all of the goodness that goes inside of it!

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The recipe came from Vegetarian Times.  I normally change recipes, but really kept pretty close to the original on this one.  It was a big hit!  The kids are excited for me to make it again and let them pick which veggies I use.  I think they both want broccoli, peas, and asparagus next time.  Dani loved the olives.  But I can serve those on the side for her to put on herself.  Anyway, this came together really quickly, once everything is chopped.   Here is the recipe:

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. crumbled saffron threads (If you don’t have this, try some turmeric or any other seasonings you feel like!)
  • 1 cup short-grain white rice
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen baby peas
  • 1 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 12 pitted green olives, halved
  • 12 pitted black olives, halved, optional
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • Take liberties with this recipe and just use whatever veggies you love!!

1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add bell pepper and green onions; cook 5 minutes. Stir in broth, garlic, and saffron; bring to a boil. Sprinkle rice over ingredients, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, 10 minutes.

2. Sprinkle broccoli, peas, tomatoes, and olives over rice. Cover, and cook paella 8 minutes, or until rice is tender. Remove from heat, and let rest, covered, 5 minutes. Season 
with salt and pepper.

3. Serve and garnish each with lemon wedges.

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Homemade Lara Bars and an Update.

18 Feb

Ah, Lupus.  I have months of feeling well and then bam!  Sores in my nose, face breaking out, joint pain, insomnia, weight gain, mental confusion, and on and on…

I have had this theory that the reason I wasn’t flaring was because of the diet, combined with my proactive sleeping.  Even when I didn’t feel like I was going to die, I was taking lots of naps and staying in bed often. But then I way overdid myself a few weeks ago.  I tried to test my theory, I guess (not really, I just happened to have a lot going on).  Looks like I proved it correct!  This time, at least.  It isn’t easy because the inner me is still super active!  I forget that person is gone.

Lesson learned.  Ready for this flare to end.  It has already subsided a little.  But I still have all of those symptoms.  And am super exhausted.

Now, on to a recipe!
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We have a good number of grocery staples that just go in the cart every time we go to HEB.  Almond milk, OJ, gf bread, fruits and veggies, refried beans, and Lara bars.  No matter what, we almost always need more of those things.

A friend made me some home made Lara bars a few months ago.  I loved them and kept meaning to make them myself.

Finally, I did.  And BOY am I glad!  Homemade are just way, way better!  We all like boxed  Lara bars except Reid.  He will eat them, if he is asked.  But they are not his favorite.  However, he LOVED these!  I think it is the Mexican vanilla, the right amount of salt, and the tiny chocolate chips that makes these super.

So before you grab a box at the store next time, grab some nuts and dates and give these a go!  And if you are looking for a great breakfast or snack item, look no further.  Just tell your kids you made chocolate chip cookie dough bars!

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Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Lara Bars

  • 3 cups of nuts: I’ve done half cashews, have walnuts and all walnuts.  But you can also do peanuts or anything else.  Play with the combo.  Just stick with raw nuts and not salted and roasted.
  • 2 cups of packed dates
  • 1 tsp of water (or more, if needed)
  • 2 tsps of a good Mexican vanilla (NOT artificial vanilla flavoring, if possible)
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup mini dark chocolate chips
  • My latest version also had 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes and 1/4 cup chopped dried cherries. PLAY WITH YOUR ADD INS!  You can do raisins, flax seeds, dried blueberries, cinnamon chips, anything!

Grind the nuts and salt in a food processor for a 3-5 seconds.  Add the dates and grind away for about 15 more seconds.  Pinch your mixture.  Does it fall apart?  If yes, then turn your processor back on and add in a teaspoon of water.  Repeat, if needed.  Now, add the 2 tsps of vanilla.  It should have formed one giant clump of goodness.  Now dump that into a bowl and add in your dark chocolate chips.  Stir the mixture until everything is well combined.

Lay parchment paper or a Silpat on your cookie sheet and using slightly wet hands, press the mixture into a big rectangle, leaving space on the sides.  I used the margins of the Silpat as my guide in this pic, but the next time around, I made the rectangle smaller and cut them into thicker bars.  Do whatever floats your boat.  THIS PART IS OPTIONAL, but will make transferring easier. I did the last few batches without this step and prob won’t do it in the future: Stick the cookie sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes.  Then pull it out, cut, and wrap in plastic wrap.  From here, throw all of those wrapped bars in your freezer and Voila!  Breakfast/snacks are finished!

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A few notes….play with this recipe.  Mix up the nuts and the add-ins.  In my perfect world, I would have done dark chocolate mini chips with chopped dried tart cherries.  But alas, this was for the family, not just me.  Also, add cocoa powder for a chocolatey punch.  You can’t mess this one up!  Also, GO BUY A SILPAT IF YOU DON’T HAVE ONE!!  We easily use ours anywhere from 2 – 10 times per week.  Roasting veggies, baking anything, and then using them for things like this.  Well worth the $20!  Then you don’t have to wash the pan!  Just the liner.

An Indian Recipe and Our Meal Plan for the Week.

27 Jan

Chana masala.  Chickpea curry.  Indian yum.

Call it whatever you like, but this is a super yummy meal that won’t leave you looking for the meat.

I love, love Aart Sequeira.  I have learned all about Indian foods because of her.  This is her recipe, just modified a bit.

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Coriander and Cumin seeds toasting away, developing those fabulous flavors.

WARNING:  Before you make this, take a trip to an International Market.  Or shop on Amazon.  But the spices are probably not all sitting in your cabinet.  So plan ahead.  The good news is that once you buy the spices, you can make this recipe over and over and over.  And none of them are expensive.

This dish is tomato-ey and deep in flavors, with a lime finish.  You get to control the heat, so spice it up, if you like.  And don’t let the word “curry” dissuade you from making this.  There is no curry powder used.  Curry just means it is a blend of spices.  And that blend can have a ton of different combos.  So don’t assume you don’t like curry…you have probably just tried the wrong one!

I totally forgot to take a picture of the finished product, served over rice.  For now, this will have to do.

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 Chana Masala (Chickpea Curry)

  • 4 tsps cumin seeds, divided in half
  • 1 T coriander seeds
  • 1 T amchur (this is a powder made of dried green mangoes….get it at International or Indian markets)
  • 2 tsps paprika
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (add more if you like it spicy!)
  • 2 tsps coconut oil, or water
  • 1 red onion, diced finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsps grated ginger
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, diced (or 2 cups)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 1/2 of a lime, juiced

-In a skillet over medium-high heat, toast coriander seeds and half of the cumin seeds until fragrant, slightly darker and faintly smoking.  Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly, then grind in a spice grinder (I use a coffee grinder…but don’t ever go back to grinding coffee unless you want it to taste like Indian food next time you grind coffee!) until it is fine.  Pour into a bowl with the remaining spices: amchur, paprika, garam masala, cayenne pepper.

-Set a large skillet over medium-high heat, and warm oil or water.  Add the remaining cumin seeds.  They should sizzle as they hit the oil.  Let them cook 30seconds, darkening slightly, then add the onions.  Season with a little Kosher salt and saute’ until starting to brown (about 15 minutes).  If the onions start to stick or the brown bits develop and start to burn, sprinkle with a little water and rub the brown bits with your spoon.

-Add garlic and ginger, saute’ 30 seconds.

-Add the spice mixture and saute’ for 30 seconds.  Add the tomatoes, some Kosher salt, and cook until the tomatoes deepen in color and a course ragu type sauce forms, about 5 minutes.

-Add chickpeas, cooking a minute or so.

– Stir in water, then gently simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.  Add the lime juice.  Taste for seasoning.  This is SO important!!!  You will need to add salt and pepper.  Cover and let the flavors marry for at least 10 minutes.  Serve over brown Basmati rice.  Enjoy!

Meal plan for the week:

  • Sunday: Roasted new potatoes and Brussels sprouts, strawberries
  • Monday: Vegan lasagna (Someday I will blog this recipe that I keep working to perfect) and green salad
  • Tuesday: Black bean burgers and broccoli slaw (probably our favorite vegan meal…make it!)
  • Wednesday: Baked potatoes and fruit
  • Thursday: Leftover lasagna or black bean burgers
  • Friday: Grilled cheese made with rice cheese.

What are you eating this week?

Something fishy is going on here….. (and a meal plan)

20 Jan

Yes, it is.  Right now, on a very seldom basis.  But it is.

Now that I have gone a year and a half remaining pretty strict, it is time I start seeing where the line is.  Do I need to be ALL VEGAN ALL THE TIME?  Or can I have some animal here and there and remain in a healthy state?

A few things to clarify.  First off, I am only going to eat wild, fresh fish.  No farm raised. I only want to consume that which is not inflammatory to the body.  Secondly, it will be very rare at the beginning.

I hesitated to even bring it up on this blog bc a lot of you are trying plant based eating to  heal diseases, as well.  Please hear this:  I HAVE BEEN TOTALLY STRICT FOR A YEAR AND  A HALF.  This has allowed my body to heal an enormous amount.  I am now going to play around a little bit.  My sweet husband is charting everything.  I will continue to report back here so you know the results.  How fun would it be for me to be able to add some foods in occasionally?  Lets just hope that Lupus cooperates!

This week will still be a vegan week.  It isn’t a normal week….so I won’t be cooking much.  But it is good to have a plan no matter what your week looks like.  This will avoid the pitfalls of grabbing something unhealthy.  Have a healthy week!

  • Sunday- Reid is planning an outdoor meal and preparing it for  his Cubs Scouts badge.  He is cooking sausage (uncured, all natural) and making a fruit salad and serving it with grape tomatoes.  I will have roasted kale in place of sausage.
  • Mon- Roasted Vegetable quinoa salad, prepare by Gretchen
  • Tues- Leftover butternut squash risotto.  Made this as a family last night.  We all enjoyed it so much and I LOVE that the kids are finally coming around to eating things they didn’t before. Keep feeding your kids veggies, people!  It will happen!
  • Wed- Bean quesadillas.  Just good and simple and easy and cheap!
  • Thurs- Greek food out, possibly something else.  I just need something quick and easy this night.
  • Fri- A girlfriend is coming in town….so I am off the hook!  Kids and Luck will do something fun.

Your turn!  What are you eating this week?


Cooking Class THIS week!

13 Jan

Want to learn a few plant strong recipes?  Want a night out?  Like a nice glass of wine while you learn?  Well come join me!

  • Where? The Boerne Cooking Cottage
  • When? Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 6:30 pm
  • What? A plant based (and gluten free) cooking class taught by me!

Just  click HERE to join the fun!

Our menu will include chick pea curry over rice, butternut squash soup, some fresh juice, and a date and nut fruit pie.  There are still spaces left, so jump in on the fun now!

Wanna Bet? (and a meal plan)

13 Jan

Some honesty:  Thanksgiving, followed by Christmas, followed by New Years, followed by our anniversary = I have no more reasons to celebrate and splurge on eating for a while!

I am taking part in Nutritious Eats’ diet bet.  Click HERE to join.  Everyone who participates puts $25 in the pot.  You then have 28 days to lose 4% of your body weight.  If you do, you get to split the pot with everyone else who does!  Sounds fun, right?  Who can’t buckle down for 4 weeks?

I am excited about the challenge.  Honestly, I don’t care much about losing a certain number of lbs.  I am heavier than I was a year ago, but overall content.  I just want a month of being super focused on eating for HEALTH.  I’d like to focus on pulling back my appetite, kicking my sugar craving,  crowding out  my plate, and, well, having my pants fit a little bit more loosely!

YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO JOIN!!!!!  Please let me know if you do.  Or comment with your email address and I will send you an invitation.

Know how to eat healthfully, consistently?  MEAL PLAN!  Post what you will eat for the week.  You will stay accountable to it!  It helps with budgeting and with making good choices.  I will start posting my meal plans again.  I hate even doing this week’s because we have a really busy week that isn’t normal.  But here is what a busy plant based menu looks like!

  • Sunday: Vegan grilled cheese with carrots, tomatoes, and cuties
  • Monday: Chick pea curry (recipe coming soon!) over brown rice with roasted broccoli
  • Tuesday: We have a dinner meeting where I will be fed according to my diet. Wayside rocks!
  • Wednesday:  Baked potatoes (cheese on the families’, avocado on mine) and green salad with carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, and anything else I can find.
  • Thursday: I am teaching a cooking class, so my family will eat “eggs in the holes” with fruit.  (actually, they like “eggs in the squares!”)
  • Friday: Pizza Friday!

YOUR turn!  What are YOU eating this week?  Don’t be embarassed, shy, anything!  It can be full of meat or meat free.  Healthy or hearty!  Just put it out there.  We all get new ideas this way.  And link to a recipe if it is online!

Happy week!

Tips for a Healthy 2013!

1 Jan

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It is a new year!  A time for fresh resolutions and determined resolve.

Today, I started off with teaching Pilates and am now embarking on a fast.  Not sure how long I want this water fast to last.  Maybe just to sunset.  Maybe tomorrow.  Maybe a few days.  (can you hear my tummy growling from your house?)

My health goals: Get back to eating plant strong.  Not just vegan, but LOADS of plants.  Crowding out my plate.  I would also like to move further in Pilates and go through Reformer training.  Some day I would love to have my own Pilates studio and I would like to start working towards that.  I also want to make a concerted effort to get off of Prilosec. The last man standing in the meds.  It may be over the counter, but I still want off.

So what are your goals?  Want to join me in kicking off 2013 right?  You don’t need to fast.  Or eat plant based.  Or eat gluten free.  Or exercise like a maniac.  Here are my suggestions for getting healthy in 2013:

  • Drink a smoothie every morning.  Blend almond/coconut milk, frozen collard greens (or kale or mustard greens) with frozen berries, milled flax seeds, and a banana  (If you need it for flavor and sweetness.  I prefer without.)  Add some cinnamon and vanilla for flavor.   I believe that THIS IS THE CORNERSTONE OF MY HEALING.  Every morning, without excuse, I make this.  And I drink this.  And my body is saying thank you in SO many ways!  Read here for my GREAT START SHAKE recipe and here for a little tutorial!
  • Make a really healthy soup on the weekend and eat it as your lunch all week long.  That way, you aren’t pulled into snacking on your kids leftovers or something you really know you shouldn’t eat.  Include tons and tons of veggies in your soup!  Some ideas: vegetable rice soup, butternut squash soup, vegetarian pho, lentil soup, black bean soup, and so many more!!!  I will post more soup recipes, if you would like!
  • Aim for more and more meatless days every week.  Start out with 1 or 2.  You will soon see that you don’t need meat to be strong, have energy, or anything else that the world tries to sell you on.  I am LIVING PROOF, people!  Don’t know what to make?  Start here for tacos.  Then peruse my blog and many, many other recipes on the great www.  Why meatless you say?  Because more and more and more research every day shows that we consume way too much animal protein.  Animal is inflammatory to the body.  Our chickens and pigs and cows are not fed what they ought to be fed.  They are fed to make them fat for not a lot of money.  Do your research on this. I ate a healthy diet of lean, organic (when possible) protein with lots of fruits and veggies before.  I was SO SICK.  Off all of the animal, my body is healing itself without meds.  What argument is there that we NEED meat?  I am strong and still teach weight lifting classes!  Don’t buy into the “you need protein from animals” bit!!! 🙂
  • Watch Forks Over Knives and every other food documentary you can get your hands on.  Most are free on Netflix.
  • Eat a grapefruit at night instead of junk.  Why?  Nothing magical. It is just good and if you start, you will become as addicted as I once was and soon hope to be again.  You have to take your time and work for those little bites!  Oh, and get used to them without sugar.  Buy ruby red ones.  They help!  Then squeeze out the remaining juice and drink it straight from the bowl.  Heaven!
  • Get your hiney moving.  Join a gym, come to one of MY classes (!!), start walking your neighborhood, buy a treadmill.  Just get moving.  Write up your plan, put it on your fridge, tell your kids and spouse so that you have some accountability, and DO IT!
  • Meal plan!  I will resume posting my meal plans if YOU will join along!  I always think through it on the weekend and post it on Sunday.  You will eat so much healthier if you will just plan ahead.

So…please share!!!  What are YOUR goals for the year?  What would you like to see on this blog?  Please comment.  I see how many hits my blog gets and would LOVE more than anything for you to  say hi when you pop in.  🙂


Happy New Year!