December 4, 2011

Souperhero Soup

I am sure I have told you this before but I LOVE soups and stews in the winter. It is so hard to go wrong when making them and they tend to freeze and keep well.

I am naming this soup the Souperhero Soup because of some the the power veggies that are packed into it. Let's highlight some of those veggies and why you should eat more of them today...

Leeks- Leeks belong to the allium vegetable family and contain a lot of the health benefits that other members such as onions and garlic do. They are high (over 20% daily value) in vitamin K, Vitamin A and manganese. They also contain a significant amount of other nutrients such as vitamin c, b6, folate and iron. Leeks are very well known for their support of our cardiovascular system, which is why we heart them.

Lentils- Lentils are in the legumes family along with beans and contain some similar health benefits. Many  people do find lentils easier on the digestive system and they have even been shown to have a very positive effect on digestive issues such as IBS. They are PACKED with nutrients including high (over 20% daily need) of molybdenum, folate, dietary fiber, tryptophan, manganese, iron, protein, phosphorus, copper, vitamin b1 AND potassium. That was a mouthful. Lentils help to lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels after a meal. Research has shown that a diet rich in legumes such as lentils shows a whopping 82% reduction in risk of death from heart disease. I am not a calorie counter. I prefer to select my food based on nutrient value over calorie restriction, but if you were curious about the calorie cost of all this nutrition? Just 230 calories for a whole cup of cooked lentils. This tiny nutritional giant fills you up--not out.

Kale- Somebody once described kale to me as the vegetable that helps you age in reverse. I think they knew what they were talking about. Kale is known for its antioxidant value in the body and has 1,327% of your daily need of vitamin K!!! As if that were not enough is also contains 354% vitamin A and 88% vitamin C. I guess we can forget about chicken soup when we are feeling sick. It contains a laundry list of other nutrients including some that might surprise you such as calcium, protein and omega 3 fatty acids. I know, I know pick your jaw up off the floor, you CAN get those nutrients from foods other that meat, fish and dairy. Don't get me started on that....

Enough of the lecture, lets cook.

Souperhero Soup
Makes about 8 servings

Since its now dark here by 4pm, my picture quality is taking a big hit... 

1 large Leek, white part only, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 - 2 cups of lentils
4 cups veggie broth
4 cups water
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 can (14.5oz) diced toms
5 cups torn kale leaves, no stems
1/2 cup of pesto sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add leek and garlic and saute about 5 mins or until leek is tender.
2. Add lentils, broth, water and rosemary. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. 
2. Add kale and continue to simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Add tomatoes and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until lentils and kale are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Serve with a dollop of the pesto. 

My taste judge Thor really enjoyed this soup, especially with a big dollop of the pesto mixed in. This recipe freezes well also so I stashed a container of it in the freezer to pull out in a couple of weeks when life gets crazy with the holidays.

December 2, 2011

Knitting Meltdown

I have been knitting for a little over two years now. It has been a gradual learning curve but I really enjoy the process of knitting. It forces me to slow down and really focus my mind in a creative manner, that is likely very under produced in the physically driven body of a personal trainer. I love the feel of the yarns, the different colours and stitch patterns, and of course, I love finishing a project and wearing it around town.

 I recently joined a Stitch & B*!*?h knitting group at a local yarn store and have LOVED getting to know other knitters, sip wine and chat away while we each work on our own projects. Maybe partially due to the confidence inspired by this group of co-knitters or maybe due to the beautiful cable scarf that I just got off my needles, I have been feeling less like a newby lately and ready to tackle some more complex projects. I wanted to try my first garment!

I found this beautiful shrug designed by Lion Brand Yarns. The name of the Shrug is 'EASY Lace Shrug'. So really, how hard could it be??

I was inspired. I was confident. I had a plan. I headed off to my knitting group with the pattern and picture in hand and a list of questions to ask the more experienced knitters. I understood all the stitches in the pattern. With a little patience and focus, what could possibly go wrong?

They assured my that I could handle this. I selected some beautiful jewel ruby yarn to knit with and I was off to knitting my gauge swatch. (I had never even knitted a gauge before because I selected items that it was unimportant, so I was feeling super proud!)

Prepare yourself for the dramatic turning point in my story....

After knitting a few inches in my shell lace pattern. I handed the swatch over to a more experienced knitter to get her opinion on if I had enough to determine my gauge.

She studied my knitting for a while then said "Let me just watch you knit a few rows."

I knew that this couldn't be good, but I had not yet grasped the depth of the situation. So, away I knitted with my experienced guide looking over my shoulder.

"Well," she started after a couple of rows were complete. "You are knitting in the 'Eastern European' style"

"I'm knitting in the what? Are you making that up?"

"No no, you're doing OK, there is no wrong way to knit" (so sweet of her to say, but really a little too kind) "you are just twisting every stitch that you knit, so your knitting is a little tighter and compressed."

What she was telling my in her very sweet and encouraging way, is that I do not know how to knit. I have been doing every single stitch incorrectly. I could literally feel any knitting ego I had built over the last two years come crashing down around me.

I poured a glass of wine and ate some chocolate.

I took a deep breath.

"OK, can you show me how I should do a knit stitch?"

November 29, 2011

Few favs

Just a quick post today,,, wanted to catch you up on three of my favourite things right now.

1. My little brothers cooking video on his blog. Just trust me on this ..... it is so worth two minutes of your life. Scroll to the bottom on the page and watch his video on making fruit kabobs. Just do it.

2. Vegan Lentil Walnut Loaf- If you are vegan you will never go without at another holiday meal.... in fact some of the meat eaters may steal bites of your loaf!

3. Nog for the dairy free!!!! Celebrations are in order...this stuff is soo yummy I have developed a horrible habit of having some in my coffee every morning. I don't know what I am going to do when the holidays are over....

Speaking of the holidays.... am I the only slacker who has done nothing in preparation so far?? Might have to at least get the Christmas songs onto my ipod today...

November 20, 2011

Vegan Pumpkin Mac n' Cheese

From Arizona to snowy Spokane! It is official - the first snow storm of the season made its way to the inland northwest. It really does help set the mood for some hot chocolate and Christmas music though!

Not bad for the first storm of the year! It has now warm warmed up, so we are living in a sloppy mess until the next round of the white stuff. 

Who doesn't love to snuggle up to watch TV movies and eat warm gooey comfort food when snow is falling outside? Last night Mac N' Cheese was calling my name. If you have not yet figured it out I am a big fan of Angie over at Oh She Glows and this recipe is based on her Pumpkin Mac N' Cheese.

 Vegan Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheeze 


Whole Wheat Pasta
1 cup baby spinach
1 tbsp Earth Balance (or other non-dairy butter replacer)
3/4 cup milk (I love coconut)
1 tbsp arrowroot powder (flour will do the trick too)
1/4 tsp garlic salt
6 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 cup canned pumpkin
Kosher  & black pepper, to taste (I used 1/2 tsp salt)

1. Cook pasta according to package directions
2. Melt Earth balance in a pot over low-medium heat.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together milk, arrowroot powder and garlic salt until clumps are gone. Add into pot and whisk.
3. Stir in nutritional yeast and pepper.  Whisk over low heat until thickened (only takes about 5 minutes).
4. Add in 1 cup of canned pumpkin and stir until combined and heated through.Your amazing cheeze sauce is complete!
5. When pasta is done stir fresh spinach into the water with the pasta for just a few seconds to allow spinach to wilt. Drain your pasta and spinach, return to saucepan and mix in cheeze sauce.Sprinkle on Cinnamon to taste.
6 Snuggle under a blanket and enjoy!

November 15, 2011

There is an Arizona!

Well, it has been so long it almost feels as if I am writing my first ever blog post. I am so very sorry to the small number of people that may actually look forward to new posts from me. promise I have not abandoned this project, just a little hiatus I suppose. So much has happened since we chatted last but instead of boring you with a long laundry list, I will just spend this post on our most recent trip to Phoenix, Arizona!

The first snow fall has officially arrived in Spokane, so an escape to a warmer climate was very welcomed. We were thoroughly enjoying the temps in the low 70's, while locals were bundling up in sweaters.

BBQ "Chicken" Sandwich. Vegan comfort food at Green, an all vegan restaurant in Tempe. One of my favourite things about traveling is discovering the array of veggie options in other cities.

Oh yes, we were those tourists! While locals bundled up, we rocked the convertible... it is what makes a work trip for Thor in to a bit more of a vacation.

Squinting in the sun! We attended "Fall Ball", minor league baseball.

Some of Thors newest fantasy baseball players.... what a dork!!! hehe

Feeling pretty cool!
On Saturday we drove up to Sedona, somehow I managed to snag the keys from Thor...

The red rocks of Sedona... Amazing!

Thor was not sure if he was impressed or terrified at my ability to take pictures, drink coffee and drive all at the same time. Women just multi-task better I guess...

More beautiful shots....

and more....


and more...

and more....

and more..

and more..... these pictures really make me want a high quality camera one day....

Sunset in Sedona. The cloudy day parted to give us the most spectacular sunset!

I am so grateful that I occasional get to tag along on these weekend work trips with Thor. Every place I travel I am so amazed b the beauty that surrounds us. Just another reminder at the spectacular gift that our world is.

Now it is back to reality in Spokane... the holiday season approaching quickly and TWO snow "storms" are headed our way. I think it is time to head to the kitchen for some warm vegan comfort food....

October 7, 2011

Whole Wheat Vegan Pumpkin Muffins

Happy October! It is officially pumpkin month! Yay! I have had a little bit of a thing for pumpkins lately. I am sure you saw the pumpkin butter I cooked up not too long ago, and since then I have made pumpkin muffins and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Between all the pumpkin and all the carrots I am eating with Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, my vitamin A stores are abundant! I really do need to reign in this recent obsession with baking and move to some more savory items though..... but for today...

These muffins are whole wheat, vegan, reduced sugar and butter free. However, they taste truly decadent! Would be a great thing to bake up as a special treat with coffee on thanksgiving morning....

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins
makes 6 large or a dozen medium

1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup stevia (can use all brown sugar)
1 TBS Baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger (I used fresh but dried would be fine)
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 cup pumpkin puree (I used canned)
1/2 cup milk (I used coconut)
1/2 cup veg oil
2 TBS molasses

1. Preheat oven to 400. Grease muffin tins, I like to use coconut oil, but the spray is groovy too!
2. Fluff together dry ingredients with a fork (flour to cloves).
3. In a separate bowl, mix together wet ingredients (pumpkin to molasses).
4. Combine wet and dry and pour mixture into muffin pan. Sprinkle tops with a little brown sugar.
5. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Try to eat just one... I dare you....

September 22, 2011

Pumpkin Butter and Whole Wheat Pancakes

Fall is in the air! Kind of.... it is supposed to hit 90 this weekend in the inland northwest. 90 degrees in late September! Well, I am going to just enjoy this because I know all too well that before I know it, it will be 9 degrees!

The warm weather does nothing to affect my desire for those harvest time foods though. Cinnamon, pumpkin, apples, peaches, ginger...bring it on!!

This past weekend I decided to try to make some pumpkin butter...wowzers! It is as addicting as crack but has a healthy dose of vitamin A for good measure. Great served with oatmeal, on toast or pancakes or even on chocolate chip cookies. Also, makes a great little harvest time gift when packaged in a mason jar with a ribbon (extra points if you also print out the recipe and create a little tag with it for your jar).

Pumpkin Butter

1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin puree, approx. 3 1/2 cups or fresh
3/4 cup apple juice unsweetened
1.5 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup brown sugar or replacer
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Juice of half a lemon

1. Combine all ingredients, except lemon juice, in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for 30 minutes stirring regularly.
2. Remove from heat and adjust spices to taste (extra Cinnamon is never a bad thing). Stir in lemon juice. Allow to cool completely and store in airtight containers in fridge.
3. Leave your house, take a few deep breaths and then come back into your house and enjoy the Autumn aroma that you just created in your kitchen. (This step is optional but highly recommended...)

Sunday morning at my house! Whole wheat pancakes topped with pumpkin butter and coffee. Bliss. While you are here, let me just share that pancake recipe...

Whole Wheat Protein Pancakes

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
 pinch sea salt
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 Tbs  Hemp Protein Powder -or other protein powder (optional)
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or milk of your choice)

1. In a medium bowl mix together dry ingredients. Add coconut milk and mix until batter is smooth.
2. Pour batter onto frying pan or skillet over medium heat. Don't think about touching them until you see little bubble start to rise in the batter. Flip your pancakes and cook until golden brown.

I hope that you are enjoying the fall season. It is a wonderful time of year to gather with friends and family and cook up good healthy food.

Let me know what you are going to put this pumpkin butter on....

September 12, 2011

Fresh Peach Pie

Another great late summer weekend comes to an end. At least there is peach pie in my fridge to help me through the start of the week!

But first I must share with you my great dollar store find!!! Check out the great little serving dishes for dips, salsa, nuts etc... As you can see I photographed my hummus in one of them the other day. I am a little in love with them...and they were a dollar!!!!!

Moving on....

One of the best things about living in Eastern Washington is that we have lots of farming and harvest time around here is just bliss! I have clients who bring me home grown eggplants, cherries, zucchini, pears, tomatoes, corn, is possibly one of the most exciting things!! Last week I had a client bring me a big box of peaches.

Me: "Thor, would you like me to make peach salsa or peach pie?"
Thor: "Well, peach pie" with an inflection of "duh" in his tone

First thing is first.. we need to peel and slice those peaches. I recommend that you play Diana Krall's "Peel me a grape" as you do this. There is a line in the song about skinning a peach and saving the fuzz for her pillow. So much easier than you would think!

For a pie you will need 8-10 peaches

Score the peach. This will give you a place to peel from.

Set peaches in boiling water for about 45 seconds.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer peaches to an ice bath for about 1 minute.

The skin should peel of nice an easily. After making my roasted red peppers the day before I was starting to feel like a peeling pro....

Voila! Skinned peaches!!

To slice a peach - cut vertically into the center so you knife runs along the pit. Make a second slice parallel to the first and you peach slices should come right out!

I have a thing for taking pictures of things that could be really aggravating jigsaw puzzles.

You are now ready to assemble your pie!

8-10 fresh peaches, sliced
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour (all purpose would be fine - I only keep WW at home)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup splenda (or white sugar)
1/4 butter or earth balance
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp arrowroot powder
1 pkg unroll and go pastry crust*
1 oz coconut milk (any milk is fine)

*You can so make your own pastry crust, but this crust is just to darn easy and good for me to turn down. Not particularly healthy though.....

1. Mix flour, sugar, butter, arrowroot and cinnamon into a crumb mixture.

2. Place a pie crust on the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan.

3. Line shell with sliced peaches, sprinkle on crumb mixture and then more peaches. continue to layer until all is used up or you pie pan is overflowing.

3. Top with lattice strips of pie crust*. Brush on a little milk and sprinkle crust with brown sugar and cinnamon. You may want to cover you edges with foil for the first portion of cooking to avoid burning.

4. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes and then 350 for 30 minutes (you can remove foil edge covers at this temp). At the end of this time, turn off the oven but leave the pie in for about an hour.

*If you are not sure how to create the lattice strips do not fear - embrace the power of technology and check out this video!

My ready for alien invasion pie! Nah, just a little crust burn prevention!

So excited to serve you some pie!! If this photo looks like I left the pie in a cooling oven while I went on a run, then came home and took a shower and then quickly tousled my wet hair to take picture of myself and the pie with the camera timer, while Thor was sat on the couch watching baseball and laughing at me - well that's exactly what happened!
Thor stopped laughing and started eating when I handed him this plate. :)

Social Section!

Just wanted to share a couple of pics from the Marquee Zumba party!

And my fav Zumba instructor..... EVI!

September 11, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Last week I posted a question to my facebook friends. I told them I had a little social gathering to attend this weekend and if they thought I should bring my cold pasta salad or a roasted red pepper hummus. As I am sure you have intelligently detected the hummus won!

I must admit - I like hummus but I don't LOVE it. It is one of those things that when it is in front of me I will eat it and enjoy it but if its in the fridge then I might forget its there until a month or so later and find it a bit moldy (not that that's ever happened....).  So how do I feel about this particular hummus?Well lets say that I have eaten it with carrots, pita bread, with a spoon and even put it on my toast this morning for breakfast. I don't think the hummus is going to be around to see another day, let alone a month.

First off huge shout out to Angie at Oh She Glows for sharing her hummus recipe!

The trickiest part of this hummus (and it is so much easier than it looks) is roasting the red bell peppers. I started with 3 large peppers. 

1. Core and seed your bell peppers- then cut in half. Using your hand squish them on to the counter so they flatten out a bit.

2. Place you bell peppers on a tin foil covered cookie sheet/baking pan. Broil on high for about 20 minutes. 

3. Keep checking the peppers- you want the skins to look nice and black like this. Don't freak out -they are not burnt!!!!

4. Seal the peppers up in the tin foil for another 15-20 minutes and let them take a nice little sauna in there. (While you are waiting you can prepare the rest of your hummus ingredients)

5. Peel off the skins of the peppers - easy peasy!

6. Dice up the peppers! 

Your now ready to whiz up that hummus!!


2 garlic cloves
1 can garbanzo beans, 2 tbsp liquid reserved and set aside
3/4 cup roasted red peppers
1/4 cup tahini
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
2 Tbsp reserved chickpea liquid (or water)
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste 
1 tsp sea salt, or to taste
 Paprika- for garnish

1. Put everything in a food processor except cayenne, salt and paprika. Process until smooth.
2. Add salt and cayenne to taste.
3. Serve- garnished with chopped roasted red peppers and paprika.

This counts as lunch right??