July 27, 2011

Wellness Wednesday

How did all the smiling from last weeks Wellness Wednesday go? I hope everyone's cheeks got a great workout and that you all feel better for it! This week I want to focus on another simple and everyday thing that can make a huge difference to health and well being...


I know I know, you are thinking....breath? Well that's easy, I already do that all the time! BUT...do you breath correctly? Do you take long slow breaths, inhaling through the nose and allowing the air to fill the belly. Do you exhale fully and slowly before taking another in inhale?

As many of you know I have been practicing yoga for the last few years, with more of a focus on it the last 6 months and have even began teaching classes. One of the biggest lessons that I have taken from yoga is the importance of breathing. As babies, we all take these great deep breaths that fill out belly's. When we become adults and the weight of the world gets laid on our chest and shoulders, we begin to take these shallow, fast chest breaths. I even read a study the other day that talked about how if a person in a stressful situation can take 5 slow and deep breaths, they will lower their blood pressure and stress hormones, even if they are still in the stressful situation!

So here is my weekly challenge for you...anytime you find yourself feeling stressed or full of anxiety this week, give yourself a time out and take those 5 deep breaths. Notice the changes in your body as you do this...maybe your shoulders relax, maybe you loose the frown on your face, and maybe you mind becomes a little more clear to help problem solve. Let me know your experiences!!

Good luck!

July 25, 2011

Asian Peanut Noodle Bowl

It reached over 90 degrees in Spokane this weekend. Small beans compared to the heat wave that took over the eastern side of the US last week, but I was pretty excited to bask in the wonderful warmth of the sun.

SO what did I do this weekend? I went salsa dancing, nabbed some cherries from the farmers market, went on a bike ride, baked vegan banana chocolate chip cookies (recipe coming soon!), celebrated 5 years with my beau with some Thai food and a movie, did some driving and kayak/inflatable boat/ inner tube shopping ( no purchase..), then did purchase a kettle and fuzzy slippers and wore them to make avocado pesto pasta for dinner. I know... one of the hottest weekends of the year and I bake cookies and buy a kettle and slippers....I really don't have any explanation...

I have a slight obsession for Asian food. Currys, stir frys, coconuts, peanuts, rice, noodles... LOVE IT! So when I found this recipe on never home maker, I just had to try it!

Asian Peanut Noodle Bowl

For the sauce:
1/2 cup light coconut milk
3 tablespoons natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
5 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons agave
1 tablespoons grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 cloves of garlic, minced

For the salad:
1/2 package Asian noodles, cooked as per package directions
8 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes
6 cups Bok Choy
2 carrots, sliced
1 zucchini, cut into half moons
1 tablespoon dried cilantro (or 1/4 cup fresh)

1. Combine all sauce ingredients into a food processor or blender and process until smooth and creamy. You can always taste and adjust to your preferences!
2. Cook noodles according to package directions
3. Saute tofu in oil until lightly browned. Remove tofu and saute all vegetable until al dente
3. Stir tofu and half of sauce into vegetable and allow to simmer together for a few minutes.
5. Serve in a bowl, drizzly with extra sauce and sprinkle with red pepper flakes or sesame seeds.

Devour! And be really excited that there are leftovers for lunch tomorrow...And nag your sig other to eat more of the vegetables and not just the noodles...

July 22, 2011

Cheezy Hummus- Vegan and D'lish!

Dipping is just fun. Whether you are dipping into a pool, being dipped on the dance floor or dipping veggies - fun is the outcome!

This cheezy hummus will have you trying to find all sorts of different foods in your house to dip! I haven't tried it but I am certain it tastes GREAT in pitas and wraps too!

Cheezy Hummus

3/4 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2-3 garlic cloves, to taste
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup cooked chickpeas
2 tbsp Tahini
1-1.5 tsp kosher salt , or to taste
1/2 tsp- 1 tsp chili powder
Freshly Ground black pepper & your desired dried or fresh herbs
Water to thin out, if desired

In a food processor, process cashews until a fine crumble mixture is achieved. Add all other ingredients and process away until nice and smooth.

Serve with a sprinkling of olive oil and chili powder.

I am not technically vegan, but I would have to say that my diet is 90%+ vegan. I have done a lot of research into nutritional needs as a vegan and the only thing that seems to possibly be missing is B12.

B12 primarily comes from earth and dirt- it is in animal products since animals eat the grass and dirt and B12 therefor gets stored in their system. Since we put a focus on making sure we eat washed fruits and veggies- non-animal product eating humans can miss out on the B12.

I have found a few sources of B12 that I really love...

1) Seaweed- nori and dulce are a fav in my diet. I also like LOVE the multi-green Kombucha drink that contains algae and 20% of my daily B12 per serving!

2) Nutritional Yeast - this deactivated yeast has a creamy and cheesy flavor. It is a complete source of protein and contains multiple B vitamins including B12! Great in this hummus, sprinkled on popcorn or in making vegan "cheese" sauces.

The weekend is almost here! I am looking forward to sunshine, bike rides and some time celebrating a 5 year anniversary with my beau! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!!

July 20, 2011

Wellness Wednesday

Welcome to the first ever Wellness Wednesday! I hope you are as excited as I am. Each Wednesday I would like to focus on just one little thing that we can all do to improve our health, mentally and physically. Some things might be easier to practice and incorporate than others and that is OK. For week one, I wanted to pick something that would be as easy as possible, while having huge positive side effects in life.

:) Smile :)

A happy Samantha on Christmas morning with Grandma and Grandad

Just the simple act of smiling has many positive health side-effects:

1. We appear more attractive to others
2. Smiling actually changes our mood for the better
3. Smiling is contagious
4. Smiling relieves stress
5. Smiling boosts your immune system
6. Smiling lowers blood pressure
7. Smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers and serotonin
8. Smiling makes your appear successful
9. Smiling helps you look younger
10. Smiling helps you to stay positive

With the exception of huge life obstacles and depression, I truly believe that happiness is a choice. We all have 101 reasons to be moody, angry or sad, but if you want to find them, there are a million more reasons to be happy. The best part of smiling is that you don't have to actually feel happy to begin with, but if you smile, feeling happy will be a result, which leads to more smiling which leads to more happiness....is that not wonderful?!

My weekly challenge to myself and to you is to consciously smile at times when it might not come naturally. Make a goal each day to greet everyone you meet with a smile, spend time talking about funny memories with an old friend or play with a child (smiling comes so easily to children!). OK, lets practice... 1.....2.....3.... SMILE!

Good luck and let me know how all the smiling goes! :)

July 18, 2011

Another Summer Weekend...

I have been a bad blogger and I apologize!! I'm not ever sure how long it has been since my last post? I don't really have much time to get too wordy at the mo, but I did want to share some pictures from the weekend for those interested. After all, one of the first goals of this blog was too keep family and friends updated with pictures from my life, and then I have a special blog announcement!

This weekend Thor spent some time in California so I was left to my own devices. On Saturday, I went to green bluff in north Spokane for some strawberrie picking! I consumed a large number of these this weekend and froze the rest to make Berry Banana Soft Serve.

After strawberry picking I headed home to get ready for a little Cupcakes, Friends and Vino gathering.

Ready to Bake!!
The frosting was a little warm....

On Sunday I went on a beautiful 7.5 mile hike in Liberty Lake.
Lady Bug central! I have never seen anything like this!!

Climbing, climbing, climbing...

Sweaty girls!!!

The waterfall! I think it looks as if I was pasted into this picture!
Towards the end of the hike... interesting.... ;)

After the hike I was craving some fresh veggies so I made a Cheezy Hummus and served with fresh veggies... recipe coming soon!

My announcement.....

Starting this week I will be having Wellness Wednesdays as a regular feature on this blog. Every week I will cover a different topic on achieving better wellness, health and piece of mind in your life. It may be something that I feel fairly confident and rehearsed in, or something that I am struggling with and working through myself. Please stop by on Wednesday and let me know what you think! Also, I am open to topic ideas and suggestions!

July 7, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Mint Frosting

As a kid I hated mint and chocolate together... thank goodness tastes change! Not too long ago I made Peppermint Patties.... and now this yummy minty twist on a chocolate cupcake!

The best part of these is that I used my own home grown mint! YAY!!! After my last plant post I purchased 3 varieties of mint (I was going to purchase two, but it was buy 2 get one free!). So I now have Orange Mint, Spearmint, and Chocolate Mint growing in a container on my little patio.

The cake recipe I used this time is so simple and creates a nice light sponge, even when using whole wheat flour! My cupcakes are vegan but if you have eggs to use, they can be easily added. It is also sweetened with agave nectar and contains no white sugar and uses vegetable oil instead of butter. I know, I know I just made you a huge skeptic of how great these taste but PLEASE try them.... for me?!?!

¼ cup whole wheat flour*
¼ cup cacao powder*
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 servings egg replacer (or 3 eggs)
¼ cup canola oil (grape seed or other light flavored oils work too)
½ cup agave nectar

*My batter seemed a little runny so I did add a couple more tablespoons of flour and cacao until I got a nice cake batter consistency.

1.In a medium bowl, combine flour, cacao powder, salt and baking soda
2.In a large bowl, blend together eggs, oil and agave.
3.Blend dry ingredients into wet thoroughly
4.Line a cupcake tin with paper liners and fill 3/4 full.
5.Bake at 375° for 20-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Now the fun part... Chocolate Mint Frosting!
1/2 cup Agave
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 ripe Avocados
1 Cup Cacao
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp peppermint extract (or to taste)
In a food processor, combine all ingredients adjusting quantities to taste. If I was making this for Thor and I, I would omit the sugar and just sweeten with agave. Since I was taking this to a party I wanted the extra sweetness and the added firmness with confectioners sugar would add to the frosting.

July 6, 2011

Surfin' USA!

What a wonderful 4th of July weekend! Hiking, biking, movies, baking and PADDLE BOARDING!! I have wanted to try this new sport for a while now and was so excited when my friend said she was looking into it. For $40 we were able to rent paddle boards for 4 hours and they drop them off at the lake and pick them up for you when you are done!

It is fairly easy to catch on, particularly if you can get fairly stable water, but I did take one big fall! Just wanted to share some of the pictures with you today.

Our boards are ready and waiting!

Kneeling is a great way to start before you stand...

Standing and taking pictures... now that's talented!

When can we go again???

Next post.. Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Mint Frosting! (and they are vegan and whole wheat!)

July 2, 2011

Berry Banana Soft Serve

Time to celebrate...

SUMMER IS HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunshine, water, flowers, fresh fruits and veggies, tank tops. driving with the windows down... ahhhhh yes..

I am trying to take full advantage of a long 4th of July weekend and the first really nice weekend of summer. After work yesterday I met two of the best friends a girl could ask for, for a little hike and dine. Today I took a nice sole bike ride and chose a hilly and beautiful route on the palouse south of Spokane. The ride includes a 2 mile long killer hill!! I rode out to this beautiful white chapel and cemetery. I learned a couple of lessons on my bike ride.... take more than 1 bottle of water and one GU packet when heading out in 80+ weather for 2-3 hours and wear sunscreen unless you want crazy biker gear tan lines....
Tomorrow the a fore mentioned ladies and I are going Stand Up Paddle Boarding. I am so excited!!

Berry Banana Soft Serve!

As indulgent as this looks and tastes you can make yourself a double serving without the guilt! It is all fruit with a drop of coconut milk!

For this treat just combine a frozen banana and about 1/2 cup of mixed frozen berries in a food processor. Let it run with just a drop of coconut milk, adding more as necessary.