New Obsession: MixMyOwn Muesli

Did you eat breakfast daily as a kid?

My brother and I sat at the table and eat cereal every morning throughout my childhood. Usually it was something “healthy”, (are Frosted Flakes considered healthy? 😛 ), but every so often we’d get treated to Lucky Charms or Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Unfortunately, Cookie Crisp never found its way into our pantry. Thanks a LOT, Mom!

When I hit high school and started taking a 7am zero period sophomore year (which I then continued, in addition to a full course schedule, through senior year…seriously, who was I?!), breakfast took the back burner. As anyone in my family can tell you, it takes a lot to get me out of bed in the morning, and I usually prefer to set the alarm as late as humanly possible, then rush out the door. I need my maximum possible amount of sleep!

As you can imagine, the no-breakfast habit continued into college for the most part. My meal plan included 14 meals per week, which allowed for lunch and dinner every day. Sometimes I’d treat myself to breakfast at the dining commons and grab lunch at a cafe on campus, but I by no means ate breakfast regularly.

In France, my breakfasts were usually a coffee and chocolate covered gaufre (waffle) from the vending machine at the university that I snacked on during class. (Oh my god, I miss those!) When I lived in an apartment senior year, my breakfast usually consisted of some kind of chocolatey Pop Tart, or a Luna bar.

Long story short: I had a very unhealthy relationship with breakfast for a long time 😉 Suddenly, I no longer wonder how I weighed nearly 20 pounds more than I do now just 3 years ago when I graduated!

When I moved home after college, to deal with being unemployed and bored, I got myself into a little routine: I started each day with a small breakfast and a workout, followed by a bigger breakfast/lunch. I forced myself to like bananas, because they were the easiest pre-work out breakfast option.

Nearly 3 years later, I can’t remember the last time I didn’t eat breakfast. During the colder months, I eat a lot of oatmeal. During the summertime, I usually have Greek yogurt and some kind of granola bar. This summer’s obsession was toast + Laughing Cow wedges. But when I went to Blend Retreat back in May, I tried overnight oats for the first time made with muesli…and I was hooked. It was basically like cold oatmeal, but tasted soooo much better than that sounds 🙂

In the middle of my recent toast and Laughing Cow breakfast kick, I was contacted by Klara from MixMyOwn Healthy Breakfast, who offered me a free sample of their product. Fresh out of muesli (thus the reason for the toast and Laughing Cow kick!), I jumped at the opportunity. MixMyOwn has a few muesli mixes they create themselves, but the coolest thing about the site is that you can create your own cereal/granola/muesli! And what really appealed to me was that they use all natural ingredients:

By offering nearly 100 responsibly chosen ingredients, including a variety of 100%
natural, unprocessed, organic, non-GMO, preservative free and sugar-free options,
MixMyOwn provides an alternative to processed cereals and snacks.

DSC_0834

So I went to work and Mixed My Own personal muesli…and it was amazing!

DSC_0831

I had no idea where to start…just check out all these options:

“A customer can choose from 31 types of dried fruits including 13 types of freeze-dried fruits, 20 types of nuts and seeds, and other healthy ingredients to add to the bases.

MixMyOwn offers 8 premixed breakfasts, as well, including: Kids Mix, Fitness Mix, Gluten-free Mix, Antioxidant Mix, Tutty Nutty, Very Berry, Strawberry Almond Mix, and Classic Mix, and even these can be adjusted to suit the customer’s unique needs”

I knew I wanted to make my own, rather than going for a premix. So I decided to go for a tropical theme! In addition to oats and various grains, I added: flaked coconut, dried mango, dried papaya, chia seeds, macadamia nuts, and because I still had a little bit of extra $ left, I splurged on a vanilla bean.

DSC_0827

Oh my gawwwd. SO good. I love the variety of textures, and you could tell that all the ingredients were high quality. I’m glad I went with the coconut (even though I’m not a huge fan)… I have always disliked shredded coconut, but I’m now sold on flaked coconut!

I also love that they include the nutrition stats for your mix:

DSC_0832

Look how low in sugar it is! Just 2.5g! I mix about one serving/half a cup of muesli with a cup of almond milk and a few more chia seeds, store it in the fridge overnight, and VOILA! Amazing breakfast.

20130917-162611.jpg

I definitely recommend trying out MixMyOwn! Especially if you’re picky about your oats 🙂

PLUS from now until the end of September you can get 20% off your order with the code HEALTHYBREAKFAST. Perfect timing, since I’m about to run out of my mix!

As I mentioned, I received my MixMyOwn mix free of charge…However, all opinions are my own!

What’s your go-to breakfast?

If you eat oatmeal/overnight oats, what’s your favorite combo of ingredients?

Meatless Monday: Vegan “Caprese” Pizza

If you follow me on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook you probably saw this picture on Friday:

instagram

I went to the store after work intending to buy white wine and avocados (standard Katie-Essentials) and somehow 2 bottles of kombucha and a tray of tofu found their way into my basket (um, not so standard Katie-Essentials). Most normal people, when strolling through the grocery store, will pick up “impulse purchases” like chocolate….cookies…chips…

Me? I’ve apparently gotten to a level of healthy blogger status that my impulse purchases are tofu and kombucha. Really…who am I?!

As far as the kombucha goes, I’m trying to incorporate more non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated beverages into my diet. I realized when filling out that Healthy Living Survey on Friday that the only drinks I consume on a regular basis are water, tea, wine & beer. Whenever I sit down to read blogs or watch my TV shows in the evening, I often pour myself a glass of wine out of boredom more than anything else. Apparently, I can’t just sit and watch tv – I need to be sipping on something! I figure kombucha is a healthy alternative, since I don’t drink soda or juice.

The tofu though…I can’t really explain. I guess I was just buying it as an experiment and a challenge, since I’ve never cooked with it before. I also might have been inspired by Becky’s BBQ Tofu Pizza. 🙂

I am actually often not a fan of tofu. I used to actually pick out the slimy pieces of tofu in my miso soup as a kid, the slippery texture really freaked me out. However, I’ve challenged myself to figure out a way to cook it in a way that I like, and I’ve discovered it’s actually really easy!

My first trial involved the stove and I tried sauteing it in a stir fry – not so great.

DSC_0634

My second try was a success, and made its home on this pizza. I decided to let tofu stand in for the more traditional mozzarella cheese and call this baby a caprese pizza! It does have all the other traditional ingredients – giant tomatoes from my boss’s garden, and a kick of basil in the [cheeseless] pesto. I drizzled a little balsamic on top and voila! Vegan pizza.

DSC_0635

Baking the tofu in the oven gives it a nice crispy exterior and an all-around firm texture. Plus, it’s a perfect meal for one that will be ready in less than 30 minutes. Winner winner chicken tofu dinner?

Vegan “Caprese” Pizza
serves 1
inspired by Becky’s BBQ Tofu Pizza

1 whole wheat tortilla or pita
2-4 tablespoons vegan pesto (I whipped one up that did not include cheese)
2-3 slices tomato (about 1/4-1/2 inch thick)
5 oz extra firm tofu, cubed (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Begin by preparing your tofu – preheat oven to 375F and grease a baking sheet. Place tofu on baking sheet (if you’d like to roast the tomatoes, you can add them too) and bake for 20 minutes, flipping all the pieces once halfway through.

Meanwhile, prepare your pesto (if making yourself) and the balsamic drizzle. Heat balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and boil for about 5-10 minutes, until it becomes syrupy and reduces in size by almost half. Remove from heat and set aside until needed.

Place tortilla in oven for last few minutes of baking the tofu. Remove the tortilla and tofu (slash tomato) and start assembling: spread pesto on the tortilla, and top with tomatoes and tofu. Drizzle with balsamic glaze. Cut into slices and eat like a pizza, or just dig in!

Have you ever cooked with tofu?

Peel’d Juice Cleanse Day 3 + Recap

Hello from foggy San Francisco!

20130705-172803.jpg

I finally escaped the wicked heat of Sacramento and escaped to the permanently chilly City by the Bay for a quick day and a half. I hope you all had a safe 4th of July- mine involved BBQing in the park with my friend Meghan and her law school friends, then reminiscing over drinks with my old college roomies, Tyler and So-Ky, later in the evening. This may be the first year ever that my 4th did not include some kind of fireworks! We couldn’t see any from downtown when we were having drinks, and its illegal to light off your own in SF. Regardless, it was a good time and a much needed escape. Spending time with college friends and re-telling the same old stories over and over from the glory years is always a great pick me up 🙂

20130705-172908.jpg

Now I’m back in Sac and here to finish off my chronicle of the Peel’d Juice Cleanse!

Day 3

Since I had trouble falling asleep on Tuesday night, I wasn’t as well rested, but I woke up with a flat stomach again on Wednesday. Since I was at my parent’s place where they have a reliable scale, I also realized I had dropped a couple of pounds from my normal weight (last time I weighed myself on my gym’s *inaccurate* scale, I was 2 pounds above my normal weight midday, but I’m not sure what I was on Day 1 of this cleanse). This is a little worrisome since I have been trying to maintain weight and not lose any, but at the time I figured the weight loss probably wouldn’t be permanent.

Breakfast (9:30 am)

Smoothie (celery, oranges, pineapple, ginger, almond milk, protein powder)
Also ate: A banana and handful of nuts

The verdict: Kind of a weird smoothie, I was definitely chewing my way through it with the celery. Still tasted OK though!

How I felt: I have a bit of a headache that morning, probably because of lack of sleep. In general I’m not feeling extremely different than usual.

Lunch (1:30 pm)

20130705-173216.jpg

Bittersweet Cranberry (Cranberry, celery, green apple, oranges)
Also ate: Half a bell pepper, remainder of my summer squash, cherry tomatoes & cilantro sauteed in coconut oil with salt & pepper. And of course…more nuts 🙂

The verdict: I could have sworn this juice was grapefruit! I loved it.

How I felt: I started getting really hungry around 4:30pm, so I had my dinner juice early. I was feeling really weak, and like I wanted to just give up and have a normal dinner. I think realizing that I had possibly lost 4 pounds made me feel like I was depriving myself a little bit too much.

Dinner (6:30pm)

Green Goblin juice
Also ate: Went out to dinner and had a salad with roasted red peppers, olives, marinated onions….and chicken & feta. Oops 🙂

The verdict: same green juice from the first 2 days.

How I felt: I decided to just go for it and not omit the cheese and meat from my salad. I was feeling pretty weak and started second guessing my choice to do a cleanse. And guess what? I didn’t feel awful afterwards. It was still a pretty clean meal.

Post-Cleanse Thoughts

So I think the Peel’d cleanse is great. I like that you can eat any fruits or veggies you want, because I think everyone should eat more veggies 🙂 I think its an excellent quick fix if you’ve been having tummy problems or want to realign your diet and adopt some good habits. I would have probably benefited more from the 5-day cleanse than I did from the 3-day cleanse because frankly this was pretty close to my normal diet, just gluten free (I don’t eat meat or dairy more than a couple of times per week)…so I didn’t see a huge difference after 3 days. I base a lot of my meals around veggies as it is. But the added nutrients from the juices did help me feel healthy! Who needs a multivitamin when you’re getting so much good stuff in the form of juice?!

But to be completely honest, I don’t think I was in the right place to be doing a cleanse this week. For me, the cleanse ended up being my regular diet minus 1/3 the calories, maybe even half. Long story short, I’m currently going through a breakup and I started to realize that the cleanse was kind of becoming a justification for eating less, and though I don’t think I can say I was starving myself, I was definitely not in a healthy place emotionally. Being depressed messes with my appetite as it is. Let’s say I’m already a dramatic emotional mess and likely to not eat as much, then you give me a diet plan where all I eat are low calorie fruits and veggies….you’re pretty much asking for trouble. This is part of the reason I broke the dietary restrictions on Wednesday: I recognized that what I was doing might not have been my healthiest choice.

So that’s that. For anyone in the Sacramento area looking to learn more about Peel’d, check out their website. I actually think if you’re going to do any juice cleanse, doing one like theirs is probably your best bet! Any juice cleanse where the #1 rule is to not starve yourself is a good thing in my book. They also sell their juices every Saturday at the Midtown Farmer’s Market! I actually really liked all of the juices I had on the cleanse. Perhaps the purchase of a juicer is in my future 😉

Hope you all had a great 4th of July! Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Peel’d Juice Cleanse – Days 1 and 2

After hearing good things and seeing Peel’d at the Farmers Market selling their juices every weekend, I decided to jump on the bandwagon and do the Peel’d juice cleanse. Peel’d creates fresh juices every morning that they deliver not only to people wanting to detox, but also to people who “simply want to supplement their current lifestyle and diet with nutrient rich juices”. Something that I like about Peel’d’s detox program is that, in addition to the allotted smoothie and 2 juices per day, you are allowed to eat as many fruits and vegetables as you want (raw or cooked). It isn’t an all-liquid diet, like many cleanses are.

In fact, the first rule of the Peel’d cleanse is: “DO NOT GO HUNGRY. This process isn’t about depriving yourself, but feeding yourself large amounts of foods that will nourish, support and heal you.”

Foods not allowed on the detox are:

  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Refined Sugar
  • Soy
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Beans
  • Nuts (large amounts)

Peel’d also recommends snacking on olives, avocados, and small amounts of nuts as a snack.

No hangry Katie? I definitely like that approach. Normally, the Peel’d program lasts 5 days: Monday through Friday. I was unsure about jumping into the 5-day plan, since it seems kind of drastic, especially for someone who likes to exercise throughout the week and needs a lot of protein as a result. When I saw that they were offering a special 3-Day Independence Day program for $66, I decided to go for it.

Included was:

3 smoothies and 6 fresh juices
Daily menus
An intro email with a meal plan, including snacks and awesome soup/salad ideas for dinner

For an extra $10, I could have also gotten the juices delivered to my apartment each morning. However, I opted to just pick them up on the way to work.

Before the Cleanse/Why I Did It:

You’re supposed to cut out caffeine and alcohol before the cleanse to “prepare”, and I can say I cut out caffeine, but alcohol…certainly not. I had at least 2 beers a day Wednesday-Sunday (plus more on Thursday and Sunday because of dodgeball and kickball), and some pretty non-clean food, thanks to a summer BBQ, froyo with the roomie, and some post-kickball chicken fingers. As a result, I didn’t fall asleep until 4:30am on Saturday night and was up for an hour at 3am Sunday night feeling hot, bloated, and nauseous. Of course, there are many factors playing into that, including but not limited to: 105+ degree weather, increased beer consumption, and some emotional stress I’m going through right now. That being said, I felt like a cleanse was probably a good idea, especially if I have more fun on the horizon with the 4th of July coming up.

I recently read in Women’s Health that cleaning up your diet for several days before a vacation or expected period of unhealthy choices will set your body on the right path and prepare it for that period of time. It seemed like a fun experiment, and the shortened 3 day length didn’t seem too intense.

Day 1

20130703-110258.jpg

Breakfast (9:15 am)

{Though some of the guidelines suggest splitting up the smoothie, I decided to have the whole smoothie with breakfast, since I’m used to having a large breakfast.}

20130703-110144.jpg

Strawberry Smoothie (Spinach, Strawberry, Banana, vegetable protein powder, Almond Milk)
Also ate: white nectarine…and about 3-4 glasses of water throughout the morning.

The verdict: Delicious! Tasted a lot like my own strawberry & banana smoothie. I didn’t even realize there was protein powder in it until I read the daily menu e-mail Peel’d sends out.

How I felt: The smoothie was filling enough that I didn’t feel the need to raid the breakroom jar of mixed nuts every 30 minutes like I usually do. I did start to get a bit of a headache, which could be attributed to several factors (didn’t sleep well, no caffeinated tea in the morning, been crying a lot lately)…My stomach started grumbling around 12:30, so I grabbed a couple of walnuts and left for lunch at 1 instead of my usual 1:30 or 2.

Lunch (1:30pm)

20130703-110153.jpg 20130703-110218.jpg

Blueberry Juice (Celery, blueberry, green apple, lemon)
Also ate: Zucchini, pattypan squash, & green bell pepper stir-fried in coconut oil with s&p.. and a handful of nuts. A couple more cups of water.

The verdict: WHEW, now I know why Becky doesn’t like juice with celery in it. Luckily, the tart lemon + green apple kept this juice pretty tasty.

How I felt: I went home for my small stir-fry lunch and had the juice after I came back, thinking it would delay hunger for a while. It worked! My headache definitely dulled a bit, but stuck around.

Dinner (6:30-7pm)

20130703-110224.jpg

Green Goblin Juice (Kale, cucumber, celery, lemon, lime, apple, ginger)
Also ate: cauliflower, green beans & peas steamed with garlic & ginger. I was satisfied, but decided I probably should also have a salad. Made one with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and half an avocado with simple balsamic vinaigrette (balsamic, garlic, dijon, and olive oil). Had another glass of water and dandelion tea.

The verdict: Pretty good for a green juice! I’d had it before at the farmers market, so no surprises there.

How I felt: I had the juice right when I got home around 5:45 so that I wouldn’t be starving while I made dinner. After and during eating, I was so surprised I wasn’t more ravenous. I think I was right to fix up a salad even though I wasn’t hungry for it, because I probably would have gotten snacky later if I hadn’t.

Day 2

I fell asleep early (at 11:30pm) and woke up naturally around 7:30am, 10 minutes before my alarm went off. Amazing. I also woke up with a flat stomach – something that hasn’t happened in weeks! A welcome reprieve from the bloating I’ve experienced lately.

20130703-110232.jpg

got too excited biking on Tuesday and a bunch of the smoothie & orange juice spilled 😦

Breakfast (9:15 am)

20130703-110239.jpg

Green Smoothie (Cucumber, kiwi, mango, almond milk, veggie protein powder)
Also ate: half an avocado and a handful of nuts…and about 2-3 glasses of water throughout the morning.

The verdict: I was leery because it smelled like celery (apparently that was cucumber!), but there was an awesome vanilla flavor from the protein powder that made this green smoothie delightful!

How I felt: I got hungry much quicker after this morning’s smoothie (probably because I spilled part of it on my bike ride and had part of an avocado instead of the more filling nectarine), but after a handful of nuts, I easily made it to 1pm again. No headache today!

Lunch (1:30pm)

20130703-110246.jpg

Green Goblin Juice
Also ate: Summer & pattypan squash, green bell pepper, & cherry tomatoes stir-fried in coconut oil with s&p and fresh basil. Another handful of nuts (Starting to fear I’m having too many, but it’s the only acceptable snack in our office!) and another glass or 2 of water.

The verdict: Already had this juice 🙂 It was definitely more lemon-y today which I loved!

How I felt: A little bit of dry mouth…maybe this 5th day of 100+ heat is finally catching up with me.

Dinner (Juice at 5:30pm, Dinner at 7:30pm)

20130703-110254.jpg

Orange Juice (Pineapple, yams, lemon, green apples)
Also ate: My mom made Pasta with Giardiniera Sauce and I had a bowl of the sauce (basically, a ton of veggies). Also some broccoli, a banana, and salad (chard, mushroom, carrots, olives, fennel, and a simple vinaigrette of apple cider vin + dijon + olive oil).

The verdict: This was the best juice yet!! It mostly tasted like pineapple.

How I felt: Great most of the evening! If I ever felt snacky I just grabbed a glass of water or some olives. I started feeling nauseous around bedtime, I’m not really sure what that was about. Possibly the heat again…

Sooo that’s it for days 1 and 2!

I’m already 1/3 done with my last day, but I figured I’d break it up little bit since this is already a really long post.

So far, I feel good on this detox but not OMG AMAZING. I think that’s partly because I’m not doing the full 5-day cleanse, and partly because I already eat pretty healthily…Unfortunately, I’m noticing that my appetite is already pretty low because of the aforementioned heat and emotional stress, so I’m predicting the biggest results I’ll get from this experience are a flatter stomach and a couple of pounds lost…which I’m not really looking for. But I do feel better than I did this weekend!

Stay tuned for more!

Have you tried a juice cleanse or a detox program before? How did you like it?

Enjoy your 4th of July! What are your plans? I’m heading to San Francisco to escape the heat 🙂

Meatless Monday: Lemon-Basil Breakfast Hash

Told you guys I had a Meatless Monday post waiting for ya!

DSC_0543

And it involves mini peppers and mini potatoes…because mini is always cuter, right?

Despite the fact that I just called this dish cute, it’s actually a pretty hearty meal. Potatoes are pretty filling, but since they’re so starchy and carby, they’re not the kind of filling that will sustain you for many hours. That’s where the other components come in to save the day!

DSC_0544

I got really into beets this spring since my dad was growing them and they always looked so pretty at the Farmer’s Market. They stain everything, but I love their earthy taste and they are so pretty! Sweet mini bell peppers and onions add crunch, and pinto beans give this hash some bulk.

DSC_0547

Finish it all off with some fresh basil and a squeeze of lemon and you have yourself a perfectly light and refreshing, yet filling, summer breakfast! Or if you’re like me, you don’t really wake up until 10 or 11 on the weekend and there becomes a thin line between breakfast and lunch 🙂

I am proud to report that the basil plant I bought at the grocery store about a month ago is still alive and kickin’! However, we are currently on Day 3 of an 8 day streak of triple digit heat. 104, 107, and 106 degrees on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday…and it’s only getting hotter. So who knows if the plant will last much longer.

This quick 1-skillet dish would be great for a hot day like today (108 degrees!), but I’ve chosen instead to do the 3 Day Peel’d Juice Cleanse. I learned about it from my friend Sarah who did their traditional 5-day cleanse last month (Hi Sarah!). Consuming only juice for 3 days isn’t exactly my cup o’ tea…However, in addition to the allotted 2 juices and 1 smoothie per day, Peel’d allows you to eat as many fruits and veggies as you want: “This process isn’t about depriving yourself, but feeding yourself large amounts of foods that will nourish, support and heal you.” Olives, avocados, and nuts are also listed as ideal “snacks”…win!

I will definitely be writing a recap later in the week, but until then, I’ll just leave this here…and dream about potatoes:

DSC_0549

Lemon-Basil Breakfast Hash
serves 1

2 mini potatoes
1/2 small onion (about 1/2 cup)
2 mini red or orange bell peppers
1/2 medium-sized beet, cooked (I roast mine in a foil packet in the oven at 400F for about 45 minutes)
1/4-1/2 cup pinto beans, drained and rinsed
3-4 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
juice of one lemon
salt & pepper
oil, as needed for cooking

Cut everything into similarly-sized pieces. Heat your choice of oil over medium heat in a saute pan. Add onions, stirring to coat. Let them sweat for about a minute before adding the potatoes. Again, stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper, and let cook for about 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mix in bell peppers and beets and cook for another 5 minutes. Add desired amount of pinto beans and lemon juice, and cook until heated through. Remove from heat, mix in basil leaves, garnish with lemon wedge (add more lemon if you’d like) and enjoy!

Meatless Monday: Chickpea & Red Pepper Veggie Burgers

Last summer, I was obsessed with 1) grilling vegetables and 2) veggie burgers.

It’s not quite time to break out the grill just yet – as long as it’s still cool enough in my apartment to use the oven without getting heat stroke, I will take my veggies roasted, thank you! But last week after seeing veggie burgers on both Ashley and Jessica’s blogs, I started getting a craving for them.

Last summer I tried a few different chickpea patties: one that was curry flavored, and a pesto variety. None were quite burgers though…maybe small patties, or fritters. I’ve always had trouble getting them to stay together any time I tried to make a patty bigger than a mini slider. My best ever attempt is my spicy black bean burgers, which happens to be one of the most viewed recipes on my blog.

When I got a craving for veggie burgers last week, the only legumes I had on hand were chickpeas. Inspired by the red pepper present in both Ashley and Jessica’s recipes, I was determined to make it work!

DSC_0379

Last summer, I didn’t have a food processor when I made my chickpea patties. This may have been the missing link!

The result was extremely flavorful, and the texture I got from adding crunchy red pepper and chewy brown rice was awesome. For the most part, the burgers stayed together, but they had their crumbly moments. It’s definitely easier to eat them with a fork, but if you’re really opposed to that, a bun will work nicely too 😉

DSC_0383

Next time I make them, I may try an egg as a binder instead of my usual tahini to see if that works better. But this time? I have no complaints!

DSC_0387

DSC_0388

No bun? No problem!

DSC_0391

Chickpea & Red Pepper Veggie Burgers
makes 4 burgers

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed {if you aren’t using a food processor, you may want to peel the beans as well if you have time!}
1/4 cup onion, diced {about 1/2 of a small onion}
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup cooked brown rice
1/4 cup quick oats {many people blend oats into flour for veggie burgers; quick oats aren’t full flakes but aren’t as powdery as oat flour}
2 tbsp tahini
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chile powder
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
salt & pepper
about 1 tbsp oil, for frying

IF USING FOOD PROCESSOR:

Chop onion, bell pepper, and garlic into smaller pieces and put in the food processor. Pulse until everything is finely diced. Add about half of the garbanzo beans and pulse to combine. Once broken down a bit, add the rest of the beans and continue to pulse. You do not want this to turn into hummus, just pulse until most of the beans have been broken into pieces. See photo above. Then follow remaining instructions below.

IF NO FOOD PROCESSOR:

Dice onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Add to a medium-sized bowl. Add half of beans to the bowl and mash with a potato masher or (my favorite) a soup ladle. Add remaining beans and use a fork to combine everything, lightly smushing the beans together as you do.

NEXT STEPS:

Add remaining ingredients (rice through salt & pepper) and mix gently with a fork. Mix until ingredients are evenly distributed throughout. Gather about 1/2-3/4 cup of the mixture and shape into a patty, being sure to mold the outside edges so that it’s all compact and will stay together.

Heat 1/2 tbsp oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add first two burgers. Cook for 4 minutes on each side. For best results, keep saute pan covered while they cook. Repeat with remaining burgers. Serve with or without a bun, crumbled onto a salad, or however you please!

Notes: Patties reheat best in the microwave, but in a pan or the oven may work as well. Try and let me know how it goes!

Strawberry Banana Oat Smoothie

Normally, I have pretty humdrum breakfasts. I have never been a big breakfast person…I pretty much eat it out of necessity, habit, and because I would probably just eat 10 handfuls of mixed nuts between the time I arrive and lunch (instead of the normal 5 handfuls) if I didn’t have breakfast to satiate me.

I am a big fan of my Greek Yogurt + Fiber One bar breakfasts, but those aren’t exciting…

Smoothies are exciting!

20130225-163311.jpg

may i please draw your attention to my pj pants and fuzzy socks. thank you and goodnight.

And needed, when you’re feeling a nasty cold coming on and have a huge week of work facing you.

Tonight is my office’s reception – catering, name tags, state senators and assemblymembers, $500 worth of wine, the works. I’ve planned receptions like this before, but never on this scale.

20130225-163320.jpg

This smoothie was supposed to be my saving grace on Monday. I made it in a last ditch effort to ward off a lingering cold. I’d heard of putting oats in smoothies before, but I was a little leery of the idea of chewing my smoothie. So I soaked the oats in milk overnight, added them in the morning, and slurped away.

20130225-163339.jpg

The verdict? I got sick anyway. But the oats were good. Definitely good.

And you can never go wrong with strawberry & banana! Frozen banana blends up into a dreamy ice-creamy consistency.

I had been looking for a smoothie that had some staying power, and the oats definitely made this smoothie satiating enough to hold me over till lunch. Problem solved! Breakfast conquered.

Strawberry-Banana Oat Smoothie
makes 1 smoothie

1/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
3/4-1 cup almond milk, divided
1 frozen banana
5 strawberries, frozen or fresh

Combine 1/4 cup oats and 1/2 cup milk in a small container. Place in fridge overnight (or for at least an hour) if you’re planning on making the smoothie in the morning.

When ready to prepare the smoothie, add oats + milk, frozen banana (cut into chunks, if you wanna make it easier on your blender), and 5 strawberries into your blender or a food processor. Give it a whirl, adding milk as needed to get everything going. Blend until smooth.

Meatless Monday: Spaghetti Squash

I am FINALLY sharing with you all my recipe for spaghetti squash! I’ve only showed you pictures of me making it one two three times, I guess it’s time I post my recipe.

The thing is, this isn’t a recipe as much as it is a method. Spaghetti squash is super versatile. Once you roast it and get it out of the shell, you can do anything with it that you’d do with regular ol’ spaghetti. Sometimes, I just toss it with olive oil and fresh herbs. Usually, though, I whip up a batch of tomato sauce (I use canned tomatoes during these colder months) to serve on top. And to ensure that my carb and meat lovin’ boyfriend is satiated, we’ll usually toss some meatballs, garlic bread, and/or salad into the mix as well.

table2

This weekend, turkey meatballs and Alexia frozen garlic bread were invited to the party!

So, it doesn’t taste like spaghetti. Let’s get that out of the way right now. The texture is a little different and it definitely tastes more like a vegetable than a grain. But it is still an affordable and healthy alternative to its pasta counterpart, and it is super easy to make! Plus, it pretty much adopts the taste of whatever sauce you serve it with, so you’ll hardly notice you’re eating veggies 😉

Here’s how you do it:

Spaghetti Squash
serves 2-4, depending on size of squash and what you serve with it

1 medium/large spaghetti squash
olive oil
pasta sauce of choice

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Using a very sharp knife, carefully cut the stem off of the squash. If you’re having a really hard time with it, poke a few holes throughout the squash and microwave it for 30-45 seconds before trying again.
    cut2
    cut1
  3. Place the squash on the end you just cut off so that it’s stable. Again being extremely careful, cut it in half length wise.
  4. Scoop the insides from the squash.
    cut5 scoop
  5. Spray the cut side with a little bit of olive oil, and place skin side down on a baking sheet into the oven. Let it roast for at least 30 minutes, 40 minutes maximum. You want strands to pull away with very little effort when the squash is scraped with a fork.
  6. Remove and let cool before going at it with two forks. No right or wrong way to do this- just go at it until you get every last bit of squash out of the shell.
    scrape2scrape
  7. That’s it! Serve hot with olive oil and fresh herbs, or topped with your favorite pasta sauce. I’m even looking forward to trying this in a mac n’ cheese type dish…the possibilities are endless!

spaghetti3

spaghetti2

I will hopefully soon be sharing a recipe for the meatballs we enjoyed it with this weekend- I’ve made ’em 3 times now and I can’t get enough! But you all will have to wait until a non-Meatless Monday post for that 😉

table

Bon appetit!

P.S. Are you coming?

I'm Attending Blend

I registered for Blend last night and am super excited! Can’t wait to meet lots of “blends”, get my hike on Utah-style, and uh if we’re being honest here, I’m stoked to get some swag! Click the link for more info!

Weekend in Photos

Hey party people. Was it just me, or was last week insanely long? First week back after vacation, or (in my case) first full week back after a couple of 3 day weeks…Ick. Plus, things have gotten busy busy at work like I mentioned. I’m currently in the process of scheduling about 40 meetings for my bosses that will all happen between next week and the beginning of February. It’s really forcing me to be a little more organized to say the least. Plus, there’s the task of keeping my fun/crazy/unpredictable bosses in check. I constantly feel like the naggy little sister…but I love it!

That being said, I was ready for this weekend, and it was action packed:

On Friday night, my roomie and I had a couple of friends over for a VEGAN Middle East feast! I made hummus (my best, smoothest one yet…I need to post a recipe soon), and spaghetti squash with parsley & mint; my roommate Hanna (slash her boyfriend, who came in clutch when stop & go traffic intervened) bought everything to make falafel and tabouli, Liz (the vegan in the group) brought sorbet, and Lexi brought the wine, plus pomegranates, which are apparently Middle Eastern! Ya learn something new every day.

After hitting up the Macy’s one day sale (I helped T-Man on his yearly shopping trip, haha), T-Man and I made the last minute decision to drive to San Jose for his best friend Mike’s Housewarming party. There were drinks, everyone found out what kinda socks everyone else wears (the house had a No Shoes policy), there was music and lights, and there was hula hooping. Apparently, hula hooping is a thing now??

We went to brunch at Bill’s Cafe and spotted this super sweet pink car outside. It even had pink fuzzy dice in the backseat, pink stuff (and a beach volleyball) in the trunk, and a pink surfboard on top! Then we went back to Mike’s place and, in true Katie fashion, I spotted his neighbor’s pugs and played with them through the fence for a good 10 minutes.

Then last night was the Golden Globes! I love the GG’s because it’s a lot more relaxed since everyone’s eating and drinkin’. I fangirled the whole night over Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as hosts, I only wish they had been in more of the show! I’ve read and loved Tina’s book Bossypants and Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope (Parks & Rec) is my spirit animal.

And I love that they’re old friends – you could tell during their opening monologue that they’ve been doing improv and sketch comedy together for years. Makes me think about my best friend and I doing choreographed Spice Girls dances in our living rooms when we were 10 years old, and recording our version of  SNL sketches  on our iPhones in her dorm.  If we end up at the Golden Globes in 20 years, you all can remind me then that I can officially die happy!

Until that happens, I guess we’ll have to just remember that we saw the Spice Girls in Los Angeles in 2007, so we can still die happy.

Roasted Chickpeas with Orange, Ginger & Coriander

I’m kind of a snacker.

I love to put together a fancy meal as much as the next food blogger, but a lot of the time I just don’t have the patience or energy at the end of a work day to spend 1+ hour on dinner.

Sooo I snack. My nightly routine when I get home from work is usually to go straight to the kitchen and snack on a few pita chips with some hummus. That would be Dinner #1.

If I’ve decided I’m committing to the snacky route that night, I will then mill around the apartment for a while, clean up the mess I probably made rushing to get ready in the morning…and have Dinner #2, which is usually closer to a normal person-sized meal. A tostada with beans and veggies…Toast slathered in jelly or PB (Or more hummus. I’m obsessed.)…Or maybe a bowl of whatever soup I made that week.

Finally, on the nights I end up at T-Man’s house, I will also consume Dinner #3, because I inevitably snack on whatever he is eating for his “dinner” at 9:30pm (I prefer to eat between 6-7:30, but homeboy is a night owl and eats even later). This usually involves a few potstickers, or a couple of bites of his sandwich or of his specialty- chicken Caesar wraps 🙂

So it’s no surprise that the first item I chose to cross off of my Cooking Bucket List was one of the only snack items on the list – Roasted Chickpeas!

DSC_0254

I have been seeing recipes for Roasted Chickpeas forever, and I knew I would have to make them eventually because I love garbanzo beans. When you roast them in the oven instead of employing them in their typical uses (in salads or hummus), they get crunchy. Remember Corn Nuts? They’re like that! Except these are full of protein and fiber and won’t crack your teeth.

DSC_0260

I based my idea off of this recipe, but I didn’t have any lemon (or thyme…or smoked paprika) on hand – just a humongous bag of Cuties (AKA Clementines). So I improvised, and researched which flavors would go best with orange. The internet told me coriander, and my heart strings told me ginger. Both the interwebs and my heart strings were right, and these were delicious!

DSC_0267

Roasted Chickpeas with Orange, Ginger & Coriander
loosely adapted from Diane, A Broad

1 40-oz can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
zest of one small orange (in strips)
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp olive oil (I used sunflower oil)
salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. After rinsing the chickpeas, spread them on a clean dishtowel or paper towel to dry. Zest your orange – for best results, cut the orange part of the peel into strips. (If you want a more pronounced orange taste or don’t have the tools to cut the peel into strips, you can zest the orange with a microplane and use about 1 tsp of the zest.)

Toss the dry chickpeas with olive oil and spices (not the orange yet) and spread into a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from oven, toss with the orange peel, and return to the oven for another 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, try a few chickpeas. Most will be crunchy, but if they all aren’t, mix them around and put them back in the oven at 5 minute increments until chickpeas are at your desired texture.

Chickpeas will keep in an airtight container for about 2 days, but their maximum crunch factor is in the hours right after you make them!