Friday, April 29, 2011

CONTEST!! - Fitting in Exercise

The scary dungeon

So today I weighed myself. Oh yeah, remember I was supposed to do that every Friday? Well, I fell off the diet wagon a couple of weeks ago and I just couldn't bring myself to weigh myself because I didn't think I could handle any more bad news with the state I was in. I was already feeling pretty down by a discouraging appointment with my spine doctor, which is why I fell off the diet wagon in the first place. Why, oh why does my eating have to be so connected to my emotions? Grrr.

Anyhow, I braced myself and weighed myself today and I have lost .8 pounds since the last time I weighed myself, which I can't ever remember when that was. Anyhow, I am feeling a lot more peppy and positive now and I am back on track with my eating. I am also getting back on track with my exercise.

I have always loved exercising but with being a busy homeschooling mom it is hard to fit it in. Lately I have realized that there really is no ideal way to do it. You always have to make some sacrifice to exercise. Right now, mine is that I let my kids watch a video during Baby G's second nap while I exercise down in the "dungeon." This is not ideal in so many ways.

1. The dungeon is kind of scary.
2. I would really prefer my kids only watching one video a week.

But oh well. I know I could exercise at in the early morning or at night when the kids are still in bed. But let's be realistic, here: That is never gonna happen!! It is what it is. I mean I need to exercise. I mean I really need it. Not just how we all need it but if I don't exercise that is when my back starts acting up and my family can't survive with me out with back problems.

So I exercise and I want you to, too because exercising is one of the major keys to good health. So here is the contest. Everyone who exercises 3 times (at least 30 minutes each) by next Friday can leave a comment next Friday sharing how they fit in their exercise with all their other demands. Then I will randomly select one commenter to win a $15 gift card to

So go start exercising, even if you have to exercise in a scary dungeon. It's worth it!!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mejaddarah - Lentils and Rice

This dish was my first experience with Arabic food and it made me fall in love with lentils. This is a very easy but delicious dish. To be authentic you would serve this with some yogurt or salad. We eat it with salad.


2 cups lentils
1 large onion chopped
2 onions crescent sliced
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup olive oil or refined coconut oil
2 cups brown rice
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
2- 3 cloves garlic minced

Boil lentils in water to cover for 90 minutes or until tender. Fry chopped onion and garlic in oil until soft. Add to cooked lentils and season to taste with salt and pepper, and cumin.

Add the rice and about 3 cups of water and mix in with lentils. Bring to a boil and then simmer with lid on until rice is soft and liquid is absorbed. Add a little more boiling water if needed.

Fry the sliced onion in 2 tbsp of oil until they are brown - low heat. Put sliced onions on top when serving.

* I use coconut oil because it doesn't become carcinogenic when you heat it.
** You do need quite a bit of salt, preferably sea salt.
*** My kids scarf this up.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Best Dessert Ever and how to slice an orange

Wait for it... Fruit!

Since I have been trying to lose weight, I have been really trying to cut back on sweets and of course then I crave them more. And interestingly enough, I have not been craving fruit at all. Lately, I just haven't wanted to eat it. I mean fruit just hasn't seemed appealing at all. But I just make myself eat it. I know this sounds weird. Anyhow, so these times when I have been craving sweets I make myself eat fruit, specifically an orange. And you know what, most of the times that satisfies my craving.

Fruit used to be almost the only dessert we ever ate. In the past year as I  have been experimenting with unrefined sugars we have been eating a lot of treats. I think, perhaps, too many. I have really felt this need lately to get back to basics, to simplify my life and to get all these sweets OUT OF MY HOUSE!!

Now I am not saying that everyone should only eat fruit as a treat but for a while we want to really cut back on sweets over here. So we have decided to just have fruit and the occasional chocolate smoothie.

Some of our favorite fruits for dessert are - oranges, grapes, pears, and apples with peanut butter.

The other night A. had the idea to make a fruit salad and she was really proud of herself so she had me take a picture. I made a simple "cream" sauce to put on it made from almonds, cashews, water, and dates.

A few years ago a friend of mine showed me a better way to cut oranges and it changed my life. This way it is so much easier to eat all of the orange without getting too messy. Here are some pictures to show you how.

Start with the orange sideways then slice it like this:

You will end up with circles...

Then cut the circles in half...

You end up with this..

and this...

You can basically rip the fruit out with your teeth...

And you are left with nothing but peel...

Friday, April 22, 2011

A versatile chocolate sauce

Chocolate Sauce:

3/4 cup dates soaked 15 minutes
1/4 cup soak water
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder

Here is a great raw chocolate sauce I invented using dates. I have used this for

Banana Popsicles

For these I just stuck a skinny craft stick in half a banana and then spread on natural peanut butter and then the chocolate sauce. Then freeze them. They are a lot easier to eat if you let them defrost a little before biting in.

Chocolate strawberries

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

For these I lined a muffin tin with foil (next time I will use paper liners) and the put a layer of chocolate sauce, layer of peanut butter filling (see recipe below), and then another layer of chocolate sauce.

Peanut Butter Filling
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
2 dates
1 banana
blend in food processor

* I also saw a recipe for peanut butter filling using nutritional yeast. I will have to try that one and let you know how it turns out.

** You need to freeze the chocolate sauce or at least refrigerate it to get it to firm up.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kale Chips

I got this recipe from Averie at Loves Veggies and Yoga. They are really good. I made them the other night for my mom and my friend, Carly. They bothe loved them. I have made them both in the oven and the dehydrator. I like the taste of the dehydrator ones better and they are better for you.

Averie’s Raw Vegan Kale Chips Recipe for 2 Bunches of Kale
1 c cashews (soaked for a few hours)
1 Medium Red Pepper
Juice of half a lemon (2 Tbsp)

1/4 c Nutritional Yeast

1 Tsp Salt (or to taste)

Wash the kale & remove tough stalks, de-seed the red pepper, drain off your soaked cashews
Put all the Ingredients into a blenderor Food Processor & Blend everything together Apply the coating to the kale
Put on Dehydrator Screens and Dehydrate until done, flipping once after a couple hours. 
Or, Bake In a 300F Oven for 20 Minutes, Flipping, and Then Baking Another 10 Minutes or so.  

** It didn't take that long in the dehydrator, just about 3 hours.

** Last time I made this I had a lot of the sauce leftover. I ate it later with raw veggies as a dip and it was great.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Baptism Review and how to get more veggies in your salad

So E's baptism was awesome. It was a really great experience. We had a lot of friends and neighbors come and share that special day with us. It was really nice.

 I realized too late that I should have taken a picture of the food. But here is a run down of what we ended up serving:

veggie tray (from Costco)
Homemade vegan ranch dressing
Wheat pitas
Spinach artichoke dip (From Costco)
Organic tortilla chips
store bought peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies (gag!)
Homemade peanut butter oatmeal chocolate cookies
Raw coconut balls
Pink Lemonade

Even at the baptism I was pushing my healthy recipes on people. I got good reviews of the hummus, ranch dip, and coconut balls.

Anyhow, today I don't have a recipe so much as a tip. I got this idea from the blog Whole Food for the Whole family. In this post she talks about using a mandolin to slice her veggies to give them a good "mouth-feel." It will make more sense if you read her post. Plus she has some good picks. But the gist of it is that you shred your veggies into your salad they are a lot more enjoyable to eat than knife sliced veggies. (Cue clouds dispersing, sun shining, and birds singing!)

This was such an easy concept but I had never thought of it before but it is so true. Now I don't have a mandolin so I just started using my old trusty cheese grater to grate up raw carrots, zucchini, beats, etc.. into our salads. We were never eating these in our salads before. And let's face it I just don't enjoy biting into a big chunk of raw zucchini but if you shred that zucchini up and can eat the whole thing.

So try it and see if you can't get your kids, and yourself, to eat some veggies on your salad you never did before.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Warning: Make these at your own risk, Peanut Butter Oatmeal CooKies

We have been planning the refreshments for my daughter's upcoming baptism and I really feel this need to have everything be healthy since I kind of  present myself that way. It has been kind of stressful coming up with idea that would be healthy, quick, appealing, not messy etc... So E wants to have cookies at her baptism and I said that I would make some. She said she wanted store bought. I thought she was crazy. I mean who thinks store bought cookies taste better than fresh homemade?? I tried to convince the kids that homemade was better but they did not believe me. So we did a taste test. And one of my hypotheses was confirmed...

My children ARE crazy! They thought the store bought cookies tasted better. So I agreed to buy some for the baptism. Hey, that is less work for me. But of course none of this stopped them from scarfing down all the homemade cookies I made. I mean these cookies I made were awesome so it just proves that my kids' taste buds are whacked.

So here is my recipe for

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

First Mix: (I used a hand held beater)

1 Cup natural peanut butter
1/2 Cup butter or refined Coconut oil (if you use the virgin coconut oil it will interfere with the peanut butter flavor)
1 Cup organic brown sugar (healthy stores and some grocery stores will carry this)
1/2 Cup Sucanet (evaporated cane juice, ditto about where to find it)

Then add:

2 range free eggs
1 tsp. of no alcohol vanilla
2 Tbsp of favorite nut milk, or cow's milk if you want

Stir in:
1 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 tsp. baking soda
4 shakes sea salt

Finally add:
2 Cup regular oats
1 Cup chocolate chips

Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 for 10-15 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen

** I haven't had "real" cookies in the house for a long time and they sorely tested my will power. I must admit the cookies won, hence the warning!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bday Dinner and Coconut Pancakes

Monday night we celebrated 2 very special b-days at our house. E is 8 years old and Baby G is 1! We had a little dinner party with my mom, who is visiting for E's baptism this Saturday. E requested chocolate chip pancakes for dinner.

So the menu was:

Chocolate Chip Coconut Pancakes
Banana Coconut Pancakes

Scrambled Eggs with green onions and tomatoes

Green Smoothies

Raw Apple Pie and Pear Ice Cream

* The pear ice cream was a disaster. I mean it tasted good but it was the consistency of a smoothie. The whole experience was pretty discouraging. I mean I really got depressed. How lame is that?

** I just threw in chopped green onions, and tomatoes into the scrambled eggs and it made them turn out watery from the tomato juices. That wasn't so tasty.

*** But the pancakes tasted great.

Here is the basic pancake recipe. You can add whatever you want to it. Like blueberries, bananas, or if you are very insistent, chocolate chips!

1 cup wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tblsp coconut shreds
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1 tblsp honey (optional)
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 cup almond or coconut milk
2 tblsp coconut oil
blueberries or sliced bananas

Mix wet ingredients in medium bowl. Mix dry ingredients in a larger bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix well until consistency is smooth.
Pour a scoop of batter (1/4 cup) onto preheated pan at medium heat. Sprinkle with blueberries or sliced bananas on top. Flip over when batter begins to bubble.

* I always forget to let my eggs and almond milk get to room temperature before I put the coconut oil in. So don't forget to do that or the oil will turn hard with the cold temperatures.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Blahs and a Yummy Lentil Soup

I kind of have the blahs. Do you ever get like that? I will be going along great, feeling really motivated and positive and then something will happen and I will just feel blah. Right now I don't feel super motivated to eat healthy or exercise. Last week I got sick for a few days and it really threw off my stride. I couldn't cook and we ordered take out (Thai food!)

We went on a mini vacation last weekend and without fail I always eat poorly when we do that. It doesn't help that we vacationed in a very small town with very few healthy eating options. Sometimes when I start to eat poorly I get all discouraged and I think "Well, what is the point in trying now? I should just keep eating crud! That will show them!" ( I am not really sure who "them" is in this scenario - Obviously not the most rational thinking!)

Some scenes from our trip...

The girls in the Nauvoo Visitor's Center
E with the rope she helped make

A waiting for her cookie at the old fashioned bakery

A tired Baby G

Baby G showing off her new trick. "I can stand!!"

I didn't even step on a scale last week. I am too afraid to. One of my commenters said that our bodies need to hit plateaus in our weight loss and that it is actually a healthier way of losing weight. I don't know if that is true but it really made me feel better!!

Anyhow, just writing this has made me feel better. Thanks for listening to me ramble. Or maybe you didn't listen. Maybe you were like, "blah, blah, blah! get to the recipe already!" Well, for you impatient ones here you go...

Is it still cold enough for soup? Not here but maybe where you are! Here is one of the staples in our home. I got this recipe from a Palestinian cookbook that we got as a wedding present.

Yummy Lentil Soup

1-2 tbsp coconut oil or butter
1 large onion, chopped
2-4 carrots, chopped
2- 4 stalks celery, chopped
1 1/2 cups lentils
3 cups water
4 cups veggie broth
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp cumin

Heat oil or butter over medium heat and then add onion, carrots, and celery. Saute for 5 minutes or so. Then add in lentils, water and broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and cook for an hour or until lentils are soft. (Don't add salt until after lentils are cooked or they will take longer to cook.)

Add juice of 1 lemon, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Then puree the soup in a blender.

** Okay so this soup is not the loveliest color. But it is very good. My girls love it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Raw Apple Pie

So here is my attempt at recreating that awesome raw apple pie from Ecopolitan. Seriously, next time you are in Minneapolis, you have to go there!!!


2 cups walnuts
1/2 cup dates
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Process everything in the food processer until it is crumbly. Don't over process. Then press crust mixture into a spring form pan or round cake pan. If you use a regular cake pan, line it with saran wrap. Then after it freezes you can pull out the whole pie by the saran wrap.

Apple Filling
• 5 medium apples ( I used gala)
• 1/2 cup dates
• 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
• Juice of 1/2 a lemon
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
• 1 tsp. sea salt
You can soak the dates if you want but if your dates are pretty juicy you don't need to.  Chop all 5 apples into cubes, then place one of these chopped apples in your high speed blender or food processor. Add the remaining ingredients (but not the other chopped apples) and blend until smooth.

Hand mix the remaining chopped apples and pour into pie crust.

Put pie in freezer for a couple of hours before serving.

** I tried to make a caramel sauce but I ran out of dates. ( You can kind of see my lame attempt on the top picture) At Ecopolitan they told me they made their caramel sauce with water, dates, and a bit of cinnamon. Next time!!

** This was so refreshing and good. The pie filling kind of fell over once we started eating it but it tasted great. Maybe next time I will add a little coconut oil to the blender mixture to help it to set up.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Meatless Monday - Vegan Lasagna and Weigh in Update

I got this amazing lasagna recipe from Liz. She is the one I got the "not" mac n cheese from so I was pretty sure this would be good. I made it last week when we had my friend over for dinner. She was a good sport about being my guinea pig. This is not a quick recipe and dinner was late but it was oh so worth it.

The original recipe calls for pine nuts in the "ricotta cheese"  recipe but I didn't have any so I used cashews. It was still so good.

Go here for the recipe.

** This was seriously so good. We all had several helpings and my husband and I keep talking about it.

* If you don't want to taste the coconut oil at all, use refined coconut oil. It is not as healthy but it is still better than most other oils.


Now as far as my weight loss update. No news is good news. Right? So I weighed in exactly the same weight as last week. Oh well. At least I didn't gain. In trying to figure out why I didn't lose last week I came up with 3 possibilities. It is probably due to all three.

1. It was my birthday week and I indulged a bit. Especially on the car ride up to Minneapolis. I mean there is something about car trips that make me constantly stuff my face with junk food. Am I the only one?

2. I didn't exercise that much last week. I am finding it hard to fit in my exercise but that is a post for another day.

3. I didn't keep track of what I was eating. I think this is key. Keeping track of what I am eating is key to my weight loss I think. It helps me be more aware of changes I need to make earlier in my week.