Thursday, February 27, 2014

Chickpea McNuggets

I usually form this garbanzo bean mixture into larger parries (to serve on a bun or salad), but the other night I tried shaping it into nugget-sized bites, instead.  When I put the plate down on the table, Jay jokingly asked if we were having Chicken McNuggets for dinner.  Of course, I would never serve such a thing, but I had to admit they did look a little similar.  And while they don't really taste at all like meat, they do have a fried, nugget-y feel to them.  They are especially delicious when dipped in ketchup or drizzled in Sriracha, and they are probably 1,000 times healthier than anything you can buy at McDonald's.

Chickpea McNuggets
Makes 3-4 servings

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic
1/2 small onion
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 handful of spinach
1 egg
1 teaspoon curry powder
Dash of turmeric
A hefty pinch of salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with non-stick spray.  Combine all ingredients in food processor.  Use a spoon to scoop nugget-sized patties on to the foil.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, flipping once, until patties are brown on the outside and firm.
Feel free to play around with this recipe!  You could easily sneak in other veggies instead of/in addition to the spinach.  (I think some shredded carrot might work well.)  You could also try different spices and dipping sauces to mix things up!

And just in case you are still consuming chicken nuggets, this video might make you think twice before you eat another one:

"Autopsy of Chicken Nuggets"

I'd eat a chickpea nugget over that any day!

Monday, February 24, 2014

2/21-2/23: Weekend Highlights

Some scenes from the weekend:

Kale salad for my mom's birthday dinner.  (Awesome recipe courtesy of Oh She Glows.)
Ethiopian dinner (again).  This stuff is the best!
Game night with friends. "Settlers of Catan" is so dorky but so fun!
Moroccan for lunch.  I don't know what it is about me and African food lately. 
Freshly squeezed apple/carrot/beet juice.
Since we are so in love with Ethiopian food, last night Jay and I attempted to make our own Injera bread from scratch.  
The attempt was mildly successful.  We had a hard time keeping the bread from sticking to the pan, and most of it broke apart or had to be scraped off the bottom.  We would have received an F for presentation, but a B+ for taste. 

Here is the only piece that even remotely came out the way it was supposed to.  
Served with Ethiopian red lentils and yams, plus some couscous.  
Our technique needs work, but it was still a tasty dinner!

And I can't recap my weekend without a few puppy pics!
Those faces!

Have a great week!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

My 10k Training Plans

My running schedule during the winter is very sporadic (and often times non-existent).  The weather in Oklahoma is usually cold and super windy, and I'm too wimpy to bundle up and brave the elements.  I find the treadmill pretty boring, so I usually just opt for a different form of exercise during the winter months. 

Around this time of year, however, we start getting a few more warm days and suddenly spring feels like it's right around the corner.  This is when the running itch starts to kick back in.  But I know that if I am going to run on a regular basis, I really need to set a goal to work towards.  

In the past, I have always participated in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon at the end of April in one form or another.  I've done the half-marathon, a 10k in the relay a couple times, and a 12k in the relay last year.  A relay team wasn't coming together this year as naturally as in the past, and wasn't sure I wanted to put in the time to train for an entire half-marathon.  I decided to sign up for the Redbud 10k in early April, instead.  I figure I can work towards that for the next 8 weeks, and then, if a relay team does end up coming together for Memorial Marathon, I will be ready for that, too!

A 10k isn't exactly a long distance, but I can't just go out and run the whole thing without doing any training.  Since my schedule and the weather are so unpredictable, I wanted to put together a really flexible training plan that would be easy to stick to.  I figure I can always find at least one day to run during the week, and then I will do my longer run on the weekend, increasing the distance as I go.  I also plan to keep attending my boot camp class at work twice a week, so that will be good cross training. 
I ran a little over three miles yesterday, so I am right on track!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Shortcut Butternut Squash Risotto

Risotto is one of my favorite side dishes.  The traditional version I make is super creamy and flavorful, but sadly it's also very time consuming.  I rarely make it on a weeknight, because it requires practically non-stop stirring for a good 45 minutes.  The dish is better suited for a weekend evening when I have ample time and a nice big glass of wine to sip on while I babysit the pot.

I really wanted something more interesting than plain brown rice for a side last night, so I played with some ingredients to create a risotto-style dish without the risotto-sized effort.

The result was a big success.  The faux risotto was so creamy that it was hard to believe it contained no dairy and only took about 5 minutes of hands-on time.
Butternut Squash Risotto
Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Makes: 3-4 side servings

1 cup long-grain brown rice
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup frozen cubed butternut squash (I used Earthbound Farms Organic brand from Sprouts)
3 heaping tablespoons nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring vegetable broth and coconut oil to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan.  Stir in rice, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 35 minutes.  Add in the squash, and continue to simmer for 10 minutes, or until water is absorbed and squash is soft and heated through.  Add nutritional yeast and stir vigorously, until texture is creamy and there are no longer big chunks of squash.  Season with salt, pepper, and any other spices of your choice.  Serve and enjoy!
This definitely took our routine dinner of roasted tofu and asparagus to a whole new level!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Workouts & Wine

This weekend was a good one!  Sadly, I wasn't off today for President's Day, but I made the most of the two days I had.  They were filled with some challenging workouts, beautiful weather, and a Valentine's winery visit.  

It was a little too windy for my liking on Saturday, so I opted to go to the gym rather than run outside.  I jogged for a while on the treadmill, and then did a round of this speedy workout I created.  It was short but tough!  
You could easily make a full-length workout out of this by repeating the circuit a couple times through.  However, after having already jogged on the treadmill, once was more than enough for me!

Saturday afternoon, my mom and I took Wendy and Oliver to some local trails for a nice long walk.  To cool off afterwards, we hit up Starbucks.  Frappuccinos for the humans, puppucinos for the dogs. 
Don't you think Wendy should be a Starbucks model?!

If you aren't familiar with puppucinos, they are just little cups full of whipped cream that you can order for your canine friends.  They are free, and our dogs adore them!

Jay came home from Houston late Saturday night, so Sunday was our Valentine's Day.  The weather was even more beautiful, so we started off the day with a 3 mile run at our local lake.  My new running shoes felt great!
We spent the afternoon sitting outside at our favorite winery and hanging out with the dogs in our backyard.  
The night ended with a home-cooked mushroom stroganoff.  
This recipe was good, but I will tweak a few things if I make it again. 

All-in-all, it was a great weekend!  Hope yours was, too!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Recent Happenings + Things I'm Loving Lately V

Hello! Long time no see! I realized I haven't blogged all week, but only because I just didn't do or eat anything too terribly exciting over the past few days.  It was a full week of work, plus a couple of boot camp classes and a night of Bachelor watching with my friend, Zenie, as usual.  The rest of the time I was probably parked in front of the TV watching the Olympics.  I love them so much that I get a little stressed when I miss a night - it's hard to catch up once you get behind!  Being an avid Olympics watcher takes real commitment!

Jay is currently out of town for work, so I was solo for Valentine's Day.  I still had a great day - I let my students make Spanish Valentine's in class, and they turned out so cute!  I received lots of fun treats and gifts all day at work (being a teacher on a holiday is the best!), and then spent the evening with my family enjoying a beautiful steak dinner cooked by my aunt and uncle.
And then I got to come home to this:
Cutest valentine ever!  (No offense, Jay.)

Aside from my TV shows, here are some things I am loving this week!

1. Dark Chocolate
There is nothing I love more than a little piece of dark chocolate after dinner to top off the evening.  After all, it's healthy, right?!  The other night, I noticed that my supply was running low, so I wasted no time getting online to order some more.  Luckily, Amazon was having a huge chocolate sale for Valentine's Day, so I got this 4-pack of Ghiradelli chocolates for only about a third of what they cost now.  Score!

Then, this morning, I was opening up some Amazon boxes that had been delivered the night before, and I found another 50 PACK of dark chocolates that Jay has sent me for Valentine's Day.  Needless to say, I don't think I need to worry about running out of chocolates again any time soon!

2. Saucony Kinvara 4 Running Shoes
I am an overpronator, so for years I bought big clunky athletic shoes with tons of arch support to try and correct the problem.  Yet, despite having so much cushion and support, I still had pain in the insides of my feet after running or standing for a long period of time.  Jay (who runs exclusively in barefoot or very minimalist shoes) kept telling me that the only way to strengthen your arches and feet is to stop buying the ultra stabilizing shoes and start using your own muscles to stabilize yourself.  A couple years ago, I bought some Vibram barefoot shoes to use for walking in the warmer months, and I also switched to a lightweight, more minimalist running shoe.  The Saucony Kinvara is flexible with a low heel drop, which encourages a forefoot strike (the way humans are meant to run).  I'm no expert on any of this so I won't try to go into detail, but I do know that my feet have felt great and pain-free with the Kinvara 3, and so far I am loving the Kinvara 4 just as much!

3. Weather Puppy App
As if I didn't obsessively check the weather enough before, now, every time I do, I am greeted with the most adorable puppy pictures. There are multiple doggies/breeds to choose from, and they change based on the weather and time of day.
I can hardly handle the cuteness! 

4. YouTube Workout Videos
Up until the last couple of days, the weather in OKC has been incredibly crappy.  Since it's been almost impossible to run or exercise outside, I have been relying more on videos for my workouts.  My favorites right now are the Winter Shape Up series from the Fitnessista on YouTube.  I love that they are full-length, easy to follow, and tough!  Despite only being about 20 minutes long, they will really make you sweat!  It's a great option for days when you can't get outside or go to the gym.

5. These Animal Articles
20 Essential Facts Dog Lovers Must Always Remember - Don't read at work like I did.  And have tissues ready.
31 Animals Who Wear Their Hearts On Their Noses - In honor of Valentine's Day!

Have a great rest of your weekend!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Curry Roasted Butternut Squash and Cauliflower

As you probably already know, I am a HUGE fan of roasted vegetables.  I'll eat my weight in just about any veggie tossed in olive oil and sea salt and baked until brown and crispy.  I don't often vary my technique because I have it down to such a science.

After that yummy sweet potato and red lentil curry I made the other night, however, I have been on a major curry kick.  Not to mention, I am always looking for ways to incorporate more turmeric into my diet.  So, I got a little crazy the other night and coated my butternut squash in some Indian spices before popping them into the oven.
Once cooked, we added the squash to a "big bowl" (or "big plate" I should say) with millet, sauteed lemony-garlic kale, black beans, and avocado.  It was maybe the best thing I've ever tasted.
I loved it so much that I made cauliflower the exact same way the next night and served it with some "cheesy" baked tofu and brown rice.  Again, delicious!
Jay was really excited about the Oklahoma-shaped piece of tofu he found on his plate. 
There's not really much to this vegetable "recipe," if you can even call it that.  All of the measurements are approximations.
Curry Roasted Vegetables
Butternut squash, cauliflower, or the vegetable of your choice, cut into bite-sized pieces (sweet potatoes would probably work really well, too!)
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Note: Always eat black pepper and turmeric together, as the pepper will increase the bioavailability of the turmeric by 1000 times!

Preheat oven to 425.  Toss veggies in olive oil and spices and transfer to baking pan.  Bake for 30-45 minutes, stirring at least once, until vegetables are beginning to become brown and crispy.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Curry

After days of teasing us, the weather finally came through and dumped some snow over OKC on Thursday morning.  

We got a decent snow last Sunday, but it all melted before school on Monday.  Then, the "big" storm (that the weathermen had hyped up for days and days and days) was supposed to come in Tuesday morning, so we were all shocked and saddened when we woke up to nothing more than a little drizzle and had to go to work. 

 Luckily, we got a third little snow storm on Thursday, and, seeing as the temperatures were in the single digits, it finally stuck around.  We are now enjoying our second snow day in a row, making for a four-day weekend!  I was beginning to think it would never happen!!
Since I obsessively check the weather (I really may have a problem), I was overjoyed to find an app that combines weather with my favorite thing - puppies.  If you love dogs, you must download the Weather Puppy app immediately!  
I've had a chance to do quite a bit of cooking over the last couple days, and I wanted to share a tasty new Indian-inspired meal that I recently created. 
As I've mentioned before, aside from the staples I keep on a list, my go-to grocery shopping method is to wait until I get to the store to see what looks good and what is on sale.  I worry about what I'm going to do with it all later.  After all, when it comes to vegetables, you can always roast them and throw them all together in a "big bowl."  It's hard to go wrong.

I had a lot of sweet potatoes on my hands this week and was craving some kind of curry, so I used what I already had in the pantry/fridge to create this sweet potato and red lentil dish.  It was roughly inspired by an African peanut soup that I love in my Peas and Thank You cookbook.

This dish turned out amazing, and the fact that it is full of some of the world's healthiest spices and veggies is a major bonus.  It came together in about 30 minutes and made more than enough for Jay and me plus lunch the next day.

Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Curry
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
Dash of garam masala (optional)
1/2 cup water
15-oz can light coconut milk, shaken
15-oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup red lentils
1 large handful fresh spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional toppings: chopped peanuts, cilantro, green onion, Sriracha, etc.

In a heavy saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. After the pan has heated up for a few minutes, add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook for about 5 minutes until everything is softened. Add the spices and cook for another 30 seconds.

Add the water, coconut milk, diced tomatoes. lentils, and sweet potato to the pan. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. As soon as it starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until lentils and sweet potato are tender. Add the spinach and stir until it has all wilted, about 2 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  Serve over brown rice and garnish as desired.
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Valentine's Day Decor

Valentine's Day is on my short list of favorite holidays.  It gives Jay and me a good excuse (although we really shouldn't need one) to plan a special date night that we might not otherwise carve out time for.  We usually opt for something low-key, like cooking a fancy dinner together at home, but it always ends up being really nice.  Not to mention the fact that I never get tired of receiving flowers or chocolates (who does?!), and pink is my favorite color!

Last year at this time, we had just moved into our new house and were up to our ears in boxes.  Decorating for Valentine's Day was the last thing on my mind.  This year, I had a little more time to put up some festive decorations.  It may not be a major holiday, but I enjoy having some little reminders around the house of what's to come. 

I almost forgot about this door hanging that I made the year before last, and I was thrilled when I pulled it out of holiday storage.  
This project was super easy to put together.  I bought some wooden Xs and Os at Michael's and covered them with fun pink and red patterned scrapbook paper. I embellished the letters with some felt stickers that I also found in the scrapbook section.  Then, using a hot glue gun, I attached the letters to a white ribbon and tied a bow at the top.  I hung mine on my front door, but it would look cute anywhere in the house. 
I also took the time to update my chalkboard and frame a Valentine's print that I found at  They have a bunch of cute ones to choose from!
Now our house is feeling the love!  XOXO

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Jay's Birthday and a Tempeh Chili Recipe

It is Jay's 30th birthday weekend, and we have had a great time celebrating!  Friday after work, we met up with friends and headed straight down to a big casino on the Oklahoma/Texas border to see comedian Aziz Ansari (from Parks and Recreation).  He is SO funny, and we loved the show!
We booked a hotel room for the night and had a blast hanging out and exploring the casino before and after the show.  The place was over a mile long - it was insane!  We found some live music and danced until way past our bedtimes.
Yesterday was Jay's actual birthday, but, after such an eventful Friday night, he requested a low-key night in with chili and a movie.  I tried a new recipe that was similar to the chipotle chili I made over Christmas, but I changed up a few ingredients and used tempeh instead of beef.  It was a big hit with the birthday boy!
Vegan Tempeh Chili

2 tablespoons olive oil for sauteing 
1 8 oz. package tempeh, crumbled
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
1-2 tablespoons chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 can (15 oz.) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (28 oz.) diced fire roasted tomatoes and juices
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt & freshly cracked pepper to taste
1 cup dark beer
1/2 cup water (if more liquid is needed)
Toppings of your choice (We used chopped jalapeno, green onions, radishes, and cilantro.)

In a large pot, heat your olive oil over medium heat.  Add tempeh, onions, garlic, and green pepper and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the chipotle peppers and cook for another minute or two.  Add beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and dark beer/water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about one hour.  This gives the tempeh plenty of time to soak up all the flavors!  Garnish with toppings of your choice.  Yum!
It is currently snowing once again here in OKC, so it looks like a relaxing Sunday at home is in my future. If the roads aren't too bad, we may venture out this evening to watch the Superbowl with friends.  I could care less about football, but I always tune in for the commercials and the halftime show!  Have a great day!