Food that Feels Like a Kiss on the Forehead

It’s September 10, and I’m feeling a bit torn. The idea of fall is a really romantic one, but I’m going to miss being greeted by the sun and being able to just walk out the door without bundling up. However, since the seasons seem to be switching places right now, the weather has been cooling off some. All in all, I will say it has been agreeable! Beautiful! Over the years I’ve observed how we all connect with the weather, and how it affects us. I’ve noticed that in places where it’s warm year-round, the people have a more care-free attitude. Whereas in colder parts of the world, the people seem to be more reserved. And the in-betweens? Well they seem to have an easier time when it comes to making adjustments. I think that the seasons play a role in regulating our moods, and how we approach life. The warmer seasons allow us to flourish, while the colder seasons help us develop our sense of being rooted. How do you all feel about the seasons?

Comforting bowls for breakfast

I recently got an electric pressure-cooker and I decided to cook up some soybeans I had on hand for when I want to make soymilk. I was thinking of ways that I could incorporate them into sweet and savoury meals. For this breakfast I served them with oats, frozen banana slices, plumped raisins, dates, cinnamon, almond and coconut butter, and honey for good measure. This was such a yummy combination, and I liked the texture the beans gave–nor crunchy nor mushy, but in between.

A little bit of this and a little bit of that.

This reminded me of a congee actually. M’mm congee. I made a lotus seed congee last time the weather was cooler, and I remember loving the flavor and comfort I felt. “In traditional Chinese medicine, foods are prescribed for their effects on organs, blood, yin, yang, and Qi, the major players in our physical and emotional health. Foods such as rice, seaweed, sweet potatoes, and bananas nourish our yin, which in turn hydrates and nourishes organs. Think of a parched plant; after a good watering it becomes more tumescent. Eating yin-enhancing foods nourishes the body in a way that simple drinking water cannot.” Perhaps this is why I feel more at ease after having those kinds of foods.

Almost the same mix-ins, but this time I let everything sit together for awhile.

I also opted to use a combination of the homemade sunflower seed butter and almond butter. What an excellent choice! I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the sunflower seed butter I made reminds me of a certain candy I’ve had before. Speaking of sweets…

Chocolate was on this weeks grocery list!

Last time I was by the chocolate store I was with Matilda. Then someone had opened the door and the dizzying smell of chocolate swirled its way to my nose, and I looked down at Matilda in hopelessness. It would be torture for her, not to mention they wouldn’t  allow her inside in the first place! Yesterday I was by the chocolate store, and I purposely left Matilda behind because this mama needed to get some “grocery shopping” done.

After spending over an hour at the chocolate store with my friend I finally decided on some that I wanted to take home.

Remember those “truffles” I made? Well I picked up some white chocolate hot cocoa powder so I could make a different variation! I also picked up some other chocolates that were new to me, and one that was and always will be dear to my heart. Kinder Schockoladen are what grilled cheese sandwiches may be to some of you. That and Milka Schokoladen bring back memories. I’ll never be “too old” to enjoy these… heck, I’ll never be too old for anything!

I took a friend's advice and added something special to this sandwich!

Fi had mentioned that she likes adding apple chutney with hummus, so I figured I would give it a try. I made a sandwich with some shredded mango chutney, “What Do I Remind You Of” hummus, red cabbage, and cilantro. This lady knows what she is talking about! The combination of hummus and chutney will leave you wanting more, and by all means go with your gut feeling!

I've recently discovered my favorite way to eat collard greens.

Sauteed with onions, and cherry or sun-dried tomatoes. Then when you’re done, dress it Italian vinaigrette.

I made myself a khichari of split mung bean soup, basmati rice, and ghee

I was feeling like I needed to just comfort myself, and I’ve found that this recipe I found in the “Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners” book helps me feel at ease. “Persons recuperating are often recommended khichari, a combination of rice and mung beans, because of their ability to provide a good level of nourishment without overtaxing the digestion.” Do any of you pay attention to when you feel like your body needs a bit of a “break”? When I’ve been out and about, doing new things, trying new things… my body finds a way to tell me to slow down and take it easy.

For more information on the tri-doshic mung bean, click here!

And since I mentioned ghee, I figure this is a good time to let you all know that I actually made this ghee. It’s really very simple, but it’s one of those things that one might find themselves buying despite how easy it is to make. Another example of that would be hummus!

It's key that you get unsalted butter, and it's recommended that it be either local or organic.

Melt the sticks of butter in a heavy-bottom pan.

Bring to a boil, then put it on low-heat.

It's important to keep stirring so the bottom doesn't get burned; do this for about 15 minutes.

Then get your strainer and containers ready!

I let the ghee sit for a little bit to cool down. Then I strained the clarified butter into the bowl, and I strained it a second time into the jar.

The finished product!

After it cooled down, I put it in the fridge and it hardened–which is totally normal. I am so proud of myself! Ghee is one of my favorite things when it comes to food. Its taste is incomparable, and it’s awesome in salty or sweet dishes. If you haven’t tried ghee yet, I highly suggest it. It will take your meal to another level, I promise.

Well everyone, this felt like a post that

Fear has a large shadow, but he himself is small

Hello, hello lovely people! I see that we all love our grilled veggies, but more importantly the friends that we have made through blogging. Some times I wish that the distances weren’t so long because I would love to have the chance to meet all of the friends I’ve made through this. I definitely think the commonalities go way beyond food, and there’s just something more.

Beautiful summer peaches
Mixed with oats, Greek yogurt, ground flax seed, and the fig tartlet “filling”
A mish-mosh breakfast bowl, with homemade sunflower seed butter!

My usual bowl of oats with random things piled on… sounds good! Here I threw in frozen banana slices, the last of the fig tartlet “filling”, pumpkin seed butter, homemade sunflower seed butter, and cinnamon. The sunflower seed butter tasted really good, especially since I added honey when making it. However, next time I need to mix it with oil. I’ve found that with nuts and seeds that don’t have as much fat in them naturally need that extra “oomph” from additional oil. For instance, when I make macadamia nut butter, macadamias have enough oils in them to have a semi-gooey consistency when made into a nut butter. Next time!

I made up a random delicious hummus recipe!

When I first tried this I thought “hmm… this kind of tastes like sausage.” Then I had my roommate try it and she mentioned that it reminded her of beef jerky. Who knows! This hummus recipe definitely has a flavor reminiscent of something.

“What Do I Remind You Of” Hummus

1 can of chickpeas, drained

a bit of water

1 dried chipotle pepper, broken into pieces

a few splashes of hickory smoke

1-2 tsp curry powder

2 tbl olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1. Pour the chickpeas into the food processor, and start processing them with a little water so they get broken up.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients–except for the olive oil, salt, and pepper–and mix. Then add the olive oil and mix. Add salt and pepper to your liking and mix again.

And I certainly haven’t forgotten about my beloved sweet potatoes.
Baked these “cheetahs” tossed in olive oil, turmeric, and curry; then sprinkled with blackened Old Bay seasoning.
I haven’t made collard wraps in ages!
M’mm yummy filling!

I love collard greens! They look like the leaves from the cabbages for the cabbage patch dolls. This time when I was making my wraps I thought of what it would be like to steam them; kind of like dim sum–little packets of deliciousness! Did you know that “collard greens provide us with this cholesterol-lowering benefit whether they are raw or cooked. However, a recent study has shown that the cholesterol-lowering ability of raw collard greens improves significantly when they are steamed.” A sign that I should make them kind of like dim sum. “One cup of boiled collard greens has about 119% of the daily value of vitamin A, 58% of vitamin C, and 880% of vitamin K. Vitamin A is an important nutrient for the eyes, vitamin C is essential for healthy skin, and vitamin K is necessary for the blood to clot. You can read more here: collard greens benefits.

Yesterday, my friends and I went on an adventure!
How peaceful looking…
But really each of us had to face a fear.
The rope swing…

It was funny how some of us weren’t that nervous at first, but as soon as we were nestled on to a step our fears set in. We had many countdowns, many words of encouragement, and lots of laughs!

And I did it too!
Meet my new roommate! Unfortunately, she ended up leaving the river with a battle-scar.
All in all it was a fun day though.
Eventually, it was time for the troopers to head back home.

It was really helpful following through that day because of the help of my friends, and feeling comforted by the thought that it was going to be okay. There was a point where I just had to stop thinking, stop looking around, down, and just do itHave you guys faced some sort-of fear recently?

Hope You Had Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Part II

Hold on to your seats ladies and gentlemen we’re blasting back a little bit further into the past!

Granola girl is back!

I had this bowl of Udi’s Au Naturel granola with the apple grahams Holly sent me, spiced applesauce, Sunland’s caramel peanut butter, and vanilla yogurt. This granola is really good if you want to keep it simple or basically, it would go well with anything! The Au Naturel flavor is basically a wildflower honey sweetened granola.

Looks like I couldn't help but take a bite of the tortilla before I took the picture!

I just stuffed it with black beans, peach salsa, sour cream, nutritional yeast, and cilantro.

Whoa mama!

I hadn’t had banana soft-serve in forever! Size does matter when it comes to this – the bigger the banana the better (you get more)!! My toppings: coconut milk, Artisana Cacao Bliss, and Bekah’s scented almonds. YUM to the 10th degree!!! I’m talking love in exponential amounts.

Have any of you guys ever taken or heard of Zumba? Well this is a dance class I go to whenever I’m down in Florida. My mother and I love to dance and all of those classes have so much energy and happiness from everyone that you can’t help but have fun. There are even some professional ballroom dancers that attend the class. Everyone in that class just lets loose and gets down. For real!

With some friends from the old dance academy.

And with Wilson, one of our old instructors!

We also did the hora!!!

The dance instructor was touched by the students' card and gift to her.

Santa Claus came!

There was never a boring moment in that class!

After the dance class my best friend came over and Matilda got some presents! But I guess she really liked the necklace I got.

I went to go meet up with a friend for coffee.

Keeping it natural.

I tried Udi’s Muesli that morning – muesli is one of my mom’s favorite breakfasts. This was a really good muesli!!! There were lots of dried fruits – which I find to be lacking in a lot of pre-packaged cereals.

Agave-Lime Grilled Tofu with Asian Slaw and Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Another recipe from ‘The Conscious Cook’. The best mashed sweet potatoes ever!!! You mash it with a cashew cream, butter, and chipotle pepper. Everything in this dish was incredible and complimentary to each other. I love when a meal touches so many different kinds of flavors. This took my taste buds on a delicious ride.

Pistachios

My dad came home form the store with a container of pistachios! I love these nuts, especially with dried cranberries and golden raisins. I really want to make a pistachio butter. Has anyone tried pistachio butter? Do you like it?

And I FINALLY wore the shorts my mom got me on her trip to Germany.

They gave me two coffees but I had only ordered one! Maybe I should've played the lottery that day.

I've known her since I started middle school!

Later on we went to Target and they had me try on the new Rodarte dresses. I didn’t know Target had such cute things!!!

My friend up at school sent me a little box of treasures!

And the ring lights up!!!

Tempeh Creole

Dinner that night was something special. I made another recipe from ‘The Conscious Cook’. I love the variety of flavors this book has. I usually stick to using the same spices and seasoning when I cook, but this was different from what I usually use. I served it over some brown basmati rice and with a colorful pepper medley on the side.

Breakfast is a calling!

Looks like I had English muffins for breakfast that morning. One slice with butter and the other with pumpkin butter. I also tried the egg nog flavored yogurt with a lot of cinnamon sprinkled on top. Does that count as “sprinkled” still? It looks like it was actually doused! I also had apple slices with caramel peanut butter = delicious.

Yummy snack

I know some of you are always keeping your eyes out for new snack ideas. Well I found one that is not messy and perfect for when you’re on the go! Not to mention it tastes really good. I tried Udi’s granola nuggets! Let me quote them , “Snack-perfect granola chunks made with honey, oats, and lots of nuts.” They contain almonds, cashews, and sunflower seeds. I tried the little nuggets with Wallaby’s Downunder Mango Tangerine flavor.

And now we’re going to blast somewhere else into time.

Personally, I like raw collard greens better than cooked.

I tried cooking them the other day but I wasn’t too keen on the flavor. Anyway, these collard greens made for perfect wraps for the leftover Moroccan stew. There wasn’t much liquid left so I didn’t have to worry about stuff spilling out. I also had some Mestemacher bread with mashed avocado, tomato slices, and horseradish sauce.

Check it out!

Look at what my mom made!

We had to use up a bunch of veggies that we had in the fridge so this was a mish-mosh of things! She even cooked daikon radish! I’m not sure what she put in here exactly but I’ll tell you what I do know – besides that it tasted delicious – cauliflower, yellow squash, daikon radish, mushrooms, yellow onion, turmeric, fenugreek, coconut milk, and other things!

Another nighttime snack

A bowl of fruits with coconut milk is something I’ve been eating daily while in Florida. That night I remembered that I still had some Fig Newmans! I love the chewiness of these fig cookies.

So that was the time traveling adventure! Now that we’re all back up to speed, I have a story to share with you all. This was shared with me over Christmas dinner and I thought it was inspirational. They told me about a writer who was diagnosed with cancer but wasn’t going to give up without a fight. So what did they decide to do? They had heard of “laughing clubs” in India and other countries, so they got their wife to go to the library and find a bunch of comedies. Everyday the two would wake up and watch a funny movie. Eventually he was able to cure his cancer with laughter. So never underestimate the power of bursting out in an uncontainable laughter or even just a giggle will do. What’s a miracle you’ve had in your life?

Off to a Good Start

I’ll start this post off the same way I start my day – with breakfast!

I baked some lemon poppyseed mini-muffins.
I baked some lemon poppyseed mini-muffins.

I tried some samples of the Artisana nut butters. I’m going to make a bold statement right now, but I’m just gonna go right ahead and put it out there. I haven’t tried all of the samples, but I feel that I can officially say that these nut butters are the bomb! If you’re a nut butter person, you will love these no questions asked. The nuts are all ground to perfection and have such a great consistency. I can actually taste each nuts’ unique flavor! I’m using the word “nuts” too much! So let’s move on, shall we?

A delicious bowl of Zoe's Honey Almond granola with extra almonds and mango over yogurt.
A delicious bowl of Zoe’s Honey Almond granola with extra almonds, coconut shreds, and mango over yogurt.

Next up is a recipe I got from a website called Culinary Competitor: Vegetarian Black Bean Chili with Bulgur.

The chili with a dollop of sour cream and cilantro, and a side of buttered peas and...
The chili with a dollop of sour cream and cilantro, and a side of buttered peas and…

I also got to try something new! A Vitalicious Golden Corn VitaTop. I’ve always wanted to try this flavor because I love cornbread and these VitaTops just look so dainty! This was really good, and went perfectly with my meal. Oh gosh, almost forgot to review the recipe for you guys. TRY IT! I loved the addition of bulgur, which made it heartier. Eat it with some cornbread, or if you’ve got one of these yummy Tops on hand. I’m getting bossy! But for real guys…

Since we’re on the topic of VitaTops, I’ve been able to try a couple more flavors out.

Double Chocolate Dream - those are white chocolate chips.
Double Chocolate Dream – those are white chocolate chips.

Doing it up photo collage style like Angharad! I admit that I was hestitant to try these because I read the words “double chocolate dream.” And for the most part, I’m not a big fan of double chocolate anything. However, I do love white chocolate and I think the addition of those chips really made it awesome. Not to mention this was warm, pillowy, moist, and gooey!

About to enjoy bite number two... after I put the camera down!
About to enjoy bite number two… after I put the camera down!
Decided to try another uber-chocolate flavor...
I decided to try another uber-chocolate flavor…

Deep Chocolate! I didn’t like this one as much as the one with white chocolate chips. But I did enjoy the melted chocolate! For some reason I look yellow in that picture (flash?). I’ve also tried the brownie, and I was happy that they were bigger than the VitaTops. The only complaint so far that I have about the VitaTops is that they’re just a few bites of goodness. I guess that’s the trade off? For myself, I enjoy these as part of a yummy snack, or an extra to my meal. If I were having these as part of a breakfast I would definitely have to have two. I’m not a calorie counter, but I do know that my breakfast carbs have to be over 100 calories… unless I want to be hungry again in an hour. I actually have a question regarding morning hunger, that I’ll get to on another post. Anywho, I’d imagine that these are wonderful for dieters because you don’t have to “splurge” to have a flavorful treat (they don’t skimp on flavor). You can have your cake, and eat it too! (Any cake really, whatever your little tastebuds desire!)

Let’s see… what else have I been eating lately? Oh! The other day I marinated some tempeh to make a “BLT”. If any of you guys have any awesome tempeh recipes, please, send them on over!

This meal just looks funky!
This meal just looks funky!
Close-up
Close-up

I just followed this recipe for the tempeh marinade.

This one I decided to glaze with maple syrup.
This one I decided to glaze with maple syrup.

First Friday was awhile ago over here in my corner of the world. First Friday is when the galleries around here show off the new works they have up, and tons of people walk around and take it all in. Sometimes you see some real characters – the area’s eccentrics. Love it! Anyway, as you all know Matilda is practically attached to my hip so of course she went to this event with me! No one at any of the galleries has ever objected. I think it’s because she’s so freaking cute. But here are some pictures after the art and a show.

He calls her "little bean"... "get back in your can."
My friend calls her “little bean”… “get back in your can.”
I spy a 40!
I spy a 40!
Another pet!

Another furry friend!

Matilda would be so jealous if she saw this picture up. I think Sophia looks funny with her bat wings and squinty eyes. This was the night my entire zipcode experienced a blackout, so I went to my friend’s house. When the power came back we watched this murder mystery called Brick. This movie was so classical in the way it was shot… don’t really see mystery films made this way anymore.

Back to some more eats! The other day I was at the bookstore browsing through magazines that I didn’t want to pay for. I had my handy dandy Moleskin and copied down an interesting recipe I saw in a Vegetarian Times issue: ginger-miso yam wraps. This was my first time trying collard greens, and I tried them RAW!

Look how pretty!
Look how pretty!

This was so nice to look at and prepare. Collard greens remind me of the Cabbage Patch Kids. I made a slight change to the recipe, and poured in some coconut milk.

Filled with so much goodness.
Filled with so much goodness.
- with a side of carrots sautéed in coconut oil and later toasted some coconut shreds.
with a side of carrots sautéed in coconut oil and later toasted some coconut shreds and cinnamon.
Some more mock tuna goodness.
Some more mock tuna goodness.

I decided to add some variety to my eats by getting a bag of tortilla chips. Yay! I wish I had a cheese grater so I could make nachos. Well, I kind of made some the other day by cutting squares to put on each chip haha. But I prefer a messy, melted, gooey explosiong when it comes to nachos.

Then I added some goat cheese after I started eating...

Then I added some goat cheese after I started eating...

I happened to be reading Janetha’s blog while I was eating this, and saw that she made a tuna melt sandwich with goat cheese. Awesome idea, girl!

An apple, cheddar, "bacon", and roasted onion sandwich.

An apple, cheddar, "bacon", and onion sandwich.

I also spread some pumpkin butter on this great bread. This spelt bread tastes really good – perfect for sandwiches. On the side I sautéed some yellow squash in coconut oil and toasted some coconut shreds. To melt the cheese I put my sandwich in the toaster oven since I don’t have a griller. The crispness from the apple and onions, the crunch from the bread, and the smoky “bacon” with cheddar were awesome all together!

A chocolate banana pop.

A chocolate banana pop.

Oops! It looks like I didn’t really clean the mold that well… there’s some OJ at the tip. For these pops I just added some chocolate sprinkles to the warm, melted banana + coconut milk/shreds mush. Naturally, the sprinkles melted and spread their love throughout. I love the creaminess of these pops, and the texture the coconut shreds add to them as well.

A cup of hot cocoa made with coconut milk and some cinnamon.

A cup of hot cocoa made with coconut milk and some cinnamon.

Do you love the foam? I use the chocolate tablets that you have to put in the blender with boiling milk. Nothing beats my grandma’s hot chocolate though. She does it the old-fashioned way by boiling the milk on the stove. Then she pours it into her old tin pitcher and gets to crackin’ with her over-sized pestle to crush the chocolate. Then she whirls it around to make it foamy. My grandma has such strong arms: hot cocoa to strength train = lots of great hugs for the granddaughter.

So now the moment you’ve all been waiting for! It’s time to announce the winner of the U.S. Mills giveaway. First off, I loved reading everyone’s ideas – most of you enjoy it with yogurt and fruits. If you haven’t tried it yet, I suggest you make peanut butter balls by just coating a blob of peanut butter in cereal. Example, if you guys have a cereal that tastes corny you can also add in some coconut shreds to the peanut butter blobs. Anyway, I’m like an annoying commercial right now when all you want is to get back to the show! Okay, okay, and the winner is…

Aileen!

Congrats girl! I’m going to send you an e-mail to notify you. Thank you all for participating. I hope you all enjoyed it, and maybe some of you with a gluten intolerance now know there are cereals for everybody! Moreover, I was able to stumble on to some blogs I haven’t read before – maybe I should have more giveaways?

I hope you all enjoy the rest of your Sunday, and don’t forget to give yourself some TLC.