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Monday, February 08, 2010

Quinoa! Ever since trying the double broccoli quinoa* at New Seasons, Aubrey and I have made it a fixture in our kitchen. It is just SO good! Although this last time we had it, I think we made it too far in advance. The first time we made it, we made it the day before and kept everything separate. The quinoa in one container, the broccoli pesto in another, and then right before we ate it we freshly made the rest of the broccoli and added the slivered almonds on top.

This time when we made it we made it the day before again, but mixed everything together. It was a lot drier the second time around and I think it must be because the quinoa soaked up too much of the broccoli pesto. Iím not a ďcookĒ so I have no clue if thatís true. But it just seemed drier than the last time. For you cooks out there, let me know if that can happen!

For the side dish I had a salad. I love my homemade ranch dressing**! It just sooo good! While Iím partial to romaine, shredded carrots, radishes and broccoli, what do you like to eat for a salad?

While I love fresh fruit I am also completely obsessed with these bake-dried apple chips. I havenít tried most of their other products because I just keep thinking about the apple chips! Have you ever tried these?

Ok, not much else to update in my food trials. But you know what I did eat? Yup, you know itís comingÖ.

Have I mentioned how much I like this combo? Oh, I have you say? Sorry, soooo good =)

*Double Broccoli Quinoa :

So for both recipes I didn't add any salt and I think it tastes just fine without. But if you normally salt things I did list the amounts.

(Makes 6 Servings)
Double Broccoli Quinoa
3 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups raw broccoli, cut into small florets and stems
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted (I didn't bother to toast them, but it adds to the flavor)
1.5 cups broccoli pesto (see recipe below)
1 tsp salt (optional)

In a large pot, bring 3/4 cup of water to a simmer. Add salt (if using) and broccoli.
Cover and cook 1 minute.
Transfer to a strainer and run under cold water. Set aside.
Toss the quinoa with broccoli florets and broccoli pesto. Top with almonds and additional toppings if you like. Serve cold or hot.

Optional toppings : sliced avocado, feta cheese, goat cheese, slivered basil, olive oil, red chile flakes

Broccoli Pesto
Blanche two cups of broccoli.
In a food processor, puree broccoli, three garlic cloves, 1/2 cup slivered almonds, 1 ounce grated parmesan cheese, 1 tsp salt and 2 tbsp lemon juice. Drizzle in olive oil and blend until smooth.

I like my pesto thick, so I only used 2 tbsp of olive oil, but add the right amount to get the consistency you want.

**Ranch Dressing :

So this actually turned out really good! I didn't have any buttermilk, so I left that out. I found the consistency to be just fine without it. And I find it funny that it is half the calories of the "light" ranch dressing that I was buying.

1 clove garlic
1/8 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used Organics)
1/4 cup sour cream (I used Daisy, pure and natural)
Buttermilk, as needed to desired consistency (I left out, but feel free to add!)

I also didn't add any of the following, but they were suggested :

Fresh Dill (optional, To Taste)
Cayenne Pepper (optional, To Taste)
Paprika (optional, To Taste)
Fresh Oregano (optional, To Taste)
Tabasco (optional, To Taste)

Preparation Instructions
Mince the garlic with a knife and then sprinkle about an 1/8 to ľ teaspoons of salt on it and mash it into a paste with a fork. Chop the parsley, chives and any of the optional herbs very finely and add to the garlic.

In a bowl combine all ingredients, adding other optional ingredients as you wish, tasting frequently and adjusting seasonings as needed. Chill for a couple of hours before serving, thin with milk or buttermilk if desired.

Will you be trying any new recipes this week? Please share!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IM_GETTIN_THIN 2/9/2010 1:34PM

    sounds yummy! :) a friend of mine introduced me to quinoa some months ago. i still have some around the house but am afraid to make it because it might not be fresh anymore?? i don't know whether to keep or toss it. do you know how long dry quinoa lasts??

Lori in new york

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DNJEN471 2/8/2010 2:20PM

    What is Quinoa? Is it a pasta? A rice?

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SNOWHIT 2/8/2010 12:49PM

    Mmm. This sounds good. I retain a child's dislike of broccoli. I'll eat it, but never choose to make it. I have been thinking about growing it in my garden this year though. Mostly because I just want to grow more. I'll have to try this recipe.

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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Three years ago today, I joined this crazy little website called Sparkpeople.

I set out with a general resolution to "lose weight", and I was amazed at how quickly it came off at first. I learned that I was eating twice, (sometimes three times!) the amount of food I should have been eating in a day. Who knew? I never really understood anything about calories except that food had nutritional labels. But I had never taken the time to actually look at one before, let alone read it.

I started out just walking around my neighborhood and I tracked my time by the amount of songs I listened to while I walked. I'd come home, write out the length of the songs from my MP3 player and find out how long I'd walked. It seems so weird to me now that I am a pretty consistent gym-goer and I have a heart rate monitor that not only tracks my time, but my calories for me!

It has just been recently that I have been trying to eat cleaner and make my own condiments, sauces, and food in general. Aubrey and I used to eat out at least five times a week. Whether it was lunch, dinner, or the random breakfast, we would be eating at a restaurant. I can't even imagine that now! Who can afford to live like that? Certainly not us. We basically NEVER eat out anymore; it is a rare treat. But even so we use a LOT of convenience foods. Store-bought sauces and the like. But we are working on our cooking skills. He has some, I have...none!

I wish I had some nugget of wisdom or other gem to give you today. I feel this pressure to inspire someone. But really, I just wanted to take a minute to think back to when I first started here at Sparkpeople.

I credit this website completely for teaching me a much better way to live my life. And in fact, saving my life! I never want to go back to the way I was before and I really don't see that ever happening.

Have a fabulous Sunday!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LOLLIPOP62 2/11/2010 12:26AM

    I'm a little late but WTG on your spark anniversary and I'm so thrilled for you!! Keep up the good work.

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YOADDICTION101 2/9/2010 5:04PM

    You or a great insporation and ty for posting this...I am still new to sparkpeople...today is my offical 30th day on spark people and I can't wait till it's been one year...I'm slowly seeing the weight come off and can not wait to have a before and after pic like you have...Your fantastic and I hope that you find some great cooking skills along your jurnay this year...

Have you ever watched Rachel Ray...She is a great cook and has tons of recipes and yes alot of them or to help cut down on fatty things but still get to taste things you like...I learned how to make my own gravy by watching her...plus I also learn that it is better to cook in olive oil then butter...Plus many many other things (such as how to suck the air out of bags of meat with a straw before freezng it to help save room and from freezer burn)...go anc check her out some time here is her shows webstie: http://www.rachaelrayshow.com/...ch
eck it out I bet you'll learn some good skills through her.

congrats on three years

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IM_GETTIN_THIN 2/9/2010 1:36PM

    wow!! You look fantastic!!!!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Lori in new york

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JUDITH1654 2/7/2010 7:57PM

    Awesome job! You look fantastic!!! emoticon

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MN_MOM 2/7/2010 6:01PM

    Please keep us updated it does inspire us !! Thank you for taking the time to share emoticon

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DNJEN471 2/7/2010 3:30PM

    You look like a completely different person!

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NPA4LOSS 2/7/2010 1:09PM

    I think that you have inspired a lot of us. emoticon Congratulations on your Spark anniversary! emoticon

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IZZYBEBOP 2/7/2010 12:38PM

    You look emoticon! emoticon on your emoticon! Isn't it amazing how once we start tracking our food we realize WHAT we've been eating all this time!

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LILYGIRL44 2/7/2010 12:09PM

  WOW! How could you not be inspiring! Outstanding!! Congrats on your 3rd Sparkiversary! It's obviously a terrific way to stay on top of your success. The great thing about SP is the support we all get from one another...I've been on this program 3 1/2 weeks and think it's wonderful! Your success inspires others..thanks!

Comment edited on: 2/7/2010 7:43:58 PM

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LIBRATAH 2/7/2010 12:02PM

    Congratulations on your success! emoticon

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LUCKIEST24 2/7/2010 12:02PM

    Wow! What a great inspiration you are!!! Happy Sparkiversary and many many more. You look fabulous!!!

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AAKROYD 2/7/2010 12:00PM

    Congratulations and Happy Sparkiversary!

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Dip Tasting at New Seasons

Saturday, February 06, 2010

This weekend at New Seasons they had various dips, chips, and other Super Bowl type snacks to taste. I love the tastings there because I can try new things without having to DO anything! I tried carrot juice today. It tastes like it sounds it will. Liquid carrot. I love carrots, but drinking them is not for me!

I also tried pistachios for the first time, and I love them! I was glad because it seemed like every single nut Iíve tried, Iíve hated. For the record, I HATE walnuts and pecans with a passion. In every way, shape, and form. I do like cashews, almonds, and peanuts (which are technically a legume).

So I was inspired by the wrap at Blossoming Lotus to make one for myself at home. I used collard greens, which I believe is what they used, but it did not turn out well! They wrapped up very nicely and I was able to get everything to stay in. But the greens themselves were SO bitter! I couldnít handle the bitterness and ended up scraping out the insides and eating them in a flatbread. It definitely did not taste that way at the restaurant.

Collard greens filled with hummus, cucumber, radish and broccoli.

Since I have had such problems getting the Ezekiel wraps to actually bend without completely breaking and falling apart, I was excited about using veggies as the wrap. I am now thinking about using red cabbage. I havenít had it in awhile and canít remember how flexible it is, but what I do know is that I love the taste of red cabbage!

My second smoothie attempt was mostly successful. I swapped out the strawberries for grapes and knew I needed to use about half as much water. However, it still turned out more liquidy than Iíd like. I am glad that the greek yogurt really helped in the creaminess department.

Smoothie made with chobani plain greek yogurt, frozen grapes, and half a frozen banana.

The other night we had black bean wraps and again the Ezekiel wraps refused to cooperate. I just used a flour tortilla like Aubrey usually does. Also, does anyone else top their brown rice with anything?

I like that salsa is a nice, low calorie topping, but I am bummed with how high in sodium it is. Aubrey and I still havenít found a homemade salsa recipe that we like the taste of. I donít like ones that are salty, even our store-bought salsa is too salty for my taste. But funnily enough, I donít like the ďfreshĒ taste of homemade salsa. It tastes way too much like tomatoes. I donít like tomatoes, even though I do like salsa and ketchup. Although to be honest, I havenít had ketchup in months. I exclusively use mustard every place I was using high-sugar ketchup.

Brown rice topped with salsa, broccoli and a black bean wrap.
Wrap is a flour tortilla filled with black beans, sweet peppers, cumin, plain greek yogurt, and some lemon juice.

But anyway! Tonight weíre having the double-broccoli quinoa again. We actually made it yesterday and Iíve been thinking about it since then. Yummm, food. =)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WEIGHTFORME1 2/7/2010 1:47AM

    I just checked out your SparkPage, Amber, and you are impressive!!!! emoticon emoticon

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TINK9305 2/7/2010 12:15AM

    I'm very interested in your meals :o) Double-broccoli quinoa??? Maybe try a homemade dill sauce. Some sour cream , dill, garlic, and plain yogurt??? on the rice. My family likes this on lots of things sometimes we put some fresh cut onions in too. So where do you live it seems like a fresh friendly place :o)

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NUTMEG1125 2/6/2010 8:56PM

    Use romaine lettuce or green leaf lettuce...not iceberg for the wraps.

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Blossoming Lotus

Friday, February 05, 2010

With such a horrible morning I didn't have high hopes for today. But then Aubrey and I decided to take a trek out and about and walked all over the mall after FINALLY trying the raw food at Blossoming Lotus.

We got a live wrap and a live falafel wrap both of which come with cashew sour cream on the side. The picture is of my plate after Aubrey and I shared wraps. That way we could both have half of each.

The half on the bottom is the live wrap and it has tahini-cilantro pate, cucumber, sprouts, carrot and an avocado sauce within the leafy wrap. The top half is the live falafel wrap and it has walnut & brazil nut falafel, tahini-cilantro pate, cucumber, red onion and sundried tomato within the leafy wrap.

Aubrey and I agree that the live falafel wrap was the best. I'm not a fan of avocado so I didn't like the sauce on the live wrap. The falafel was GOOD! The only thing I didn't like in it is the tomatoes, although I did try the sundried tomato! But thankfully it was easy to pick out.

Then we decided to try the live fudge I've heard so much about. To be honest, we weren't impressed.

It was ok...but certainly not worth the price. What Aubrey really loved (which you can kinda see in the fudge picture) is the Lavender Lemonade. It was definitely interesting!

It wasn't as filling as I'd like. I was full for about two hours, but then we made sure to get home so I could eat some more! I decided to stick with something I know I love. Surprise, surprise. =P Greek yogurt, a banana and Kashi Go Lean with cinnamon and a tiny bit of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I like my cereal to remain unsoggy!).

Now we're going to go play some Scene It? Although not sure which edition yet.

Who will win? Me!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DNJEN471 2/5/2010 11:55PM

    I love falafel. Never had it in a leafy wrap before... looks tasty.

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MN_MOM 2/5/2010 7:06PM

    I forgot to ask what is the brown stuff in the last picture? Stay positive !!

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MN_MOM 2/5/2010 7:04PM

    Can you get the recipe for the lemonade and cashew butter??? Love picture blogs. Thank you for sharing. emoticon

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Pictures of Food/Experiments

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

I decided to take some pictures of some of my experiments. We finally had black bean/veggie burger success! A burger press really helped, as well as chilling them to give them time to take shape. And no burning it this time!

In taking pictures to track the food I've been eating I've realized that my dishware is quite ugly. I love it though! I can't stand eating off anything that's not plastic. The sound of actual dishware drives me crazy! Another crazy Amber-OCD thing.

For lunch today I had a hummus wrap again, although I did not have it with a "clean" bread. But I haven't found a good flatbread replacement. The Ezekiel wraps just don't work like I'd like them to!

I used to make smoothies all the time with my chemical-filled yogurt, but I kept having problems. Either it would be too icy (I want a smoothie not an icee) or I would process it too much and it would turn to pure liquid (again I want a smoothie, not juice!) I like smoothies you eat with a spoon! I had some success using greek yogurt as it's a lot thicker! So it actually turned out SMOOTH! Smoothies should = smooth!

Then this wasn't an experiment, but a really yummy snack. A Chobani greek yogurt with fruit and cereal. What's not to love? The flavor of yogurt and the piece of fruit may change, but I love Kashi!

That's it! Just the food I've been eating the last couple of days. You know, for fun. =)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

*AMBER512 2/6/2010 11:49AM

    For the black bean burgers I used :

1 cup black beans
1/2 cup sweet peppers
1/2 cup sweet onion
2 tbsp flour
1 egg white
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin

We mashed it all together and then used a burger press and it made four burgers. Not giant ones, but they were tasty all the same and were only 85 calories a piece.

Next time I don't think I'll have them on the ezekiel bun, but just by themselves. Then I can have two and I can use lettuce as my bun and it'll taste just as good!

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TINK9305 2/6/2010 10:36AM

    Love it!!! Do you have the black bean recipe?

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KNMMOMMY 2/4/2010 7:50PM

    You are awesome. I wonder how to do all these things and make them appetizing for my meat and potatoes hubby. LOL!

Comment edited on: 2/4/2010 7:51:16 PM

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AUBREYJO 2/4/2010 1:56AM

    Yum! I've been wanting to make my own burgers for awhile now. Did you upload your recipe?

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DNJEN471 2/3/2010 9:48PM

    The burger sure does look tasty. I have found in making my own, chilling is key! Just to get it to stick together before grilling.

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CHATERJOY 2/3/2010 9:14PM

    Looks good! emoticon

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*AMBER512 2/3/2010 8:46PM

    Hmmm I'm thinking, black bean wraps tonight.
And double broccoli quinoa again soon, for sure!

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ALICIA214 2/3/2010 8:42PM


Looks very tasty. What is next on the menu.


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