Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Another member was curious about my home-made hummus which I posted about yesterday in my status.
Well, I got sorta yacky in my response and figured why not share with others? :-)
I found this recipe in SparkRecipes:
I liked the simplicity of it and the fact that it was a recipe that didn't require tahini as many of them do. Tahini can be hard to find and pricey. AND since it is really a nut butter made from sesame seeds it can add a significant caloric punch, albeit of a healthful variety most likely.
Following recipes has never been my forte, however...I take many liberties as I have with this one...but I DO appreciate it as a base plan for my own hummus.
Here are some of the things I do:
Forget about canned chickpeas...who knows what additives there are, salt, BHA or whatever that stuff is. I buy the dried chickpeas, soak them overnight and boil them up. The whole bag...forget, 12 or 16 oz? Something like that. Plus the OTHER fun thing I do is vary the bean of choice. As I figure a chickpea is just another bean why not substitute black beans? Pinto? Northern? Even the variety pack of dried beans which they use for soups? Done 'em all, love 'em all.
Variations to boiling: I ALWAYS add fresh onion and garlic...sometimes I overdo it and we all wilt each other with our breath afterward...lol! I have tried variations of adding these as well. Sometimes I add them fresh after I'm done boiling the chickpea (or whatever bean I choose). I've found that you need to tone it WAY down on the quantity of onion and garlic if you do it this way as they are in their MOST potent form. Sometimes I will sautee the garlic and onions in olive oil before adding them. And then the OTHER variation is to boil the garlic and onions with the bean of choice. I pour the water off into whatever homemade soup I've got going...most recently leftover turkey / barley / carrots/ celery / spinach...yum! Anyhow ALL variations work.
Next: what to do with all these ingredients? The recipe calls for "smashing" it. And certainly you can do that and keep it simple. However I love a yummy smooth texture so I use my food processor to pull all the ingredients together. I imagine a blender could do a respectable job as well.
Note on the sour cream: I substitute non-fat yogurt. I suppose one could use non-fat sour cream or Greek yogurt as well.
Note on spices: I don't bother with salt but love to go crazy jazzing it up with crushed red pepper, black pepper, sometimes use lemon pepper, even chili powder! And of course lots of cumin which gives it the distinctive hummus-flavor we all know & love.
Note on onion & garlic: nope the original recipe doesn't call for onion. Oh well. IMHO, one can't have garlic without onion! :-) I take great liberties with the quantities of these ingredients as well...as in LOTS!
Other variations: As a mentioned in my status yesterday I varied this recipe by tossing in a handful of cranberries and an apple which contrasts nicely with the lemon juice to give it an added touch of sweet tangy-ness. I've added tomatoes sometimes for another variation. Yams for another. Probably berries would be cool. Have fun and play with it...see what you come up with!
It's sorta funny how the original recipe was titled Hummus My Way, cuz that's what I sure DID with it! :-)
Friday, November 15, 2013
I keep waiting for a pocket of time to do this blog justice, however things are hopping such that I KNOW if I don't share it now my weekend is gonna just run away with itself and who knows WHEN I'll catch up with all of you! :-)
First of all a follow up to my "workout weirdness": turns out my son has noticed the same thing happens to him when allergies kick up working out quiets them down. He said that pumping up our bodies during a workout just over-rides the allergies while our heart and blood is revved up.
In the meantime the allergies sorta come and sorta go...at least I finally remembered my old buddy the neti pot. It really helps to quiet the symptoms.
Now onto the FUN STUFF! I can't thank 4-A-HEALTHY-BMI enough for her friendly "nudges" to join in the fun of contra dance! PLUS although another local member of SparkPeople (ANNIEMAC_98) and I have caught up with each other via the website, this was the first time we had a chance to "make it real" and meet each other at contra dance since I posted to our local group to encourage others to join in the fun.
Check out 4-A-HEALTHY-BMI's blog with all the pics and links to "fill in the blanks":
I was so glad to have pushed through my reservations and apprehensions over trying contra dance! Not that I wasn't daunted by the challenges! Unlike swing dance in which once you a a few basic steps and variations you're good for a night of dancing, with contra dance there are MANY different moves to learn. And because the moves are called out by the "caller," it required one to a) listen carefully, b) know the taxonomy of the various moves (do-si-do, allemande, etc.) and / or c) follow the crowd and do what THEY do!
My hearing isn't what it should be (especially with live music, conversation and many audio distractions) so I pretty much opted for c) throughout my time dancing. Tricky though as while one is constantly moving you can't always keep your eye on what others are doing. Sometimes there was guesswork, which wasn't as reliable as I would've hoped!
But there was lots of repitition, so eventually I would get it down and get through the steps without too many mishaps. And the people were OH-so-friendly and helpful...often pointing me in the right direction when I looked lost or headed the wrong way.
Some of the dances requires one to swing your partner and the swinging in contra dance is WAY more cool than the swinging in swing dance! After having danced with a few different gals, 4-A-HEALTHY-BMI asked for a dance which I gladly obliged! I was about to find out what REAL swinging was like! It had been pretty tame with the others but with 4-A-HEALTHY-BMI (always a full-throttle sort of person, which is one of many great qualities she has!) it almost felt like *I* was being swung...lol! So I quickly learned to reciprocate in kind and soon we were whirling away just *this close* to being disorientingly dizzy...but not quite! What a blast!
It was a blast in another way too: we all heated up that gym in a hurry! I was sopping with sweat by the time I wrapped up!
The live music was extra special also, playing folk from uptempo to elegant waltzes. Excellent musicians!
I found out that there is a group that gets together for contra dance in the Binghamton area on a regular basis and hope to continue to push through my reticence and join in again soon.
Pushing the envelope and being "alive in the world!" That's what it's all about! :-)
Monday, November 04, 2013
This summer cycling season, after being cut loose by my cardiologist in June and taken off of Coumadin, was capped by two of the most special cycling accomplishments: 1) Cycling 'round the 1,000 Islands area of New York and Ontario with 15 of my bike club members and 2) Cycling 'round Cape Cod on my week-long self-supported tour with several other very special cyclists.
One of the things I do when I ride is, whenever possible, I wear my Keen Sandals:
Nope, no cycling shoes for me. No clip-ins, etc. Just don't want to "go there" and take my lumps learning to clip, falling at stop lights, etc. Besides I'm a keep-it-simple kinda guy: one pair of sandals and I'm good to go wherever I want to, cycling, walking, hiking...do it all with no need for changing over. It was a nice "downsize" to my self-supported load...no extra pair of shoes!
And as odd as it may seem, I really liked the "stripes" I earned from spending time in my Keens as the sun would tan the open parts of the sandals leaving stripes of tan against the pale, unexposed parts of my feet. By the time I finished riding the Cape I was sporting some pretty cool stripes, silly as it may seem I felt proud to earn them and just seeing them on my feet could make me smile and re-kindle the memories of how they got there! :-)
Well, since I'm a fairweather kinda cyclist I've been pretty well sidelined from riding for a while now. Not that I won't keep my eyes & ears tuned to a possible warm spell during which I can scoot out and enjoy, but increasingly my workouts are indoors at the fitness center. Spinning classes are great, but I am finding myself increasingly missing my outdoor "fix."
My Tiger Paws are fading and this past weekend's Daylight Savings felt like a big heavy door slamming shut against the daylight.
The Dark Months are upon us! It's not just the darkness in the morning and after work that I find so oppressive, but the confining aspects of the cold and dark, the withdrawal of abundant sunshine.
A couple years ago I finally bought a used cross country ski set hoping to be able to use them and to get my outdoor fix. However I and many of our bike club members who switch to cross country skiing during the winter are finding that climate change has mostly snatched away our readily available skiing options. Some travel north to ski. But I'd like to gain more confidence, as I'm a newbie, before driving a distance to flop around in the snow.
So the challenge returns: how to keep my Spark during The Dark Months!
One thought which I've started to put into action has been to make a more consistent and concerted effort to head out for power walks with co-workers while on lunch break at work. We have a handy hill nearby which we start right up at the beginning of our walk that always revs us up for the rest of the walk during which we keep a crisp, zippy pace. It's a great break from our long hours either riding around seeing clients or at the pc logging in our work. PLUS we shake loose our work and enjoy our conversations along the way AND:
We get our OUTDOOR FIX! Nice triple bonuses!
The other activity I know I need to enjoy more consistently is to get out for Swing Dance every possible Tues. night:
Yes it's on the other end of the county 20 miles away...but the costs of not going are too great. Need to make this a priority PLUS:
I need to be vigilant for opportunities to push the envelop, get out of my comfort zone and try other things. For instance, recently one of the most SPARKIN' members of SP I know: 4-A-HEALTHY-BMI has been enjoying the fun and community of contradancing and spotted an event that is coming up this Saturday practically in my back yard!
Part of me worries about being a total newbie to this kind of dancing, but I've heard from many sources how user-friendly, warm and accepting the contradance community can be. So yep: gonna do it!
I've invited our local SparkTeams to join in the fun and am hoping there will be others to meet. I'm truly grateful to 4-A-HEALTHY-BMI for her persuasive, friendly "nudges" to get going here!
Yes, The Dark Months may be upon us, but I'm beginning to realize and utilize one of the most potent defenses against the darkness. Pardon the dated lingo of this song, but it came to me while writing this blog and all "grooviness" aside, the message remains as timeless and vibrant as ever:
Yours in SPARK!
Sunday, October 06, 2013
Another wonderful weekend spent with fellow bike club members! Yesterday we had our bi-annual roadside clean up which our many hands wrapped up lickety-split and followed up with a quickie 20 mile ride to Whitney Point. It was more overcast yesterday and overnight it rained fairly hard...which accomplished exactly what I had hoped: a rain-free Sunday for more cycling!
As it still looked and felt like it might possibly rain when I set out from my house at 9:30 a.m. I had this song on my mind...the jazzy bass line walking along setting a nice cadence for my pedaling:
I re-named it to "RIDE Between The Raindrops" but fortunately no rain came down on our parade! :-)
I met up with others in Binghamton. Today's ride was a "bunny" ride...as the ride leader calls them. Sounds cute, light and fun right? Well...perhaps all that but one thing her rides AREN'T is EASY! Earlier on when she dubbed her rides "bunny rides" a few got duped by the name and umpteen hills later discovered cool places to ride with wonderful sights from around our gorgeous terrain...but paid for it with sore quads and other body parts! :-)
There were 8 of us for today's ride, including our favorite member, without whom the club wouldn't be here today, who is 80 years old pedaling right along with us!
I already knew that the first part of the ride was going to be a climb out of the south side of Binghamton heading toward the Pennsylvania / New York border:
As the ride went on other riders embellished with route add-ons which took us up more hills so we ended up criss-crossing the hills much like the wooly-bear caterpillars scampering across the roads we powered up and zoomed down! While the colors weren't at their best, the recent rain having taken down quite a few leaves, there was still a rustic beauty pedaling through the countryside, at times through roads layered with pungent pine needles. There were great views of the valley below from atop these hills:
All the hills brought to my mind one of my favorite (oh heck they're ALL my favorite) songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim: "Favela" which is subtitled "Somewhere in the Hills:"
I especially like the soft samba rhythm of the guitar that propels me along and which is from Jobim's classic album which I HIGHLY recommend...check out the reviews here:
I managed to get myself lost along the way zooming out a bit ahead of the group, not knowing where the heck everybody went and calling one member to get their location so I could back-pedal and rejoin them.
We got back to their parking spots and talked a bit about the ride and upcoming rides. Next weekend promises a return to the Butternut Valley which stretches from Sidney to Mount Upton and Morris and includes waterfalls and hopefully more fall foliage if it holds out! Another one of my favorite rides!
So rather than head straight home after the ride with the group I took the River Road loop for yet additional climbing and racked up a nice total of 56 miles and over 3,000 feet of climb today. Woo hoo, did THAT feel good!
All righty now...back to the work week...let's fill 'er with SPARK everybody!
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