an unlikely pair.

No matter how unlikely it may seem, you just never know who you’re going to hit it off with.

Who might suddenly be your new best friend.

Chick peas and pumpkin are a very unlikely combination.  Slightly unexpected.  And while they’re not quite on the level of black bean brownies, they’ll still make you step back for just a moment or two.

Chick peas and pumpkin? Who would have thought.

I still haven’t decided if this is a smooth and creamy hummus or a sweet and spicy, gingerbread dessert spread.

I have decided that I love these flavors together.  That blackstrap molasses makes everything (yes, everything!) better.  That walnuts and molasses were meant to be.  And that next next year I need to stock up with one or two more cans of pumpkin.

Serve the spread on a crispy cracker.

Or swirl it into your yogurt with a sprinkle of Natures Path Pumpkin Flax Granola.

No matter how unlikely it may seem, you just never know who you’re going to hit it off with.

Who might suddenly be your best friend.

Gingerbread Hummus

Serve this sweet and spicy spread with crackers or yogurt.  Or, top off your morning bowl of oats (or pancakes!) with a scoop or two.  There’s not a trace of “bean” flavor to be found, and—like me—you will probably find yourself wondering why you didn’t stock up with more cans of pumpkin as well.  Enjoy!

  • 1-15oz. can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp. blackstrap molasses
  1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients together.  Adjust salt and molasses to taste.  Enjoy! 😀

QUESTION: Hummus…yay or nay?  What is your favorite hummus flavor?

Breakfast Bonanza, Day 4 (don’t forget to layer!)

I went for my first chilly run this morning. 

Yes, the temperatures have previously reached 45.  Even 40.  But today it was a meer 28.  This is also known as “nose burning, bring a kleenex, wear your winter tights” kind of cold.  It was, in one word, blissful.  :mrgreen:

Come January, after I’ve run through my third or fourth blizzard in the dead of winter, I give you full permission to taunt and tease me.  Yes, you may.

“Sarah, you said you like winter running!  Stop complaining!!”

As for now, I am fully enjoying these chilly morning runs.  They feel so refreshing. So invigorating.  Filled to the brim with energy!  Besides, I’m not really cold during these runsThat’s what mittens, wool socks and warm winter tights are for.  It’s all about the layering!

Kind of like breakfast.  Layer after layer after layer of goodness. 

Layer 1: Pumpkin mixed with yogurt.

Layer 2: 1 T. ground flaxseed

Layer 3: 1/2 c. cooked millet

Layer 4: 1 sweet banana, sliced

Layer 5: walnuts, cranberries, coconut.  Just because.

The Mighty Millet Mish-Mash

I’m a creature of habit when it comes to whole grains.  The bulk of my diet is made up of oats, oats, and oats.  But sometimes it’s fun to try something completely new and different.

I was a little unsure of how much liquid I needed to cook the millet, and ended up going with a 2 1/2:1 ratio of water to millet (that would be 1-1/2 c. of water to 1/2 c. uncooked millet.)  It seemed to work out pretty well for me, but I did use the strainer to get rid of some excess water afterwards.

Millet is sweet, soft, and very mild flavored.  It reminded me of quinoa without the slightly “exotic flavor”.  Another plus is that it’s gluten free, making it the perfect grain option for people who have celiacs and/or a gluten intolerance.  I’m a new fan of this humble little grain, and plan on incorporating it regularly into many future breakfasts and side dishes. 

  • 1/2 c. canned pumpkin
  • 6-oz. plain yogurt

Combine above together and place on bottom of bowl.

  • 1 T. crushed flaxseed
  • 1/2 c. cooked millet, mixed with cinnamon and nutmeg if desired
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • toppings: walnuts, craisins, coconut

Layer the flaxseed, the millet, and lastly the banana on top of your yogurt mix.  Top with walnuts, craisins, coconut and whatever else suits your fancy.  Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Since we’re on the topic of breakfast, have I previously mentioned that I’m slowly weaning myself off of coffee?

 

It’s true. 

During the weekends, I find no greater pleasure than sitting down with my big blue mug, sipping on a dark, roasted coffee with soy.  Filled, filled, filled to the brim with warmth and goodness.  But during the weekday, I find myself guzzling the contents of my mug in 5 minutes flat.  The result is an overheated, slightly delirious, over-caffeinated girl.  Not pretty.

I’d like to save coffee for the weekend, when I can thoroughly enjoy each and every sip.  But since I’ve never been a cold turkey kinda gal, I’m slowly decreasing the amount that I drink each week.  Right now I’m about 3/4 of a mug full, and slowly making my way to half.  We’re getting there. 😉

Question: Are you a coffee drinker?  Do you go for “regular,” straight up coffee?  Do you have a favorite signature drink?  I like my morning cup with soy and no added sweetener, but whenever I go out to a cafe, I always order a grande soy misto with extra foam and a pump of toffee mocha, pumpkin, or cinnamon dolce.  I consider this my signature drink. 😀

Family Favorite

Why, hello there, Oats In A Jar.  It sure has been a while.

  • 1/4 c. oatbran
  • 1/4 c. wheat bran
  • 1 c. milk + 3/4 c. water
  • 1/2 banana
  • 2 T. raisins
  • cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove

I cooked the oats to perfection and then poured the hot mixture into an almost empty pb jar.  The Galaxy Granola was added a little bit here and a little bit there as I ate my way through.  This breakfast will never—never, never—grow old.

But enough with breakfast.  I have an announcement to make.  Ladies and Gents, I have found a yogurt that deserves to be called my most favorite yogurt of all: Voskos Honey Vanilla Bean.

It’s true.

I can’t decide if it was the silky texture, the homemade blueberry banana muffin that was crumbled on top, or the pure, sweet creaminess of it all.

I think the fact that real, honest-to-goodness vanilla bean is used instead of vanilla extracts or flavorings has something to do with it too.  Just look at these little vanilla specks sprinkled throughout!  This is the real deal.  My mom stated it was the best yogurt she’s ever had, and I couldn’t have agreed more.  All I can say is that it’s a good thing my local grocery store doesn’t carry this, or I’d go in debt over yogurt. 

Now that I’m on a role with personal favorites, deep obsessions and other such matters, I think it’s time I introduce you to a new favorite salad combination of mine…

  • 1 broccoli crown, cut into bite sized peices
  • 1/2 c. canned black bleans
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Combine the above ingredients and bake on a cookie sheet at 425 for about 20 minutes (remember to flip halfway through cooking time and adjust salt and pepper to taste.)

Once the veggies are browned to your liking, mix in:

  • 1/4 avocado (very ripe), smashed
  • garlic powder (don’t be skimpy!)
  • 1/2 tomato

If you think this sounds odd and strange, you are not alone.  It does sound peculiar.  Which is why you simply must try it. I promise that if you love guacamole, garlic, and roasted vegetables, you will love this simple meal.

On the side, I had 1-1/2 slices of Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Sourdough bread, toasted, with a pat of butter.

Afternoon Snack: Homemade Dates & Coconut Granola Bar

If you’re a regular reader of Running To Slow Things Down, you have probably seen this Gypsy Soup more than one too many times.  But that’s simply because it’s one of my absolute favorites.  This is one of those recipes that has wiggled its way into becoming a family favorite.   It’s that “go-to” soup recipe.  It’s a soup filled with memories.  In fact—if it wasn’t too dangerous to say—I might even put it up there with chicken noodle soup as being a comfort food.  But that’s dangerous territory, so I’ll have to save it for another day. 😉

Needless to say, the recipe for Gypsy Soup will forever be dog-eared in my Moosewood Cookbook, and it will permanently be stained with turmeric and tomato juice.  And, yes, you will see it many more times in the future of this blog.  It’s just that kind of recipe.

Gypsy Soupcourtesy of Moosewood Cookbook with some minor tweakings

  • 1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 c. chopped onion
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 2 c. peeled, diced sweet potato
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. mild paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp basil
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of cayenne (I use about 1/8 tsp to make it spicy)
  • 3 c. water
  • 1 medium bell pepper, diced
  • 1 15 oz. can of chick peas (drained and rinsed)
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot.  Add onion, garlic, celery, and swee potato.  Saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add salt, and saute 5 more minutes.  Add seasonings and water, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  2. Add tomato, bell pepper, and chick peas.  Cover and simmer for 10 + minutes or until all vegetables are as tender as you like them.  Taste to adjust seasonings and serve.

This bread is also a tried-and-true family favorite.  I love that it’s made with all whole wheat flour while still remaining moist and soft.  Yesterday I confessed to having a fear of tasteless, rubbery, overcooked red meat.  But I also have a fear of dried out, stale, tasteless bread.  100% whole wheat breads have a reputation for being dense and dry—cardboard, they call it (and oftentimes, rightly so!)  This bread, however, is the furthest thing from being dry.  On first bite, you’ll note how soft and moist it is.  You’ll taste the subtle sweetness of molasses.  And you’ll forever be convinced that whole wheat bread does not have to taste like cardboard. 😀

King Arthur’s Whole Wheat Bread

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast, or 1 packet active dry yeast dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/3 cups (10 1/2 ounces) water
  • 1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup (3 ounces) honey, molasses, or maple syrup
  • 3 1/2 cups (14 ounces) King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) nonfat dried milk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt

Mixing: In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir till the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. (You may also knead this dough in an electric mixer or food processor, or in a bread machine programmed for “dough” or “manual.”) Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 60 minutes, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

Shaping: Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into an 8-inch log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 1 hour, or until it’s crowned about 1 inch above the edge of the pan. A finger pressed into the dough should leave a mark that rebounds slowly.

Baking: Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for about 40 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil after 20 minutes. Test it for doneness by removing it from the pan and thumping it on the bottom (it should sound hollow), or measuring its interior temperature with an instant-read thermometer (it should register 190°F at the center of the loaf). Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a wire rack before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature. Yield: 1 loaf, 16 slices.

Nutrition per serving (1 slice, 51g): 150 cal, 3.5g fat, 5g protein, 24g total carbohydrate, 5g sugar, 3g dietary fiber, 0mg cholesterol, 200mg sodium.

Off to chillax with My Homemade Life.  What a great book!!! 

Question: Do you have a Family Favorite Recipe that is made over and over again?

(a) (b) (c)

I didn’t realize until after making breakfast, that all my toppings and mix-ins were of the same color.  (a) oatmeal = brown, (b) peanut butter = brown, (c) pumpkin = brown/orange.  Oh well.  At least the flavors were far from boring. 😉

  • 1/2 c. raw oatmeal
  • 1/2 c. canned pumpkin
  • 1 small mac apple, diced
  • 6-oz. plain, nonfat dannon yogurt
  • cinnamon, nutmeg and clove + splash of vanilla
  • topping: 1 T. Teddy’s chunky peanut butter and 1 T. Galaxy Granola (“very vanilla” flavor)

Super creamy! 😀

Pre-walk snack: orange and a handful of salted, dry roasted peanuts.

I forgot how much I love peanuts in a shell.  They’re (a) filled with filling protein, (b) fun to crack open and (b) make for a tasty snack. 😀

Yesterday I double batched the Black Bean Soup which means I basically have enough to either (a) feed an army, (b) feed the entire family lunches for the week, or (c) freeze for future use.  I don’t think the family would appreciate (b), and I’m really hoping that the soup freezes well because it sure would make for a quick lunch option next week. 

(p.s. I double most soups, especially when they’re some of the more time-intensive ones to make.  It makes life easy when you need it to be. 😉 )   

I cut up some more of the cornbread which I served on the side.

I’ve been eyeballing Voskos Greek Yogurt on other blogs for a while now, so when Allison from Voskos volunteered to send me some to sample and review, I was more then excited.   I normally use Dannon as my yogurt of choice because it’s (a) cheap (as in “40 cents cheap”!!) (b) pretty creamy for nonfat, plain yogurt and (c) free of gunky additives.  But—at heart—I will always be a greek yogurt kinda girl.  😉

There are five flavors (aside from plain) to be sampled, and the first one that instantly leaped out at me was the Exotic Fig.  This was wonderful!!  Not quite as creamy as other greek yogurts I’ve tried in the past, but the flavor was unique and delicious.  It reminded me of a fig newton (it even had little fig seeds that gave a fun little crunch :mrgreen: ).  I topped mine with walnuts and chopped dates. 

So yes, definitely recommend this flavor.  Can’t wait to try the other flave-ahs; thanks Voskos! 😀

In a desparate attempt to finish off some meat from the freezer, I defrosted some already grilled burgers and reheated them in a pan with sauteed onions (with a bit of EVOO.)  Talk about easy.  And I do love eating a good burger now and then.

Stepping aside from the traditional hamburger bun, however, I used a slice of toasted whole wheat sourdough bread which I loved.  I could eat this bread with everything.  Not even kidding.

On the side, I made a larger-than-life salad complete with black olives, broccoli, feta cheese, and a splash of balsamic vinegar and orange.

Off to spend the night with the fam!!  😀  We have a campfire planned since it’s too gorgeous outside not to have one. 

HAPPY THURSDAY!

Question: What is your yogurt of choice?  (a) Plain, non-fat Dannon for when I need a daily yogurt fix (b) fage 2% when I can make the extra monetary splurge 😉 and (c) chobani pineapple when I can make the monetary splurge and when I want it to be flavored.

Breakfast and Biking

Thank you all so much for the well wishes, prayers, and thoughts regarding my memere.  I appreciate the kind words and support.  It means a lot.

It is so gorgeous out this morning, that I only have one thing I can possibly think of doing.  Biking.  Well, okay.  I’d rather go running and zone out into what I fondly know as “runner’s bliss.”  😉  But biking is the second best thing.  And just like a really good best friend, biking is there when I need it the most.  I may not be able to zone out as I do with running, but I can sweat bullets and show those massive hills who’s boss.  :mrgreen:

I started with a Caitlin-inspired yogurt mess this morning…

  • 1/2 c. old fashioned oatmeal (uncooked)
  • 6-oz. plain yogurt
  • 1 ripe banana, smashed
  • 1/2 c. pumpkin
  • + cinnamon and ginger

I mixed the concoction together in a vigorous manner and then preceded to top it off with 1 tsp chia seeds, 2 T. Natures path Pumpkin Flax Granola, and a scoop of teddy’s crunchy salted peanut butter.

It tasted very similair to overnight oats.  Creamy.  Sweet.  Delicious.

I think I could use a cup of very darkly roasted coffee with soy this morning.  Followed by a long hard bike ride…off to get started on both! 😀

Oh, and Happy Memorial Day!!

Question: How do you plan on celebrating Memorial Day?

All the Whey

Busy, busy day!

I needed a yummy, filling morning meal (i.e., oats of course! :mrgreen: )

  • 1/4 c. each oatmeal and oatbran
  • 1 c. milk + 3/4 c. water
  • 1/2 banana, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 c. wheat bran (stirred in for last couple of minutes)
  • granola
  • scoop of cashew butter

The first time that I tried cashew butter, I honestly wasn’t a fan.  Now I’m in love.  It’s so rich, creamy, buttery.  And it melts right into a hot bowl of oats.  Mmm…

 I have a confession to make.  I’m notorious for dumping out the liquid sitting on top of plain yogurt as a way to make it thicker (i.e., more Greek-like!)  But that clear liquid is actually whey, a protein found in milk products.  No more dumping off the liquid! :mrgreen:

With my yogurt (all the yogurt, whey and all 😉 ), I mixed in 1 T. crushed flax and topped it off with 1/2 a banana and a small handful of granola.

This morning was too gorgeous out to head to the gym, so I went out for a 4-mile walk with mom.  The birds were singing, the sun was shining, the temperature was rising above 40, and I felt so absolutely full with spring.  😀 

Lunch was a hodgepodge of leftovers, which I packed to bring with me to classes. 

  • about 1 c. leftover brown rice
  • about 1 c. peas
  • 1/2 c. garbanzo beans
  • salsa

For being such a simple lunch, it was actually pretty yummy.  It could have used a little more protein though, to add some more “filling power.”  It did, however, hold me over for a good 3 hours. 😀

+ a pear, an apple, and a KIND Fruit and Nut Delight bar for an afternoon snack.

Mom made a delicious dinner tonight since she had the day off.  Meatloaf (from Cooks Illustrated Light,) mashed red potatoes, steamed carrots and mashed turnips.  I was starving when I came home from a long day, so it was nice seeing a hearty meal on the table. 😀  The meatloaf had a sweet tomato style glaze on top.  It’s going to make an awesome sandwich. 😉

I went to a sports store today to pick up some knee sleeves, but I honestly can’t decide if I want to wear them or not (or even if they feel normal in how tight they are.)  Does anyone have any experience with these?  Part of me just wants to work on strengthening my quads and hamstrings rather then wearing too much support.  Need to do my research!

Question: Do you normally pour off the liquid sitting on top of your yogurt, or do you mix it all together?  I used to always dump it off until I asked myself what it was that I was dumping and realized it was the whey protein.  Always learning something new! :mrgreen: