A Spring-like Day in the Flower Shop

Flowers

The door of the shop is open to let in the soft March breeze. It is so difficult to imagine that we aren’t already in the bosom of spring. The flower shop emits a sweet scent that makes the mind wander off to a far away place. I open my eyes and realize that there is no other place that I would rather be.

A young sparrow hops in to say hello and see which flowers we have in stock.

The memory of this kind of day is one that I keep in my back pocket to pull out on a rainy and gloomy day.

Avocado Brownies

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Recently, my husband had to travel for work. I must admit, I am not a fan of this aspect of his job. I got married for a reason other than doing twice the laundry; having a hunk in your presence consistently is quite enjoyable, even if folding his underwear is tiresome.

After he left for the airport, I found myself at the intersection of melancholy and excitement, initially unsure of where to go. Until I remembered that I could watch a marathon of incredibly sappy girly movies. And stuff my face while doing it, all while wearing stained sweats and yesterday’s makeup.

 {{{Bliss}}}

I had my movies lined up and an overall disheveled appearance. The remaining piece to the puzzle was the face stuffant.

-In comes avocado brownies-

I have been on a bit of an avocado kick lately and these delectable treats found a place in my heart.

They also got some great reviews from friends!

…Steer clear of eating a lot of these and later stepping on the scale. I’d say it’s inadvisable. I speak from experience. Just share them with your friends.

Avocado Brownies
Adapted from About.com
Yields: 10 to 12 servings



Ingredients:
1 avocado, mashed
2 cups All-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk- cow’s, almond, or soy
1/3 cup water
2/3 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line all sides of a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper.
2. Sift the dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl.
3. Combine the avocado, vanilla, milk, water, and chocolate chips. Add to the dry ingredients.
4. Mix until well-combined and pour into prepared baking dish.
5. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean!

Remember Me?

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Hello? Is this mic on? 
Oh good, it is… Hey! Hi! Remember me?
I know, I know, it’s been a while.  I assure you that my absence has been with reason. I have heard about some of the rumors circulating, and wish to address them. I promise that none of them are true.
– I was not abducted by a mob of bandit ninjas.
– My husband and I didn’t flee to Colombia, because we are running from my husband’s past of being a former bandit ninja.
– Nor did I become a lounge singer in Atlantic City.
All of those things are great in their own right, and would make for a fabulous novel, but simply did not occur (although the last one would be awesome).  You see the truth is that I got a new job. It’s great!! I work in a flower shop in my neighborhood! Beautiful things and wonderful scents endlessly surround me. I lead a tough life; it’s often difficult to get out of bed in the morning, but I am somehow managing.
I jest. In fact, I have never been quite so happy! It has taken some time to fully adjust to my new schedule and commute (walking three blocks is quite taxing, I assure you), so I have consequently allowed my blogging to slack.
But, never fear! I am back and here to talk to you about something that has been on my mind.
AVOCADOES.
Avocadoes are simply delicious. Slice them up and put them into a sandwich or wrap.  Or mash them up and serve with chips. Or just simply look at ‘em.
Well, that’s what I did recently. I stared at a halved avocado and realized what a true beauty the vegetable is! She’s a beaut! Green and yellow and just… so… purty.


It just has a perfect shape! Thin up top and thicker on the bottom. Not quite sure where I have seen that before. Oddly close to a pear shape, which is what I see when I look into the mirror.  Oh yes, I recognize it now!
Therefore I have resigned myself to make into existence the “avocado shape.”  And I’m going to be the first to personify this, as it is so much more than a shape, but a state of mind. 
Imagine what it would have done for JLo’s career if she had claimed to be avocado shaped and not pear shaped. 
She would have been a star, I tell ya! 

Roasted Lavender Chickpeas

roasted-chickpeas
Snacks are good. 
Snacks are delicious.
Some snacks are bad for you.
Others, nutritious. 
I love snacks.
I’m not telling a lie.
I will forever adore snacks.
‘Til the day I die.
You are my friends. 
And I love you.
Hence forth I will share
My roasted chickpea recipe.
I know. That last line didn’t rhyme. Let me rework that one, ahem:
You are my friends. 
And I love you thee.
Hence forth I will share
My roasted chickpea recipe.

Roasted Lavender Chickpeas
Yields: 1 to 2 servings
Ingredients:
12 oz can of chickpeas / garbanzo beans, rinsed
2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1 & 1/2 TBS dried lavender 
Pinch of salt
Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees
2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine all of the ingredients. 
3. Spread chickpeas onto a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for about 25-30 minutes, keep an eye on the chickpeas, to make sure that they don’t burn! 


My Niece’s First Birthday Party

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My niece turned one this weekend. 
{{{ONE}}}
How on earth did this kid just turn one? I mean, I swear she was just born. 

How did she go from this?

To this?

Hey! Hey kid!! Slow down. The fact that you are a year older means that I am a year older, too!

Yowza. Is that a new wrinkle I see? I need Tums.

Impeccable resemblance between Miss Alexandra and one of Degas’ dancers! *wink*

My sister beautifully picked out a Sesame Street theme for Miss Alexandra’s party. It was adorable.

And when it came time for the smash cake? My niece was a perfect little lady! :) She most delicately ate the cake!

Happy Birthday Alexandra Noelle!!

All About Quinoa- Power Breakfast

breakfast-quinoa-resized

I am a total food nerd. I am talking mega food nerd. In my free-time, when I am not cooking, or baking, or perusing recipes, I am reading about food.

Food is fascinating, don’t you think?

One foodstuff that I adore is quinoa, but it does not get much love.

Quinoa. Sounds like. Keen-wahh.

When I mention quinoa to people, most have no clue what it is and a great majority of people look at me sideways when I mention that it is the main staple of my diet.


Quinoa. 


Sure, it sounds like a word used by ninjas as they karate chop you. But, it is so much more.

Quinoa is amazingly good for you. I mean, we’re talking crazy good for you. The stats on quinoa:

1. Protein content: 1 cup of quinoa = 4 eggs. Oh, and it’s a complete protein, which means it contains all nine amino acids.
2. Mineral content: 1 cup of quinoa = 1/2 recommended daily value of iron, maganese, and magnesium.
3. Low in love-handle-making calories and fat
4. Fiber: 1 cup of quinoa = about 1/2 recommended daily value of fiber.
5. Oh, and it’s good for your heart. And helps people who have chronic migranes.

Seriously. I cannot say enough about quinoa.

Oh, and #6: NASA loves it and recommends its astronauts consume it during long flights, as it is the nature’s most “perfect” food. Seriously? NASA?! ….Those guys are smart.

Convinced to try it, yet?

Okay, so now that you know more than you could have ever wanted to know about quinoa, a food you may have never even tasted, the question still lingers within your mind as to what the heck this tastes like! It tastes goooood. :)

It is similar to a grain and should be treated as such. (It’s technically related to spinach, I know, they’re odd cousins).

I eat it for breakfast, I have it with my lunch, and, oh yeah, I eat it with dinner too.

Boy, do I love me some quinoa.

Here is one of my go-to breakfasts. Try it instead of your normal oatmeal routine! You will be pleasantly surprised at how full you will stay.

Quinoa Breakfast Cereal
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups milk: cow’s, rice, almond, or soy
1 gala apple, diced
1 banana, diced
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup pecans

Directions:
1. Combine the quinoa and milk in a medium saucepan.
2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all of the liquid is absorbed.
3. Add the fruit.
4. Serve immediately!

380 calories / 14g fat / 9g protein

Uber Healthy, Very Whole Grain Blueberry Muffins (Dairy-Free)

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I am serious about my grocery shopping list. I plot out the items according to which aisle they are in, even down to the order they are in each aisle.

Think of it as me mentally walking through the store shopping, surveying, seeing what it is that I will need to purchase.

Then, I bring along my list with me to the store, keep it in my pocket, and never refer to it again, especially while I am perusing each grocery aisle.

Do I forget some items I write down? Yes, on occasion.
Why don’t I refer to the list upon creating it? It’s one of life’s unanswered questions- like why do we sing of Jimmy cracking corn, if no one cares? I guess we will never know.

Why is it that I do this?

Because I am a bizarre creature.

Needless to say my bizarreness knows no bounds, as made evident by this muffin recipe. I wanted to make a muffin. A very healthy muffin, which kind of isn’t muffin-like at all.

And in the process of creating this very healthy muffin, I created a muffin unlike any muffin I have ever consumed. It does not have the typical sweetness of a muffin, but it keeps me very full. Very, very full, in fact. It’s like a piece of hearty toast, but so much better because there are blueberries in it! So, very unlike most muffins.

My husband teases me while I eat these muffins and calls them my bread-muffins, because they are essentially that! It has the same sweetness as a hearty piece of bread (which isn’t sweet), but the hint of sweet and tart from the blueberries make this a perfect breakfast addition, especially for those who don’t want something overly sweet in the morning!

It is whole grain, dairy free, and only sweetened by pure maple syrup. Uber healthy, I tell ya. For those wanting to add sugar, I have included an optional addition of sugar!

Uber Healthy, Very Whole Grain Blueberry Muffins (Dairy-Free)
Yields: 24 muffins



Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 cups 100% whole wheat flour
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup rye flour
1 TBS cornstarch
1 TBS baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup flaxseed egg substitute *see below for recipe*
1 TBS vanilla extract
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 cups frozen or fresh blueberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar, optional

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin pan with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients until well combined.
3. Using an electric hand mixer or standing mixer, combine the almond milk, flaxseed egg substitute, oil, vanilla, and syrup. Mix on a medium speed for about 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing for another minute or two.
5. Gently fold in the berries.
6. Fill each muffin pan liner about 3/4 to 7/8 full. Optional: top with sugar.
7. Bake for 20-22 minutes.
8. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan!

148 Calories  /  5g fat  /  3g protein

*Flaxseed Egg Substitute
Adapted from: Care2.com 

Ingredients:
1/4 cup flaxseeds
1 cup cold water

Directions:
1. In a food processor, grind the flaxseeds until they become a powder-like substance.
2. Slowly add the water while the processor is running, and process for about a minute, the mixture will become gelatinous.
3. Store in the refrigerator for at least one hour before using. It keeps up to 2 weeks!

ShopRite Can Can Sale and How You Can Help to Feed the Hungry!

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It’s that time of year, guys. Now through January 21st, ShopRite is having their annual Can Can Sale! 

 I know you Philadelphia locals know the famous song! Sing along with me! “ShopRite Can Can… Doodoodoodoo..”

We must all remember that the time of good will and helping your neighbor is not just for Christmastime, but for the entire year round! 
Keep spreading good will and cheer throughout the entire year by feeding your hungry neighbors. With each person who “likes” ShopRite on Facebook, ShopRite will donate one canned good to a local food shelter**. 
Now you can finally put your daily Facebook stalking time to good use by helping those in need! 
How easy is that?!

**ShopRite Cans for Fans Participating Food Banks:

New Jersey:
Community FoodBank of South Jersey
The Food Bank of South Jersey

Connecticut:
FoodShare
Connecticut FoodBank

Pennsylvania:
Philabundance

New York:
The Food Bank for New York City
The Food Bank of Hudson Valley
Food Bank for Westchester
LI Cares

Maryland:
Maryland Food Bank

Delaware:
Food Bank of Delaware

Cranberry, Apple, and Avocado Salad

cranberry-salad

An odd thing happened to me on the way to work today.

{I didn’t freeze to death.}

I was fairly certain that it was going to happen. It. Was. Frigid. 


So cold that I didn’t bother to put on makeup because I was certain that my eyes would water uncontrollably (sort of like what happens to me when I watch The Notebook– a most bizarre and abnormal occurrence, I assure you).

Today’s recipe is brought to you by the letter: S for Splotchy-Complexion-That-I-Should-Still-Have-Worn-Makeup-Over. Ha. Kidding.             Kinda.

Today’s recipe is indeed brought to you by the letter S, but not for the aforementioned reason, but for SALAD!!!

Have you ever been really excited about a salad? I mean really jazzed about the little bowl of healthiness.

A good salad sets the tone of the day. I mean. I just stared at the clock until it was lunchtime, so that I could eat the salad. And I didn’t even make it to lunchtime. I devoured it at an unacceptably early time (which I will not share with you… Okay, so 10:30, twist my arm!), not because I was hungry, but because it looked so goshdern good.

You feel this way often about salads, don’t you?! Okay, so it may just be me.

You’ll very quickly see why I am exuberant over a bowl of roughage. BECAUSE IT’S DELICIOUS (hello?!) and I no longer have to feel overly guilty about lightly sampling one or two cookies devouring a plateful of cookies at Christmastime, a couple of weeks ago.

Cranberry, Apple, and Avocado Salad
Yields: 4-6 servings
Made possible because of: a-post-Christmas-gut / very-hungry-belly



Ingredients:
6 heads of romaine lettuce, chopped
1 avocado, cut into 1/2 inch to 1 inch cubes
2 gala apples, chopped into 1/2 inch to 1 inch cubes
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup roasted red pepper, diced
Honey Dijon Dressing
Feta cheese, optional

Directions:
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
2. Do a happy dance because it tastes so darn good.

Two Bean Chili

two-bean-chili

You did it! Huzzah!!

You survived!

*Cue the confetti*

But, what did you survive?

Well, the holiday season of course! You managed to get through the parties, the baking, the wrapping, and endless work. But, it is oh so worth it, isn’t it?

Not only did you manage to survive, but you managed to let some holiday pounds creep in. Whoops!

And now, it is time for the ever cliche, but continuously appropriate New Year’s Resolution. I’m almost positive that eating well is going to be the tops of many people’s New Year’s Resolution lists for 2012. Eating healthy is easy and fun and not as hard on the wallet as you may think.

Take this vegetarian two bean chili recipe as an example. Two types of beans are the main stars of this recipe. Add some vegetables as the supporting actors and actresses. And voila! In the easiest of fashions, you provide yourself with a delicious and nutritious dish that will help you fight your way through your new belly fat, while almost leaving your wallet alone.

Two Bean Vegetarian Chili
Inspired by: Martha Stewart

Ingredients:
2 (15 oz) cans of black beans, rinsed
2 (15 oz) cans of chickpeas, rinsed
3 cups spinach
1 cup vidalia onion, chopped
2 cups of water
1 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1 TBS lemon juice
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp parsley, minced
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsps garlic powder
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper

Directions:
1. In a slow cooker over high heat, combine all of the ingredients, stirring well to combine.
2. Cook for approximately 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally (every half an hour).