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dinner party to remember

7 Oct

Happy Thursday!

Today I’m bringing to you the recipes that made up my dinner party for Project Food Blog entry #3.  Also, today is the last day to put in votes for all your favorite entries.  And as always, I would be so thankful if you’d check out my entry and vote if you find it worthy!  Thanks so much for your support thus far!


When I started planning the menu for my party, I knew I was going to be under a serious time crunch, so I needed something simple, yet I still wanted to wow my guests with something new and unique.  The other twist was that my guests were not familiar with vegan dishes at all…so I really wanted to create something that would show them how enticing meatless dishes really can be!

I started off with the vegan chimichanga recipe – I had made it before, so I knew exactly what tweaks I needed to make.  They were so much better this time around!

Vegan Chimichangas
original recipe from Eat Drink and Be Vegan

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp chipotle hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups zucchini, julienned
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed (I may try black beans next time!)
  • 1/2 cup tempeh, chopped (or an additional 1/2 cup beans)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 whole wheat tortillas
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, for frying
  • fresh lime wedges, for garnish
  • fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish

Directions

  • In a large frying pan on medium heat, combine oil, onion, garlic, chili powder, oregano, chipotle sauce, cumin and salt.  Saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add zucchini and tomatoes and saute for another 5 minutes until veggies are soft.
  • Add beans and tempeh and saute for another 3-5 minutes.
  • Stir in vinegar.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray baking sheet with cooking spray.
  • Spoon 1/4 of filling down center of each tortilla, leaving 1-2 inches spae on top and bottom.
  • Fold bottom edge over filling and roll up, tucking in sides as you go.  Place a toothpick to hold tortilla closed.
  • In a separate frying pan, heat oil, then place burritos seam-side down on pan.  Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side to lightly brown, then transfer to sprayed baking sheet.
  • Bake for 12 – 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and garnish with cilantro and lime.

I also made up a quick sauce to drizzle over these.  For the sauce, add about 1/4 cup of vegan sour cream together with 1/2 tbsp chipotle hot sauce.  Mix well and then scoop sauce into a plastic baggie.  Cut off the end of the baggie and drizzle away!

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Next up was the mini tacos – these were so easy!

Vegan Mini “Party” Tacos

Ingredients

  • 1 can of beans – whatever kind you fancy!  I used lentils, and they worked great.
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground red pepper (I like it hot!)
  • shredded cabbage
  • grilled veggies – green bell pepper, red bell pepper, onion
  • vegan sour cream
  • corn tortillas

Directions

  • Place frying pan over medium heat. Combine beans, cumin and ground red pepper and heat through.
  • In a separate pan saute veggies in a little bit of oil (oops! forgot to add to the ingredient list).
  • While keeping an eye on the veggies, cut tortillas into small circles using a round object (husband used a cup).

  • Assemble! First, seasoned beans. Then, grilled veggies. Next, shredded cabbage. Last, top it off with sour cream!

Note: you could also use the leftovers “rims” of the tortillas by sprinkling sea salt on them and baking.  Then use them as toppers for your salad!  I actually almost did this…but I accidentally charred them.  FAIL!

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Now let’s backtrack just a little bit and talk about appetizers.


Of course there is no way I could possibly have an epic tex-mex party without the star of tex-mex, could I? But I also didn’t think my basic guacamole really fit the bill.  I mean, we’re talking epic here!  So, three kinds of guac it was.  And these are all so easy it’s embarrassing.

Classic Guacamole

Ingredients
1 avocado
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup onion, chopped

Directions

  • Okay, I have to be honest.  All the measurements above are guesstimations.  I basically just eye all the ingredients and have the husband taste test and make recommendations until it is unfathomably awesome.  Works for us.  But I understand some people really might appreciate a recipe, so I tried to estimate exactly how much I use of each ingredient.  I would highly recommend doing a bit of experimentation, though, because we don’t all love guac so hot our eyes water!  The cool thing is that you can add a little bit more of each ingredient until the flavor evens out.  It’s really hard to ruin guacamole in my opinion.  Unless you forget the garlic like I did for my party.  oops!

Barbecue Guacamole – just make the exact same recipe as above, then mix in about 1/2-1 tbsp of your fave barbecue sauce.  Lastly, drizzle a little extra over top!

Chipotle Guacamole
originally from here

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup corn
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbsp vegan sour cream
  • 1 avocado

Directions

  • Mash avocado in a small bowl
  • add black beans, corn, cilantro and sour cream and mix well

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The other appetizer was a beautiful salad!

I mixed fresh greens (any kind will work), with jicama, cut into matchsticks  and sliced red cabbage.  After mixing it all together, I poured a Chipotle dressing over top and mixed it all together.

The dressing really made this salad.  The flavors went together like peanut butter and banana.

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And lastly, was the decadent dessert!  I honestly had huge reservations about making this, I’m not going to lie.  I’ve never fried anything in my life…and it was a bit scary. But somehow I just didn’t think baked plantains would have the same effect as fried plantains.  And in the end, authenticity won out!

I honestly didn’t think I would like this dessert much, but it was so good it hurt.  I bought some soy french vanilla ice cream to pair with the plantains and it was like a match made in heaven.  Love love love.

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And that’s it folks!  I was so happy with how this dinner turned out…and so proud of myself for pulling it together.  Whether I advance or not I’m so happy I took the opportunity to complete this challenge.  I feel like I’ve grown so much, just from the three entries I’ve created so far.  I’d love it if you’d help me get to round 4!

Project Food Blog Challenge #2: a Vietnamese Classic

26 Sep

It was July of 2008.  The husband and I had just finished up a year-long stint in Thailand and were spending our final days in southeast Asia.  Vietnam to be exact.

During our time there, we walked the streets of Hanoi, taking in the smells of motorbike exhaust and meats from the street vendors.  We sailed Halong Bay, relishing the beauty and feeling the hot sun soak into our faces.  We watched the people as they went about their lives, and even though the setting was quite different than our country, there was a particular charm that simply couldn’t be captured in a photo.


We left feeling enamored with the Vietnamese culture – the food, the landscape, the somber, yet smiling people – and yet also sad to be leaving after only three short days.  I’ve reminisced about our time there many times since, but it wasn’t until today that I felt I was transplanted back to those days.  As my kitchen was infiltrated with the aroma of ginger, basil, chili peppers and mushrooms I was suddenly once again meandering down the streets of Hanoi, sidestepping tiny children and stray dogs, and taking it all in.  And that first bite of Vegetarian Pho – oh that first bite!  My mouth was filled with noodles and warm broth.  My eyes began to water as I felt the heat begin to spread.  I tasted Vietnam.


Vegetarian Pho – a classic Vietnamese dish
recipe adapted from here

Ingredients for broth

  • 8 cups water
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 12 sliced rounds of fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp low-sodium tamari
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 5 fresh basil stems – set aside leaves
  • 5 cilantro stems – set aside leaves

Ingredients for Pho

  • 8 ounces Thai rice noodles
  • 8 ounces extra firm tofu, pressed and sliced thinly
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tbsp low sodium tamari
  • 2 cups soybean sprouts
  • 4 green onions, cut in 2 inch sections
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup spicy basil leaves
  • 1 chili pepper, sliced
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 cup arugula

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place tofu slices into a shallow baking dish.
  2. Combine olive oil, 1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar, molasses and tamari and mix well.  Pour marinade over tofu, and turn tofu to coat both sides.  Bake for 25 minutes (I like mine well-done!).
  3. Fill a large stock pot with water.  Add vegetable broth, shallots, onion, mushrooms, anise star, garlic ginger, brown sugar, vinegar, pepper, cinnamon sticks, 3 tbsp tamari, basil stems and cilantro stems.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Prepare to be engulfed with the smells of Vietnam.
  5. With about 5 minutes simmering time remaining, bring a small pot of water to boil.  Add rice noodles and allow to boil for about 3 minutes.  When soft, drain and rinse with cold water.
  6. Strain broth and return to pot.  Discard solid ingredients.
  7. Divide noodles among 6 bowls.  Pour broth over noodles and top with arugula, green onions, chili pepper slices, tofu, and bean sprouts.  Serve cilantro, basil and lime wedges on the side to be stirred into soup as desired.

The husband and I enjoyed this dish with a side of vegetarian summer rolls and a spicy peanut sauce.  A perfect pairing.

Thank you all so much for putting in a vote for my entry in the Project Food Blog Challenge #1! I was so honored, happy and admittedly a bit surprised to advance to the next challenge.  When I first began to plot my take on challenge #2, a classic dish from another country, I knew without a doubt what I wanted to do.  That was the easy part.

The hard part was finding all the right ingredients!  I first stopped by my farmer’s market for the fresh herbs, cilantro, peppers and onion.  Next, I headed to our local ethnic foods store where I picked up many of the rest of the ingredients.  I had a little trouble finding watercress, so I opted for arugula plus a dash of black pepper instead.

I loved making this dish – it’s something I probably wouldn’t have taken the time to make had it not been for this challenge, but recreating an experience that was so impactful completely made my day.

And I have a feeling I’ll be reliving it for days to come considering the large amount of Pho in my fridge and the smell that has reached to the far depths of my house.

I would love to have your vote for this challenge if you deem my entry worthy.  You can vote here starting tomorrow!!

bring on the carbs

23 Sep

Happy 2nd day of fall! I can’t believe I forgot to tell everyone Happy 1st day of fall yesterday because I am so darn excited.  Last night I heard our weatherman say “a fall cool front will be moving in this week,” and I about jumped out of my skin.  It sounds like I’m being really dramatic, but I really am that excited.  I am in love with fall:)

Jon and I literally drug ourselves out of bed (it was one of those kind of mornings) and went for a four mile run this morning.  I was feeling really strong until we hit our first hill, and then everything went downhill fast, literally and figuratively.  I think I was dehydrated – it wasn’t even that hot out and there was a nice breeze, but my neck and face felt like they were on fire and my body felt like lead.  Very pleasant indeed.  We took a couple of short walk brakes and came in just under 42 minutes.  I was feelin’ pretty blah, but still so happy that we finished.  Our half marathon training is finally looking up a little bit at least, considering we’ve actually stayed committed to our training this week.

Today has been a very “work from home” kind of day, meaning I didn’t leave the house all morning.  When the husband called around 11 to say he had to work through lunch I knew I had to get out of the house.   Obviously I had no choice but to drive straight to the little bakery we ate at yesterday.

Instead of ordering the same sandwich, though, I just bought an entire loaf of that same bread, haha.  I wasn’t kidding when I said how good it was.  By the time I was driving across town to get it, I was already starving and developing a serious headache.  So, naturally as soon as I got back in the car, I inhaled two pieces.  It was so good.  Let me say that again – it was so good!!!

Then I came home and recreated that beautiful sandwich, just with different veggies and hummus instead of pesto.

arugula, sprouts, pickles, hummus

with a red pear on the side

I have been wanting to try arugula for months now, but I never can find it!  After I picked up my bread, I dropped by the grocery store to get some bananas and happened upon some organic arugula.  score!  Is it strange to be so excited over a leafy green?

Anyway, I’ve been so excited about my sandwich that I breezed right by breakfast.

I was out of spinach and bananas this mornings, so I had to fore-go my green monster.  I opted instead for shredded wheat n bran, a sprinkle of Kashi Go Lean Crunch, frozen blueberries and soy milk.  It was a nice change:)  I was actually craving cereal last night before I went to bed, so this really kind of hit the spot this morning.

Anyway, I must run.  I do just want to say a quick thank you to all my sweet readers for reading my blog- you all are one of the main reasons I keep writing everyday.

And that’s a wrap:)  I hope you all have a lovely day – enjoy the cooler weather if you’ve got it and enjoy the last days of summer if not!

under the weather

20 Sep

Happy Monday!

I’m sure many of you have heard that voting is open for Project Food Blog today, so please click here and cast your vote for ChiaSeedMe.  I’d appreciate it so much!!

We had sort of a crazy weekend over here starting on Friday night with my mother-in-law and father-in-law coming into town for a visit.  My brother-in-law and sister-in-law joined us all on Saturday and we spent the day hanging out before heading to the football game on Saturday night.  Jon is in charge of taking pictures in the suites again this year, and I get to tag along and be his assistant:)  It’s a bit draining making small talk with donors all night, but at least we get free food and drinks!

Saturday night I started not feeling so well, so we watched Pride and Prejudice (the new version) in bed and then promptly fell asleep.  I expected to wake up feeling much better, but unfortunately woke up feeling terrible, so we went to church and then spent the rest of the day hanging around the house.  Per the usual, the husband fell asleep to P&P, so Sunday night we had a “re-viewing” so he could see it. I didn’t mind a bit – I absolutely love that movie.  The first time I saw it, I didn’t think it was all that great, but I just couldn’t get enough of it this weekend.  In fact, call me pathetic, but after it was over Sunday night, I crawled into bed with the book, haha.

Anyway, I’m feeling a little bit better today, but still having some stomach issues and a pretty bad headache.  I honestly didn’t feel like eating breakfast this morning, and I certainly didn’t feel like making it, so I went with a simple Ezekiel muffin topped with almond butter.

Lunch was easy as well – leftover Summery Couscous Salad with steamed broccoli.

This afternoon I had my usual two appointments for tutoring plus a new student whom I’ll be meeting with twice a week now.  Nada is from Egypt, but she lived much of her life in Dubai, so I got to hear so much about Dubai today!  Jon and I have read about Dubai several times, and now my travel bug (which never seems to leave my side) is itching to go there.  It has been way too long since I’ve been to that part of the world.

Well, I’m off to try to get some rest and get rid of this stomach issue that has been plaguing me…hope you are all having a great start to your week!

Don’t forget to vote🙂

Project Food Blog Challenge #1

19 Sep

Hey friends!  I’m sure you’ve all heard about the Project Food Blog contest that Foodbuzz is hosting for all featured publishers.  After much deliberation, I decided to enter because even though ChiaSeedMe is still a humble little blog, I love a good contest and if I’m blessed enough to stay in the contest past the first cut, I’ll be pushed to tackle challenges that I never would get out of my comfort zone to do otherwise.  Plus, I love blogging about food, so why not?!

So, in lieu of my first entry, here’s a little bit about me and why I would love to be and believe I can be the next Food Blog Star:)  In true English teacher style I bring to you…


The Who

Hey, I’m Candice, a former high school English teacher passionate about food, crazy about my yorkie, Olive, and head over heels for my husband, Jon.  I left my teaching job to pursue writing and health, and am loving navigating this new and uncertain world of following my foodie dreams.  I love spending my time creating recipes, writing about and photographing everything from a simple green smoothie (which I partake in most mornings) to a perfect chocolaty vegan cookie (which I wish I could partake in most mornings:).  I also love teaching yoga, running, going for walks and laughing and talking about English with international students.

The What

ChiaSeedMe is a healthy living blog that I started last January. I previously blogged about my random daily life at a different blog and was super intimidated to start my own food blog; however, once I wrote my first post, I knew I had made the best decision ever, and since then ChiaSeedMe has become such a fun and fulfilling part of my life. I blog about everything from the simple, tasty meals I create to funny little anecdotes in my everyday life that usually involve mishaps in and out of the kitchen and the crazy antics of my husband and our little furball.  Toss in some posts about exercise, beauty products, vivid photographs and stories from our travels to Thailand and beyond and you’ve got a glimpse of every side of ChiaSeedMe.

The When

I usually blog once a day and inspiration usually strikes me sometime in the afternoon or evening.  Though I’m definitely known to still be typing and uploading photos at midnight more often than I’d like to admit.

The Where

I live in central Oklahoma in a small city where it’s a 50 mile drive to the nearest Target or Whole Foods.  While it sometimes drives me mad to not have access to great restaurants and beautiful running paths, I’m often forced to create my own inspiration or find it in the unlikeliest of places. I often use the most basic, everyday foods (Walmart kind of foods:) in my recipes, and on runs I seek out inspiration from cows and wheat fields rather than crashing waves.  I hope this enables readers to relate to me and to be encouraged to find their own inspiration in the simplest of places.  I believe that a healthy life is less about our circumstances and more about what we make of them.


The Why

I get kind of teary eyed thinking about the why of ChiaSeedMe.  For the first 25 years of my life, I struggled on a diet of fat-free and sugar-free foods, while feeling guilty every single morning that I didn’t burn enough calories on the treadmill.  Then I found healthy living blogs, and my perspective did a one-eighty.  I learned that there is truly nothing better for our bodies than real, whole foods and exercise that is done in pursuit of health and not a number on the scale.  I admit, I’m still learning so much about balancing life through food, and I have setbacks all the time (right, Jon?:), but I know that I’m leaps and bounds beyond where I was even two years ago, and I want to share that with anyone who will listen.  I want to shout it from the rooftops, and ChiaSeedMe is one way I get the opportunity to do that!  I truly love my little blog, and every single reader I hear from reinforces the reason why.  When I hear that someone was inspired to eat more real foods because of my daily eats or that someone made one of my recipes for their family and it was a huge hit, I get butterflies inside.

Sometimes I can’t believe that people actually read this blog of mine, and I dream of the day that I can reach more people and hopefully make a positive impact on some small corner of the world.

i'm in love

21 Jul

While this girl slept in this morning…

…Jon and I went for a quick run.  The Garmin was acting kind of goofy this morning, so I’m not sure about the stats.  What I do know is that it was hot…and sticky.  But it felt great once we got back into the a/c!  I’m not sure how we survived without it when we lived in Thailand.  It’s funny because I don’t remember it bothering me all that much.  I guess it’s all about perspective and what you’re used to!

For breakfast I made a new juice

1 beet, 1 apple, 1 pear, 1 large carrot and a small handful of blackberries

My stash is runnin’ low!!  No more juice until I make a trip to the store:(  And as I told you yesterday, that may be awhile…unless we break down.

I wanted to show you guys what it looks like right after it comes out and before I pour it into a glass.  I get giddy watching it come out because it’s so pretty! I gaze longingly into the cup…and my heart skips a beat.

Okay, now I’m scaring myself.

Back away from the juice, Candice.

Can you see me?

nice stems.  ow ow!

I kid. I kid.

If you missed my juicer review, don’t forget to check it out.  You won’t be sorry!

This morning I’m spending some time working on PiYo.  You see, getting the certification was the easiest part.  Now it’s time to actually put together a class.  I’m not gonna lie to you guys – it’s intimidating! Don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited about it.  But before I can teach I have to memorize the poses, the cueing for modifications and what to say to guide students through the poses.

PiYo is very flexible (in more ways than one!) in that you can either use one of the pre-choreographed lessons the company already created, or you can put together your own sequences of poses.  I keep leaning toward putting together my own so I can use the poses that I love the most, but it’s all a little overwhelming, and I think just learning the pre-choreographed class would be easier to begin with.  Ahh!

Succeeding in your dreams is all about pushing through when things are scary or hard.  And I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s scary and hard when you step out to pursue something that you love.  I used to think it’d be easy, but it’s not.

I’m starting to change my perspective to look at intimidating challenges as a chance to get that rush from accomplishing something that you didn’t think you could accomplish rather than backing down when fear rears it’s ugly head.

Well, I gotta run.  I’m meeting a friend for lunch today, and I’m cuttin’ it close!  See you all later on:)

How do you tend to handle fear and intimidation?  Are you good at tackling challenges head on?

i went to arkansas…

19 Jul

…and became a certified PiYo instructor!

5 am yesterday morning

As you guys know, I’ve been attending PiYo classes at my gym for awhile now, and I really love it.  I mentioned in this post that I had some other possible ideas of what to do after resigning from my job, and this was one of the ideas that I was generating.

Here is PiYo in 50 words or less:)

PiYo (pronounced pie-yo) is a format created by Chalene Johnson that fuses together Pilates and Yoga.

“It’s the perfect fusion equaling strength building, rhythmic movement and power with a foundation in Pilates and yoga that burns calories while transforming the body”

I loved PiYo the very first time I tried it because it gives you the feel and benefits of yoga, but also the movement and more fast-paced vibe of Pilates. Add in some fun hip-hop or R & B music, and you’ve got yourself an amazing workout that’ll make you look good and feel even better!

I can’t wait to start teaching!  I’ll be telling you guys more about it as I learn and practice more, but feel free to let me know if you have any questions:)

And next…………Guess what I got in my inbox this morning?

A congratulations from Foodbuzz for making the top 9 with my Classic Vegan Banana Split!

I am so happy to have been able to participate in the Top 9 challenge to help raise money and awareness for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund!

And I am thrilled to have been chosen as part of the top 9! Thank you Foodbuzz!