Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Two Grain Hi Protein Pancakes with Applesauce Syrup

It was my Mom's idea to add a blackberry to the plate, isn't she a genius? : )

You probably know this already, but I love going to the gym.  Yes, I am one of those people.  Going to the gym is my anti-depressant, my stay on track with my health, and my free pass to eat cookies habit.  Another thing I really love to do is travel.  Unfortunately these two habits tend to clash in every way. 

If only they would invent an airplane with seats that could transform into treadmills.  Come on, how brilliant is that?  Plus, the whole "being high up in the air" thing probably would make you burn more calories...I mean really have you ever seen an overweight flight attendant....yeah, didn't think so.

This past week I was fortunate enough to travel back to VA/DC for a few days for the March for Life.  GO PRO LIFE!!!!  I can't believe it has already been 3 years since I lived there!  I was blessed to visit with old friends from college, and to spend some time with the cousins and family that live up in the area marching for the babies!  It was awesome to see all the people fighting for the unborn, and so many young people at that!  One day everyone will see and understand the horrifying truth about Abortion.  Killing a baby is never a justified act, and the fact that people think it is okay is terrifying.

It was a good trip, but nothing went according to plan...starting with our flight getting cancelled on Friday...and not leaving Houston until Saturday.  Needless to say I felt like I was trying to outrun that lost day the rest of my stay.

Speaking of outrunning...we had a layover on the way up to DC, and since our first flight was delayed they told us that if we wanted to make our next flight leaving from a different concourse we would have to run like the wind.  There were about 15 passengers from our first flight trying to make it to the second flight and boy did we run!  It was so fun!  We grabbed our bags and did a mad dash.  I was so proud of myself when we got to the escalator and I was able to sprint up that thing so fast and wasn't out of breath!  Go me! 

Then I did something dumb.  They had a bus/train thing that brings you from one concourse to the next and my brother made it in before me and the doors began to close which would mean me and about 10 other passengers wouldn't make our flight.  So I did the only logical thing, I threw myself in between the closing doors and became a human door stopper...which come to find out is very dangerous as those doors are very strong and can crush you.  My bad.  I fell through the doors with the rest of the passengers falling in behind me like an unexpected tidal wave.  It was crazy!  To make a long story short we made it on our flight and then it ended up being delayed anyway...but, I always wanted to run through an airport like that and can now cross it off my bucket list.  If you haven't done that before I highly recommend it. 

Traveling made me take a 1 week hiatus from the gym...the day I returned I thought it would be a little rough, but that is an understatement.  I could barely lift a 5 lb weight.  Lunges, do we really have to do more then 2?  Sit ups, I am fine with my 3 pack.  Overhead presses...when do I really ever use that motion in real life?  PAIN.  AGONY.  WHAT A WIMP.  I barely survived my 1 hour weight lifting class, and the teacher kept eying me like she thought I was going to faint or something.

So onto the food part, which is really why you are here.
Day 2 of our weight watcher adventure landed on a Sunday, which as we all know every Sunday is "Pancake Sunday."  I was happy to find a pancake recipe in my Mom's "getting started" cookbook.  Low and behold it called for applesauce...then I decided since applesauce is free points that I would mix it with the maple syrup and stretch that syrup out.  Win win.  These are simple pancakes with 10 grams of protein per a serving, plus they gave me another reason to use my buckwheat flour stash.

Two Grain Hi Protein Pancakes with Applesauce Syrup
serves 4, 3 pancakes each, 8 points/person

1 egg
1 egg white
1 cup plain Greek Yogurt, I used low fat
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 TBSP Canola oil
1 TBSP Honey
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (I didn't have that so I used 1/2 cup whole wheat, and 1/4 cup white)
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Whisk together the eggs, yogurt, applesauce, water, oil, and honey.  Then add the dry and whisk to combine.  Pour 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake onto a lightly greased hot pan and cook on each side until bubbles form on top.

Applesauce Syrup

8 TBS applesauce
4 TBS real maple syrup

Mix together and heat in microwave or on stove top just until warm.  Pour over pancakes.

Do you know what this is?  Yeah, it is Buckwheat.  How pretty it is!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dante's Inferno and Oatmeal Raisin Applesauce Cookies

 "If you are going through hell, keep going."- Winston Churchill

Recently I have been thinking a lot about the power of hope.  Can you imagine a world without hope?  If I had no hope getting up every morning would be near impossible.  What would be the point?  Can you imagine being told you would never walk again, or maybe never be able to bear a child of your own?  Completely eliminating hope from our lives is such a dismal prospect, and a terrifying thing.  I definitely take hope for granted.

Whenever I hear the word "hope"  I automatically think back to Dante's Inferno and the words he says are written above the entrance to hell.  "All hope abandon, ye who enter here." Hell really is the complete absence of hope.  Have you ever read Dante?  Have you ever met Dante?  I have to admit, at first glance Dante's Divine Comedy can seem so daunting...and trust me, it is.  I was fortunate enough to have an awesome professor in college teach me an entire class on Dante.  Dante paints such an incredible and vivid picture of his journey through hell, purgatory, and heaven.  The allegories are mind blowing, and so interesting.  When are they going to make a Dante movie trilogy?  Come on, it would be awesome!  The three things that I remember most about my Dante class are as follows:

1.  One of our assignments was to memorize the first few lines of the Inferno...in Italian and recite them in front of the entire class.  I immediately decided this was an impossible task for me, and had ironically no hope of succeeding.  My dear friend however had faith in me, and insisted I could do it.  She wrote out a copy of the lines we had to memorize, stuck it in a Ziploc bag and duct taped it to the wall of my shower.  So whether I liked it or not those lines starred me in the face every morning.  What a friend!  Really, who does that? : )  She is the best.  I was so nervous the day I had picked to recite the lines, and thought for sure I would fail.  I got up there freaking out having a psych out party in my head...I stood up quickly, took a deep breath, closed my eyes and forged ahead.  I basically kicked butt, didn't miss a beat, and surprised everyone including myself.  I was shocked when one of the smartest people in the class came up to me afterwards and congratulated me on a job well done...then he asked me if I had the answers written on my eye lids and was that why I closed my eyes so tightly. : )  I owe that "A plus" performance to my friend, she had hope for me when I couldn't find it myself.

2.  My second fond memory of Dante is when I was studying for finals and was trying to remember all the little details to each circle he travelled through.  I decided it would be funny to make a comic strip using stick figures to illustrate all the different levels.  I then went on to film these comics using a "Dante-ish" voice...it worked...I aced the exam.  I need to find that video, it was pretty funny if I do say so myself. : )

3.  My third favorite memory is when I decided to take a study break from cramming for my Dante final and play scrabble with some friends.  One friend placed the word "DATE" on the board, and I quickly and with full confidence informed them that 1-they had spelled "Dante" incorrectly, and 2-that they couldn't use proper nouns.  To this day I have not lived that one down.

"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." - Romans 12:12

Recently we have begun the pursuit of poundage elimination in our house...aka...weight watchers.  In the past my Mom and I have tried weight watchers and succeeded.  So, here we go again, getting ready for summer vacations...bring it on..hope we have, and success we will find!  Did that sound a little too much like Yoda?
I immediately knew I would have to find a kosher cookie recipe to help get me through this journey.  I looked around and came up with my version of oatmeal raisin cookies made with applesauce.  These little guys turned out great, nice crispy edges and chewy centers.  If you are following the Weight Watchers points plus plan each cookie is 1.5 points.  If you aren't trying to watch the weight then by all means make the cookies bigger and eat them all.

 Oatmeal Raisin Applesauce Cookies
makes 40 cookies, 1.5 points each

2 TBS unsalted room temperature butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup applesauce, unsweetened
1 tsp vanilla 

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground flax seed
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup ground oats (pulse oats in a food processor or blender until fine)
1 cup raisins
In mixing bowl cream butter until creamy.  Add sugars, egg, applesauce, and vanilla mix until smooth and combined.  In separate bowl whisk together the rest of the ingredients then add to the wet mixture.  Mix until combined.  Scoop out using a 1 TBSP measuring spoon onto parchment lined pan.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

 Have hope in all things, and eat your heart out,
"Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura
ché la diritta via era smarrita.
Ahi quanto a dir qual era è cosa dura
esta selva selvaggia e aspra e forte
che nel pensier rinova la paura!
Tant'è amara che poco è più morte;
ma per trattar del ben ch'i' vi trovai,
dirò de l'altre cose ch'i' v'ho scorte.
Io non so ben ridir com'i' v'intrai,
tant'era pien di sonno a quel punto
che la verace via abbandonai."

 "Through me you pass into the city of woe:
Through me you pass into eternal pain:
Through me among the people lost for aye.
Justice the founder of my fabric moved:
To rear me was the task of Power divine,
Supremest Wisdom, and primeval Love.

Before me things create were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I endure.
All hope abandon, ye who enter here."
Such characters, in color dim, I mark?d
Over a portal?s lofty arch inscribed."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My infamous disappearing act and snacks I dig

Dear Friends,

Apologies all around.  I have been neglecting my blogging duties for some time now, and beg for your forgiveness. : )  Life has been one merry go round after another, and somehow I just can't seem to catch up.  I also haven't been in the kitchen all that much.  Not for lack of eating, but of cooking.  What do I eat when I don't cook you may ask...well, here it is folks...my favorite snacks 2012 edition

1. Samis Bakery Cinnamon and Sugar Millet and Flax Pita Chips...awesome, high fiber, gluten free, and scrumptious!  We buy them at our local health food store, but then sometimes we buy them direct from the supplier.  We are big fans of them! 

2.  Food Should taste Good Sweet Potato Tortilla chips.  Yum.  I don't even eat them with salsa, just plain and they are wonderful!  I love this whole line of chips, all very delicious, pricey, but worth it.

3.  A simple Macintosh Apple.  My Dad has always been a fan of the Macintosh, mostly because he is an old school East Coast kid.  I used to hate these apples, thought they were too tart and mushy.  I recently came to the light and now we fight over the Macintosh apples in our house.  They are the perfect size for a snack and easy to take with you on the go. 

4.  The tired and true Lara Bar.  Now, I occasionally make these from scratch, see my recipes for directions, but in my present state of insanity I buy them.

5.  Yogurt Covered Pretzels.  I also used to despise these.  I thought that if you left yogurt at room temperature it would spoil, so the thought of these was gross.  Now, I love them.  They are usually my "grocery shopping while hungry snack."

6.  Red pepper slices and Hummus.  This is the only way I can bring myself to eat vegetables as a snack...otherwise it just feels wrong. 

7.  Ginger People Ginger Chews.  This isn't really a snack, it is more like a mid afternoon treat to help clear my mind and refocus on the task at hand.

7 is the perfect number, so I will end my list there.  I promise to be back soon with some yummy recipes...scouts honor.

"Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself."
- Saint Francis De Sales

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Fruit and Nut Crisps

Is this a cracker?  A cookie?  No, it is a crisp!!!

I walked into the restroom at work and the sensor lights failed to go on.  If that isn't a boost of confidence I don't know what is.  Leave it to bathroom lights to deny the importance of my existence.  Darn lights.  Little do they know all I have to do is unscrew a light bulb and their existence will suddenly not exist...take that you cowardly lights!

"Cogito ergo sum"  I think therefore I am.  Lights don't think so they aren't.  See, I was paying attention in all of those philosophy classes I took in college. : )

So let's be real here for a second.  This is a safe place and a circle of trust...no judgement.  How is your resolution to get healthy going?  As far as I am concerned I have upped my gym attendance...but the diet is not as great as I would have hopped it would be at this point.  It is hard to detox when you have little siblings home on break requesting beignets and cinnamon rolls for breakfast...you know who you are.  It also doesn't help that I have had a few cake orders the last few weeks...someone has to eat all those scraps.

If you are craving something sweet try reaching for fruit or natural sugars instead.  Honey, maple syrup, molasses.  These little crisps are a great snack or dessert.  They also last for a while, so you can make them last.  Just remember that even though they don't have refined sugars in them you can't eat them all at once.   These little guys are great sandwiched with  nut butter, or cream cheese, or a cup of coffee.  Or they pair wonderfully with a nice cheese plate.  Or they pair well with ice creams...but don't do that because that would ruin your diet.

Yes, I play with my food...how fun is this? : )
These crisps are wicked easy to make, you can do it!

Fruit and Nut Crisps

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup raw millet or sesame seeds
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut

1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped unsweetened dates (or cranberries, or another dried fruit)
1/2 cup pecans (or another nut)

In large bowl stir together flours, baking soda,and salt.  Add buttermilk, sugar, and honey.  Mix just until combined.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combined.  Pour into 2 greased loaf pans and spread smooth.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Cool and freeze.  Once 1/2 frozen slice into thin slices.  lay flat on sheet pan and bake in 350 degree oven 15 minutes on the first side and 10 minutes on the opposite side. Cool completely.   You can also store the loaves wrapped in plastic wrap in the freezer until you want to bake them the second time.  If you do this allow them to defrost for about 15 minutes on the counter before slicing them.  Once baked the second time store in sealed container room temperature.  Should be good for about 10 days.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Resolutions, making healthy choices, street fights, and BLACK BEANS

At Mass this past Sunday the deacon made a good point during his homily.  He said that unlike a wish, a resolution requires a plan and an action.  How easy it is to say you are going to do something...to promise yourself you are going to get healthy this year.  If you truly are going to make resolutions then don't just say them.  Make a plan, and follow that plan with your actions.  Don't just say "I am going to be healthy", say "I am going to exercise 3x a week, incorporate more vegetables into my diet, and limit sweets to weekends alone."  It is so much easier to achieve our goals if we have an action plan to obtaining them...just like it is easier to get where you are going if you have a map.

So this year don't just make your resolutions, PLAN and ACT your resolutions. : )

I must say we already had a rocky start to 2012.  My siblings and I were playing tennis on New Year's day when we saw a group of a about 10 kids (16-18yr old) break into a fight.  At first we thought they were just joking as they threw out a slew of insults and horrible things at each other.  Then we saw one kid holding what looked like a bat in his hand, and then the punches started.  I did what any normal adult would do and started screaming at them to cut it out and stop acting like animals...yes, I know, I am so helpful in crisis situations : )
One of my favorite Christmas gifts this year...a mini colander ornament...LOVE!

My family reacted very quickly and we all changed into our super hero costumes.  My brother Gunnar took off in a dead sprint towards the boys...there was a tennis court and pool in between us and them...I have never seen him run that fast.  I continued screaming like a mad banshee woman shouting out commands to the people standing around...Nick..."GO GET DAD", Mimi..."SAVE THE CHILDREN"...please note that on the other court there was a group of 3 - 14 year old boys...Mimi directed them to safety. : )  Then I also broke into a sprint...which in all honesty was more like an old person learning to use their walker for the first time...very fast in my head, very slow motion in reality.  Then for some reason I released my tiny dog from her leash thinking she would do what...yeah, not sure about that...I realized how dumb that was and started chasing the dog instead.

When my tiny slow legs finally got to the scene my brother had both guys on the ground.  He had the guy on top in a headlock.  He just sat on top of them both not saying anything, just holding them down.  Keep in mind my brother is a solid 5'6 and these guys were much bigger then him.  He just sat there holding them down while everyone was screaming.  This is where I whipped out my super powers and starred the boy in the headlock deep into his eyes and bloody face.  He sat there looking up at me as I yelled,  "DON'T DO THIS...IT IS NOT WORTH IT...YOU ARE BETTER THEN THIS."  I swear I saw the demons jump out of those boys as my exorcism totally worked.

The boys stood up ran to their cars and left with their groupies, and maniac girlfriends.  Before they sped off I yelled very loudly that we saw their faces, had their license plate numbers, and called the cops...really smart to show them all my cards.  I quickly jumped out of the way realizing that there was a good chance they would just hit us with their cars if they wanted or they might have guns.  Smart move Dagny, real smart.  The kids sped off and my Dad showed up on the scene, he jumped into his car with my sister and followed them down a dead end street.
Now there are 4 things that really bothered me about this whole thing.

1.  That is was happening right next to our home.  The crime rate has shot out the roof in our neighborhood, and it ticks me off that the neighborhood association won't do anything about it.  We used to pay for a cop to patrol around the neighborhood, but they got rid of that a few years back.

2.  That these kids looked like decent kids, and that they resorted to violence to solving their issues.  Why has this become so acceptable?  Plus, the language and words they were using, were empty and made no sense...use your words for good ding dongs!

3.  Then the whole time this fight was happening one of the maniac girls was filming on her camera.  No doubt that video was on facebook within minutes of happening...really, really?  How sad is that.

4.  Now the thing that really makes me mad is that we called the cops and they never came.  Not only did we call them once but we called them 3 times and they told us it wasn't an emergency.  Granted that the fight stopped, but my Dad had managed to follow all the kids find out their names and where they lived...plus he got 2 of the kids to get into his car and they spilled all the info on the other people involved.  Maybe to some people it was just a lame fight...but to me it was people being a danger to themselves and to my neighborhood, and to my family.  There was blood, there were pipes in their hands, and come to find out these kids had criminal records.  At least show up and scare the kids.

To end a long story we spent most of the day waiting around for the cops.  It is nice to know our tax dollars are helping pay to make our streets so safe.  It is also comforting to know that if a bigger emergency happened the cops would be so swift to respond.  Thanks, thanks for that.

This has nothing to do with being healthy, it was just an epic story and interesting start to 2012.  So....make healthy choices, don't beat each other up, use your words for good, and make these beans for supper.
the end.

Simple Black Beans

2 cups dried black beans
2 TBS lemon juice

Cover beans with at least 3 inches water over the beans...add lemon juice. Soak overnight or at least 8-12 hours.

Next day: Drain and rinse black beans, and set aside.

Coat the bottom of large heated soup pot with about 1 TBS olive oil. Over medium heat saute the following about 3-4 minutes:

1 large onion (diced)
1 TBS garlic (chopped)
1 whole jalapeno (I used 1/2 of a roasted hatch pepper instead)

Then add the beans back into the pan. Stir with veggies. Cover with the following:

8 cups liquid (I used a 1/2 and 1/2 combination of water and chicken broth)

You can use chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water. Bring to a boil and cook until beans are tender...this ended up being about 45 minutes over a medium heat. Stir the beans every once in a while. If the liquid seems to be evaporated too much add some more. You don't want the beans to stick to the bottom of the pan during the cooking process. Once tender add salt (I used a tsp.) and remove the jalapeno with tongs...or give it to someone who likes hot food as an early Christmas present. Once cooked you can do so many things with them:

1. eat them with rice
2. eat them with a tortilla and some cheese
3. eat them with some chips
4. eat them with some salad
5. make them into refried beans
6. put them in soup
7. mix them with chicken apple sausage and call it a meal
8. dress them up and take them out

Flopsy looking pretty fly in her new winter vest
If you have a big enough pot you can double this recipe. Freeze the extra and take out for a quick weeknight meal.

On the topic of salting beans before or after cooking them:

Experts have been arguing about this fact for centuries now. Pretty sure Helen of Troy had something to do with this issue. I don't claim to be an expert, but I have cooked many a pot of beans and have decided that it is better to salt the beans AFTER they have been cooked. I find that salting them before makes them mushier and they do not hold their shape as well...so basically if you salt your beans before cooking them you will end up with mashed beans whether you like it or not.

"To each their own I say,
cook your beans in your special way,
and that is all I have to say."

Eat your heart out,

I taught Rudolph everything he knows : )