Stuffed Pita Pockets

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Lately I’ve been hooked on pita pocket sandwiches. It’s one of those recipes I quickly forget how easy it is to make, but always enjoy eating.

You might not know it yet, but this is about to be your new favorite way to eat all your favorite greens. It’s such a simple idea, and there are two tricks to making them extra good!

First, lightly toast your pita so it’s a little crunchy and still warm when you bite into it. You can do this in the microwave if you’re in a hurry.

Second, (and this is very important) stuff that pita in every nook and cranny with your greens. It may not look it in the picture above, but those two pita pockets are holding about three-handfuls of greens between them. With every bite, you get crunchy warm bread and a perfect proportion of flavorful crunchy greens.

I’d also recommend keeping the salad mix fairly simple. My favorite is a mix of kale with fresh squeezed lemon. If you want a heartier mix, I like to massage an avocado in with the lemon.

Pita sandwiches are great when you’re running out the door—just stuff and go!

Greek Pita
1C homemade hummus
Sliced cucumber
8-10 cherry tomatoes, sliced
Olives, diced
Feta cheese

Alaskan Pita
Smoked salmon
Sliced tomato
Cream cheese

Breakfast Pita
Scrabbled eggs
Bell peppers, diced
Sliced avocado
Green onion, diced

Simple Salad Pita
Tuna salad
Sliced tomato
Sliced avocado

Cold slices of ham/turkey
Sliced tomato
Coleslaw

Pizza Pita
Tomato sauce
Mushrooms, sliced
Olives, diced
Onion, diced
Mozzarella cheese
Crush red pepper and oregano

Vegan Baked Falafel Pita 
Falafel is made from crushed chickpeas made into the shape of a ball and lightly fried or baked. Falafel is very nutritious and fills you up for hours.

2-3 Falafel balls
Sliced cucumber
Sliced tomato
Tahini sauce

Grilled Pita
Grilled portobello mushroom
Grilled onion
Sliced tomato
Mozzarella cheese

Asian Pita
Fry onion, garlic and ginger
Add bok choy and firm tofu
Mix all together, cool
Spread the pita with peanut butter and add the filling

Sweet Corn Pita
1 C sweet corn kernels
1 spoonful Miracle Whip
Sliced carrot
Sliced tomato
Green onion

African Peanut Soup

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…inspired by Anchorage, Alaska’s, Middle Way Cafe.


This vegan and vegetarian friendly Cafe is uniquely decorated with local Alaska art and alive with a cool, laid back vibe. The artsy-fartsy hipsters like to hangout here, sipping on their organically prepared coffee or tea, or quenching their thirst with a 100% made juice. My favorite is the Red Hot (carrot, apple, beat, ginger).

Organic, healthy and flavor-packed dishes are the main ingredients for the food served at Middle Way Cafe. Offering mouth watering baked goods and authentic salads and sandwiches, their flavorful, uniquely prepared soups are what keep me coming back for more.

The African Peanut soup has a creamy bold texture, that will surly ignite the palate with an abundance of pleasure. Loving it so much, I decided to learn how to make it myself. Below is my version of the soup, tasting, in opinion, nearly identical to theirs.

African Peanut Soup


Ingredients:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
4 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped, unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
1 pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 bunch chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Mix in the garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and cloves. Stir in the tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrot, and continue to cook and stir about 5 minutes.

Pour water into the saucepan, and season the mixture with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.

Remove the soup mixture from heat. In a food processor or blender, blend the soup and peanuts until almost smooth. Season with cayenne pepper. Return to the saucepan. Whisk in the peanut butter, and cook until heated through. Serve warm topped with fresh cilantro and peanuts.

ENJOY!

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Self-realization, rather than New Year’s Resolution

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Too often we may read quick-fix books and feel so excited, ready to try this or that, and then wait, hoping to get out of whatever rat-holes we find ourselves in, whether it be mental or physical imprisonment. It’s as if we watch a blank screen and expect results. –from the foreword in Deep & Simple, Jarvis Jay Masters

Ask yourself this…

Every day, am I more satisfied? Do I have a more happiness today than the last? Am I becoming a wiser, gentler, deeper human being? Or am I feeling like its right around the corner, and I have to just continue telling myself for a few more days, weeks, month, years, and then some mythical day I’ll finally get there?

These are the kind of questions that help us to step back and take a more objective look at our lives.

We have a great number of options, yet sometimes we blindly follow something just because everybody else is going in the direction, or because it’s easy, or because there is an immediate payoff. The truth is if we choose to live a simpler life then in turn, things become a lot simpler, and your options become clearer and easier to see.

Living simply is possible. Life can be rich and rewarding; but we have to give up our constant demand for more, newer, bigger, and better. This lesson couldn’t have hit me harder after my recent experiences in Guatemala.

I spent some time visiting a small town in Lago de Atitlán, a small Mayan community surrounded by volcanoes, just this past December. I had met a young Guatemalan woman in the remote village of San Marcos, and all her and her family ate were beans and tortillas twice a day, seven days a week. That was their diet. After talking with the young girl about food; I asked her whether she had ever tasted pizza. She said yes, her family had been to Guatemala City a couple of times. I then asked her about a few different foods, like pasta and hamburgers. “Yes, yes…”

Then finally I asked the question that took me by surprise and deepened my perspective on life. I said, “If you could have any kind of food in the world, what would you have?” And she immediately said, “Beans and tortillas. That’s my favorite food.”

Now, can you imagine most American kids enjoying the same meal two nights in a row, let alone twice a day? We have the “freedom” to have Chinese food one night, Italian the next, Mexican after that. And yet, for all these varieties of the palate, are our kids really happy? Are they content?

This is a metaphor for our larger experiences as well. For all the satisfaction that comes from this ridiculous range of choices that we have, are we happy? That young Guatemalan woman’s response seriously deepened my understanding of contentment.

With the celebration of the New Year comes the ridiculous proclamation of making a “New Year’s Resolution”. Rather than announcing to the world, “This year I will quit smoking, or I will stop eating junk food, or I will be this, or I will be that,” but to take a look at who you are and what you believe, and to truly start acting on it instead of changing it. Changing an external habit is simply an illusion, or a quick-fix to something routed deeper.

I found through living a simpler life I am able to understand that bigger isn’t always better. It is not easy, and I too am not completely there yet.

Though most people think they can’t get by on less. But the last time I looked around a typical suburban neighborhood of twenty houses, I realized that there were probably twenty lawnmowers, twenty computers, ten or so chainsaws, and a lot of other expensive contraptions which each family may only use a few days a month.

That’s not food and shelter; that’s a wasteful modern lifestyle which we can change.

We must think for ourselves and talk with friends and have the guts to try some things differently to take the pressure off. This is a fitting time to explore various old and new ways of living with others in self-sustaining communities, co-housing, sharing of vehicles and tools, and finding other ways to cut down on the wasteful expense of modern living. Attitudes and better self-direction starts now – not a moment later.

So this year my New Year’s Resolution is one of Self-realization!

 

EZ Chocolate Chip Waffles

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What a non-stop, crazy-packed, go-go-go week it has been.

In my efforts to draw back to something so familiarly calming, yoga, I set my alarm early intending to rise for an early morning session.

Ha. Not very likely.

When am I going to just accept the fact that I’m not a morning person and stop making early morning exercise pipe dreams? So instead of waking up early for yoga this morning, I did something else that would equally calm me, cooking.

For breakfast, I fashioned a Van’s 8 Whole Grains waffle by placing tiny chocolate chips in each little hole. WOW! Why didn’t I do this earlier? This sucker was so good I was tempted to make another, though I didn’t, it was truly a treat and got me motivated enough to lace up my running shoes and go for a late morning run.

Ingredients:
1 Waffle
15-20 Chocolate Chips

Simply take your waffle and place as many chocolate chips as you want in every other hole making sure that the tip of the chip goes in first.

Then place the waffle into your toaster or conventional oven for about 2-5 minutes. Watch as the waffle crisps and as the chocolate chips melt. Once it looks done, take it out and let it cool.

  ENJOY!

 

Extra Toppings:
A dust of cinnamon
Drizzled agave
A spoonful of almond or natural peanut butter
Slices of banana
A dollop of whip cream

Warm up to Yoga this Fall

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Changing of the seasons is fun when it comes to getting to wear those forgotten favorite fall clothes and enjoying homemade treats. It’s a time where I get to snuggle up in one of my many enormous sweaters, most draping past my knees, and enjoy as many cups of hug hot chocolates (milk and white chocolate) with extra extra whip cream as I can.

Though the trees no longer look as green as they were just one month ago, and the sun decides to call it a night earlier each evening, doesn’t mean this fall will be any less energizing. In most cases the fall season is the busiest. It’s when most people say goodbye to their time of relaxation in the summer and return to their responsibilities and obligations at school and at work. Yoga can help you preserve that feeling of relaxation as if it were still summer, keeping you energized and focused throughout your busy work and school day.

The cold mornings and evenings will no longer be an impending threat to your health, as yoga will heighten your immune system so that nothing can hold you back from performing your best. I find that yoga can remind us that we are full of potential and capable of living out our lives to their fullest. We have endless possibilities, but so few people actually live out their lives to achieve, breathe and experience this potential.

  

Fear, self-doubt and a whole other mess of circumstances can stand in the way. It can seem, if we choose to look at things in a certain way that life is one big set up for failure, to do what we are told, get in line, and pay attention to a formula that has been set by someone else who didn’t live up to their full potential. Why subscribe?

Fear can lead to a life of unanswered questions like, “What could have been?” and even worse, a glazed over happiness.

One thing I love about yoga is it naturally empowers you to realize who the heck you are and then hopefully give you the energy, courage and inspiration to go out and do something about it.

When you do what you love you become a magnet for everything that aligns with your intention. You become extra magnetic especially when people haven’t seen something quite like how you are doing it. Remember everyone is unique and when you are being you, you are extraordinary. The problem is most people try to be like someone else that is already successful. The trick is to be you. Cultivate you.

Salmon and Quinoa (“keen-wah”)

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Just this last spring a friend had introduced me to an amazing dish of salmon and quinoa. Funny, because up to that point I’d never tried it. I’ve heard of it, and saw it sometime in the grocery store’s bulk bins, but never bought it.

Salmon and quinoa…aaand what else? Nothing. Nothing else. It was simple, too simple I thought. Though when I tried it, it was amazing! I mean how can something taste so good that’s that simple? Don’t get me wrong; I did add a dash of salt and pepper to my mine, as did they, though that was it!

Today I make this dish a lot! And when I say a lot, I mean A LOT!

I usually make a big pot of it and eat it throughout the week, either for lunch or dinner. This is a great meal anytime of the day. I’ve eaten it both hot and cold. It lasts, so you can cook a lot of it for easy grab-n-go lunches. It’s a great pre- or post-running snack or meal and perfect for hiking!

Salmon and Quinoa

DIRECTIONS:
What you’ll do is grab a pot and fill it roughly a quarter full (2-2 ½ C) with water. You don’t really need to measure it out because all the excess water will evaporate out. Basically, one cup of dry quinoa makes four cups cooked.

Then you will take your quinoa and pour roughly 1 C of it into your pot of water. Then you will wait until the water starts to boil, and the quinoa will slowly start to absorb the water and cook. Also, occasionally stir the quinoa to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Once your quinoa is done, you’ll take your smoked salmon or cooked salmon and toss it in. That’s it!

Now because I use smoked salmon, and they too had used smoked salmon, there is no need to flavor it with any other seasonings. The smoked salmon is caned and usually flavored with jalapenos, garlic, onions, olive oil, etc. So when it comes time to add the salmon, there is no need to add those kinds of seasonings or additions since they’re already mixed in with the salmon.

ADDITIONS:
I still make the basic salmon and quinoa, though sometimes I will add 1 can of black beans and 1 can of garbanzo beans, a dash of cayenne pepper and cumin.

Quinoa: The Everyday “Super Food”

One of the world’s healthiest foods, quinoa contains a perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids, and is a great source of protein, making it an increasingly popular food choice for those looking to incorporate “super foods” into their everyday diets. Gluten-free, wheat-free and nutrient-packed, quinoa is ideal for those who are health-conscious, vegetarian and physically active. But that’s not all: You can eat quinoa guiltlessly knowing it’s free of cholesterol and trans fats.

Nutrition: ¼ C cooked quinoa: 170 cal, 2.5 g fat, 2 mg sodium, 7 g protein

Though what really won me over is this seed’s extraordinary versatility. You can eat it plain, like the Incas and their descendants, who’ve considered quinoa a staple for more than 5,000 years. Or you can add quinoa to soups, use it to thicken a stew, or chill cooked quinoa and use it as the base for a salad.

Quinoa’s mild, nutty flavor goes well with almost anything and offers the perfect blank canvas for any number of savory additions. You can even bake quinoa into a casserole-type dish. Though best of all, quinoa is suited to any size meal for any size appetite.


Melt-in-Your-Mouth Banana Bread

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  Warning! Warning! 

This recipe is moist, nutty, rich, scrumdiddlyumptious, and may cause injury from impatient family members waiting to be fed.

Don’t blame me!

Blame the delicious bananas that make this bread absolutely perfect.

BAKE WITH CAUTION!

Instead of making banana “bread” I decided to make banana “muffins”. You follow the same recipe, though instead of using a bread pan you use muffin tins.


NOTE: the recipe calls for sour cream. If you don’t have sour cream, you can substitute plain or vanilla yogurt instead. The measurements are the same, you will still need 16oz of yogurt. 

You want to choose the “right”
“type” of bananas – he he

“Despite” the color, the “right”
“type” of bananas are the “ripest” ones

   

We ate almost all of them that night.



ENJOY!

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