Red Lentil Dal

I am so immersed in researching Bali I am finding it hard to focus on much else right now! I keep forgetting that I have a final next week in one of my yoga classes and some papers due. I really need to get on top of that. I guess that’s what I will be doing this weekend.

You know what else I’m doing this weekend?

Trying on wedding dresses! 🙂

I also found pug wedding dresses. Look at these two chunky little love birds! They can hardly open their eyes!

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Man I love pugs!

This weekend I am also going to do quite a bit of cooking. I am really excited because thanks to Pinterest, I found a recipe for “starbucks gingerbread loaf”. I love that stuff and I have been trying to copy their gingerbread for years. I hope it goes well this weekend and I have a good recipe to share Monday!

Here is some straight up comfort health food. I know it’s not the most beautiful dish in the world, but it is so simple to make and so easy on the stomach. Warming spices are really nice to eat this time of year and lentils are really high in protein. What is a lentil you might be wondering. A lentil is a legume and it is similar to a bean but less starchy. They take on the flavor of whatever they are cooked in which makes them really versatile in veggie burgers and soups. As I mentioned, they are a great source of protein! As a bonus, this is really fast and easy to make and it will give you lunch for a week. At least.

Red Lentil Dal

2 cups red lentils (dried)
5 cups water
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt or to taste

Rinse the lentils several times to get them cleaned up. Boil the lentils in the water for about 30-45 minutes or until they reach desired consistency. Set aside, do not drain.
In a medium size pot or deep skillet, heat the olive oil and garlic over medium heat until the garlic starts to sizzle.
Add the cumin, garam masala, cayenne and salt and sizzle one more minute. Add the cooked lentils and stir. If you want to make your Dal a little thinner just add some more water. Mmmm, delish!
Serve with brown rice.

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DIY Chocolate Peanut Butter covered Almonds

A few weeks ago I was browsing the bulk bins in Whole Foods and came across some Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate covered almonds. Yes please, sign me up! But upon taking a closer look I saw they were $8/pound and some of the ingredients looked pretty mysterious. I never really thought about what it takes to get that hard candy coating on chocolate covered goods. Best not to think about that I guess. 🙂

Then one night I was waiting for some pasta to boil. Saw almonds. Saw chocolate chips. Saw peanut butter. 3 minutes later I had peanut butter chocolate covered almonds. Boom.

I buy my almonds at Costco in the baking aisle. It’s about $9 for a 3 pound bag. I used dark chocolate chips but milk chocolate or semi-sweet would be fine to use too. The dark chocolate did overshadow the peanut butter flavor a little.

Chocolate Peanut Butter covered Almonds

1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups plain almonds

In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the chocolate chips for 1.5-2 minutes, being careful not to over cook them. Just melt them. Stir in the peanut butter. Then stir in the almonds to coat them. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the almonds evenly on the parchment paper. Or you could make almond clusters. The choice is yours really! Go wild, add some raisins if you want! Put the baking sheet in the fridge and once they are cool break them into chunks and store in a baggie.

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Here is a Lilly story.

My mom, Lilly’s Grandmother, is Lilly’s all time favorite person in the entire world. If I say “Grandma’s here”, Lilly goes bananas. She runs to the door and freaks out. I have learned to say this only if Grandma really is here.

A few weeks ago my parents were visiting and Lilly got absolutely spoiled. Grandma lets her sit on the couch and gives her TONS of attention.

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Wud up? Grandma said this is ok. I don’t have to listen to you.

On the morning my parents packed up to go home Lilly got very upset. She hates luggage anyway, but she really hates grandmas luggage 😦
Here she is sitting by my moms luggage giving my dad the evil stare down since obviously it’s his fault my mom was leaving. Somehow Lilly knows he drives?? Hmm.

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Better watch your back Dad!

Instant Elixer

Hi! I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving break! I know I personally enjoyed having 5 days off of work to relax, run, practice yoga and hang out with my fiancé! We have been having so much fun planning our wedding which will take place this summer in Bali (Indonesia). We are also having fun figuring out where we are going to put all of our combined “stuff” and how we will organize the kitchen. We are so excited and it feels soooo good!

I have cooked a ton of food lately so I have enough new recipes to take us into the new year!

I sense people might be tired of thinking about food or looking at food though.

So here is something for you to try if you overindulged a little too much over the holiday and want to get back on track LIKE NOW.

Pour a glass of water and put some lemon juice in it. Either from a fresh lemon or from lemon juice that comes in a bottle (not sweetened). Lemon water, although it is acidic, makes the body more alkaline which is a good thing. It helps bring blood sugar down after eating too much food, makes the tummy feel better and my esthetician says it’s really good for the skin!

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In case you wondering, Lilly had a great vacation too. Over the weekend we took her for a hike up Millcreek Canyon. Even though we probably only hiked about 2.5 miles round trip it was probably the equivalent of a 45 day expedition for Lilly!
Here she is at the summit. 🙂

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She did really well and walked on her own the whole way. I didn’t have to carry her at all. Pretty good for a 9 year old pug! She slept like a rock the rest of the day!

Have a great week!

Introducing Lilly and Tilly!

When I first met my fiancé I asked him if he had any dogs, he said yes and told me had a Dachshund. I asked what it’s name was and he said, Tilly.

I paused…said, “really? I have a Pug…named Lilly.”

So if that wasn’t a sign that we were meant to be together I just don’t know what is! At that point we started to keep a list of all of our similarities. Other things on that list include:

-We face all items in our pantry forward (like in the grocery store)
-We love doing crazy hard workouts
-When we go out to eat we don’t like lemons OR ice in our water
-We both LOVE frosting way more than cake
-When we eat cupcakes we both eat all the cake part first leaving the frosting for last. Because it’s the best.
-We don’t wear shoes in the house
-We both pick big chunks of peppers off our food
-We have almost identical houses
-We make our beds every morning
-We both toast our pb&j sandwiches
-We are both very nerdy with technology (although he has proven to be much nerdier)

Was that boring to read? I think it’s fascinating to find someone who shares all my same quirks.

Unfortunately, Tilly does not live with fiancé because he travels so much for work (that’s almost like a clue! Now you are probably thinking he’s a traveling salesman!). Instead she stays with his mom and lives the good life getting spoiled daily!

Here are some pictures of Tilly!

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Here are some pictures of her as a puppy…because nothing is cuter than a puppy!

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I could post a new recipe but since Thanksgiving is this week I figure everyone is probably sick of hearing about food or thinking about food. So let’s talk about other stuff!

Fiancé and I are making great strides in our wedding planning and we could not be more excited to get things rolling. We have decided I will put my house up for sale this spring and move into his house. Lilly will have much better sunbathing opportunities at his house and more of a yard. It’s been so fun figuring out how we will fit all my furniture into his house! When I first met him the only kitchen gadgets he had were a can opener and a pizza cutter. True story. He is about to have every kitchen appliance and gadget known to man!

Lilly is still never quite sure what to do with herself when we are at his house so mostly she just wants to sit on me. I was catching up on my magazine reading this weekend with my favorite pug on my leg.

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Have a glorious Thanksgiving week!

The Latest & GREATEST!

I’m not ready to post any recipes yet. Mostly because I haven’t really made anything new. Last night for work I made about 200 balls and several pitchers of smoothies but nothing new.

Besides, I’ve been just a tad preoccupied with thoughts of wedding and just general excitement. In fact, I think I might have not have anything to eat or drink for about 2 days because I couldn’t think about anything else. Ok that’s not true, I definitely eat.

Shall we get to the good stuff?!

Here is the ring!

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It’s so beautiful I can’t believe it! It is super shiny too! I’m pretty sure it can be seen from outer-space. 🙂 I like it because I will be able to wear it when I’m doing all my activities.

Everyone has been asking when we are going to get married and we don’t really know yet because it depends on fiancé’s job but we are hoping for this summer. We are also planning on it being a destination wedding. A wedding-moon if you will. Right now we are looking at Bali, but we are still in the research phase.

I am honestly just so happy and I am enjoying every second of looking at wedding magazines and pinterest and doing wedding research!

I found a great website for inexpensive wedding dresses too! I don’t think any dress is over $300 and there are TONS of dresses! Check it out if you are in need of a dress!

I promise next week I will post at least 1 good recipe and 1 good Lilly story.

On that note…here is Lilly in her carseat after a trip to the park. Lilly doesn’t want to walk when we go to the park, she is more of a “people watcher”. That’s fine for her but it sure makes me look creepy…

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Don’t you wish you had a giant bed that could travel with you in the car? Then you would be as comfy as a pug.

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Have a great weekend!

BIG NEWS and a Lilly Fashion Show

The last few days have been busy!

First, it snowed a bunch. Lilly wasn’t happy about that. It’s rough when it snows a foot and you are only 13 inches tall.

Then, I made cheesecake brownies. Don’t be mad at me. I made them for Veteran’s Day…FOR A VETERAN. If anyone deserves brownies it’s a Veteran.

Then I made Gingerbread Biscotti (delish).

Then my parents came to stay with me for a few days.

Then something huge happened.

Huge.

My boyfriend is no longer my boyfriend…

HE IS MY FIANCÉ!!!!!!!

That’s right, I AM ENGAGED!!!!!!

It was amazing! I was so surprised and it was the happiest day of my life! Words can’t even describe how happy I am right now. 🙂 🙂 🙂

And I wish I could post a picture of our smiling faces but that is not going to happen. His job/employer would not be ok with that. I know that just makes everyone wonder even more who he is and what he does. Well, just use your imagination. He could be a celebrity, a politician, a high-powered attorney perhaps. Or none of the above. I’ll tell you what he is: amazing. If you could see his picture you would see that he is the most handsome man ever, and extremely fit, and extremely nice to me. And I love him and he’s all MINE and he is going to be my HUSBAND!!!!!!!! And that is all that matters!

Ok, I will stop grossing you out now and just post pictures of Lilly since that’s what everyone wants to see anyway!

Have a wonderful week, I know I will!!!

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Lilly in her pink puffy vest.

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Looking stylish.

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Refusing to walk in the snow…it’s kind of an issue right now.

Easy Amaranth Breakfast plus Lilly’s Fitness Routine

I still had some amaranth in my pantry and I really don’t know why I haven’t been eating it more often. Amaranth is almost identical in nutritional value to quinoa. That means it’s high in protein and an ideal food to eat before running or working out. And it looks just like cream of wheat!

Here is the winning way to cook amaranth:

Place 1 cup dry amaranth into a sauce pan. Add 1.5 cups of water and stir to wet the amaranth. Cook over high heat until it comes to a boil. Once it boils, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 10 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed.

You really can’t mess it up. You can add more water and it will be more sticky. Or you can use less water and it will be more fluffy, kind of like rice.

Then just top it with a little almond milk, maple syrup (or use sweetened almond milk) and a pinch of salt.

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This is what it looks like dry. It’s tiny.

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And here is a video of Lilly’s workout routine, never before released to the public, ha! Lilly is 9 years old and she is the skinniest pug. People often comment on how trim she is and they ask me how I keep my pug so slim. She sleeps 22.5 hours a day so it’s definitely not her activity level. But every morning when I get up she jumps out of her bed and starts doing this workout routine. We call it her calisthenics and it’s how we figure she stays in such good shape.

I wish I could jump out of bed in the morning and just start doing cartwheels like it was no big deal…
She is chasing her tail by the way. And this video was actually her second set of the morning so you can see she is visibly fatigued (and dizzy). She does this workout for several minutes every morning.

Quinoa Black Bean Tomato Soup with Roasted Garlic

I must admit, I did not feel like cooking this weekend. It was such nice fall weather outside, plus I had other stuff going on, like trail running, yoga, getting a facial, learning how to make a sock bun (so cool!!) and taking Lilly to the park.

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Sock bun!

So by Sunday afternoon when it was time to cook, I just wasn’t feeling it. I just wanted to make something healthy and filling and awesome to last me for the week and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time or dirty dishes to make it.

I was planning on making a raw soup for my Scary Food challenge. But the recipe called for Irish Moss Gel (??) and at that point I lost interest. I have no idea where to get Irish Moss Gel and isn’t a raw vegetable soup just a vegetable smoothie?

Pass.

I happened to have a bulb of garlic, a bunch of cooked quinoa and black beans on hand so I only had to buy an onion and a can of roasted tomatoes to make this magic happen. I spent like $3 on this recipe that will feed me for the week.

This was my first time roasting garlic, but it was quite rewarding. Roasted garlic is delicious, plus now my whole house smells like an italian restaurant! Roasting the garlic takes about 40 minutes but you can spend all that time taking a nap if you like. After that, this soup throws together in a matter of minutes. If you don’t want to roast garlic just use minced garlic and put it in with the onion. It will still be good.

Quinoa Black Bean Tomato Soup with Roasted Garlic
serves 5-6

1 bulb garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced small
4 cups cooked quinoa
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
2 teaspoons salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
1 28 oz can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
2 15 oz cans black beans

Heat the oven to 375˚. Take the bulb of garlic and slice off just the top part a little to expose the garlic cloves. Dip the exposed end into some olive oil and place the bulb on to a piece of aluminum foil. Wrap the bulb up tight in foil and place it on a baking sheet. Bake for about 40 minutes or until soft and browned. Once soft and browned, remove from oven and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté for 5-7 minutes. Then add the spices and cook for 2 more minutes.
While all that is cooking, place the tomatoes into a food processor or blender. Take the cooked garlic and squeeze the cloves out of the husk. Place all the garlic in the food processor along with the tomatoes. Blend. Add the tomatoes & garlic to the onion mixture. Fill up the 28oz can with water and add to the pot. Bring it to a boil then add the cooked quinoa and black beans. Taste for salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaf before eating.

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I had used a few of my cloves so many of my cloves were already broken off. It didn’t matter.

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Foil package.

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Hearty and healthy Quinoa Black Bean Tomato Soup!

And of course I can’t not include a picture of our favorite pug dog.

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This face melts my heart.

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New Workout (and Lilly stories)

Oh my goodness, another new workout video! 2 weeks in a row!

Just to warn you, I’m feeling a little self-help/Dr. Phil/sappy, emotional post coming up. I don’t know about what…but I can feel it coming!

I’m also planning my next scary food meal so get ready for that too!

Before I get to the workout, I am WELL aware of the fact that Lilly has WAY more fans than I have. I understand. She has that whole tan body, black ears and face thing going on. It melts my heart too.

Even though Lilly is 9 years old she still gets a treat EVERY time she goes to the bathroom (which is only 2-3 times a day…I have no idea how she does it). So, every morning, evening and night we go on a walk and as soon as she has taken care of business she SPRINTS (seriously, she is really fast) back to the house. She rushes inside where she then DEMANDS her treat. If you take too long removing your shoes & what not she just gets louder and more demanding. The treat situation is the biggest emergency on the planet. I’m sure.

So one morning last week we went through all of the above, but when I dropped her treat down to her (usually she catches it with her mouth) it slid underneath a piece of furniture.

Worried face.

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Mom, I think my treat is gone…

2 seconds later. Mom, I don’t think everything is going to be alright!! What are we going to do about this EMERGENCY SITUATION??!

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Meanwhile, I am laughing and taking pictures of her.

In case you were concerned too, she did get a treat that morning. The world was saved. Phew. Tense times.

Ok, here are the instructions for the workout. This workout made me extremely sore and it is one of my favorites so I hope you enjoy it!

Part 1: Set interval timer for 18 rounds of 35 seconds work, 10 seconds rest (that’s 6 rounds of 3 different exercises)
-Side jump lunge (touchdown in the center)
-180˚ burpees
-High knee jumprope or just high knees

Part 2: No set time, just go for total number of reps. Complete the whole thing 2 times through.
-Lunge back and press up with dumbbells. 25 reps
-Superman plank. 25 reps
-Sumo squat. 25 reps
-Reptile plank. 25 reps
-Lunge jump switch. 25 reps
-Mini squats. 25 reps
-Long jump forward, 2 jumps back. 25 reps