Banana Nut Quinoa Muffins

I am really excited about these muffins! My friend Amber did the cleanse (the brave girl!) and she said she wanted something quick she could grab for breakfast that would be more substantial than a protein shake. I hear that. She suggested some quinoa pancakes she had seen but they needed to be made vegan and gluten free.

But then I was thinking, what would you put ON a pancake besides syrup? And pancakes aren’t all that portable. Then I thought, MUFFINS! Portable, substantial and easy to make.

So here you go- a gluten free, sugar free, high protein muffin that actually tastes good.

Banana Nut Quinoa Muffins(Gluten free, Sugar free)
Makes 12 muffins

3/4 cup vanilla almond milk (unsweetened)
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1/4 cup canola oil
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups quinoa flour (or wheat flour if you aren’t going for GF)
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom or garam masala
1 1/4 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cup dried blueberries, chopped (I used dried cranberries but I think blueberries would be better)

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Place muffin tin liners in a muffin pan and lightly spray with cooking spray. Or just grease the muffin pan if you don’t want to use liners.

Combine the almond milk and flax seed in a small bowl and allow to sit for a few minutes.
In the meantime, combine the flour, walnuts/pecans, salt, cinnamon and cardamom in a large mixing bowl.
Now, add the oil, mashed banana and vanilla extract to the almond milk and stir with a fork. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients then fold in the quinoa and dried blueberries.
Fill the muffin tins, it should make 12 muffins exactly.
Bake for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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I got Lilly a new bed over the weekend and took about 100 pictures of her. She is wearing a little sweater since it’s so cold out. She enjoys her sweaters.

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She really likes her new bed.

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Here she is parked in front of the space heater. What is this critter?

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Have a great week!

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12 Week Half Marathon Program

A while ago I mentioned I was going to run the Salt Lake 1/2 Marathon this year on April 20. It is now officially time to start training!

I found a training program I’m going to follow, here it is.
It’s from the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in 2012 but I liked the weekly mileage and workouts it has you do. I really don’t have time to run 5-6 days a week like a lot of training programs want you to do.
So training starts Monday with a 3 mile run which sounds totally laughable to me right now. I’m pretty sure I can’t run 3 miles straight right now after being sick for so long, but that’s ok, I can run/walk.

So the 1/2 marathon is in 12 weeks and I’m getting married in 18 weeks for anyone counting! 🙂

Also, here’s something exciting. When I was sick I was not able to cook so I shuffled to Costco and found some really tasty vegan, convenience food items! Are you as pumped as I am?!

I even numbered a picture!

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1. Coconut Curry. My mom introduced me to this curry and wow, it is SO good! It has just a tad bit of sugar in it but not much so I give it the ok.
2. Clementine Cuties. These just looked like a good snack so I got them. I figured I could use some vitamin C.
3. Hummus. It’s not as good as making your own, but this sun dried tomato hummus is darn good.
4. Falafel. This was a huge score. Vegan falafel, already made and ready to be picked up from your local costco. I eat them with hummus, or I put them in salad and top with hummus.

Ok, this weekend I’ll be back in the kitchen whipping up something delightful. Have a great weekend, 1/2 marathon training starts Monday!

Costa Rica Part 2

I’m back in the land of the living again, well kind of! I’ve had the flu for the past 8 days and it’s been reaaaaaal ugly. My fiancé took such good care of me while I was sick, but now he is sick and I feel awful about that. We are just practicing all that “in sickness and in health” stuff early. 🙂 Ok, I think we have it down.

For anyone on the cleanse, your 3 weeks is just about up if it’s not over yet! Congratulations for giving it a try!

Ok, here is the rest of our Costa Rica adventure.

On Christmas Eve we decided we needed to find a new place to stay for the rest of our trip. Someplace with air conditioning. Anyplace. We were staying in Jaco/Playa Hermosa by the way. Every hotel even remotely close was booked. So we kept expanding our search. Finally, we found a brand new Hilton (with a/c) with vacancy in Liberia. I know, funny name, right? We weren’t planning on going to Liberia on our our trip, but it turned out to be a great change of plans. Liberia is really close to great beaches, national parks and I’m convinced in 15 years it will be the Vegas of Costa Rica.
We get to Liberia and the climate there is totally different than the Puntarenas Region where we had been. Puntarenas was really green and humid. Liberia was more arid desert.
The following day we drove down the Nicoya Peninsula and went to a National Park and visited a town called Tamarindo. The National Park was cool because within the park it had something like 4 different climate zones including rain forest, dry forest, arid desert and one more I can’t remember. It also had waterfalls and 2 volcanos. Cool stuff.
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The next day we went to Playa Samara and WOW, this was an incredible beach and fantastic stop! This white sand beach was so clean and safe. The water was almost as warm as bath water and we spent the entire day boogie boarding and having a blast. After our day of fun in the sun we ate a phenomenal dinner at a Mexican restaurant and headed back to Liberia.
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I guess we didn’t take many pictures this day since we were in the water.
We spent the following day at another national park. This park was really huge and was known for it’s wetlands and for having over 200 bird species.
We saw a lot of wildlife in this park.

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First, alligators! There were 2 and they were fighting, but only caught one on camera.
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This cute little thing is a Coati Mundi. There were a bunch of them but then a car drove by and scared them all away.
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Tons of monkeys! What do you think about monkeys? Cute or creepy? A little of both I think.
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Iguanas are EVERYWHERE. Like squirrels here.
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Ducks. I just realized I made that picture bigger than the others and I like it!20130122-195657.jpg20130122-195802.jpg20130122-195815.jpg20130122-200033.jpg
We saw tons of birds!

The next day we drove back to San Jose and enjoyed our last day in Costa Rica.

This was such an amazing vacation and it has been so fun sharing all these pictures, I hope you enjoyed them!

Adios!
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Wedding Plans

I’m sick, AGAIN. This time with the flu. I know, right? I was healthy for about 2 days, although admittedly I felt tired and kind of off. Then yesterday at work this flu thing hit me like a truck. I learned my lesson though. When you have a really nasty cold, take a few days off and get better. Don’t run yourself ragged trying to carry on as normal. I’m pretty sure if I would have taken a few days to get healthy I wouldn’t by typing from my couch right now.

As promised, I do want to give a wedding update, because that is a much more fun topic than the flu!

Ok, so let me back it up.

My boyfriend proposed to me on top of a mountain in the middle of November. It was the BEST day of my life! I fell over in the snow and flailed around just feeling overjoyed. It was basically the perfect moment that every girl dreams about her whole life. He is so incredible!

We knew we wanted to have a private ceremony with just the two of us, and we knew we wanted to get married this summer. We were thinking we wanted to get married in Bali (Indonesia). Why Bali you may ask?

My fiancé is a big time paraglider and has traveled much of the world already (he is also an international man of mystery. That’s an Austin Powers joke right there). Bali has good paragliding and he has never been there so it was looking like a good choice.

Turns out, it’s real hard to get married in a foreign country. They require all sorts of extra paperwork and fees, I am not a fan of either of those things.

So then, we thought, ok, we will get married legally here in Utah at the County Clerk’s office and then have our real ceremony in Bali. But the more I thought about that the less I liked the idea. If I was having 2 weddings, one wedding would be “real” and the other one wouldn’t be as special. Plus then there’s pictures. How do you find a good photographer in Bali?

Ok, so our plans changed. We decided to just have one wedding, one special day. Here, in Utah. Utah is a really easy state to get married in, plus we are big in to weddings here 🙂 Everything just fell into place and within a couple days we had a location, photographer and minister lined up.

So we are getting married the first week of June at a local resort. That is in 4.5 months!!!!!
I am really excited about the photographer too, she takes amazing photos.
The minister is super nice and excited to do a 2 person wedding.
I DID order a dress too!! The sample dress I ordered came and I did like it, but then I had a change of heart and went with something totally different. Can’t wait to post pictures of it!
I even ordered shoes. They are awesome.
Future hubby has his “outfit” lined up as well. I never know what to call boys clothes, but I know they don’t call them outfits. Whatever, I call it an outfit!

And then, we decided to go to Maui for our honeymoon instead of Bali. After being in Costa Rica we decided a more laid back vacation would be a better way to start our marriage. I am soooooooooo excited to go to Maui. I have never been to Hawaii and I have wanted to go my whole life (who doesn’t though, right?). We already have our plane tickets and hotel reserved!

So that’s it, this wedding was about the easiest thing in the world to plan. We are going to have a “cake party” later on in the summer so we can celebrate with our friends and family and CAKE of course. I’m not calling it a reception because it’s more laid back than that.

So that’s it! Here are Lilly pictures, because she is funny.

I walked into my living room and I could hear Lilly (she’s a heavy breather) but I couldn’t see her. Can you see her in this photo?

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How about now?

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She is definitely NOT supposed to be up there, but she makes me laugh so much even when she’s being naughty. When I looked behind the pillow she gave me this really sleepy face as if she was soooo exhausted.

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Ok, I’m off to take a bath. That’s the only time my skin doesn’t hurt. Booooo flu!!!

Quinoa Falafel

I cooked a TON this weekend! We had a huge snowstorm in Salt Lake and our temperatures are between 3-14˚. Too cold for me to go outside and do anything fun, plus I’m still getting over this cold so I took this weather as an opportunity to prepare a bunch of food since I start yoga teacher training again this week. It’s going to be another buuuusy semester!

Here’s a rundown of what I cooked over the weekend and what I plan on eating this week. Almost to the third week of the cleanse by the way! The third week is when the magic really happens. It’s when you start to actually feel better and have fewer cravings. I’ve been so out of it with this cold though, I feel like I need to cleanse an extra few weeks just to get back in my groove!

Ok, here is what I cooked this weekend:
-2 batches of those Bite Size Peanut Butter Cookies. Wow those are good. My fiancé says they are the best peanut butter cookies he’s ever had. He is so sweet to me. 🙂
Hashbrowns. Hey, you can have potatoes on the cleanse!
Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf (for the soon to be hubby, he requested it and I was happy to make it)
Sweet Potato Fries. Also cleanse friendly, yay!
Black Bean Quinoa Chipotle Burgers. Mega yum.
-Quinoa Falafel. See below.
Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing. For salads.

My menu for the week:
-Breakfast: Coffee with unsweetened almond milk & 5 drops of liquid stevia and the Thin Mint Protein Shake. I still never get sick of this thing.
-Lunch: Black Bean Quinoa Chipotle Burgers w/ leftover sweet potato fries
-Dinner: Salad made of mixed greens topped with Quinoa Falafel and Hummus dressing

I don’t even feel like I’m cleansing when I’m eating this delicious food! I kind of wish I would have made a soup though. I love soup. Especially when it’s 5˚ outside.

Lilly spends her time seeking warmth as well. Here she is trying to get as much of her body as possible to cover the heat vent in front of the kitchen sink.

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What a nut. That doesn’t even look comfortable!

Quinoa Falafel (adapted slightly from THRIVE foods)
3 tablespoons ground flax seed
1/4 cup water
2 cups cooked quinoa
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons miso paste
1 teaspoon tahini
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup minced parsley
2 tablespoons coconut oil

Makes about 14 falafels

In a small bowl, combine the water, miso and ground flax. Allow it so sit for about 10 minutes until it forms a gel-like consistency.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine the quinoa, yeast, tahini, onion powder, garlic powder and oregano.

Add the flax gel and parsley to the quinoa mixture and combine thoroughly.

Refrigerate mixture for about 20-30 minutes so all the liquid gets absorbed (mine was way too wet to work with until I refrigerated it).

Preheat the oven to broil. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. First I used parchment paper but later learned parchment paper doesn’t do well on broil. Woops. Take some of the melted coconut oil and grease the aluminum foil. Coconut oil is a good choice here because of it’s high smoke point. Cooking sprays like Pam would most likely smoke like crazy on broil.

Shape the falafels into about 2″ patties and place on the greased aluminum foil lined baking sheet.
Broil for 8 minutes on one side, then flip and broil for 4-7 more minutes on the other side, or until they look golden brown.

I will be eating mine in a salad, topped with a hummus salad dressing from Trader Joe’s. But topping with regular hummus would be good too!

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Bite Sized Peanut Butter Cookies

I wanted to post today about all the wedding plans I’ve made and tell you all about the dress I ordered which hopefully will be the one. The dress was scheduled to be delivered today and I was SO EXCITED but UPS didn’t deliver it because it requires a signature and of course I wasn’t home.

I was bummed about the dress not coming so I decided baking was the only thing that could cheer me up. This is normal, yes? But since I’m cleansing I can’t eat any sugar or chocolate or flour etc.

GOOD NEWS!!! It was all meant to be. If that dress had come I never would have made these cookies and I am SO GLAD I MADE THESE COOKIES!!

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They only have a few ingredients: cashews, dates, peanut butter and vanilla. Thanks to Costco, I have these 4 ingredients in mass quantities!

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I know that might not sound like a very good combination but I was amazed at how much they really do taste like a peanut butter cookie! But better because they are filling, healthy and done in minutes. You can certainly eat them in raw form. Either roll them into balls or flatten them into cookie shape and store in the freezer or refrigerator. Just for fun, I baked mine, because nothing is better than a warm cookie right out the oven. Along with unsweetened almond milk of course.
Oh and these are ok to eat if you are cleansing! The sweetness comes from the dates so if you are allowing fruit on your cleanse (which I do) you are good! In moderation of course. Don’t get too carried away 🙂

Here are the instructions!

Bite Sized Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup cashews
1 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

Place cashews and pitted dates in a food processor and process for a minute or so, until a fine crumb forms. Add the peanut butter, vanilla and salt (if using) and process until smooth.

If baking: Pre-heat oven to 350˚ and lightly grease a cookie sheet. Shape into bite size cookie shapes and bake for 8 minutes. I emphasize bite size here because they will be extremely crumbly after they are baked. So you will want to pop the whole thing in your mouth at once or else it will fall apart. Freeze or refrigerate anything you don’t eat right away.

If eating raw: Roll into balls or cookie shapes and place on parchment paper. Freeze or refrigerate.

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The dough

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The cookies!

And I will finish the Costa Rica story. We are still going through all the pictures…

And Lilly is still doing great too! The other night I got all her toys out to try to get her to play. She informed me she is a grown up dog and doesn’t play with baby dog toys like these.
Sorry for the poor lighting here…

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Not Fried Fried Rice

Well being sick makes it pretty easy to cleanse. I don’t really have the energy to cook or snack. So today’s post is going to be short so I can go relax!

I did go to a wedding expo over the weekend so I have good stories 🙂

My cleanse meals for the week
Breakfast: Thin Mint Protein Shake
Lunch: Tomato Soup (from last week) and some Not Fried Fried Rice (see below)
Snack: Sliced cucumbers and hummus
Dinner: Salad made out of greens, beans, rice, guacamole and Cilantro Lime Dressing

When we were in Costa Rica we had some really good fried rice. It reminded me how much I like fried rice, how easy it is to make and how it really doesn’t have to be fried!
You can use any vegetables you want. I just used what I happened to have on hand. But here are some ideas of what you could put in fried rice:
-zucchini
-lima beans or edamame
-peas
-carrots
-pineapple
-cashews
-broccoli
-carrots
-bell peppers

You can add as much or as little vegetables as you like. If you are still easing into eating vegetables this is a good place to start. You can chop the veggies up really small then you hardly notice them. Oh, and you can cut this recipe in half if you don’t have a huge sauté pan or if you don’t want enough fried rice to feed an army.

Not Fried – Fried Rice Ingredients
2 lbs tofu, prepared as shown here
1 teaspoon coconut oil (or other oil)
5 cups cooked brown rice (cooled rice is best but hot will be ok too)
3 zucchini (about 1.5 cups), sliced into quarters long ways then sliced
2 cups frozen lima beans
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
3 teaspoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons tamari
1 bunch green onions sliced (about 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

First, prepare the tofu in a really big skillet, then set aside for later. While the tofu cooks, prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Set the tofu aside and heat the teaspoon of coconut oil in the skillet over medium high heat. Sauté the zucchini (or other vegetable!) for about 5 minutes or until slightly soft. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for about 2 more minutes. Add the rice then sprinkle the tamari over it. Stir until all the rice is covered in tamari and it’s an even brown color. Add the lima beans (or other vegetable), black pepper and sliced green onions. Add the cooked tofu and heat through. Enjoy!

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Have a great week!

Costa Rica Part 1

It is SO cold outside in Utah. Lilly says having to go potty outside when it’s 8˚ is cruel. I don’t blame her.

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So far the cleanse is going well. All two days of it. For breakfast I have the Thin Mint Protein Shake, Creamy Tomato Soup for lunch, a handful of cashews for a snack and dinner is a salad made of brown rice, black beans, greens, salsa and guacamole. Normally I’m active and I would need to eat more than this, but right now I have a nasty cold so I have mostly been sitting and am therefore not very hungry.

Ok, on to the fun stuff. Costa Rica!

My fiancé and I are both planners so we had our trip all laid out. We rented a house in Playa Hermosa, near Jaco which has the best surf in Costa Rica. The pictures and description of the rental house sounded amazing so we booked it for the whole week. Our plan was to surf, go to a volcano, a national park, surf more and my fiancé likes to paraglide so of course that was a big part of our plans.

Plans change.

We got in late so we decided to stay the first night in San Jose because the rental house was about 2 hours away. The hotel we stayed at that first night was AMAZING! We were so spoiled that first night! We liked the hotel so much we stayed there again our last night since our flight went out early in the morning.

The second day we drove out to our rental house. We stopped and took lots and lots of pictures.

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This is the beach in Jaco. Beautiful, dark sand, very warm water and consistently good surf.

Then we get to the rental house. It looks just like it did in the pictures. But now would be a good time to mention the house had NO AIR CONDITIONING and since the house is not lived in most of the time, it reeked of mold. Ok, that’s fine, it has lots of windows. We rushed around and opened every window and door in the house. But then you have to close the doors at 5 because the mosquitos are too bad. And the doors and windows didn’t have bars on them so it wasn’t safe to sleep with them open anyway. Now I should mention that every night there was gun fire nearby. Like, real nearby. And roosters that go off at 5:30 in the morning. So, we wake up at 5:30 after a night of hearing random gunfire in a house that is 84˚ with 75% humidity for a heat index of 91˚.

That didn’t get us down though. We were too excited to hit the beach. My fiancé surfs and I boogie board but I was eager to try surfing. So in to the warm water we go, it was amazing! I managed to stand up on the surfboard a few times…before breaking the board. Shoot. No worries, we rented me a boogie board instead since that’s my jam 🙂 We had the BEST day of surfing/boogie boarding. We laughed and laughed and laughed. It was a great day! Until we went back to the hot house, showered and toweled off with wet towels that smelled like mold. Yummy.

We had great food while we were in Jaco. It’s not typical Costa Rican food, its pretty much like the food you find here. We ate at a great sushi restaurant (veggie rolls) and a great “fusion” restaurant that served a little bit of everything.

The second day was equally amazing. We went to this place called “The Zephyr Palace” and it is hands down the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Rooms here START at $400/night.

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This place was incredible.
We stopped here and ate our homemade peanut butter sandwiches we brought 🙂

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From here we went to the paragliding site because it was looking like it might be good for flying. I will post more pictures and videos of paragliding soon after I get them all off the camera. I probably took 100 pictures.

Here is one picture of future hubby assessing the site. It was so gorgeous!

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After he was done flying we went back in to town and had another great dinner. Around this time we started dreading going back to the house. It was sooooo hot in that house and it was impossible to sleep much. We were getting tired and a little desperate. We decided we needed to find another place to stay. A place with air conditioning. The next day was Christmas so finding a hotel with vacancy was tough. We went in to super nerd mode, each of us conducting searches on our tablets, cross referencing expedia with trip advisor reviews and the guide book. The search got gnarly. Every good hotel we found was booked. Every hotel with vacancy had awful reviews. We just. wanted. air. conditioning…

To be continued…

“Creamy” Tomato Soup

Happy New Year Everyone!

We had a wonderful, healthy, safe and exciting trip to Costa Rica and we are home now. Back to reality! I will put some pictures and stories up soon but I want to get down to business first.

Because, it’s the New Year! All the diet ads are taking over the tv and radio so I’m thinking everyone is ready to get back on track with diet and exercise after a few weeks of chocolatey-goodness. 🙂

I know I am!

I am starting a cleanse, as promised.

The cleanse I do is out of the book Quantum Wellness by Kathy Freston. I wrote more about the cleanse and resources here.

This is basically a three week long cleanse where you try your best to not eat the following:
-animal products of any kind (meat, eggs, milk, cheese etc or anything containing animal products)
-alcohol
-caffeine
-sugar (whole pieces of fruit are ok but try to stay away from fruit juice or dried fruit)
-gluten and wheat products (pastas, breads, baked goods, oatmeal)

I know that sounds like a lot to give up but the key is to just do your best. I personally don’t quit caffeine any more because it’s too hard on the body to start and stop caffeine all the time. If you want to cleanse but just can’t imagine living without _______ then go ahead and have that. And if you mess up just get right back on track. It won’t undo the whole thing. And maybe you won’t make it three weeks, maybe you only make it 3 days. That is ok. Or maybe after 3 weeks it will feel so good you will go 2 months.

So that is starting tomorrow and I will be posting what I’m eating to help anyone interested in trying this. And this is not a starvation cleanse by any means. You can eat as much “good stuff” as you want. You’ll see.

I came back from Costa Rica with a VERY sore throat so hot soup sounded amazing to me. This recipe is modified slightly from “Veganomicon”. Everything gets pureed in this soup so if you are “chunk hater” you are safe. 🙂 This soup is really easy to make too so if you aren’t quite feeling ready for this whole new year business, I have you covered.

Creamy Tomato Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped coarsely
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound yams, peeled and sliced into 1 inch cubes
1 cup sun dried tomatoes (not the kind packed in oil)
6 cups vegetable broth
1 28 oz can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
juice of 1/2 a lemon or to taste

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and add the onion. Sauté the onion for 5-7 minutes, then add in the garlic and spices. Sauté for 1 more minute. Add the yams, sun dried tomatoes and water. Raise heat, cover pot and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, still covered. After 20 minutes, add the crushed tomatoes. Use an immersion blender and puree until there are no chunks left. If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer the mixture to a regular blender once it’s cool enough to handle. Be careful! Add lemon juice. Package into tupperware for lunch for a week.

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Here is a little sneak peak of Costa Rica:

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