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quinoa is the new turkey

At our first Christmas with my family, I made an amazing quinoa dish per my mom’s suggestion.  Believe it or not it was the recipe straight off the back of the box with maybe a couple of tweaks.  I was a bit hesitant at first because it just seemed too simple, but it ended up being so delicious and I’ve still been enjoying the leftovers ever since.  The simplicity is what makes this dish.

Quinoa Pilaf

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • sea salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste

Directions

  • Cook quinoa according to package directions
  • Melt Earth Balance in a frying pan over medium high heat.
  • Add garlic, peppers and onion and saute until tender.
  • Combine cooked quinoa and sauteed veggies and mix well.
  • Add sliced almonds and mix thoroughly.
  • Season with sea salt and pepper and serve hot or chilled.

This is one example of how I try to stay healthy throughout the holidays.  I simply cannot depend solely on the food provided at family gatherings, even considering my grandma always provides several healthy options.  It has nothing to do with being overly paranoid about my food as some people may think; it has everything to do with feeling the best I can throughout the entire holiday season.  I still sampled a little bit of my mom’s mashed potatoes and my grandma’s vegetarian dressing, and I didn’t feel deprived at all.  But I filled my plate mostly with healthy foods that were still delicious!

Another reason this was a great dish for me is because quinoa is one of the few vegetarian complete proteins.  Quinoa is the new turkey:)  I’ve definitely learned that the only way to make sure I have plenty of food options that taste great but also make me feel great is to take my own.  The added bonus is that everyone in the family usually (key word:) ends up liking them too!  win win.

I’m off to enjoy the evening with my two favorite people.  “People” being used very loosely of course.

The husband and I are both off work tomorrow, so it’s like a double Friday night.  Love it when that happens!

See you this weekend for more recipes from the holidays and more talk about enjoying the holidays and still coming out of them feeling great!

Did you try any new dishes this holiday season?  What were the big hits with your family?

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a new member of the family

Hello!

Can you guess what this is?!

If you said green smoothie, you are correct!

But it’s not just any green smoothie.  It’s a green smoothie that is extra smooth because it was made with the newest member of our little family, my new Vitamix!

It all started about a month ago when my food processor broke for the second time.  A broken food processor means no homemade hummus, no homemade nut butters…and that’s just the beginning.  My food processor is an attachment that goes on my blender, and considering my blender has been on its last leg for awhile, we figured it was time to upgrade asap.  Of course we could have just bought another blender like the one we’ve had, but what fun would that be?

Really though, I use my blender almost every day and sometimes twice a day, and at that rate we’re going to be replacing it and the food processor on at least a yearly basis.  Considering the Vitamix comes with a 7-year warranty, we figured we might as well bite the bullet now and we’ll come out better in the end!  All of this on top of the fact that both the husband and I just really really wanted one:)  So, for our joint Christmas present we ordered a refurbished one from the Vitamix website.  Oh, and it comes with the same warranty as a new one!

So far I’ve made the husband frozen coffee drinks in the morning and myself green smoothies of course.  But I’m excited to branch out and make some other things like soups.

Anyway, we finally headed home from south Texas on Sunday morning, but it turned into a longer trip than we planned!  But first, a recap.

Christmas morning we headed over to my father-in-law’s side of our family for pancakes and gifts.  It’s our yearly tradition to have a pancake breakfast and then open gifts together.  I decided to have a small bowl of Kashi cereal and soy milk before we went, and then I ended up eating about half a pancake.  We had a great time eating and hanging out with everyone.  We don’t get to see that side of our family very often, and it’s always so good to spend some time with them. We wish it could be more!

Sadly, Jon and I didn’t end up getting a picture with our Grandma McCoy, but here’s one of my brother-in-law and sister-in-law.

After all the McCoy festivities, we headed back over to my mother-in-law’s side of the family and spent the rest of the day there.  Thankfully my mother-in-law was feeling better by then, so we had Christmas there that night!  If I was still keeping track, I’m pretty sure this would be about Christmas #5?  Can’t have too many I suppose!  Anyway, great fun was had by all as always.  My MIL, aunt and grammy had cooked up several games with prizes for the winners.

Luckily for each game they had pre-determined who would win the prize (s) for that game.  For instance, when we played wii bowling, they had decided that first place and last place would both win prizes.  Last place never felt so good:)  I won a remote control car! ha!

Remote control modes of transportation were very popular this year – there ended up being a remote control car and 2 remote control helicopters.  Crowd favorites they were:)  My brother-in-law had already received a remote control helicopter for Christmas a couple of weeks ago, and he ended up winning both of them this weekend as well.  I surprised myself (and everyone else) by how much of a kick I got out of those little helicopters, and he ended up giving me one of them.  Love that guy:)  Jon and I have been having a little too much fun with it the last couple of days.  If you’re like I was you’re probably thinking how dumb that is…but don’t knock it ’till you try it.  I promise, they’re addicting.

We also had great food.  I didn’t get a picture of my plate, but I had some roasted potatoes, fresh green beans, some bread and an Amy’s burrito.  What?   A girls gotta have some protein.

And then came dessert.  I had been eyeing my dessert all day as it sat in the fridge.

Best food part of my weekend, hands down!  I love caramel apples and hardly ever have them (who does?).  I ended up eating about half of this one.  Oooooh, it was goooood.

Sunday morning Jon and I got up bright and early so we could get on the road and make it back to Oklahoma by 6 o’clock for my cousins birthday party.  It was going to be a stretch, but we thought we’d be able to make it.

And then I lost my wallet.

The husband realized right before we were about to leave that my wallet was not in my purse.  So, an all out search ensued, but turned up nothing.  After brainstorming for awhile we guessed that maybe it had fallen out of my purse at the candlelight service two nights before. We called the church, and then waited on pins and needles for them to call back.  About 20 minutes later, they finally called back with the good news that my wallet had been found!  The bad news was that the person who found it was now in church and still had the wallet.  Also random was that it was a relative of the family.  Weird right?  Anyway, we tried calling her and texting her, but she wasn’t responding so we basically just had to wait it out.  As soon as the service let out we were able to get it back, but by then we were running almost an hour late getting on the road.

We still thought we might be able to make it but over the next four hours, between the traffic and me not feeling well we decided that it just wasn’t in the cards.  We were also so exhausted…we both felt like we simply could not keep our eyes open, and five more hours on the road seemed like no less than torture.  So, we decided to stop and stay the night in Dallas.  Upon arriving there, we headed straight to our favorite Dallas hotel and took a two hour nap.

This isn’t our actual room, I was so tired I forgot to take pictures so I got these from google images.  It looked basically the same though.  We love Aloft hotels and highly recommend it in any city!  And they’re pet friendly, so Olive was able to tag along.

After our two hour nap we found some dinner, ending up a mexican restaurant – shocker I know.  I was so out of it I went with a cheese enchilada and ended up regretting it.  I guess I was just feeling so tired and lazy I didn’t take the time or energy to figure out a vegan option.  I almost always regret it when I do that because I never feel well afterward…but I’m not perfect and I’m finally learning to accept that.  Onward and upward.

After dinner we headed back to the hotel and fell asleep watching Sleepless in Seattle.  The next morning we both woke up feeling refreshed and ready to hit the road and get home.  Jon had a lot of Outbox work to do, including some calls that had to be made by 5pm, so it was kind of a mad dash to get back home.  We made a quick stop at Whole foods, where I replenished my Amazing Grass stash and also got a fresh juice.

I like to think I’m pretty tough when it comes to juices, but I have to be honest, this one was kind of hard to get down.  Not sure if it was the wheat grass in it or what, but I just kept telling myself how much my body would appreciate it.  And I kept reminding myself of how much it cost.  And I think my body did appreciate it, especially after the shenanigans of the night before.  The husband also got a slice of breakfast pizza, and we stopped at Starbucks and I got a perfect oatmeal.

We finally got back home at about 4pm and spent the rest of the night working on stuff and unpacking.  I felt kind of bummed that Christmas was over, but it definitely felt good to be back home too.  The last couple of days I’ve really been trying to get back on track.  While I planned ahead and made some really good choices while we were traveling, I also indulged a lot more than usual.  While there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s a slippery slope for me.  Anytime I get out of my healthy routine, I have a bit of trouble getting back in my groove.  It’s definitely time to get back in my groove.  I’ll be posting more about what I’ve done to stay sane and healthy while traveling this past week as well as what I’m doing to get back on track soon!

Thanks to everyone for reading and all the sweet comments you’ve left over the last several days.  I haven’t been able to keep up with my favorite blogs at all, but I’m looking forward to catching up with everyone in the next couple of days!  Hope you’re all having a great week and looking forward to the new year!

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merry christmas

But the angel said to them “Do no be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

Luke 2:10-11

Merry Christmas

Love, Jon and Candice


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merry christmas eve

Merry Christmas Eve!!

This morning I slept in and then headed out for a quick walk/jog around the neighborhood. It felt good to get my blood flowing.

Afterward, I enjoyed a bowl of cereal and soy milk.  I wanted to add banana, but the bowl was really shallow, and there simply wasn’t enough room!

Kashi Go Lean Crunch mixed with Shredded Wheat n Bran

For lunch I had an Amy’s bean and rice burrito plus a few of Jonathan’s curly fries.  Today I’ve popped a few too many chocolate covered almonds in my mouth.  They taste so good going down – I love those things. Every year Jon’s grammy has chocolate covered almonds and chocolate covered cashews…and every year I eat one too many:)  It’s become my yearly tradition. haha.  When I have been eating super clean I find that even the smallest bit of junk food makes me stomach feel edgy.  Sometimes it’s just worth it though. sometimes.

Hopefully I’ll be able to settle it for dinner tonight! The family is getting fried fish from a local restaurant that everyone loves, so I’ll be baking some sweet potato rounds and some broccoli.  That should do the trick:)

We’re getting ready to head to a candlelight Christmas Eve service, and I’m so looking forward to it.  I haven’t been to one in a few years, but I really love them.  I’m hoping for lots of hymns and Christmas songs ’cause I haven’t had enough of those this year.  And also looking forward to a little down time spent focusing on my Savior.  Definitely hasn’t been enough of that!

Before I go, here’s the gingerbread recipe I promised.  If you’re looking for an ultra soft, perfectly spiced gingerbread that is just right for cookie cuttering, then look no further!

Vegan Gingerbread Cookies
recipe found here


Ingredients

  • 1 cup Earth Balance
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 EnerG Egg Replacer egg
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Directions

  • In a large bowl, cream together the Earth Balance and sugar until well combined.
  • Add in “egg”, molasses and vinegar.  Set aside.
  • In a medium sized bowl combine all the remaining ingredients by sifting them together.  Organic cane sugar tends to clump together, so it’s very important to sift it in with the other ingredients.
  • Add dry mixture into Earth Balance mixture and mix thoroughly.
  • Place dough in the refrigerator and allow it to firm up for about 2 hours.
  • After dough has become firm, pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Flour a large, hard surface and rolling pin before rolling dough out to about 1/4 inch thick.  Use cookie cutters to cut dough into shapes before placing them on a greased baking sheet and baking for 6-8 minutes.  Do not overcook.  Cookies will become more firm after being taken out of the oven.

Decorate with colored icing or enjoy plain with a hot cup of tea – a perfect Christmas treat:)

Merry Christmas Eve everyone!!

What are you doing to celebrate this Christmas eve?

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hello from texas

Hello!

Well, we’re finally in south Texas!

On Tuesday we left home and headed to my hometown to see my grandma and grandpa.  We went and grabbed some dinner with them and then ended the night at their house opening gifts together!  It was such a great time spending the evening with them – it’s not everyday we get them all to ourselves;)

It was also a perfect example of how sometimes there are sacrifices involved when eating vegetarian/vegan.  There are a lot of ways to plan ahead and avoid less than ideal food situations, but sometimes there’s just not much you can do.  The restaurant we went to was mexican, and I wasn’t too worried about it because usually mexican restaurants have options – I usually go for black bean tacos (just ask them to sub out beans for meat) or veggie fajitas.  But this particular restaurant didn’t have black beans and their refriend beans and rice were not vegetarian.  They did have fajitas, but they were twelve dollars and I just couldn’t bear to spend that much.  So I went with the guacamole and ate it with a flour tortilla and some chips.  I wasn’t there for the food anyway:)

Anyway, the next morning we got up fairly early and hit the road, heading south.

After a long, but fun day of driving, we finally arrived in south Texas around ten o’clock.  We started out at about nine thirty in the morning and ended up in Dallas around one o’clock where we stopped at the mall to make some exchanges and grab some lunch.

For Christmas my mom gave me running shorts from Lululemon (insert excited squeal:), but after trying them on I decided I needed a different size.  I have to admit it was so hard to go in the store and not want to buy ten other things, but thankfully I resisted.  I did get my shorts exchanged though, and I can’t wait to wear them – they’re my first pair of running shorts from there, and I’ll definitely do a review over them soon!

For lunch I grabbed a salad from one of those salad places I love so much.  Sadly, this particular one just did not measure up – they didn’t chop up everything in the salad before putting it into the bowl, so there were giant leaves of lettuce, giant nuts, giant artichoke hearts (I broke them up into pieces myself) etc.  I was a bit disappointed, but o’well.   The rosemary roll that came with it pretty much made up for it though – it was delicious!

After lunch and shopping we got back on the road for the last five hours of our trip.  Here is a little hello from the road that I tried to post yesterday, but due to the remote country roads of south Texas, it didn’t quite work out like I planned:)

As you can hear we jammed out to the husband’s new Sarah Bareilles CD, which we both happen to love, and the trip went by fairly quickly.

First things first this morning, I headed out for a quick speed walk, just to get my blood flowing a little bit.  I have to be really careful when we’re visiting family for an extended period of time.  If I don’t make a point to get some exercise and eat well I end up not enjoying our time here quite as much and I go home feeling less than stellar.  So, after my walk, I showered and headed to the store to get some healthy food to have around.

Just the basics…you know:)  Later we stopped by the store again and I grabbed a sweet potato, some broccoli and squash and a couple of Amy’s frozen burritos.  This is a meat/seafood eating family, so I always need something on hand for meals. I really wish I had grabbed a couple cans of Amy’s soup from the health food store before leaving town.  It really like it a lot better than the frozen foods, but I can’t find them here, so I’ll make due!  I usually plan ahead so much more, but I just completely ran out of time this year.

Anyway, today has been a fun first day – we’ve gotten to see a lot of family and just enjoy spending time hanging out.  Unfortunately my MIL is really sick and we ended up in the emergency room with her for a little while this afternoon.  She seems to be feeling a little better tonight, and I’m praying she wakes up feeling better tomorrow.

For dinner tonight we stopped by the best little restaurant – Geo Burrito – have you heard of it?  It’s basically kind of like Chipotle or Qdoba, but I think it’s even better.  Any mexican restaurant that offers brown rice and vegetarian refriend beans is a win in my book:)

I ordered a bowl with brown rice, refried beans, black beans, corn, lettuce, pico, salsa and guacamole

I seriously wish we could get this place in Oklahoma.  The guy who works at Chipotle told me the other day that they’ll be getting brown rice soon.  I haven’t seen it yet, though, so I’m not holding my breath:)

Anyway, before I go I wanted show you guys the cookie cutters I used for the sugar cookies and gingerbread men since several readers have asked about them. I bought the set of at William Sonoma, and even though I debated about the purchase for a half hour in the store that night, I definitely have not regretted buying them.  I love using them, and it has been so fun to personalize cookies for Christmas gifts!

They are super easy to use and even easier to clean.

As you can see, the set comes with premade phrases as well as all the letters in the alphabet plus extras of the most common letters.  You simply slide the letters you want to use into the grooves and then use it like you would any other cookie cutter – it’s that simple!

It seems that they are all sold out online, but I’m sure they still have them in the stores.  There is also a set that is not Christmas related that could be used year round!  I may have to splurge on those as well:)

Halley mentioned that she spotted them the other day and bought them as a last minute Chrismtas gift for her mom – what a great idea!

And while we’re on the subject of the cookies, I’ll be posting the recipe for the delicious vegan gingerbread cookie recipe tomorrow – you have to make them if you like gingerbread at all.  They are soft and chewy with just the perfect amount of gingerbread flavor – perfect for Christmas afternoon with a cup of hot tea:)

Only two days left until Christmas – hope you are all enjoying every moment!

By the way, don’t forget to stop by Ecolissa and use the 20% discount offered to ChiaSeedMe readers!  Use code “vegan20″ to get your discount.

note: I am not being compensated in any way by William Sonoma – I simply love them and wanted to share!

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