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


  • 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


  • 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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deck the halls

Random fact on this lovely Friday: somebody found my blog by searching the phrase “chia seed in my eye.”

I kinda like that, lol:)  Not going to find any advice here, though!

I mentioned the other day that Jon and I decorated for Christmas on Sunday.  I love decorating for Christmas!  Last year during this time I hadn’t even started ChiaSeedMe yet.  I was kind of in a transition between blogs.  I had been writing at Brand New Sidewalk about random life happenings for about a year, but with the craziness also known as my first year of teaching, I just didn’t have the time or energy to put into it!

So, I started a tumbler, thinking it would be a good way to keep blogging, but with shorter, less-time consuming entries.  I really liked tumbler, and sometimes I think I’d like to keep blogging there (in addition to CSM), but so far it hasn’t happened.  My tumbler was geared a little more toward healthy living, but I really made the jump when I started ChiaSeedMe.

So in the spirit of decorating for Christmas here are some of last year’s decorations.

And this year.

Oops!  That’s not a decoration.  That would be my breakfast.  A random juicing of carrots, apple, a lime, small piece of ginger and a few handfuls of spinach (aka – everything that I could scavenge from my oh so empty fridge).  Plus half a leftover Cliff bar.

Let’s try this again.

And of course Christmas at our house wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for my Grandpa’s peanut brittle.  He spends hours making it every year, and it’s the best peanut brittle there ever was.

The husband and I will be spending the whole weekend Christmas shopping!  I’m so excited.

What are you most excited about this weekend?

Happy Friday!

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no place like home

I’m now back from a 3 day hiatus.

Over the weekend, the husband and I got to visit our family in his hometown.  We always love spending time there; I may be a little biased I suppose, but I’m certain that I have the best in-laws on the planet.  Here are a few photos of our little weekend getaway.

They are so thoughtful to always make sure that my favorite foods are in the house.  I always think it’s so sweet that they do that because these are not things they would normally have.

Breakfast Saturday morning – Ezekiel bread with almond butter and sliced banana

Playtime in the backyard:)  Olive is the only grandchild so far, so she gets a LOT of attention.  I worry about the day she’s no longer the only one…she will be a sad baby dog:(



One thing I love about visiting our family is that, like us, they love to hop in the car and just drive around, ending up wherever the days takes us.  On Saturday it took us to a cemetery in this tiny little country town. Don’t even ask:)

trying to see her Grandpa

And then dinner.  The family had spaghetti with meatballs, my MIL’s specialty.  I fixed up a giant pan of seasoned and roasted chickpeas, sweet potato, carrots and squash.  Easy and delicious.

And as usual, the day ended with a great round of game-playing

On Sunday we went to church to hear my FIL preach and then sadly, we had to rush to get back on the road toward home.  I never want to leave when we visit, but this week the sadness was softened just a little bit because I was so excited about what we were headed home to do!

More on that later:)

Hope you all had a great weekend!!

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all kinds of delicious

Praise the Lord for daylight savings time!  I keep forgetting today, and the husband keeps reminding me.  With every sweet reminder I let out a mini squeal of joy at having one extra hour left in the day…kinda like when I’m certain there’s not one more can of green enchilada sauce and the husband reminds me that I bought double on our last grocery trip.  Pure joy.

The weekend here at the McCoy house has been all about the small things.  You know, the little details in life that if you’re not careful can pass you right by and leave you wanting more out of the days and weeks, but having no idea where to look.  I’ve always been one to overlook these little details, but the older I become the more I’m (slowly) learning that life really is mostly about these things.  Finding thrills in the mundane and creating moments as sweet as pumpkin butter by no other effort than focusing a little bit deeper and seeing things – a pile of laundry, taking the long route home from church, discussing our dreams and goals for the millionth time – from a different perspective.

For us, this included tossing smiles at each other through the small space between the office and the living room and hollering (brutally honest) feedback on each other’s projects as we passed the hours, hard at work.

And then breaking for (admittedly) cheap pizza and fizzy drinks, beyond exhausted and with our stomachs begging us not to wait another moment before filling them.

It included waking up late (as usual) and procrastinating getting out of bed, taking one more snooze to cuddle each other…and the pup before rushing around like mad to get dolled up for church.

It included sudsing up the baby, doing our best to avoid making contact with her pleading eyes as we reassured ourselves over and over that it really was “for her own good” and wondered how in the world we’re going to handle having a human baby.

And it included cranking Ingrid Michaelson in the kitchen, letting the final rays of light of this short day seep through the sink window while making a classic gooey vegan chocolate chip cookie pie for the husband.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie
adapted from here


  • 2 cups unbleached white flour (gasp! it won’t kill you I promise:)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup vegan carob or chocolate chips (or as many as suits your fancy)
  • 1 cup organic pure cane sugar (or any raw sugar – turbinado, sucinat, whatever)
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk (water will work if you don’t have milk)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Use Earth Balance and flour to coat the sides of a round cake pan.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, carob chips and sugar.  After mixing well, make a well in the center and set aside.

  • In a small bowl, mix together Earth Balance and sugar.  Then add vanilla and soymilk and continue to mix.
  • Add wet mixture to the middle of dry mixture and mix well, but don’t overmix.  Okay, guys, I had to seriously man-handle this dough.  I forgot to use my KitchenAid (how does a girl forget her KitchenAid???) and after about 10 minutes of trying to get the dough stirred, I went into a rage and threw the spatula aside and got down and dirty with my hands, basically kneading the dough like a big happy loaf of bread dough.  It was fun;)
  • After dough is completely mixed and moist, press it into cake pan until it is even all around.

  • Bake for 30 minutes, checking it every 10 minutes or so.  When it’s ready to come out, it should still look very pale.  This cookie pie will not be brown on top. I promise, it is done.
  • Immediately transfer cookie pie to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool before cutting.

I’m anxious to see how this holds up when stored in a ziplock baggie (I promise to give an update).  By the time this handsome guy was done with his photo shoot (the cookie, not the husband:), we pounced on him, having been enticed by the melty carob chips and heavenly smell for far longer than any person should.  The outer rim of crust had already gotten a little crispy, but everything else remained ultra soft, just how we like it. It was all kinds of delicious. The husband is always too honest about my vegan expeditions in the kitchen, and tonight he proved that this recipe rocks – and he has the tummy ache to prove it.  Poor husband.

We’re planning to finish off the weekend by making dinner, watching Amazing Race and probably scheming our audition video to get on the show just like most other Sunday nights.  Hope you all had a lovely weekend, full of wonderful things, whether big or small.

What was the best part of your weekend??

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things that make me smile

favorite snack: homemade bread with almond butter and pumpkin butter



black skinny jeans – best Gap purchase ever

lunchtime fun with the husband

big brown Olive eyes

see above

pumpkin spice latte of course


What things are making you smile on this lovely Friday?

Happy Weekend.

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