Blueberry Almond “Ice Cream”

I’m not one known for having a big sweet tooth. If you look back at this blog at all, there is only a handful of posts about sweets. But there is that occasion when I feel the craving.

These days, fro-yo is all the rage, but for someone who needs to steer clear of dairy, there aren’t many options for such a treat. I know, I could get sorbet, but the reason I go out for this sort of dessert is because I want to enjoy the creamy texture. Only 2 times have I ever had an encounter with a dairy free fro-yo, but since most of the places revolve their selections, it’s only few and far between that I get to indulge.

I have done this little trick for like 7 years now – pour almond milk over frozen blueberries, and sprinkle with Truvia or Splenda. Because the blueberries are frozen, it automatically freezes the almond milk. I went to do this the other day, and thought to myself, “Self, I should blend this!” So I did. Plus, I added a little bit of almond extract, which if you don’t put that in every single sweet thing that you make, you are truly depriving yourself.

Another great thing about this is that you can make as much or as little as you want. I don’t know about you, but if I get a tub of ice cream {at this point, when I say “ice cream”, assume it’s not real ice cream}, it’s pretty difficult for me to stick to the recommended 1/2 cup serving size. This recipe is well over 1 cup and has just over 109 calories, saving you lots of wiggle room. Plus, blueberries are a power food – low calorie, high antioxidant, anti inflammatory and may help reduce your risk for cancer. Plus, how can you beat something that take 2 minutes to make?

 

| Dairy Free Blueberry Almond “Ice Cream”

{serves 1}

1 C frozen blueberries, unsweetened

3/4 C unsweetened almond milk or other milk substitute

1/4 TSP almond extract

2 packets sugar substitute

Add all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve.

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Enjoy!

Crustless Light Garden Quiche

As you may already know, I am an avid fan of the ever versatile egg. Something that you may not know, however, is that I can’t eat dairy. This is fine when I eat my daily fried egg for breakfast, but when I want to venture out and have quiche, it’s quite difficult.

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Occasionally, I will consume cheese if I’m forced. For example, my Dads birthday was on February 9th and my mom made Eggplant Parmesan with a side salad. What was I supposed to do, not eat? This is a rare occasion, but it still happens. Milk, though, I haven’t touched in 7 years, since my vegetarian days.

I have never been a person to think, “Oh, a glass of milk sounds wonderful!” or “I just need a piece of cheese,” like my husband, so not eating dairy has been fairly easy. I rarely even consume milk alternatives, like almond or rice milk. I use it as a compliment or an addition, say in my oatmeal or protein shake, but never just a glass.

I have never tried vegan cheese because quite frankly, it’s a little creepy to me. I have no idea if it’s good or what the consistency is like, but in all my dairy free years, I have yet to try the stuff.

Until today.

 

| Crustless Light Garden Quiche

1 TBS coconut oil

1.5 C chopped turnip greens, roughly chopped

1 C chopped mushrooms, any button kind, roughly chopped

1 Roma tomato, thinly sliced

2 large eggs

1 C egg substitute

1/2 C original unsweetened rice or almond milk

2 C shredded dairy free Mozzarella style “cheese”

1/2 TSP salt

1/4 TSP black pepper

1/8 TSP cayenne pepper

1/8 TSP chipotle chile powder

1 TSP baking powder

On medium heat, melt the coconut oil and saute the turnip greens and mushrooms, until excess liquid evaporates, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and use non stick spray on a 9.5 inch pie dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg substitute and milk substitute until well mixed. Whisk in the salt, pepper, cayenne, chipotle powder and baking powder until almost no clumps can be seen. Gently fold in the cheese substitute.

Once the sauteed veggies have cooled, also fold them into the egg mixture.

Pour into your pie dish and arrange the tomato slices on top.  Let bake in the oven for about 35 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean from the middle.

Let stand for 10 minutes and serve.

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Enjoy!

Marriage Mondays Part 5: Share

You’re probably thinking, “I already share everything – my home, my food, my stuff.” I don’t mean sharing something material. It’s so important to share interests. Or at least try to.

We both learned something new about each other in the last couple weeks. It’s funny how that happens when I think I know everything I possibly can about this man. A couple weekends ago, I went to my husband and asked him if he wanted to go downtown with me and take pictures. He loves photography and taking photos, so of course he was pretty excited. I love art of all kinds, but I have never thought I could take any good photographs, so I never really tried. But knowing that he loves it, I thought I could branch out and at least share something with him that is close to his heart. We actually ended up with some pretty awesome stuff. We also brought Molly for her first experience in the city.

Next time, she’s staying home.

Then, about a week later, something I definitely never thought would happen happened. Husband came to me and said, “I know you love yoga – I wouldn’t mind trying it out with you.” What?! Okay! So, bright and early the next Saturday morning, he joined me in a hot vinyasa flow yoga class at our fitness spa {yes, fitness spa. We’re lucky}.

And do you know what happened after that class? He went to another with me the next morning before church.

I think what makes these experiences even more special is that I didn’t ask him to try it with me – he asked me. He took an interest in my interest.

He didn’t ask me to take pictures with him, it was my idea. I took an interest in his interests. If we don’t try these new things, we may miss out and something we end up enjoying. Together.

Here are some pictures from our “InstaDate”, both mine and husbands photos.shareshare1share2share3

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Spicy Asian Eggplant with Tofu and Red Pepper

I have been an avid reader of Self Magazine for about 4 years now, soaking in all their advice. One thing I haven’t done yet, which surprises me upon thinking about it, is make one of their healthy recipes.

I did some extensive research on their website, and decided to make their Spicy Asian Eggplant with Tofu and Red Pepper. Sadly, after making my trek to the grocery store, I found that they did not have red chillies. Or oyster sauce. But that is why I love cooking so much – there’s no have-to formula to create something delicious. In fact, I think improvising should be more encouraged {baking, however, is an entirely different story}. Improvising demands that you use your right-brain powers, a side that people often allow to gather dust over time.

So, what to do, what to do? There was a plethora of peppers, but not much of a choice when it came to chillies, which turned out to be in my favor.

I grabbed a handful of Thai Chillies and fish sauce to substitute for the things that were missing.

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Oyster sauce really is quite similar to fish sauce, so there were no problems there. However, when you cook with chillies, it is a little important to try not to stray too much with the amounts, because usually the recipe’s author has a good gauge of the spiciness. And comparing the heat between two different chillies is even harder. Luckily, I found this website, which has the heat range according to each peppers Capsaicin rate.

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I used 4 little chillies {and by little, I mean smaller than your pinky. I may have even only needed 3}, and cooked the rest as the recipe called.

This dish was absolutely delicious, and I was elated when I read the stats:166 calories per serving, 7.9 g fat (0.7 g saturated), 16.1 g carbs, 6.3 g fiber, 8.7 g protein

The recipe serves 4 good sized servings, but because the calories are so low, I had two.

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Enjoy!

Lemony Brussels Sprout Quinoa with Baked Salmon

I have been so bored of cooking the same things over and over again. Do you ever get in that rut? I have a few staples that I come to every time I’m tired, not feeling creative, or lacking of time and resources to make something spectacular. Those three meals are chicken fajitas with black beans and brown Spanish rice, oven baked chicken with brussels sprouts and brown rice, and red chicken chili. While all those things are pretty freaking delicious, they become quite monotonous day in and day out. I would love it if I could pepper in lots of meals in between so that those delightful dishes don’t become a Debby-Downer meal. Sometimes, however, that just isn’t realistic.

I’m making a goal that for the next couple of weeks I will dedicate some time everyday to research and create. Whether that be browsing through food magazines, perusing the grocery store aisles for unusual ingredients, or {maybe the best idea} going to my Mom.

I used to tell her I would never not like cooking. She always told me, just you wait until it’s a daily task, becomes mundane and then you’re sucked dry of all creativity. Well, Mother, you were right. {Don’t they say that’s something every daughter eventually comes to terms with? “Mom, you were right.”}

Anyways, I am a little flabbergasted with myself, but I’m gonna be real here for a sec.

I’m sick of vegetables.

There, I said it.

Maybe that’s why I’m in this funk. I feel like this is what mother’s have to do with their children who shudder at the sight of green on their plates – I have been sneaking veggies in my meals. Doesn’t that sound silly? Because I know they’re there. I guess it’s just the gesture of adding a veggie to something not so… veggie.

 

| Lemony Brussels Sprout Quinoa

2 C rinsed and shredded sprouts, stem removed

1/2 C roughly chopped onion of any color

1 TBS coconut oil

1 C frozen peas

1 C Quinoa, rinsed and drained

3 C water

1/4 TSP salt

1/8 TSP Cayenne Pepper

1/4 TSP Lemon Pepper

1 lemon

In a bowl, squeeze half of the lemon over the shredded sprouts and onions, and add the lemon pepper and cayenne. Stir to coat. In a pot on medium heat, melt the coconut oil and saute the vegetable mix for 5-7 minutes, or until tender. Set aside in a bowl.

In the same pot, mix the quinoa, water, salt and squeeze in the juice of the other half of the lemon. Place both lemon halves in the pot, and bring to a boil. Cover, and let simmer for about 15 minutes. When the quinoa is finished cooking, add the veggies and frozen peas {the heat will thaw them} to the pan, letting cook for another few minutes while stirring.

Set Aside

Lemony Brussels Quinoa Salmon

| Baked Salmon

1 LB total salmon fillets

2 TSP spicy brown mustard

3 TBS lemon juice

3 TBS soy sauce

1/8 TSP salt

1/4 TSP lemon pepper

1/8 TSP cayenne pepper

1 TBS coconut oil

Preheat your oven to 375 and in a small bowl melt the coconut oil in your microwave, about 1 minute. When it’s completely melted, mix in the mustard, lemon juice, soy sauce, salt, lemon pepper and cayenne.

Place your fish in a foiled and greased baking dish, pouring the marinade over the top. You may let them marinade for up to a day, but it really isn’t required. Place in your oven for 11-14 minutes.

When your fish look about done, set your oven on broil for 2-3 minutes.

Serve your salmon over the quinoa.

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Enjoy!

Marriage Mondays Part 4: Learning to Love

Proverbs 18:22 {ESV} “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.”

This wisdom from Proverbs is something that we as men should take to heart consistently. In my last post, we discussed Ephesians 5:25, where we are instructed as men to love our wives. This command is more than just that instruction, it is a realization that it is not natural for us to love our wives the way that God intends.

For me, this often means falling short in terms of my planning or how I show Savannah on a daily basis that I love her. For example, I know that she loves flowers – I am horrible as getting her flowers. She sweetly reminds me of this every so often and I can see the disappointment in her eyes. It’s something so simple that I could do to bless this good thing that God has blessed me with, and I can’t even accomplish this.

There are long lists of things that we already know will get us in trouble {many of which I constantly do}, like forgetting to buy a card or rushing out the door in the morning without a monstrous hug and kiss. I encourage you men to seek out your wife just like we need to seek out Christ. For me, this means making calendar appointments in my phone for random things, trying to learn something new about her everyday {not hard to do, guys. Just admit we will never understand women}, playing and chasing her around the house… Your wife yearns to be pursued, and that is biblical.

We are all made in His image, and part of God’s character that is in every woman is the want to be pursued, the want for you to seek her out and love her WITHOUT her having to force you or tell you. Real love is in the everyday, especially the days that you don’t like each other. I know for myself, I need to make more of an effort to do what does not come naturally.

When you go the extra mile, you will find that God’s favor on your marriage and your life will continue to shower down on you both.

Spicy Black Bean Dip

On Sunday, we went to a little valentine’s party and as usual, everyone was to bring an appetizer or a finger food. Husband’s solution is to always pick something up at the grocery store, but to me that screams that we didn’t care to set aside time to put love into something for our friends.

I did a little bit of research and came up with this simple, delicious dip. This appetizer is good for you in so many ways: free of fat, dense in nutrients, and low in calories {less than 80 per serving}, it is the perfect addition to any party.

We did have to end up going to the store to get pita chips and black corn chips for dipping, but that doesn’t count, right?

 

| Spicy Black Bean Dip

1 14 oz can drained black beans

1/2 can {5 oz or so} diced tomatoes with chillies

1/2 red onion, chopped

1/2 TSP salt

1/2 TSP cayenne pepper

1 TSP lime juice

2 TSP cumin

Throw everything in the blender and blend until smooth. Serve with a side of chips, celery, bell peppers. Done.

You can serve it hot or cold, but I preferred it to be a bit warm.

Black Bean Dip

Enjoy!

Marriage Mondays Part 3: Compromise

Compromise isn’t something I do easily. I’m just a teensy bit stubborn and won’t usually give in until I get my way {great quality, I know}. So this forged a problem a few nights ago when I was begging and pleading for Husband to get off his computer and spend some face time with me. Usually I can hold out longer than him, but this day he just ignored my annoying nagging, forcing me to do what I do when I don’t win. Go close myself in our room like a child. The reason I use this strategy is because I feel like it will make him feel bad enough to come talk to me {manipulation}. Well, 30 minutes later, I was still alone, laying in our giant bed. So, what do you think happened next? Yep, I fell asleep.

This didn’t turn into a huge fight or anything that composed a big dilemma. But the next day, I told him my feelings were hurt that he didn’t want to spend time with me. He was a little puzzled because he thought, “we were in that same room, how was that not spending time with you?”

Instead of trying to completely understand one another {which often times will never happen}, I texted him later that day and asked him if we could make a compromise and end this problem.

My solution was that we could spend as much time on the computer/phone/electronic as we wanted, up until one hour before bed. We could spend that hour talking, giggling, getting to know each other more, and anything else we could think of, but no phones, no computers, no internet.

Compromise plays a huge part in making a marriage work, and this small but important instant of realization was our first Ah Ha! moment for that issue. I guess we had never really addressed it. My stubborn ways were forcing him to let me have what I wanted, so it hadn’t proposed a problem until the one day I didn’t get that. It’s also important because men and women have minds that work completely different. He may never understand your need for one on one time, and you may never understand his need for alone time. The important thing isn’t to understand it, but to allow the other what they need, then meeting each other in the middle.

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*This picture was taken photographer and my sister Mary Jo Aguilera. Go visit her facebook page!

Curry Glazed Carrots with Tofu and Basmati Rice

I always love when someone ask me to cook something. Especially something that husband is a food snob about. There are few things that he doesn’t actually like {i.e. Thai peanut sauce & worcestershire sauce}, so when my boss asked me use the tofu she had in the fridge, I gladly obliged.

It’s obviously not my first go around with tofu, so I needed to do something creative. There were carrots in the fridge, and it’s a seldom thing that I cook with carrots. For some reason, those veggies are not a staple in my house {although, just about every other veggie is}.

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Everyone knows carrots are good for your eyes. Did you also know that because of their high beta-carotene content, they slow the aging of cells, which may help prevent the look of aging, also*. Not only that, but in a 10 year study conducted in the Netherlands, when vegetables were sorted by color, dark orange and yellow veggies were considered the most protective against cancer.**

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Get your carrots on!

| Curry Glazed Carrots with Tofu and Basmati Rice

1 package firm tofu in water

1/2 LB carrots, sliced 1/4 in. thick

4 TBS butter

1 TSP olive oil

1/2 TSP salt, plus a dash

1/2 TSP lemon pepper

1 1/2 TBS curry powder

2 TSP brown sugar

1 C Basmati Rice

Prepare tofu by letting as much water drain out as possible, then wrap it in several paper towels with a heavy object placed on top. Replace paper towels with fresh ones after about 1/2 hour, then let it sit an additional hour. Cube tofu, and dry fry it with a dash of salt on medium heat in a non stick pan, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Set aside.

Prepare Basmati rice according to package directions.

Meanwhile, set carrots in a pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, about medium heat. At 10 minutes, stick with a fork to see if the carrots are tender. If they are, drain and set aside. If not, continue cooking, checking every 5 minutes until tender.

In the same pan, melt the butter with oil. Bring to medium-low heat and add the lime juice, salt, lemon pepper, curry powder and brown sugar, continually stirring. When all of the spices are well mixed with the butter and lime juice, add the carrots, tossing to coat. Continue cooking until the sauce has reduced somewhat and sticks to the carrots.

Serve with rice as a base, then tofu, then curried carrots.

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Enjoy!

*According to Care2 Make a Difference**According to The Worlds Healthiest Foods

 

Marriage Monday: A Call to Men

Since Savannah has started this new series on marriage, she asked me to add some guest posts for her to convey a male perspective on marriage, in addition to her own. Hopefully, for any men out there, I can shed some light on the things that God has taught me and continues to teach me in this lifelong journey. I want to start with something from the Creator of marriage and go from there. In Ephesians 5 we see some great instruction for husbands and wives, but specifically in verses 25&26. It states, “For Husbands, this means love your wives as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.”

What a simple concept that I think has been lost slowly over time in this country. Jesus clearly models for us as men, the type of husband you should be by simply by loving you enough that He happily laid down His life to atone for your imperfection. In our own lives, we should be happy to lay down our lives in a spiritual sense for our spouses.

Men, are you willing to be a better spiritual leader in your home? Do you realize that you are involved in a war that has been raging since the fall of your ancestor, Adam? As the head of your household, you are the first line of defense to the enemy’s attacks, and in Christ, you have been given all the tools to defend your home. Although your wife is your equal, it is your responsibility to protect her, not only in this physical realm, but even more so in the realm the really matters.

Love your wife enough to be a better man, but love her even more to be willing to build a strong and unbreakable bond in your marriage with Christ. Solomon lays out clearly for us in Ecclesiastes that the things we do in this life are like chasing the wind. So more than a nice car, a beautiful wedding ring, fashionable clothes and the extravagance that the world tells us we need to provide, the most important issue that you need to address in this life is the spiritual leadership that your wife needs to help further her own relationship with God. If you lead in Christ, Christ will then cause your wife to follow in respect and submission to you. I pray for this in my own life first, and hope that this will challenge you to love your wife enough to lead from the example of our savior.

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Jason