This is the fastest, easiest, yummiest potluck dish that I whip together when I’m short on time and ideas (or not!)

Veggies on Hummus

I saw this idea last summer and have used it a number of times now.  I’m here to spread the word, so you can spread the hummus.

And that’s exactly it – a layer of store bought hummus spread across a shallow dish, topped with whatever vegetables you feel like chopping – or not chopping, as the case here.  The vegetables I used for a dinner party recently were procured from the olive bar at Wegmans… the tomato salad that’s used for bruschetta, marinated green olives and artichokes (that I chopped myself) spooned across the top of the hummus.

You can swap the olive bar toppings with other summer vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, green onions – whatever you like.  Refrigerate until it’s time to head out, grab your bag of tortilla or pita chips, maybe some baguette slices or even other veggies for dipping and you’re ready to go!

This dish has been a hit every time and I’ve never had any leftovers to bring home.  (Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing!)  This is the idea I keep in the back of my mind for those times I’m at the grocery store and suddenly remember I’m supposed to bring something to a party this weekend.  This is also great when you’re bringing multiple dishes and need “something else” that doesn’t require a lot of time or turning on the oven.

That’s it!  Easy, healthy and delicious – all of my favorite adjectives in one pan.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my friends and I do!


Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.


If there is one thing that is perpetually on my list of Things to Get Better At, it would be meal planning. I always go to the grocery store and buy the same old, same old ingredients to make the same old, same old meals – not having any specific plan for the week  (Maybe I have one new or specific meal in mind.)  I rarely decide on what I’m going to make until it’s time to get started making dinner.  Sometimes this is fine, other times it feels very boring.

I’ve written about this many times before, so I’ll shut up now, but I think the problem is that I’ve never found a meal planning system that works for me.  I’ve tried the old fashioned approach with a notebook and pencil and grand plans of keeping up with it – but I always end up falling off the meal planning wagon, and then I’m laying there in the mud eat the same old turkey chili again.

Feeling very stuck in a dinner time rut one day last week, I went browsing Pinterest for different meal ideas with my same old, same old ingredients that were already in my fridge.  I ended up creating a For Dinner This Week board, and I have to say, it worked really well!  I stuck with every meal I pinned, and since I knew what I was making each night, I’ve been able to do most of the prep work in the morning hours when I’m already putzing around the kitchen anyway, making dinner come together even faster.

In short, having a plan was awesome, I don’t know what my problem is.  I’m feeling hopeful that this Pinterest gig is going to help me stay on the wagon.  Social Media: it’s what’s for dinner.

Part of my motivation is having a reason to have my dinner time act together.  My reason?  After nearly 8 years of being a full time stay home mom, I’m about to go back to work!  (As a birth doula and prenatal yoga instructor, I can’t wait to share how this all came together… more details soon!)

One of the meals I had planned for this week was stuffed peppers, and although I didn’t go with the exact recipe I pinned, I still knew what the general plan was.  I ended up winging it with Quinoa and Black Bean Stuffed Peppers for dinner last night and they turned out great!  We were going to be out of the house all afternoon and I knew I wouldn’t be in the mood for doing a bunch of dinner prep by the time I got home, so I made the stuffing in the morning and had very little left to do when the dinner hour approached.

When I make stuffed peppers, I cut the peppers in half – as opposed to cutting the top off and filling an entire pepper.

Bell Peppers for Stuffing

After stuffing 4 pepper halves, I had about half of the stuffing left over and could have filled 4 more pepper halves (so you could plan on 4 peppers total if desired…) but I only had two peppers left, so two peppers it was.

Two out of three kids were fine eating the stuffing and preferred it “unstuffed” anyway, so it all worked out in the end.

Black Bean and Quinoa Stuffing for Peppers

(2 out of 3 because my darling middle child wouldn’t eat anything like this even if I bribed her with a meal plan of cotton candy for a year.)

Quinoa and Black Bean Stuffed Peppers

print this recipe

1 – 2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp turmeric (optional)
1 tsp coriander (optional)
1.5 c black beans (or a 15 oz  can, rinsed an drained)
1 c uncooked quinoa, rinsed well
2 c water
2 large handfuls of fresh spinach, chopped
salt to taste

2 – 4 peppers, stem, spines and seeds removed, cut in half
shredded cheese for topping if desired

Saute onions, pepper and garlic in oil until soft, add spices and coat all vegetables well.  Allow to cook for 5 minutes or so before adding beans, quinoa and water.  Cover and allow to simmer for 15 – 20 minutes until quinoa is soft and cooked, stirring occasionally to be sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Add chopped spinach (and a little more water if needed) and simmer for another 5 minutes or so, until spinach is soft and reduced in size.

Your stuffing is complete!  At this point you can begin stuffing peppers, or choose the option behind Door #2 and transfer it to a storage dish until you’re ready to make your well planned dinner!

Preheat the oven to 350, prep and stuff peppers in a baking dish.  Top with a shredded cheese if you like (I used colby jack) and bake uncovered for 45 minutes.

Give them about 10 minutes to cool and set before serving.

Quinoa and Black Bean Stuffed Peppers with Cheese

Delicious, healthy, vegetarian, gluten free – game, set, match, my work here is done!  Until dinner time tonight, that is – but I’ve got a plan!  It’s all good.


Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.


Last summer one of my very best girlfriends told me about a homemade deodorant she’d been having good luck with, made with coconut oil and some essential oils.  SIX MONTHS LATER (read: February of this year) I finally got around to trying it out.

I have no idea what took me so long, it just seemed so… involved.  You mean I have get four ingredients out of the cupboard and then put them in a bowl and stir them together?  I don’t know girl, that just sounds really complicated.

Ingredients for Natural Homemade Deodorant

I’ve been using the natural deodorants from the store for a number of years now but have never been completely satisfied with any of them.  They either didn’t work or left my under arms feeling wet and goopy – the exact opposite of how I would like my armpits to feel.

After four months of personal trial, I’m here to share the recipe because it really works!   I’ve given this out to a handful of friends and everyone has reported back that they love it too.*

(*One friend had a reaction and needed to alter the recipe a bit, more on that below.)

Making your own deodorant is cheap, easy and earns you mega hippie points.  I am so happy with this, I will never go back to the deodorants sold on store shelves.

Homemade Coconut Oil Deodorant

1/3 cup coconut oil

4 tbsp baking soda

4 tbsp cornstarch

5-10 drops of tea tree oil (or any oil you would like)

Homemade Deodorant Ingredients

Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Melt coconut oil until it’s a liquid, but not hot.  (Coconut oil melts at 76 degrees.)  Stir in essential oils, add oil mixture to dry ingredients and stir until all ingredients are well combined.

Pour mixture into storage containers and you’re done!

Homemade Coconut Oil Deodorant

(I divided mine between two 4 oz mason jars.)

Homemade Deodorant

When it comes time to use it, scoop a small (marble sized) amount out with your fingers and then rub it into your underarms like a lotion.  My husband Zak has asked about pouring it into an old deodorant container so he could apply it like regular deodorant, but I haven’t tried it because I read that it just turns into a melty mess when the air temperature is warmer than 76 degrees.

(I did find this recipe that uses beeswax and looks like it holds together better when it’s warm, but haven’t tried it.  I really don’t mind applying it with my hands and usually just wash or rinse them afterwards, but know that there are other things you could try if this was important to you!)

Why (I Believe) It Works

I haven’t conducted any double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trials or looked at armpit skin bacteria under a microscope, so I can only report on what I know about coconut oil and what the Internet tells me about why this works.

(This article explains what’s going on with your stinky pits and what the various kind of underarm products are designed to do, if your inquiring mind needs to know.)

Coconut oil is antibacterial and antimicrobial – so it actually kills the odor causing bacteria that love to hang out in your armpits.

Tea tree oil is also antiseptic and anti-fungal.  I added a few drops of lavender oil too because I like the way it smells, but also because lavender is antimicrobial and antibacterial as well.

Essential Oils for Homemade Deodorant

A Few Noteworthy Items

I’ve done a little reading about homemade deodorants and looked at various recipes, I read that some people had a reaction to their homemade deodorant.  Based on what I’ve read, the culprit is likely the baking soda because it’s mildly abrasive to skin.  If you tend to have sensitive skin, plan to use less baking soda or leave it out all together.

(*A friend who reported “red, flaming pits!” had better luck when she altered the recipe to use less baking soda.)

It does not stain your clothes.  (Or at least, it yet to leave any stains my clothes.  Don’t send me your dry cleaning bill if you prove me wrong.)

Even though cornstarch is absorbent, it does not seem to stop you from sweating (maybe a little, but not completely… that’s OK in my book, we’re supposed to sweat!) but because the coconut and essential oils help kill the bacteria in your armpits, it does keep you from stinking.

I feel really good asking my 10 year old daughter to use this.  She’s getting to the age where she needs to use deodorant, and I much prefer her using something made with natural ingredients than the conventional, chemical filled deodorants and antiperspirants found on store shelves.

In the cold months it was rock hard but would usually soften up in the warm bathroom during a shower and would be scoop-able by the time I was ready to use it.  You could also take the (tightly closed) container right into the shower with you or fill the sink with a few inches of warm water and let it hang out in its own little bath to have a chance to soften up.  You could also scoop it out with a small spoon and allow it to begin melting in your hand before applying.

It might take a few days to begin working really well.  When I first started to use it, I noticed that it took a couple of applications to completely erase any not-so-fresh underarm odor.  (Does this border on too much information?)  I believe that I’m in “maintenance mode” now and if I ever miss a day (like I did recently when I ran out and it took me a couple days to get my act together) it starts working well again immediately.

My first batch (with the quantity of ingredients listed above) lasted us 3 months!  And because we scoop it out with clean fingers and apply it by hand, it feels perfectly sanitary to share this among family members like you would toothpaste or lotion.

If you try this (or if you already use something similar) please come back and tell me!  I hope you love this as much as I do.


Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.


Yesterday morning a mama friend proposed to meet up for an evening dinner picnic with our families at a nearby park. It was quickly decided “Yes! Let’s do it!” and with that I was on to figuring out what to bring.

With a look at what I already had on hand (quinoa, avocado, corn and red pepper), I made a short list (limes and fresh cilantro, plus a Kombucha and some dark chocolate too if you’re going to look at my receipt) and planned a quick grocery trip while the girls were at gymnastics for an hour in the afternoon.

I didn’t intend to blog about this, but when I saw how pretty it was (and pretty delicious too!) I grabbed my camera and typed up the recipe – I will be making this again and don’t want to forget about it!  I’m excited for you to try it too.

Corn and Avocado Quinoa Salad with Red Pepper and Cilantro

Avocado and Corn Quinoa Salad with Red Pepper and Cilantro

4 c cooked quinoa (1 c uncooked makes about 4 cups cooked)
1 avocado, cubed
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro*
1 c (or so) cooked corn, cold
juice from 2 limes
1/3 c olive oil (give or take)
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

*I know that people either love or hate cilantro.  If cilantro isn’t your thing, I’d be tempted to swap it with chopped spinach or maybe some feta cheese.  Chopped cucumber, tomatoes or green onion would be other awesome additions.

Prepare quinoa as directed and allow it to cool.  Stir together quinoa, veggies and cilantro, squeeze in lime juice, drizzle with olive oil, add spices and stir together.  Refrigerate for an hour or more before serving to give the flavors time to blend.

This salad was easy to take on a picnic and could work well for a potluck too. It could be equally as great at home as a side dish or even as a quinoa bowl with some black beans or chopped chicken.

Blog Silence

In other news, it’s been more than a month since I’ve posted here!  I’m closing in on the end of yoga teacher training and let’s just say that life is feeling very full right now!  Between being at training every other weekend, lots of practice and time on my mat, combined with reading, writing and studying, not to mention a toddler who is very happy to spend lots of time outside after a long winter – there is little time for much else right now.  It’s all good, but there been have no exciting new recipes (quinoa salads aside!) or amazing work out ideas (yoga! yoga! yoga!) to share.

For those of you who pop in regularly, please know that:

1. You rock!

2. I’m writing this post while in downward dog (not really) and will be back to a more regular posting schedule once teacher training wraps up.  (Yes, really!)

In the meantime, I hope you make some quinoa, throw together a salad and go on a spring picnic!  Take some dark chocolate with you too.


Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.


I get a kick out of eating Brussels sprouts.  In my mind, they are famous for being the most disgusting vegetable someone might ever threaten a child (or picky adult) with having to eat.

When I discovered that Brussels sprouts are not disgusting or gross, there was only one logical conclusion that I could make about myself:

I like Brussels sprouts, therefore, I am a bad ass.

Trimmed Brussels Sprouts

Before I continue to congratulate myself on my vegetable badassery, allow me to whisper the secret to enjoying Brussels sprouts if you don’t already know it.

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You just have to know how to cook them!

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The first time I ate and enjoyed Brussels sprouts, they were sliced and sauteed with garlic and onions.  For a while I thought that was the only way to make them in order to taste good.  Fortunately, I realized that actually enjoyed the taste of Brussels sprouts, so I stopped dragging the food processor out each time and just started slicing them in half and roasting them in coconut oil.  Brussels sprouts soon became a regular around here and the rest is history.

It’s been a long time since I’ve made sliced Brussels sprouts, but I’ve been hauling the food processor out pretty regularly lately to make chick pea chocolate chip cookies and so I decided it was time to revisit some old friends.

Brussels Sprouts Shaved in Food Processor

Or more accurately, slice my friends heads apart.  Because that’s what friends are for.

(If you don’t have a food processor you could accomplish the same effect with a large knife and a little bit of time.)

This time I decided to cook them with bacon instead of my standard garlic, carrots and onions -

Bacon Bacon and Shaved Brussels Sprouts

because bacon.

When you cook them in bacon you can skip the cooking oil – bacon comes with it’s own cooking fat built right in!  How convenient.  Just start your bacon (I used 6 slices with 1.5 pounds of Brussels sprouts) and once some fat has rendered off, add your shredded sprouts, season with a salt and garlic powder if you like, toss them around until they are soft and wilty and delicious and drool worthy.

Bacon and Brussels Sprouts

One perk to slicing them is how quickly they cook.  They take a little longer to prep, but you win that time back during the cooking process because they’re ready in 15 minutes in a large saute pan on the stove top, as opposed to 40 minutes in the oven.

If you’ve never had Brussels sprouts before, try them with bacon.

If you’ve had Brussels before, try them with bacon.

(And if you are a vegetarian, they are still plenty delicious with garlic, carrots and onions.)

I made these one morning last week and we enjoyed them as a ready to go side dish/snack for a few days -

Bacon and Brussels Sprouts

and with bacon, they are especially well suited for breakfast.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts for Breakfast

Add Brussels sprouts to your grocery list and go ahead congratulate yourself for being a vegetable bad ass.  You’ve earned it.


Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.


Yoga Teacher Training, Part I

March 14th, 2014 | Posted by Alison Spath in Life - (1 Comments)

I think I took my first yoga class in 2002.

I was 23.  I talked fast, I thought fast, I liked things fast.

Yoga was slow.  It was uncomfortable, it was kind of boring.

Did I mention yoga was slow and I liked things fast?  I did not really like yoga.

Yoga books for teacher training

Still, there was just something about yoga that kept me coming back to it.

My Yoga Journey

I dabbled with yoga in the years that followed my first class, but it wasn’t until 2009 that that *something* finally clicked.  I tried a yoga class podcast at yogadownload and liked the Vinyasa style classes they offered.  I was surprised at how easy it was to follow the audio instructions and that each class came with a PDF pose guide to help you if you needed a visual.  I liked that I could do it in my own space, in my own time without feeling self-conscious about the way I looked in each posture or if I was doing it right.  Most of all, I simply liked the flow and movement of Vinyasa style yoga.  This is what yoga can be like?  I like this!

I also had a “why” this time – I was using yoga as way to stretch and strengthen my muscles from running and as a part of cross-training/active recovery on non-running days. I took a yoga classes or two at the YMCA, but yoga in my living room with Dawnelle or Jackie was my favorite.  This was also when I first began to wonder more about yoga.  I would find myself with questions during practice, wanting to know the story behind the poses and what was happening on a physical level in this pose or that pose.  Am I doing it right?  Why do we do it this way?  I began to think that maybe “some day” in some vast, unknowable future I might like to become a yoga teacher.

Yoga made it’s next evolution in 2010 (AKA, The Hardest Year of My Life) and 2011 (Things Are Getting Better But Still Sometimes Sucky).  I had found a couple of good instructors at the YMCA and soon realized the psychological benefits that can come with a regular yoga practice were helping me through an exceptionally challenging time in my life.  (Sorry to be so vague.  All that really matters is “life was hard” and “yoga helped”.)  It felt like cheap therapy.  Yoga practice helped me begin to understand the importance of staying present and to stop allowing myself to get worked up by worry or the thoughts that filled my head.  I felt safe on my yoga mat and my practice began to feel sacred.  I noticed that I was starting to carry the calm and peace I found during yoga practice with me “off my mat” and into my everyday life.

The next turn came in 2012 when life had returned to normal (with the exception of a surprise pregnancy) and I started taking prenatal yoga as a part of my physical and emotional preparation to HBAC.  This was when I first discovered the joy of practicing in a real studio with a great teacher.  It was nice to see the same faces (and growing bellies) week after week and the teacher did a wonderful job helping us feel connected to our community, our bodies and our babies.  I clearly remember driving home from a class one evening feeling totally “blissed out” and was very grateful for the role that yoga was playing in my life during that time.

When Kaz was about 7 months old and knowing what I knew now about practicing in a real yoga studio (as compared to my living room or the aerobics studio at the Y) I started going to class at the small studio close to home in early 2013.  I was a little nervous – what if everybody else is awesome and I look like an idiot?  But as it turned out, the classes were well attended by people with a wide range of yoga skill and experience, and the instructors were warm, welcoming and knowledgeable.  I was home.

Just as I was starting to look into the various options for teacher training, I learned that my studio would be offering its first ever teacher training that fall.  I was very excited at the prospect of participating in the training at my studio and (thanks to yoga!) had complete trust that it would all fall into place the way it was supposed to.

So this is where I am today.  A regular yoga practice that I love and in the middle of teacher training, working toward my 200 hour yoga teacher certification.  And let me tell you – teacher training has played a very significant, incredible evolution in my yoga practice.  More so than I ever expected.

I want to share my yoga and teacher training experience here because reading personal blogs about teacher training was one factor in my letting go of any reservations and to just go for it.  (Basically, if you are asking yourself “is teacher training right for me?” I can already tell you the answer is probably “Yes!  Do it!”)

What I Know About Teacher Training So Far

I’m approaching the half way point of my 13 weekends of teacher training (October – June.)  When all is said and done, I will be a 200 Hour RYT through Yoga Alliance as my training program meets the Yoga Alliance Standards for Yoga Teacher Training.

As I understand it, most 200 hour teacher trainings are broken down into two parts, Immersion and Teacher Training.

Immersion is what you might gather from that word – being immersed in yoga. It’s not about how to teach – it’s simply learning more about and really sinking your teeth into Yoga.  We spent the first five weekends (two 6-hour days) breaking down poses, learning the alignment principles and how they relate to anatomy (and some basic anatomy in general).  We learned about the history of yoga and yoga philosophy including epic texts, myths, gods and goddesses.  We also covered Sanskrit, meditation, pranayama (breath work) and Ayurvedic health and medicine.  I thoroughly enjoyed all of these topics and have continued to learn more about some of these subjects in my own time.

Even if you have no interest in ever teaching yoga, immersion will in all likelihood deepen your personal practice in ways that you can’t yet understand.

(Spoiler alert: it has been amazing and life changing.  No exaggeration.)

I can identify three reasons my practice has grown.

The first comes from simply learning more about yoga!  The second reason is the increased frequency of my yoga practice.  As a part of teacher training we’re encouraged/required to get to class at least twice a week.  Our tuition covers an unlimited number of classes at the studio, so I can practice there as often as time allows.  Most weeks I get there twice a week, sometimes three and I get on my mat at home almost every day.  I’ve also gone back to a couple of classes at the YMCA and other studios in the area, mostly to broaden my experience with different styles of yoga and to observe other yoga teachers with my new, different perspective.  No matter which way you slice it, you’ll be practicing a lot.

The third reason my practice has grown is because I’ve got two amazing teachers who are passionate about yoga and frankly, are just really good at what they do.  Your teacher(s) will definitely matter, so if you’re considering training with a particular teacher and studio, I recommend getting to a few of their classes to be sure you like their style and approach to yoga.

Actual Teacher Training began two weekends ago.  We are now learning how to teach yoga!  I’ll tell you more about it in a “Yoga Teacher Training, Part II” post when all is said and done.

Logistics: Time, Cost and Options

When I first began to look into teacher training, I’ve found trainings that got you through the 200 hours in fewer calendar days – meaning that training dates were jammed into a bunch of days or weeks in a row.  That approach was not feasible for me and my responsibilities at home, but I could see how it might work or be appealing to some.

The training I’m doing is at the studio I’ve been practicing at for more than a year now.  The schedule they decided on worked well for me and the needs of my family.  It’s been one weekend a month from October through February, twice in March and then will be every other weekend from April through June.

Before I knew about the training at my studio, I looked into YogaFit, a nationwide training program that breaks training down into sessions.  The upside to YogaFit is that it allows for flexibility as it’s less demanding on your schedule and your wallet.  Trainings are offered in “levels” and you go for a weekend when a training session is offered in your area.  The cost is also broken down because you’re paying for one session at a time, as compared to paying for an entire 200 hour course at once.

The downside (I have to imagine) to YogaFit is what you miss out on.  I’m very grateful to have the same two awesome teachers leading my entire training, and the connection with my fellow yogi trainees has been very rewarding.  It’s definitely a bonding experience to spend 200 hours with the same group of people, going through the same process and steps together.  We have all become friends and it always nice to see each other at class between training weekends too.

Tuition cost can range anywhere from $2600 to upwards of $6000 depending on location and who is leading your training.  (My studio allows us to make payments and even offers a “work study” option to help cover the cost of tuition!)  The YogaFit trainings are closer to $300 – $600 per session.  It is obviously an investment in both time and money.

When you’re looking into the various options for teacher training in your area, the biggest factors to consider are definitely “Who” (is teaching), “When” and “How Much”.  If you don’t know where to start, my suggestion is to ask around.  Ask your yoga teachers where they took their training or if they know of any trainings that are being offered.  Check the websites of studios in your nearest cities or simply search the web for “[Your City] Yoga Teacher Training”.

Teacher Training Isn’t Just For Aspiring Yoga Teachers

Anybody can take teacher training – there are a students in my training who don’t plan to teach, some who aren’t sure and others who definitely plan to teach.  (I fall somewhere between “some day” and “definitely”.)

Whether you know for sure that you want to teach, think you might want to teach someday or have been practicing yoga for a while and just want to learn more - immersion and teacher training are worth looking into.  While you could easily study yoga on your own and go to all the yoga classes you can afford and have time for – there is no replacing a great mentor or two who can share their knowledge and experience with you while accompanying you on your journey.

My experience with teacher training so far has been very positive and I have no trouble recommending it if it’s something you might be considering for yourself.  I’ll share a Part II upon completion this summer!  Do you have any questions about teacher training that I might be able to answer?  Have you taken yoga teacher training and have any thoughts to share?  Fire away in the comments.


Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.


Perhaps you’re a regular smoothie drinker, or perhaps you’re on a smoothie hiatus for the winter.  Either way, I was recently amazed at the way the right combo of spices can turn an otherwise ordinary banana and milk smoothie into a Chai masterpiece.

If you like chai and you like smoothies, this is your drink.

Vanilla Chia Breakfast Smoothie

Actually, this was my drink.  You are going to have to make your own.

I recently happened upon this chai latte coconut almond smoothie through my Internet (err, Pinterest) travels.  My version is definitely “inspired by” that recipe, but the beauty of this chai smoothie concept is that you can take cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and black pepper to chai-ify (new word!) any smoothie you might already make.

A banana or two, some kind of milk (dairy, almond, coconut, hemp, homemade cashew milk) a little frozen fruit or ice, consider some protein like yogurt or hemp seeds, maybe some honey – you get the picture.  Whatever you put in your favorite smoothie, get it out and let’s do this!

Feeling inspired (and hungry) I took this spicy idea and applied it to the aforementioned ordinary banana and milk smoothie.  (And hooray!  Bananas are on the list of Affordable Healthy Foods!)

I made this for the first time yesterday and was thinking about it again this morning, about 15 seconds after I set foot in the door from a 3 mile run.  I broke up a couple of bananas to throw into the freezer for a short while,

Break Up Bananas for Freezing

to freeze *just a little* while I did some cool down yoga and changed my clothes.  Then it was time to get down to breakfast smoothie making business.

Gather Ingredients

I used frozen mango today sweeten it a little more and to thicken it up some.  (I used frozen strawberries yesterday with equally good results.)

With your smoothie ingredients assembled, your chai spices to consider:

Chai Spices and Vanilla

Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, black pepper and vanilla extract.

(Missing in Action?  Cardamom.  It’s on the grocery list.)

Everything into the blender, let’s peer into my magic machine!

Peer Into My Vitamix

Your My Vanilla Chai Breakfast Smoothie is served.

Vanilla Chia Breakfast Smoothie

But wait!  There’s more.

Make it a Green Chai Smoothie

You could also make it a Green Vanilla Chai Breakfast Smoothie if that might be your thing.

Green smoothies are totally My Thing.

(Did you happen notice the Vitamix was unplugged in that picture?  I was joined on the chair by little side kick for my “Birds Eye View” shot.

Climbed Up on Chair

The little side kick who loves to flip the switches on the Vitamix.)

If green smoothies are Your Thing too, add a handful of spinach.  It will make the consistency slightly thinner but shouldn’t alter the taste or chai flavor so long you don’t go overboard with the leafy green goodness.

Same smoothie, different color.

Green Vanilla Chia Breakfast Smoothie

It’s time to end your smoothie hiatus.

Vanilla Chai Breakfast Smoothie

1 – 2 bananas (slightly frozen, optional)
1 c milk
1/2 c frozen fruit or ice
a little sweetener of choice if desired
Pinches of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, black pepper
Dash of vanilla extract
Optional handful of spinach to make it green

Blend until smooth and enjoy!

(Share with any switch-flipping side kicks as needed.)


Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.


I am so excited to tell you about these cookies, you just won’t BeANlieve it!

Gluten Free Chick Pea Chocolate Chip Cookies

OK, so that pun was really bad, but these cookies are really good!  They’re made with chick peas – as in garbanzo beans – STOPMAKINGTHATFACE!  They’re good! It’s true.

I have no problem making and eating “healthy” cookies or treats (like Secret (Spinach and Carrot) BrowniesBanana Oatmeal Cookies or Black Bean Brownies) but if it’s so healthy that it tastes healthy and no one will eat them but me (like White Bean Blondies), then there’s just no point.

Fortunately, these Chick Pea Chocolate Chip Cookies fall into the “healthy treat that everybody will eat” category.  While I’m not sure I would take these cookies to party to compete against “real” cookies made with flour, sugar and butter – I would not hesitate to take these to a playdate to share or a pot luck with my crunchy granola friends who don’t bat an eye when someone puts beans or pureed spinach in baked goods.   (I love hippies.)

I also have no problem making these to have on hand when my kids say “I’m hungry!” and I reply with “Hi, Hungry!  Nice to meet you, I’m Mom.” (They hate that.)

But then I say, “Want a cookie?” (They love that!)

And since these cookies are made with quality ingredients, I love that too.

With my “Not Sure I’d Take These To a Party” disclaimer, please let me reinforce that these chick pea cookies are pretty dang good.  Even Maxine (my choosiest of little eaters) ate one and then declared her love for them as she reached for a second.  This says A LOT about these cookies, people.  I’ve made 4 batches of these cookies one week’s time, my last batch was a double batch – they disappear quickly!

One of my favorite aspects about these cookies is how quickly they come together.  You throw everything into the food processor,

Cuisinart Food Processor Chocolate Chip Chick Pea Cookies Ingredients

fold in chocolate chips, and you’re done.

Chick Pea Cookie Dough with Chocolate Chips

I love that they are made without flour, (gluten free, yo!) and contain no refined sugar, (with the exception of chocolate chips – but at least dates and maple syrup have some redeeming nutritional qualities.)  You can leave out the maple syrup to make them slightly less sweet while still being just as good.  Ava liked them better with peanut butter and no maple syrup, Maxine liked them better with almond butter and maple syrup.  Zak, Kaz and I just liked them, period.

Chick Pea Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten Free and Vegan)

printer friendly version

1.5 cup cooked chick peas (15 oz can, rinsed and drained)
5 medjool dates, pits removed
2 Tbsp maple syrup (optional)
1/3 c nut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 c mini chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips in food processor or blender.  (The food processor would be better, but the blender could work if it’s all you have.)  If your dates are pretty firm, soak them in hot water for 10 minutes before using.  Scrape sides of food processor as needed and blend until dough is uniform.  Transfer to bowl, fold in mini chocolate chips.  Use 1 heaping Tbsp of dough for each cookie.

These cookies do not change shape as they bake, so you might want to smooth and shape them with your fingers as you scoop dough to transfer to your baking sheet.

Smoothie dough with fingers

Bake at 350 for 12 – 14 minutes.  The timing is important as they don’t really need to be baked because they are just beans, nut butter and dates – but baking them improves their texture, so you’ll want to bake them long enough to dry them out a little, but not so long that you darken the bottoms too much.  10 minutes was too short, 15 minutes was too long.   (20 minutes was way too long.  Ask me how I know.)

The baking powder helps with the finished texture and gives them a cracked appearance.

Chick Pea Cookies

If you choose not shape the dough before baking,

Cookies on Parchment Paper

just be warned they look the same coming out as they did going in.

Bumpy Bean Cookies

If you don’t mind bumpy cookies (I sure as heck don’t) then fire away!

Bumpy Bean Cookies

And guess what?  Chick peas happen to be on the list of Affordable Healthy Foods!  Score!

My favorite ways to use chick peas include Chana Masala, super smooth and creamy homemade hummus and Curried Coconut Spaghetti Squash.  And now cookies too!  I think we’ve officially got all of our garbanzo bean bases covered.


Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.


Souper Combo

February 26th, 2014 | Posted by Alison Spath in Lunch - (2 Comments)

I ate this exact turkey sandwich and soup combo for lunch for three days in a row,

Soup and Salad Lunch

for two reasons:

1. Because it was really good.

2. The recipe I’m about to share makes a lot of soup.  Halve the recipe if you won’t be able to eat/share 10 cups of soup over the course of three or four days.  Now that Zak works from home, we have no trouble eating this much soup in a relatively short period of time.  You could also freeze the leftovers to have on hand when you don’t feel like cooking some time in the future.  (I need to get better at remembering to do this!)

As a random side note, does anyone else remember this Campbell’s soup commercial from the 80′s?  I still hear this jingle whenever I have soup with a sandwich for lunch.

(I can’t remember to freeze leftover soup, but I can remember a Campbell’s marketing campaign for 25 years?)

This particular soup recipe came from a friend who had a ginger cauliflower soup at a restaurant that she described as “a spiritual experience”.   Said friend then shared her best guess at what the recipe might be, so I took a crack at it.  Now I don’t know about you, but I see a lot of recipes and think “that looks good!” but never end up making it.  

I made this one though, for two reasons:

1. It sounded like something I would make.  (The pureed cauliflower part reminded me of the Red Pepper and Cauliflower Bisque that we loved.)

2. I just so happened to be hungry when I was reading the recipe and I had all the necessary ingredients on hand.

Talk about your souper combo.

Spicy Cauliflower and Lentil Soup

Spicy Ginger Cauliflower and Lentil Soup

(adapted from my dear friend Rebecca’s version!)

Yield: 10 cups

printer friendly version

Ingredients

2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, sliced
1 inch of fresh ginger, grated (or dried ginger)
2 – 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into about 1″ pieces
1 small head of cauliflower (about 3 or 4 cups of florets), steamed
1 lb red lentils
6 + c water or broth
1 15 oz can coconut milk
1 Tbsp Cumin
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Coriander
pinch of Chili powder (as much or as little as you like, depending on how “spicy” you want your soup to be!)
salt to taste

Instructions

Saute onion and ginger in coconut oil until soft.  Add cumin, turmeric, coriander and chili powder and stir until vegetables are well coated.  Add carrots and steamed cauliflower, when the vegetables are well combined with spice and onion mixture, add water, coconut milk and lentils.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 30 – 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and simmering until carrots are soft.  Puree ingredients completely to make a smooth creamy soup, or pureeing just 1/2 – 3/4 of the soup, leaving some larger vegetables pieces in the soup if you prefer.

When your soup is nearing completion, put your sandwich together and get singing that Campbell’s ditty about a Souper Combo!  Then stop singing, it’s time get eating.


Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.


Muesli (with Pumpkin Seeds!)

February 25th, 2014 | Posted by Alison Spath in Breakfast - (5 Comments)

I’ve been on a muesli kick for the last two weeks or so.

Museli Mix

And just in time, because pumpkin seeds are on the list of healthy, affordable foods - and pumpkin seeds go great in muesli!

Pumpkin Seeds or Pepitas

If you aren’t in the know, muesli is a cereal combo (usually) made with oats, nuts, seeds and dried or fresh fruit.  Bananas have been my fresh fruit of choice lately, but frozen, thawed strawberries have been known to make an appearance in my bowl too.

Top with Banana

You can soak muesli over night a la overnight oats, or eat shortly after you’ve added your milk or water for a chewier version.  (I’ve been doing the latter during my most recent muesli spree, just to mix things up.)

Cost Consideration

I priced out some of the packaged muesli sold in stores, they ranged from $.23 oz to $.46/oz.  My whole bowl of muesli (oats, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds) weighed 3 oz, and some quick math told me the ingredients in the entire bowl cost me about $0.70, which works out to be $0.23/oz (it would have been $0.14/oz if I’d have skipped the chia seeds, those suckers aren’t exactly cheap, but I do love them.  For what it’s worth, Bob’s Red Mill seems to offer the best price around here, but we’re supposed to be talking about pumpkin seeds here, not chia seeds.)

I paid $4.99/lb for some raw, hulled pumpkin seeds.  1 Tbsp = 1/2 an ounce, so that’s less than $0.16 for a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds in your morning muesli.

Pumpkin seeds are a great source of vitamins and minerals including manganese,  copper, magnesium, zinc, iron.  That’s lovely, but to be honest I’m not usually thinking “ohhhh, manganese!” or “ahhh, copper” when I add pumpkin seeds to something.  Just a run of the mill thoughts like “these are good for me” and “healthy fats!” and load ‘em in.  1 Tbsp of raw, hulled pumpkin seeds contains 50 calories, 4 g of fat, 2 g of protein.  Men’s Health magazine considers pumpkin seeds one of the 10 Best Foods You Aren’t Eating - so get on it.  They are a great crunchy addition to salads, in trail mix or a small handful as a snack.

More on Muesli

In addition to pumpkin seeds, you can consider adding ground flax seeds, hemp seeds, sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, chopped walnuts or pecans, raisins, craisins, chopped dates or whatever fresh fruit you’ve got on hand.  Just remember (as I’m reminding myself as well here) that seeds and nuts are pretty calorie dense, so consider the overall volume when heaping multiple ingredients into your bowl, because your bowl will runneth over with calories if you just keeping adding tablespoon after tablespoon of these fun nuts and seeds.  When I use banana or chop up some dates it’s sweet enough for me, but you could also add a drizzle of honey or maple syrup to sweeten it as needed too.

I’ve been putting my muesli mix together right before eating and making it a little different each time – but you can save time by putting a bunch together at once and storing in a large container to only scoop once when it’s time to eat, without having to haul a bunch of jars and packages out of the fridge each time.

From there, I’ve been adding a scoop of Greek yogurt and a dash of cinnamon,

Pile in Milk, Yogurt, Fruit, Cinnamon

and the a pour of (whole) milk and mixing it all together, giving a few minutes to soak before diving in.

Pepitas

Green tea on the side, this particular bowl was my breakfast after a nice and easy 3.5 mile run over the weekend (when we had a short stint of spring like weather!)

Breakfast is Served

You could also use hot water or milk for a warm breakfast, and any non-dairy milk that you like will of course work here too.

So there you have it.  Muesli.  And pumpkin seeds!  Another healthy food that doesn’t cost a small fortune.  I’m sold.


Please know that links to Amazon are affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price you pay, but if you buy something from Amazon after following one of the links in my posts, I earn a percentage based commission from Amazon as a part of their affiliate program. This is one of the ways I generate revenue from the posts that I write here. I promise that I only link to items that I truly endorse. You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do, thank you for supporting the site and the work I do here.