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Pumpkin [Chocolate Chip] Pancakes

13 Oct

This morning, I woke up bright and early and started on my chores and decided that we needed pancakes. I was going to attempt to come up with a recipe for more protein pancakes and then realized that I have  pure pumpkin puree- hooray! (ha!)! Pumpkin pancakes it is!

Not only is pumpkin delicious but the health benefits make me wonder why I forget about it all year long! The only other times I use it is if I’m ever making store bought cake mixes which is extremely rare…but I just substitute all the additioanl ingredients for a can (for chocolate cake)! It has thousands and thousands units of Vitamin A (which is good for your vision, immune system, babies in the womb -ahem-, & bone health); it has more potassium than a banana & a bunch of other minerals; fiber!!!; & it’s an antioxidant!

Guys, these were AMAZING! Like a crispy pumpkin pie or cookie or scone or…pancake! haha! So delicious! Since I made it vegan, I was able to taste the batter and adjust measurements to my liking. In the end, I decided they needed more sweetness and added a little bit of mini chocolate chips which really made these pancakes, in my opinion. You can definitely omit the chocolate chips and add carob chips or none at all to make this fully vegan!

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Yummy pancake stacks; fluffy goodness; Honey Munster silently and awkwardly begging.

Ingredients

-1 1/14 whole wheat pastry flour [I’m sure regular whole wheat would be fine]
-2 tsp. baking powder
-1/2 tsp. salt
-2 tbsp. brown sugar
-1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
-1 cup Pumpkin Puree
-1 1/2 cups almond milk
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-1 tsp.-1 tbsp. of chai seeds
-1 tbsp. flax seed*
-3 tbsp. warm water*
*egg substitution

Optional:

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips or carob chips or none at all!

Directions

1. Start by mixing your egg substitution (warm water + flax seed) that way you can keep your recipe vegan and taste/adjust as you go. Set it aside. Heat up a griddle or pan and lightly spray it with EVOO.

2. Mix all your dry ingredients in a large bowl (whole wheat flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, & pumpkin spice).

3. Add your wet ingredients to the mix (pumpkin puree, almond milk, flax seed/water, & vanilla). Mix.

4. Taste! Here is where I thought it needed more oomph (as in sweetness). I wanted it to taste more pumpkin-y (yup, that’s a word), so I added more puree (originally I had only added 3/4 of a cup). I don’t like adding sugar so 2 tbsp. of brown sugar was enough. I considered honey and then remembered I had mini chocolate chips! My favorite! I added 1/4 cup of chocolate chips, gave it a quick stir and voila! Perfection!

5. To make the same size (or similar sized) pancakes, I use the same measuring cup or ice cream scooper to scoop & serve. Use whatever size you want- I think I use 1/4 of a cup. This gave me enough for 8 pancakes! Cook your batter on medium high heat and flip when you know they’re ready (usually about 4 minutes or so or depending on how you like your pancakes). Cook the other side and serve immediately! So delish!

Enjoy! Can you believe how amazingly HEALTHY these are?!

:]

With my leftover pumpking puree, I’m thinking of a pumpkin smoothie later for a healthy dessert or if it lasts til morning, I’ll add it, along with cinnamon & almond milk, to oatmeal for a sweet, low-calorie breakfast. Yum!

Quinoa Burgers

26 Mar

It’s no lie when I say that I’m slightly obsessed with quinoa. It is such an amazing teeny tiny little seed that is sooo easy to cook and packs an enormous amount of protein and happy healthiness! I just love it! A couple of weeks ago, we were looking for a place to eat by the hotel we were staying at in San Diego. We randomly discovered this little fast-food burger joint called “Burger Lounge.” It is this amazing restaurant that prides itself in providing fast yet healthy burgers from products that are produced in a sustainable environment. Their cows are grass-fed (yup, that means no chemicals, grain, corn, etc…just green grass)! We were so happy to see that they offered a vegetarian burger: the quinoa burger! I was so excited to try it as my obsession with all things quinoa is in full effect! Let me tell you, it was great! Even our meat-eating homies thought it was great (FYI they absolutely loved their juicy burgers, too, and said there was a noticeable difference in their meat experience). We highly recommend you guys trying out the Burger Lounge!

Needless to say, I have been inspired to recreate it. Yesterday, we were all hanging out and drooling over our two week old memories of these burgers that today I couldn’t get it outta my mind. So I came up with my own quinoa burger inspired by Burger Lounge’s. And…it’s pretty amazing!

Ingredients

(these are rough estimates as I don’t really measure when I cook):

-1.5 cups of cooked quinoa
-1.5 cups of garbanzos
-1/2 cup panko crumbs
-1/2 cup of defrosted spinach
-2 carrots
-1 clove of garlic
-dash of salt and pepper
-1 tsp. cayenne pepper
(next time I will definitely add an egg to keep the mixture together)
*this makes 4-5 patties, of course depending on thickness and width.

Directions
1. Ideally, your food processor won’t stop working when you have everything packed into it ūüė¶
And you will be able to simply add all ingredients to it, pulse and voila! If this unfortunate event doe happen to you or you don’t happen to have a food processor, don’t worry! You’ll just have to mash! I was planning on leaving aside 1/2 cup of quinoa and 1/2 cup of garbanzos aside anyway to make it more textured, but alas, ’twas not necessary.

2. Spray your pan with EVOO. You can either form your patties by hand or use an ice cream scooper and flatten with a spatula. Once your patties are on your pan, resist temptation to move and flip. Wait until browned and flip!

3. Optional: I made a Greek yogurt dressing for our burgers and I looooved it. (About half a cup of Greek yogurt, juice of 1 lime, a bit of chopped cilantro, minced garlic, and some green onions). We used this to top the burgers (in lieu of mayo on the bread, too). Top your burger anyway you’d like: we did romaine, tomato and cucumbers and lots of that yummy Greek yogurt sauce!

Like a raisin in the sun.

21 Mar

Change is good. Change comes in all kinds of shapes and forms. It enables us to grow and build upon our character; to find our core and foundation; to push outside of comfort zones into areas of hopeful enlightenment and potential improvements in various aspects of our lives.

We hear that you have to change up your workouts in order to see physical improvements; muscle confusion! You need to change your learnings to exercise your mind. Change is good…

But what about when you’re ready for change but the cards are not lined up as you wish? That’s when patience becomes a virtue. Just.stop.planning.stop.worrying…

Change is common, it happens everyday. Caterpillars become butterflies, babies become children, we grow, we change…But what about when others are changing before your eyes and you don’t want them to? Relationships change, distance happens. Distance does change relationships. Sometimes for the better, sometimes unfortunately for the worse…but perhaps, better in the long run? Mental and emotional distance is a different type of change.

When we notice these changes, what do we do? Communicate, right? It’s the foundation to any effective relationship. Fear often holds us back from doing this. Fear of hearing that the change is on purpose. Fear that the change is for the better. Fear that the distance has, in fact, happened. In the meantime, are we simply overthinking and overanalyzing? Or is this sensed indifference and avoidance really true?

Overall, the ultimate change has to come from oneself. A change for limited analyzing that refutes to be useless because in the end it is unnoticed. Relearn behaviors to not care as much, to not overanalyze, to not worry so much, to just.let.go.

Ultimately, everything and everyone will fall into place as change is appreciated. Right?

If it doesn’t, does it remain a dream deferred?

Concrete Acid Stain: The Ultimate DIY

31 Jan

Often times when I think about the way Jefe and I work together, I think about the expression “Go big or go home!” We are both huge DIY’ers that our equally stubborn personalities have lead us to awesome high-five-moments and extremely frustrating and disappointing failures. I am not a big spender so everything I see I self-soothe by telling myself I can make it. This goes one of four ways: I don’t ever get around to it; I attempt it and fail; I attempt and customize it to meet my needs; or I luckily find it on sale/clearance later! haha! I grew up knowing that you had to be creative to make your clothes look new/different/etc. Geoff grew up loving to work on anything and everything.¬†The majority of G’s friends are the exact same way. All so crafty in manly ways that leave the girls in awe and frustration, all in one.¬†His brother and father are the exact same way. They all have vehicles they have built themselves and continue to work on. ¬†We have done a million DIY projects throughout the almost decade we have been in a relationship with each other. The major ones have always included his vehicles or our home, but since we bought our home brand new, the major DIY stuff has been projects, rather than actual renovations, if that makes sense. Probably my most favorite project was our wedding. Absolutely [almost] everything¬†was made instead of purchased. & I loved every.single.second of it! :]

That brings me to our biggest home project to date: acid staining our living room concrete. Geoff had been talking about wanting to do it since we bought our home. One of his friends had bare concrete and he always loved the look. But when we purchased our home, I told him I wanted a less “bachelor pad” look, which is what I always had felt our apartments had looked like. Our home came with really nice, plush, stain-resistant carpet, so I didn’t see the need in disposing of it. Until, Honey Munster decided to mark her territory. Often times…over and over again. Last December 2010, we ended up changing a 4×6 part of our carpet; it matched perfectly and you couldn’t tell the difference but we still weren’t happy with it. So we started talking about placing tile. Well, all of our bathrooms and kitchen have the same tile. Porcelain ceramic…which equals cha-ching. We shopped around for a really long time and were quoted at $3,000 for the same tile, and of course the cost would come down for labor if we did it ourselves, which we knew we would but we couldn’t imagine spending so much on one room’s floor to our starter home. We looked into other tile options but we didn’t like that it wouldn’t match. So a few months ago, Geoff started talking about acid staining our concrete. I started doing research and found that:

The cons [-]

1. You have absolutely no idea how your concrete will react until the whole project is DONE.

2. You have absolutely no idea what shape your concrete is in until you pull up your concrete.

3. It is so so so so so much work!

The pros [+]

1. Extremely cost effective when comparing it to tile, laminate, carpet. We spent approximately $300 [$200 on the actual products- which we had to buy in SD, by the way; and $100 on supplies- luckily we were able to borrow a buffer and great shop vac, which saved us some ca$h-money].

2. If done correctly, the results are breathtaking and can actually add value to your home. A lot of higher end homes now come with acid-stain in lieu of tile/carpet.

3. You can add stenciling, etching, designs, etc. As much as I reeeeeeally wanted to, we decided not to since our living room is small and we didn’t want to be constrained to a particular furniture arrangement. Plus, we wanted to keep it as neutral as possible for future renters/homeowners.

4. If your project fails, you can easily cover it up!

It took us a total of two weeks, with us being gone one weekend and working only on the evenings. It definitely would have taken us a lot less time if we could have worked on it full time. The hardest part is cleaning your concrete. Over and over and over and over and over and over again. Yes, and more literally, more times than that! The actual staining, sealing and waxing part is done so quickly. If you have a clean slab, or microtop your current concrete, you can be done in three days! Staining, sealing and waxing (with each being done twice) each took about 20-30 minutes. Yup, that fast and it’s suuuper easy!

We hated cleaning the concrete. I ended up with a giant knot under my shoulder blade that left my in horrid pain this last weekend. So much that I actually almost went to the hospital [but didn’t because according to the ER, Geoff’s cancer was a UTI…go figure!]. Anyway, thanks to our friend who is a massage therapist and some muscle relaxers, I’m doing better! ;]

The fun part: PICTURES!

Week One

[L to R: ¬†initial tear-up of carpet (done in total J-fashion at 10pm on a weekend night); tons of adhesive, paint, cracks, holes, tack strips, nails: sad; buffer, mop, and shop-vac ready to do work after a week of just pure elbow grease; G looking exasperated after a few days of work- yes, look at the top pictures and the difference in the bottom two. There were major improvements and yet it still had such a looong way to go! Geoff’s parents saw that we had posted on FB that we were looking for help and being the sweethearts that they are, they came to help the first full day!]

When we pulled up our carpet, we were shocked by the amount of dust we swept up underneath! We couldn’t believe it! I wish we would have snapped a picture. I don’t think I’ll ever purposely have carpet in a living room again. I enjoy it in our bedroom but definitely not with all that dust downstairs. Arizona is very dusty and it’s very windy at times; our big windows and nearby fields don’t lend themselves to keeping dust out, but I never realized how much the carpet absorbed. Geoff and I have always shampooed our carpets every few months on a very consistent basis [thanks to his parents having a machine] so we were very surprised by this! Eek!

Week Two

[L to R: after the shop-vac, mop, and buffer have helped us out a bit; finally seeing clean and fresh concrete; after staining twice; after sealing].

As you can see, it was A LOT of work. Do we recommend it, YES. But be prepared to work and hope your concrete was in better shape than ours. However, if you can find microtopping concrete, it’ll save you a lot of time. Yes, it’ll cost more, but we were willing to do that! Just couldn’t find any anywhere near us. :/ But now we’re happy we didn’t shortcut anything because this is what we were left with:

[after waxing; all done!]

Can’t wait to furnish our living room now! & we KNOW Honey Munster is going to be SO happy to be able to not be quarantined to upstairs after two weeks! Poor, baby!

Honey Munster sulking. 

When I was researching DIY acid staining, I didn’t find make tutorials or resources. So if anyone is serious about doing this and needs help, do not hesitate to ask. We learned SO much in these last few weeks and a lot of was trial and error that we wish we would have known ahead of time. But we didn’t know anyone who had done this, nor did we find much help at every business we attempted to receive assistance. Ultimately, we are extremely happy with our end results and anticipate seeing how it’ll look once our living room is set up and of course, see how it keeps up!

Anyone motivated to do theirs? ;]

P.S. As I’m typing this, there’s a home design show on TV…I just looked up and all the floors are acid stained. Woot!

[Tofu] Pakapau [Homegrrl Guest Blog: Renai]

30 Jan

There is something about Asian food that I absolutely adore. It is extremely easy to customize to ¬†dietary needs in terms of the type of meat/poultry/fish/tofu used. It also tends to be a lot healthier without comprimising taste. Thai food is one of my favorites so I was very excited when my girlfriend, Renai, told me she was going to be making this Thai dish with her boyfriend this weekend. I was so glad she decided to share this recipe. She is one of the most amazing souls I have been blessed to encounter and maintain a friendship with over so many years! I really believe that this world needs more strong womyn like her- full of genuine positive energy and love. :] I have to give a special Homie shout out to Shaun (one of my husband’s old BMX homies) because he ended up making the meal tonight, while Renai supervised and enjoyed some wine. What a lucky girl! Here is her write-up! I cannot wait to try it!

My darling of a boyfriend made¬†TOFU¬†PAKAPAU tonight. It was pretty tasty. It’s the first time I had it with tofu. My boyfriend’s step-mother is from Thailand and she made us beef pakapow and this is the recipe… (since I am vegetarian now and I live with vegetarians, we use tofu!) This serves four people.

Ingredients:

Beef, Chicken, pork, or tofu. – (1lb ground or chopped)
Bouillon (Beef, Chicken, Pork) If you’re vegetarian you can use Not-Beef bouillon, picture below. (Once Cube for PAKAPAU. One cube to marinate the tofu.)
Green Beans – (One Can)
Green Onions Р(About six stocks, chopped.)
Garlic- 4 Medium cloves (minced or finally chopped.)
Thai Red Chilies -15 hot, 10-med, 5-7 mild. (minced or finely chopped)
Olive Oil 3-4 tablespoons.
White Rice -One and a Half cups. (You can substitute for brown rice, too)

(I live in a small town, and the closest Asian market is an hour away, so I had my Thai step-mother-in-law? send me some Chile pace, called Pad Kapow. Because I didn’t have access to Thai Red Chilies. But if you’re in Yuma… I’m sure they sell them at the Oriental Gift shop.)

1. I used tofu because ¬†I’m vegetarian, but the beef is so good! We marinated our tofu with half of a Not-Beef Bullion cube for about an hour. Poured the water out, then Shaun pressed the tofu for about an hour, and poured the excess liquid out again.

After my tofu was pressed, we started working on my white rice. We used my mother-in-law’s rice steamer, but if you don’t have one, no worries! That was my first time using it. I actually really loved it. I would totally invest in it.

Since, I didn’t have Thai Chile’s…this is the paste that I used guys. It was pretty good, but it taste so much more legit when you have the Thai Chilies. This paste basically cancels out your Thai Chile and your garlic.

We used one can of green beans, and about six stocks of green onions.

Got my ingredients out, took out our tofu… Shaun’s ready to get started!

You’re going to want to chop your tofu into very small pieces.

In Skillet/Wok over Med-High heat, add oil… Once hot, add garlic and chilies OR 4-6 scoops of paste. Stir-Fry for about 3-5 minutes.
Add your meat or non-meat, stirring until cooked thoroughly

after this you add your green beans and green onions, and cook it for 1-2 minutes, and voila! You’re done.

It should look like this! You serve it in a bowl. Rice, obviously goes down first, with pakapow on top. You can flavor it with Chile garlic sauce if you love the hotness, or you could use soy? it has plenty flavor though, so it’s delicious solo! Enjoy with some wine! Probably a white wine since the food is a bit spicy… red wine tends to make it hotter.

Best regards,
Renai L. Williams

Thank you so much, Renai, for the awesome recipe & Shaun for cooking it!! I cannot wait to try it! Let us know if anyone tries it, as well! 

Weekend Recap

17 Jan

This weekend was very productive- at home. I have a huge “to do” list that we somehow never get around to! I’m on a mission to re-decorate every single room in our home and de-clutter as much as possible. The kitchen and our master bedroom are the only ones that have begun to be affected by my constant need for change…I am in love with my closet and half of our bedroom! And a wall in my kitchen! Haha! Saturday, the living room experienced some changes as well! Finally!

Friday night included wine and my favorite dive bar!

Saturday included canceled plans that left me home alone with too much to do but no desire to do any of them. Geoff was busy and gone since 7am. He returned around 8pm and around 9pm, I decided to start ripping up our carpet from downstairs, haha. I don’t know why we work better at night but we succeeded in getting all the carpet and padding off. We woke up Sunday and got more supplies we needed and started removing the glue and paint that was leftover from when our house was constructed.

We had Sunday dinner with our family so took a break for the rest of the night, enjoying food and the company of our awesome and brand new nephew, Karston :)! He is so precious and such a good baby! He only wakes up twice a night for a quick feeding and goes right back to bed. Our brother says he feels more rested now than before the baby! Lucky!! We hope it remains that way for them!

We stopped by Target because my Linda Cochina had told me they had chevron gold pillows- it took us two trips and calling Target to locate them! We asked about them and they told us they were sold out. We left and Geoff decided to call to confirm- when he did they told him they had just brought in 4 more- so off we went again! We bought two of them for our bedroom but I might return one- I don’t think we really need two since it’s just for decor. But, while there, we stopped in the kids section to see if we could find something for our new nephew and lemme-tell-you…! Kids clothes nowadays is the cutest ever!! I am obsessed with the Harajuku kids line by Gwen Stefani. THE cutest things ever! Everyone around our daily lives has kids so of course I immediately started picking things out for all of our little homies! Then Geoff reminded me that I am not rich…yet! So¬†I put everything back! Damn adult responsibilities!!

On Monday, we woke up early, spent a couple of hours at Lowe’s and Home Depot and went straight to work on our floor. Our goal is to get the concrete as spotless as possible so we can acid stain it. Our friend has had his for years and Geoff has always wanted to do it. When we first bought our house he wanted to but I told him no (we had brand new high quality carpet for the first time in my life, lol)! A few months ago, he started mentioning it again so I began to research it and fell in love. But holy!! It is soooo much work- at least the prep. It’s seriously ridiculous and I’m already questioning what we got ourselves into. I do know that I’ll never want carpet again in my life (in the living room). There was SO much dust/sand underneath- I couldn’t believe it. Arizona is SOOO dusty! Every time I clean, I like to have our windows open. Well, we have three huge windows in our living room and i swear that as soon as i’m done, it’s duaty again! No wonder Geoff’s dust allergies are so bad! Anyway, cleaning concrete is a B!!! I hope we are done by the end of this week!

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concrete; sad/super gross thumbelina; Uncle Jefe and Baby Karston; pink!

I was also able to fiiiinally find all the shirts that I had been searching for our Diva Dash this upcoming weekend! We are doing a Rosie the Riveter-inspired outfit for our 5K obstacle run! So excited to see my girls and have soo much fun (as always) with them!

Today is a long day at work! After lunch, I have four more classes to teach- normally i only have three but Tuesday’s schedule is different. Boo! Gotta pump myself up to repeat the same thing over and over again! Lol!

I cannot wait ’til my hair grows back to its long length. For the looongest time I had the longest hair haha! Then I chopped it all off to donate it (then found out I couldn’t because it had been heavily processed). No regrets because I had so much fun with my short hair but now I’m so ready for my length. I’ve been letting it do whatever it wants lately and it has been doing this messy wave thing- i’m digging it!

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Our Diva Dash outfit; MK rose gold stylee; messy hair waves ‚̧

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Whirlwind

13 Jan

It’s no surprise that when it rains, it pours. This week has been a whirlwind of celebrations, sorrows, and just plain ol’ craziness.

Sunday night welcomed our new, beautiful and healthy nephew! Love him! ‚̧

Monday brought my first day back to work. It was also our sister’s first day of college. So exciting and so proud of her!

Tuesday brought counseling sessions for my students. My favorite part of my job, is when my students seek me for this. Just listening to them and acting as an unbiased sounding board is an amazing privilege. Ever since I could remember, I have always said I was put on this Earth to listen. I love, love listening and being there for others.

Wednesday brought extreme exhaustion from the last three nights of limited sleep. We perfected and finalized important paperwork, too. Big check off G’s list!

Thursday brought extremely sad news from the family side. My heart goes out to my family and I wish more than ever that I could be there with them. I’m still trying to figure out if I should go home this weekend.

& there’s still tomorrow, Friday. I wonder what it will bring. An accreditor comes to my job tomorrow so it will be a pretty big deal. Eeek.

Praying for all my loved ones and hoping for the best.

I made a super yummy dinner tonight! Super healthy and super delicious! I wish more people realized how delicious healthy food can be! It can have such a bad rep! I am SO hungry all the time! Last weekend I made SO many healthy snacks- now they’re all gone! I was super tempted to buy a bag of Spicy Doritos at Albertson’s today. But I opted not to. I take super healthy breakfasts and lunches to work everyday and cook pretty healthy dinners at home. I work out pretty hard and by now I would think that I’d be super thin and muscular. I don’t get it! But I have been training a couple of my girlfriends and they have been seeing results. That makes me feel so happy for them and somewhat accomplished even though they are the ones putting in the actual hard work. ‚̧

Tonight’s dinner:

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Spicy Shrimp Stir Fry served over Quinoa