Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tuesday & Wednesday and Mexican Flavors

Wednesday was busier than usual for me which interfered with my online time. Sorry about disappearing on your yesterday. I had intended to post but time got away from me. Fortunately even though I was super busy it was all good. I don’t mind busy days when they are productive. Here is what has been going Tuesday and Wednesday:


Today started with a snow and freezing rain mix all over the roads and sidewalks. Fortunately the snow came down first making a little cushion so that the ice was easier to remove. However it was still a mess though pretty the way it coated the red bud tree. I was a little bummed that we had to cancel going to DC with “the kids” but it is always better to be safe.

Since Monday’s breakfast was oatmeal Tuesday was a green smoothie for Dan which turned out nice and creamy. This smoothie contained: banana, raw kale, homemade sprouted soymilk, cinnamon, powdered ginger, freshly ground flaxseed, a pinch of stevia and ice to make it cold. Dan said it was good and possibly a little better than the version I make with frozen banana, water and no ice. I froze a sheet tray of bananas Tuesday morning which means the next smoothie will have frozen banana and soy milk. With a little luck he will like that version even better.

Dan took his time leaving for work Tuesday morning to be safe. I was happy that he has that option because I worry about other Marylanders on the road since they panic when there is precipitation of any sort let alone one the frozen varieties.

After Dan left for work I used my exercise bike for cardio and the TRX for strength training and then wrote my post. My breakfast was a quick bowl of items I had in the refrigerator. Tuesday I had brown rice, pinto beans, salsa and fresh cilantro. Sometimes I just need food and NOW and this was one of those mornings. That is one reason I always have intentional leftovers in the refrigerator.

I used the end of the sprouted soymilk in Dan’s smoothie this morning which means I will be making soymilk again today. Thankfully I figured out that the hulls are easier to pour off the top which makes it much quicker to make soymilk at home. Since it appears I am going to be making soymilk and almond milk regularly again I am going to start beans soaking and sprouting every other day now so that I have a supply ready to go.

My morning was completely uneventful but in a good way. Once I finished exercising, breakfast and making soymilk there was a little cleaning and then I curled up in my favorite chair with a faux fur throw and a few cups of green and white tea and went back to reading the book I started yesterday. It might have been grey outside but I had a good morning.

Here is my newest tea pot that I got from “the kids”. It is an adorable Japanese pot with crackle finish that holds about 16 ounces. The fine mesh strainer basket inside is perfect for fine teas like rooibos. This is the latest tea pot in my collection. I didn’t realize how many tea pots I had until I was trying to find a place for this one. For someone who is a reformed espresso addict it is surprising that the tea pots are taking over now. I will share some of my favorites with you as I use them.

I was only a little hungry at lunch time and decided to have a snack rather than a mean. This time I had a banana with the almond butter okara that I made on Friday.

Later I had a second snack of a tangerine and Brazil nuts (for the selenium).

Next I decided to make a pot of red kidney beans in the pressure cooker. These cooked for 25 minutes on high pressure and I let the pressure reduce naturally. The beans were tender but still held there shape.

I had no idea what I was going to do with the beans when I cooked them but decided to use some of them in a soup. When I made this soup I wasn’t measuring which means I will give you the method rather than a recipe. I strained most of the beans, except a cup, and moved them to the refrigerator for later this week.

I left about one cup of the red kidney beans in the cooker along with the bean cooking liquid. To the pot I add one quart of diced tomatoes half of which I processed in my blender. I also added 1 large onion which I finely diced, 8 cloves of minced garlic and 14 ounce of extra firm tofu cut into small cubes. I also added 1 pound of shitake mushroom caps that I sliced thinly. For seasoning I added 1 chipotle in adobo, cumin, oregano, chili powder, cinnamon and cocoa to taste. I simmered this until the veggies were tender and the flavors blended. Tuesday we had this over quinoa and topped with a fast salsa of avocado, tomato, lime juice, lime zest and cilantro.

Dan liked the flavor of the soup but wasn’t too sure about the tofu component. I thought it was good but I am more open about fusion cuisine. ;-)

In case you want to make your own Mexican inspired dish here are the flavors that are common to that cuisine:

• avocado
• beans
• chilies
• chocolate
• cilantro
• cinnamon
• corn and/or hominy
• cumin
• garlic
• garlic
• lime
• rice
• scallions
• tomatoes

After dinner Dan had to have two bowls of strawberry banana soft serve. This time I made with a splash of soymilk instead of water and that is now Dan’s new favorite. He thinks it is more like ice cream with the soy milk and I agree.


For breakfast this morning Dan had a kale and banana smoothie but this time I used frozen bananas and soymilk. Dan has declared the soymilk makes it a much richer and creamier smoothie. *happy dance* I love it when I can tweak a family favorite and make it better. I will continue to make my smoothies with water but Dan’s will now be made with either homemade soy or almond milk. If you are having difficulty keeping weight on you may want to try this too.

My breakfast was salad with quinoa, mushroom ragu and nut cheese. For some reason I was craving greens so I tossed together a quick salad. I love it that my body has begun to crave things that are good for me. I added the nut cheese for flavor and texture but also for healthy fat so that the fat-soluble vitamins were more effectively absorbed.

I was busy at home and wanted something fast for lunch. This meant I turned to my intentional leftovers of course. Lunch was leftover Mexican-flavored soup over quinoa topped with salsa. As you may expect the salsa adds flavor but also adds a little fat again to help with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. In this case the avocado wasn’t “technically” necessary since tofu also contains fat but it looks pretty and I like the contrast of hot and cold and the brightness from the lime. ;-)

My afternoon snack was a banana and the almond butter okara spread I made a few days ago. The okara spread is a little addictive. I need to make another batch of that and measure it so I can share the recipe with all of you.

Dinner was late this evening since Dan didn’t get home until after 8pm. *sigh* I don’t like eating late since it can disrupt my sleep. I decided to make something very quick and simple for dinner. You know that I like to have mushrooms in at least one meal a day since they boost the immune system and dinner was a mushroom meal for us. I didn’t measure but I can describe the method. I used my cast iron skillet to increase the iron in this dish.

This dish contained 1 red onion, 4 cloves of garlic, 2 cups diced tomatoes in their juice, 14 ounce box of frozen artichokes defrosted, 1 pound of oyster mushrooms (any mushrooms will do). Next I added oregano, fennel seeds and black pepper to taste. I simmered this until the harshness cooked out of the onions and garlic and added two handfuls of roughly chopped arugula and turned off the heat. Arugula is part of the cruciferous family which means it is more nutritious raw or lightly cooked. I served this on top of quinoa and finished with a tablespoon of nut cheese.

The entire meal was ready in less than 20 minutes, including cooking the quinoa and allowing the onions and garlic to sit for 10 minutes after they were chopped to give the chemical reactions time to take place.

Increasing My Water Intake:

I have mentioned a few times that I need to drink more water since most of my fluid intake comes from white or green tea. On Wednesday I decided to stop talking about it and do it. Knowing that I should drink more water wasn’t enough to get it done. I have decided to have a mug of water after every mug of hot tea. Additionally I have started tracking my water and tea intake to keep myself on track.

There are many theories regarding how much water we should be drinking. Some say you should have 64 ounces. Others say you should take your weight in pounds and divide that in half and drink that many ounces. For example if you weigh 150 pounds you should drink 75 ounces. Yet other “experts” say that if you eat a lot of water rich food like fresh produce and soup you need less water. Other experts say that since coffee and tea are both diuretics those don’t count in your daily fluid intake. Is your head spinning yet? Me too, LOL. I decided to take a very simple approach to have I had enough water. I read once that you know you aren’t dehydrated if you urine is a pale yellow and that is going to be my guide.

Happy Thoughts:

I have had a good week so far, busy, but still good. As always I am listing my happy thoughts to remind myself and you that there are always things in all of our lives for which we should be grateful. Here are my happy thoughts today:

• Adding soymilk to Dan’s favorite strawberry banana soft serve and green smoothie were both extremely well received. *pats self on back* I guess you know what you will be seeing on the blog going forward. ;-)

• Dan is finally starting to like quinoa. In the past he has tolerated it be it wasn’t his favorite but now he asks for it. *happy dance* I get so excited when he likes something that is healthy. I started using quinoa years ago because it is a complete protein and it has now become my go to grain. If you haven’t tried it you should. Even my 80-year-old omnivore father likes quinoa. It has a very mild flavor most similar to rice so I imagine most of you would enjoy it.

• I am also happy that this week we have had mushrooms at least once every day. It is fascinating to me that something that tastes so good and is so versatile can also boost your immune system.

• My quest to increase my water intake went well on day one. I had 5 mugs of tea and an equal amount of water and “things” were lighter in color as expected. The only down side is I felt like I was in bathroom all day. LOL, the things I will do for health. ;-)

• My parents both had dentist appointments on Tuesday with the slick roads. I was holding my breath that my mother wouldn’t fall and hurt herself. Fortunately she had the good sense to reschedule her appointment. *huge sigh of relief* Having elderly parents is much harder than having children since you feel responsible but have not actual control.

• This has been a good week in terms of taking care of me. I took time to listen to body and rest when I needed rest and to slow down and be kind to myself. Sometimes everyone needs to recharge. It seems that this has been my week recharge my batteries.

Signing Out:

I have been goofing off this morning. Other than getting Dan fed, his lunch packed so he could go to work I have not been very productive. It is grey and overcast this morning which typically has an impact on my activity level and this morning was no exception. I have been sipping Christmas tea while writing this post. Now I need to get moving and knock out my exercise so that I can have breakfast and start my day. Looks like today will be a long one. ;-)

I hope everyone is having a great week. Talk to you all again soon. Happy Thursday!


  1. I am horrible about measuring out for recipes that I make up. I just sort of add here and there - especially with the spices. Good luck on upping the water intake. I can always feel the difference if I don't get in enough. I do spend a great deal of time in the bathroom though ;-)

  2. Hi Ali!
    Thanks for posting the new green smoothie recipe. I am also a lover of all things tea-related (pots included). I only have 2 but would probably have more if I wasn't such a gypsy. I love that you are listing the stock ingredients for various cuisines. It's very helpful.
    Hope you have a great day.

  3. That is a very nice tea pot - I am not generally a tea drinker but I like having a pretty teapot. I am pretty sure I get enough water, though. Hope you continue to figure out what you need and get it!

  4. I just read people who are on a high nutrient diet full of veggies and fruits only need 3 glases of water daily along with their green tea! I drink so much tea now that I feel as if I flowat most of the time! LOL
    I love your little tea pot. I just found one at goodwill brand new that is the same size although mine is plum with a floral design. I love it. I have only 1 regualr size tea pot and now my tiny tea pot. I would love to see your collection!
    I have more tea than pots!
    I am glad Dan is enjoying the soy milk! I need to learn how to make it as I have 50lbs. of organic beans sitting here staring at me!!!
    Any recipes for soymilk without a pressure cooker?
    I would love to use the okara!

  5. alicia be a hummer! sory you had to cancel plans:( but you are right, its hetter to be safe. and it sure is pretty!

  6. This is the first time I've noticed you trained with the "TRX" system. Looks pretty tough to use. I'm a weight training 47 year old woman (for well over 20 years now) and was a big swimmer. How do you find using this equiptment? Tough on your shoulders? Wrists? joyce

  7. Water (and liquids in general) is so hard for me to get enough of.

    We made your softserve the other night! I liked it!


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