Hello, Goodbye, Hello, Goodbye!

>> Monday, March 29, 2010

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The Nasty Bits: Foodie Book Club Posting

>> Friday, March 26, 2010


Good afternoon, everyone! Here's the post where you can share a permalink to your Foodie Book Club review/recipe/photo essay/or whatever else you've come up with to discuss Anthony Bourdain's The Nasty Bits.

Simply enter your information in the following format in the list below -- something like Ashley M. [at] (never home)maker (but use your own info, of course). Again, please provide the specific link to the post about Bourdain's book so we can all easily find your post.

You have until Friday, April 2 (that's one week) at 11PM EST to post to this page. I'll be making a sidebar graphic for easy access. Thanks, and please let me know if you any questions!





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THRISTY THURSDAY: Scenes from Home Brewing

>> Thursday, March 25, 2010


What the HECK is THAT? This weekend, my next-door neighbor and I began our first home brewing quest. We spent the entire afternoon outdoors -- building a turkey fryer, boiling water, adding ingredients, etc., etc., etc. So, instead of reviewing a new beer this week, I thought I'd give you some eye candy. Ashley took most of these photos of us as we tooled around with all our materials. I also took some video, which I'll be posting sometime in the near future.

We're not experts, so before I give instructions or write a witty how-to posts, I want to see how our first batch turns out. We're both using kits for this first round, mine is "Hop Scare I.P.A." and his is "Bavarian Wheat" . . . both should be tasty.





We spent much of the first hour just building everything. I'll explain all the parts and pieces another day. Good news: It wasn't too terribly difficult. Then we moved onto the more exciting stuff, like our ingredients. Boiling. Stirring. Waiting. Well, that part wasn't so fun.

You could even smell the hoppy goodness from across the street. That's when we gained yet another neighbor.






Like I said above, it was a gorgeous day and a good time . . . but took longer than we thought. Now everything is fermenting in our basements. We can't wait to move onto the next step -- and even move on to our second batches.




Anyone else out there enjoy home brewing? We'd love your tips, tricks, and any other suggestions! Just leave a comment or email us at neverhomemaker@gmail.com.

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Hump Day Yoga: Bridge and Wheel


Welcome to another edition of Hump Day Yoga! Today we're focusing on two back-bendy poses: bridge and wheel. According to Yoga Journal, today's poses not only stretch the chest, neck, and spine . . . but they also can help with conditions as diverse as depression, menopause, asthma, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and sinusitis.

Sounds like magic, right? Well, maybe not exactly. However, incorporating these two stretches into your yoga routine will definitely enhance your practice. And wheel is one of my all-time favorite poses. So, here we go!


Bridge Pose 
(Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
  1. Begin on your back with your legs bent at the knee, feet flat on the floor. Your heels should be as close to your butt (yes, I just typed butt) as possible.
  2. Exhale and press your feet into the ground. Use your thigh muscles to support you as you lift your pelvis to the ceiling, feeling the energy from your feet to thighs to shoulders.
  3. Pay careful attention to your legs -- you should keep them parallel (sometimes it's easy to want to turn them out to support you).
  4. You may wish to clasp your hands (below your pelvis). This will help you stay on the tops of your shoulders.
  5. Hold the pose for 30 seconds at first. Then work your way up to 90 seconds. When you've finished, gently lower your spine toward the floor. I find it's sometimes nice to go into child's pose after.
After you've become more comfortable with bridge post (or perhaps if you're a former dancer or gymnast), you may wish to increase the difficulty a bit and try wheel. To me, wheel feels GREAT. To others, it can be down right frightening. So, always remember in yoga that you should do what feels right for you and your body. That being said, here's how to do Urdhva Dhanurasana . . .


Wheel Pose
(Urdhva Dhanurasana)
  1. Begin on your back with your legs bent at the knee, feet flat on the floor. Your heels should be as close to your butt (yes, this is exactly the same first step as in bridge) as possible.
  2. Bend your elbows and place your hands on the floor beside your head. You'll want your arms perpendicular to the floor.
  3. Here we go . . . press your feet into the floor as you exhale. Your should also move your tailbone toward the ceiling -- also use your arms for support -- and keep breathing.
  4. Again, you may find your legs want to splay out to support your -- however, try to keep them parallel, feet pointed forward. Feel the energy from your feet to tailbone to hands. Everything working together.
  5. Stay in this pose for however long you feel comfortable. This may be only a few breaths . . . to ten seconds. Longer and you may risk becoming dizzy from the inversion.
  6. Carefully and slowly lower yourself from the position and go into child's pose to relax. Repeat anywhere from 3 to 10 times.
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Slashing Our Grocery Bill: Even More Progress

>> Wednesday, March 24, 2010


You may remember that last week, we made some major progress in cutting back on our weekly food spending. Now, I cannot seem to locate our receipt from Sunday's grocery shopping spree at Wegmans. If I had it, you'd see a big fat $83.87 (or something very close to that), and I'm sure you'd all gasp in horror. Hold on, hold on. It's really not that bad. To get the "true" grocery bill, we must first subtract the non-grocery items from this sky-high total.

These items include beer (Ithaca Pale Ale at $9.50, we include this in our "entertainment" fund, which is separate from our grocery budget) -- so we're at $74.37; face wash ($7.00 for some natural tea tree oil cleanser because my skin is AWFUL!) -- so we're at $67.37; contact solution ($3.00) -- $64.37; and toilet paper ($11.00 because we buy in bulk) -- so we're at $53.37.


That's right: only $53.37! We're getting closer to our goal of $50 per week. And this is down from nearly $100 only a couple weeks ago. Are we suffering? No. But let's take a step back for a moment and see what exactly we did to limbo this low.

This week, we focused on planning ahead. Before we went to the store, I sketched out a tentative meal plan for the week. I was quite generous with my outline. We'd have potato and leek soup one night. Pizza another (I have three rounds of dough frozen). Chili for double-duty dinners again. And two tasty tofu stir-fry meals. When we got the store, however, I found so much fancy produce! We did indulge in our usual avocado treat again -- spent $10 for six. A bit shameful, but we love them too much to say no.

We also practiced some restraint with items like Earth Balance and coconut oil. I've still been baking, but instead of stocking my pantry with every single ingredient needed to make my own bake sale, I'm trying to prioritize. I'm trying to use up what I have. I'm trying not to spend a fortune on chocolate chips. I said no to the Earth Balance and coconut oil for this reason. I can use canola oil. Or perhaps wrap my mind around some new recipes that don't require such ingredients. And life will go on.

We've also been eating more vegan-ly. We only bought one 2-cup package of shredded mozzarella for the week. The rest of our loot was totally vegan. No cheddar to melt into the chili? Nutritional yeast serves as a tasty substitute. No eggs? Not this week. But just because we're shopping more vegan doesn't mean we're investing in pricey substitutes. The only thing we do that with is soy milk. Otherwise, it's shopping the perimeter of the store (we covered this tip last week), and buying the freshest, least-packaged ingredients as possible.

Anyway, we're doing it. I do notice, however, that we're running low on certain items we typically find plentiful (like various flours, other baking ingredients, etc.). We'll see how this impacts our bill next week when we head to the store. We're also trying to hit up some suggested stores and farmers markets over the weekend between various activities (we're both running a 15K on Sunday afternoon). Wish us luck. And if any of you have any more tips to share, we'd love to hear 'em. Just leave a comment or email us at neverhomemaker@gmail.com.


Just remember: Eating well need not cost a fortune. We're doing it -- and we're full. In fact, on the $53 or so we spent this week, we even have MORE than we need. Just examine your cupboards and take note of what you're stashing away in your cart. Before you know it, you'll be on your way to saving big bucks!

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FOODIE BOOK CLUB: The Nasty Bits: Month 1


Hey, Foodie Book Club peoples! How's the reading going? We're nearing the end of our first month with the club -- if you're new to us, we've been delving into Anthony Bourdain's The Nasty Bits. I'm going to be the first to admit I haven't yet finished the book. Between posting and work and freelance projects, races and training for our half marathon(s) next month, I'm only about halfway through.

It's like high school all over again!

And since I "own" the book club, I'm changing the rules. Just slightly. But to all our benefit. I had initially slated Friday as our universal posting day. As you'll remember, you may post anything -- as much or as little -- about the book. You may even get creative and make a recipe inspired by a chapter. Pick a section that you particularly liked and write about that. Or, really, this whole part is up to you. Reading should be fun, and in no way should our little book club feel like homework. That's what Stephen's for. After all, he's an English teacher.

Here's the deal:
  1. On Friday, I will indeed post the link list so you may sign up and post your blog. Please list the specific page (permalink) to your Foodie Book Club selection so people don't need to go searching on your main site. If I see just main site listings, they will be deleted.
  2. I will leave the posting option on this list open until NEXT Friday (that's Friday, 4/2) to give you a little extra time. See how that works? I'm changing the rules, and no one gets hurt!
  3. I'll be sure to make a pretty sidebar image so everyone will know where to find your posts. In return, I'd very much appreciate if you link back to the page with all the posts -- that way, the sharing can continue on and on and on.
  4. Don't have a blog? I'm pretty sure most of you who signed up do. If not, you may consider starting one on Blogger (or another site) . . . if you'd prefer to stay offline, just let me know. We can figure something out so you don't get left out!

Just FYI: The Foodie Book Club is boasting 46 members in its first month. Thanks to everyone who is participating! I'll also post another sign-up sheet for any new folks who'd like to take part and join us in reading next month's selection: A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg.

If you have any questions, just comment below or email us at neverhomemaker@gmail.com. And if you'd like a button for your sidebar, just grab the one below!



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Cornmeal Drop Biscuits


In our efforts to slash our grocery bills, we've been eating vegan chili two nights a week. Chili is a quick, cheap, and easy way to get great nutrition -- as well as flavor -- for dinner. But sometimes it's just not enough for us. After all, we're both running between 30 and 40 miles a week in preparation for the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon in April. We need more carbs!

However, we don't typically take sandwiches to work for lunches. So, we don't routinely buy loaves of bread. We found when we did, almost half was going to waste. Biscuits are a simple and fast way to create a side carbohydrate. How fast exactly? This particular recipe takes only about 25 minutes (max) total from start to finish.

And if you're curious about how we're doing with our grocery bills, don't worry. I'm posting an update later today.

CORNMEAL DROP BISCUITS
(modified from a recipe in Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)

What you'll need . . . for 10 healthy biscuits (we halved this recipe so we'd have just enough for two dinners)
  • 1-1/2 cups wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup soy milk

Method . . .
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (wheat pastry flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt).
  3. In another, smaller bowl, combine the wet ingredients.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until JUST combined. Dough will be sticky, do not over mix.
  5. With a large spoon, drop mounds of dough (about 1/3 cup each) onto your baking sheet -- 1-1/2 inches apart .
  6. Bake, rotating the sheet halfway through, until biscuits are golden (about 15 to 20 minutes).
  7. Transfer to wire rack to cool.
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A Healthy Lunch Option

>> Tuesday, March 23, 2010


As you may have noticed, I like to bake. A lot. But I also like crafting healthy food masterpieces. Yesterday, I tried combining the two with terrible results. For now, I would advise all of you out there to not make chocolate & buckwheat flour cookies. If someone knows a way to make them taste good, please let me know your secret!!!

Gross.

Anyway, I decided to share a non-chocolate favorite: super, wonderfully healthy quinoa salad. I used to bring this in for lunch at least once a week (recipe makes enough for a couple days). Note: The cilantro is essential. If you don't like cilantro, you have no business reading my blog.

Just kidding! I wasn't really a fan of the stuff until a few years ago -- but it certainly adds something to this salad, so try it out! :)

What you'll need . . .
  • 1-1/2 cups quinoa
  • 3 cups water
  • Minced garlic
  • Flax seeds
  • Sliced shallots
  • Cilantro
  • Sliced green apples
  • Crushed raw cashews
  • Raw pumpkin seeds

Method . . .
  1. In a large saucepan, bring quinoa and water to a boil -- then cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Once quinoa is cool, combine it with the rest of the ingredients (at your own discretion) in a large bowl.

For extra flavor . . .
  • 1/3 cup sesame oil
  • 1 orange (squeeze the juice)
  • 1/2 grapefruit (squeeze the juice)
  • 2 teaspoons ginger powder
Mix together ingredients, then add to the salad . . . and mix again.

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Strawberry and Chocolate Chip Cupcakes


Back when Stephen and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary (September 1, 2008), I surprised him with a special dessert. At first, I thought I'd make some dark chocolate-covered strawberries. But, I woke that morning and thought, "Wow. How CREATIVE you are . . . chocolate-covered strawberries. He'll never in a million years expect that!"

So, I decided to whip up something a little less cliche.

Now, I usually don't bake with fruit -- but these cupcakes satisfy even the most chocolate-peanut butter-addicted person. They're great for romantic occasions or if you simply want to eat something sweet and feel like you got your fruit in for the day. Oh, the excuses I come up with to eat cupcakes! (And cookies. And cake. Etc.)

What you'll need . . .
("normal" baking ingredients in parentheses -- what you see pictured above is vegan)
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance (or 1 stick unsalted butter)
  • 1 cup Sugar in the Raw
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (or 2 large eggs)
  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup Silk (or regular milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 fresh or frozen strawberries (I used fresh) -- sliced
  • Dark chocolate chips

Method . . .
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Insert liners into a medium cupcake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the Earth Balance (butter) and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy (3-5 minutes).
  3. Add the applesauce 1/4 cup at a time (or eggs one at a time). Beat well after each addition.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternating with the soy milk (milk). Mix for 3 minutes. With a rubber spatula, fold in the vanilla, strawberries, and chocolate chips.
  6. Fill the cupcake liners one-half to three-quarters full.
  7. Eat lots of the batter. It's REALLY good.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
  9. Cool cupcakes in the pan.

For the chocolate frosting . . .
  • 6 tablespoons Earth Balance (or butter)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup soy milk (or milk)

Method . . .

  1. Cream the Earth Balance and vanilla together with a fork or electric mixer.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture until fully integrated. Slowly add the milk to the frosting until you have reached desired consistency. You may not use all of the milk (I only used about half). Beat mixture for 1 minute or until creamy.
Recipes adapted from Crazy About Cupcakes, which is a fantastic cookbook! 

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Very Veggie Polenta Stir-Fry

>> Monday, March 22, 2010


I know I've mentioned it before, but I've been vegetarian for just over 14 years now (over half my life!), and I was vegan for several years during college. Then, after graduation, two things happened to get me off track.

1.) I moved back home for several months while I searched for a job. Few, if any, people in my hometown even know what vegetarians eat -- let alone what vegan even means! Many grocery stores didn't carry essential staples, etc. In fact my own dad this weekend asked me (because we were out to eat), "Ash, you can eat chicken, right?" Uh. No. Sorry, dad. But he means well :)

But this also works into the second thing that happened.

2.) I got lazy.

I've always been into cooking and baking on some level. Usually into baking much more. However, taking time to create healthy, unique, VEGAN dinners has proven to be an incredibly satisfying experience. And Stephen and I are definitely benefiting from it.

For now -- one of my favorite and fast vegan dishes is this polenta stir-fry. It's low in fat, combines simple flavors, and, at least in my experience, is a crowd-pleaser. Even non-vegetarians like it . . . so that's always a good thing! This recipe serves up two generous helpings of the stuff. Feel free to double it, triple it, etc.


What you'll need . . .
  • 1/2 to 3/4 log of pre-made polenta (cut into 1/4 inch thick slices -- and use how much you want to use)
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 large red onion
  • Olive oil
For sauce . . .
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Raspberry jam
  • Honey (if you don't eat honey, use a bit of your favorite sweetner)
  • Ground black pepper

Method . . .
  1. Chop the onion, zucchini, and tomato into large chunks.
  2. Cut polenta into slices.
  3. Heat oil in a wok or large fry pan until hot.
  4. Throw in the rounds of polenta into the pan and carefully cook (they get soft -- so flip them gently) until lightly browned on each side.
  5. In another, smaller pan, throw in the onion and zucchini. Cook until just soft, but not mushy. You want a slight bit of crispness.
  6. Once veggies are soft, turn off heat and throw in tomato. Mix together until warmed.
  7. Divide veggies onto two plates and top with equal rounds of polenta.
  8. Mix the balsamic vinegar, raspberry jam, and a bit of honey to taste to create a thin, sweet sauce.
  9. Drizzle sauce over each dish. Top with pepper to taste.
  10. Enjoy!
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Vegan Tofu Wings


Happy Monday, everyone! Thanks for all your help with our weekend spending question on Friday. We've received some great advice and things to think about regarding going out to eat. We're hoping to post some tips very soon, as well as share the wisdom you all gave us.

Now, it's time for some grub. When we lived in Ithaca, there was this GREAT pizza place that delivered tofu wings. Then, they closed. Then, we moved. No more tofu wings. But they were so good, we just had to figure out a way to get our fix. This recipe is SO simple -- and perfect for parties.

Try it out with different hot sauces, dips, etc.

TOFU WINGS

What you'll need . . .
  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup canola oil (for frying -- we used a large fry pan, so you may want less oil)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup hot sauce (picante)
  • 3 tablespoons soy butter

Method . . .
  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Drain tofu and cut into large strips (you may wish to press the strips with a paper towel to get excess moisture out).
  3. When oil is very hot, stir in tofu and fry until both sides are a deep golden brown. This process may take a while depending on how much water was still in the tofu. If you find there's a lot of liquid. If so, empty some out while cooking.
  4. Melt soy butter and mix it in with the hot sauce. Pour mixture into a large, shallow dish.
  5. Put fried tofu into the dish and stir. Let sit for five to ten minutes. Then, heat in microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute (this gives it a good, wing-y texture).
  6. Serve with vegan sour cream, blue cheese dressing, or ranch . . . whatever you like!


I think I mentioned that Stephen and I went to my hometown this weekend (Wellsboro, PA) to attend one of my best friend's baby showers. It was definitely a gorgeous weekend to be there. I'm lucky to say that I'm from one of the "most untouched" areas in the United States. We have this amazing canyon . . . and, really, not a ton of development.


Anyway, we both went running a lot on Saturday and Sunday. And that meant we were on a lot of streets and roads in and around town. I don't know how many of you live in our area of the Northeast, but a big issue right now is the Marcellus-Shale gas drilling. (If you're unfamiliar, just look it up on Google.) Anyway, I don't have much to say about it right now. And certainly nothing positive. However, back to the being on street and roads . . . we saw a ton of trucks hauling gravel to drilling sites this weekend. A couple at first, then maybe 10. By the end of the weekend, I counted over 35 of these loud, heavy trucks. And to be quite honest, it feels like the entire area is being invaded.


It's disheartening to say the least. And don't just take it from me. We got some of this stuff on video. I'm just hoping what I witnessed this weekend isn't the beginning of the end for my little slice of paradise.


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Weekend Spending Habits: EATING OUT

>> Friday, March 19, 2010


We consider (never home)maker a healthy living blog. And financial health is so very important to keeping the mind and body stress free. That's why we've been focusing on things like grocery receipts and other bills. Money's the stuff that keeps us up at night. Today's topic is one we continually struggle with: Weekend Spending.

For us, weekend spending comes in many forms. Eating out. Catching or renting a movie. Hosting parties. Running races (those that have fees associated). Miscellaneous shopping. Seems like everywhere we look, someone's hand is out, just waiting for us to hand over our debit card. Of all these pricey amusements, going out to eat literally eats up the most cash.


Over the next several weeks, I'd like to focus on one of each of these kinds of spending. On Friday, I'll post to get the discussion started. The following week, I'll provide some tips and reader advice. Yes -- you're a big part of this, and we'd love to get your input and words of wisdom! Since we got such great response to our grocery bill post earlier this week, we'll start with EATING OUT.

I'd like to know from you all . . . how often to you eat out? Once a week? Twice? Three times? More? Or perhaps you set a scale for it like we do. For example, we eat out typically three times a week. One of these instances is a take-out night. Something like a $10 pizza. Another night, we actually go to a restaurant, spend maybe $45 to $60, depending. Another night, we go to Wegmans and buy all the fixings for a fabulous dinner in. Maybe more to the tune of $25.

I guess I didn't realize we were spending so much until I just wrote those sentences. But that's over $100 in food on top of our grocery costs each week!


So, please leave a comment or email us at neverhomemaker@gmail.com to weigh in. We'll be sharing some of your responses next week!

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READER SPOTLIGHT: Save Money, Work Out at Home


Hey, everyone! I'm Kristi from Life at the Chateau Whitman. Now, as someone who is genuinely interested in fitness and being active, I have to make a confession. I am anti-gym. That's right. I hate the gym. Why? In my situation, going to the gym requires me to get in my car, drive there, find parking (which is a big issue at my campus gym), and change clothes. Before I even start exercising, I've spent at least a half hour of my life getting there and getting ready (not to mention the equal requirements of time and travel for the way home).

My workouts at home usually last around 30 minutes. Look, we're all busy. Why should a 30 minute workout take 1.5-2 hours? That leads to too many popular excuses ("I don't have time today" and "I just don't feel motivated enough to go anywhere.") And who can forget the obvious reason to work out at home? Expensive gym memberships and contracts.

After doing the free online videos for a few months, I decided to buy a couple dvds to make my own fitness collection (useful in case our Internet is ever down, and I need to get my workout in - I really don't like excuses). Here are my favorites:
  • Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred - An awesome 20-minute workout that combines cardio with strength training (like circuit training - extremely effective). There are 3 workouts on the dvd, each more advanced than the prior. Love this one.
  • Jillian Michaels Maximize series - I guess my love for Jillian Michaels is obvous, but these are simply great workouts. They are not dancy and bouncy like those annoying choreographed 80s cardio videos. These are more gritty, with hard strength moves and no-holds-barred cardio intervals. You can get good deals on the set on Amazon or Ebay. I got a five-dvd set (four circuit-type dvds and one cardio kickboxing) for $24.
  • Billy Blanks Ultimate Tae Bo - Not for beginners! This is an intense workout that requires you to pay attention and keep up.
  • Winsor Pilates - While not a cardio dvd (like the rest of my dvds above), these videos are great for beginner and advanced pilates.
  • Shape Your Abs - Also not cardio, but this is a great dvd by Shape Magazine for working your core muscles. There are a few different workouts that you can mix and match, depending on how long you'd like your workout to be. After doing these routines, you will definitely feel it.
If you'd like more tips on how to save money by working out at home, just check out the rest of my blog post about it. There's info on strength training and used fitness equipment, as well as a hefty list of handy links to help you on your way.


Thanks to Kristi for sharing with us these great tips -- I so agree that if you can spare the gym membership, it's totally worth it. And I'm a runner -- so you know all I need to work up a sweat is a good pair of shoes and some motivation. Again, you can read more on her blog (Life at the Chateau Whitman).

This has been yet another READER SPOTLIGHT! And if you'd like to be featured, just check out our info post with all the gooey details about the spotlight, as well as guest posting opportunities. And keep an eye out for next Friday's post.

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Cheap and Simple Chili

>> Thursday, March 18, 2010


Remember how I absolutely hate leftovers? Chili is one of the only exceptions. And now that we're trying to save some dough with smarter grocery shopping, leftovers factor in at least one night a week. Enter this exceedingly easy chili recipe, and pinching pennies has never tasted better!

Be sure to stay tuned for the oh-so simple and satisfying vegan corn biscuits that we made to accompany. This recipe yields enough chili two two people to eat heaping helpings once a nice for two nights. That means enough chili for like four lunches, if you'd rather use it that way.

Can you hear all those quarters collecting in your piggy bank? Not only that, it's really good for you, too!


What you'll need . . .
  • 1 large (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 regular (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 cups water (depending on how thick you like your chili -- we used two)
  • 1 large (or two 15 ounce) can kidney beans
  • 1 regular (15 ounce) can salt-free corn
  • 1/2 large green pepper, chopped
  • 2 large handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 cup TVP (optional)
  • Salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste

Method . . .
  1. Put everything except the spinach, TVP, and salt/pepper/cayenne into a large stock pot and cook over medium heat. I also tried to smush some of the whole tomatoes to make them less whole. But I still like how chunky they are.
  2. Start seasoning with your salt/pepper/cayenne. You can always revisit if you don't do enough, but can't take away. So, proceed with caution.
  3. Add in the TVP (it will plump in the soup). And then the spinach. Turn heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. If you feel you'd like the chili thinner, just add more water. It's that easy.
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Avocado Chocolate Pudding


Have you ever had an accident in the kitchen that's actually turned out far better than your original plan? I wonder sometimes if that's how many baked goods and other eats were created. I now have a story of my very own to share. I set out to make a green smoothie the other morning . . . and I wanted to use avocado. Again, it was one of my treats this week in our effort to slash our grocery bills. But I've had too many green smoothies lately, and I wanted this one to be chocolate-y.

I put the meat of a whole (perfectly ripe) avocado in the blender. Added a few handfuls of spinach. A couple heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder. Some almond milk. And then I hit blend. But, what I pour into my cup wasn't exactly smoothie consistency. It was thicker. It tasted amazing, though. And since I was pressed for time, I ate it as is. Partway through my noshing, I realized (probably because I was using a spoon) it was exactly like chocolate pudding.


What you'll need . . .(for 2 large servings)
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 cups almond milk (or other substitute -- I think coconut milk would be great!)
  • 2 handfuls spinach (I used baby spinach)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons agave nectar or honey
  • 2 tablespoons flax meal (optional -- put in for nutritional value, not taste)

Method . . .
  1. Put all ingredients in a blender
  2. Blend
  3. Adjust (add more) milk and sweetener as necessary to reach desired consistency/flavor.
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Buckwheat Mustard Loaf

>> Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Not enough food posts this week. That's because I've been too busy frolicking in this lovely weather we're having. I promise I'll get myself back into the kitchen (where we women belong, right?) ASAP. Hah. For those of you unfamiliar with sarcasm, please don't post about my snide anti-feminist comment. I'm only kidding! However, I'm a woman . . . I love my kitchen time . . . and among my many flours, sugars, and pretty appliances, I really do feel that I belong.

Deep.

Today I'm sharing an experimental bread recipe -- mostly made up by me -- that turned out wonderfully. It's served best with the hummus-esque dip Stephen made to accompany it. Now, I didn't get fantastic photos (I hate, hate, HATE when that happens!), but I assure you. It's golden. And it's good.


MUSTARD LOAF
(yields one delicious loaf that ultimately serves 16)

What you'll need . . .
  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup beer (I used a lager, stick to darker brews)
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons brown mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups buckwheat flour
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup chopped red onions
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground pepper

Method . . .
  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk yeast into warm water until dissolved.
  2. Add beer, honey, mustard, salt, and bread flour (2 cups). Beat until smooth.
  3. Slowly stir in remaining flour until a soft dough forms (not too sticky, but not too dry).
  4. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic for about 6-8 minutes.
  5. Place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (45 minutes).
  6. Punch down and fold chopped red onions and zucchini into the dough; shape into a loaf. Place in a greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
  7. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  8. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  9. Mix together the oil and pepper. Brush top of loaf to generously coat.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes.
  11. Rotate pan and cover loosely with foil -- bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes (until golden brown).
  12. Let cool in the pan and then move to cooling rack.
  13. Enjoy with the following dip . . .

ROASTED RED PEPPER/SESAME DIP

Combine the following ingredients in a small foor processor until smooth.
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1/4 cup roasted red peppers (with some juice from the jar)
  • 2 cap-fulls of lemon juice (so, 2 teaspoons?)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • Dash paprika
  • Freshly ground pepper (to taste)
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