Thirty-Five with a Chickpea Sandwich…for Jill.

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I am thirty five. I can’t believe I am thirty five. While vacuuming, obsessively pondering and churning with emotion of this realism, I thought about all the others before me, who have been thirty five at some point in their life. Did they have these feelings of vacancy, grief, or even disbelief? I am sure they have and did, some must have! However, as I continued vacuuming up all the million particles that can end up on one’s floor, I started to ask myself if I would want to hang out with someone like me who was not so excited about aging. The truth is, no I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t want to hang out with me and the moodiness of self-pity that I have pulled, like a blanket from a linen closet to wrap my whiny self in. I would want to be alongside with someone who embraces age with every wrinkle, spot, and limitation. I would want the atmosphere around me to be lit with excitement and hope, adventure and awe, of the amazing, fruitful things that can only be revealed through time and grace. I made a commitment to myself, this afternoon, vacuum in hand, which I will no longer stretch the truth about my age, telling people I am 28, when in actuality, I am thirty five. It is time to stop this nonsense of the stunted growth syndrome, and be the age appropriate woman I really am. To age or not to age, is no longer the question. I am aging. I feel like I need a buy a cake with a cape on it to symbolize the breaking out of the old self into the new self, like the way a superhero breaks forth with force out of the restrictions, bondages, and restraints from his oppressors. It is a new hour, a new day, and a new challenge, one in which I will do with acceptance, grace, and forbearance.

As I no longer mourn being thirty four, but rejoice in being thirty five, I have prepared for myself a sandwich filled with nutrients, freshness, and promise. My life is no longer what I don’t have, but what I do have.

Perfected Chickpea Salad Sandwich

Inspired by Oh She Glows

Ingredients:

1-15oz can chickpeas rinsed and drained
2 stalks celery, diced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup finely chopped dill pickle
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2-3 tbsp vegannaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp yellow mustard
2 tsp minced fresh dill
1 1/2-3 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper.
Toasted bread crackers tortillas or lettuce for serving.

How To Play:
In a large bowl, mash chickpeas until they are flaky in texture. Add remaining ingredients and serve with toasted bread, crackers, or lettuce. I loved it with spinach, sprouts and avocado! MMMMMMMMMMMM so good!!!

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Enjoy.

One meal deal…


Are you a one meal deal type person like me? What does that mean? It means, you can be happily content with the same meal for lunch, dinner, and perhaps again the same thing the next day? This dish is one of those dishes for me. I make it, then eat it, for lunch and dinner for the next couple of days and I just cannot get tired of it. It is so good and so good for me. I am a person of particulars. I am particular about bathroom stalls, cereal bowls, dinner plates, and tea mugs. Every morning I have to eat my cereal out of a large coffee mug. I eat my dinner in a square bowl, and drink my Chai tea in a mighty grand size Starbucks mug. When I was pregnant with 3, I would eat President’s Choice chocolate crackle ice-cream faithfully every night in the same little white tea cup.
For some reason I felt it was not so bad to go for seconds or thirds with such a tiny cup…well, 54 pounds later, hello?! Ice cream + Me = DANGER.
Well, 3 is now one and I have only had ice cream once since the day of his birth. After his birth I went on a Panini kick and raspberries, too. This July, the panini cravings have returned, I did cave once to it and the raspberries, oh man, I just can’t get enough. However, back to what I was saying about this salad, I eat it in a cup that I used to eat the ice cream in. This recipe is from Oh She Glows, it is scrumptious and refreshing and makes every cell in my body rejoice with happiness, because they love healthy salads that taste like colors and music!

Back On Track Salad

Inspired by:  Oh She Glows

Salad Ingredients:
1 cup Bulgar wheat
2 cups/500 ml cooked chickpeas
1 English cucumber, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 large tomato, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 cup fresh parsley, diced with large stems removed
4 green onions, diced
Sea salt + pepper, to taste

Dressing Ingredients:
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, to taste
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp spicy mustard
1 tbsp Tamari
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

How To Play:
Boil 1 1/2 cup of water with 1/4 tsp sea salt in a medium saucepan until it boils. Once it boils, pour into a heat proof bowl with the Bulgar wheat and place a plate on top of and let it sit for 30 minutes. In a large bowl, mix together the diced vegetables (cucumber, red pepper, tomato, minced garlic, parsley, green onions). Add in chickpeas and stir.
In a small bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, Tamari, fresh lemon juice). Set aside.
When the Bulgar wheat is ready, fluff with a fork and make sure all the water has been soaked up then stir into the salad. Add the dressing just before serving and stir well. Now season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Garnish with additional parsley if desired.

Enjoy.

Channa Masala with Basmati Rice

I watched a show the other night that impacted as well as challenged me.  It is called Forks over Knives. It was, well, less gory, in my opinion than Food inc, but nevertheless has reminded me the importance of healthy eating.  Now that my 30 pound challenge is drawing near to its end, with only a few more pounds to go…I am embarking on a new one.  My goal is to not make the 2 meals a night for my family, but one. I am endeavoring to cook with meat once a week.  The meat will be chicken, not beef.  The meal plans I do have often based on Sean and the kiddies likes, but I want to shake things up a bit…oh man, I don’t know how this is going to go down, but like I said, this is going to be a challenge, a family one!  Before I got pregnant with 3, I was dabbling in vegetarian meals and so forth, but once the morning sickness kicked in, all that went out the window.  In good humor I have joked saying 3 would be my vegan baby, well, we might be on the road to making it happen.  He gobbled this up last night.  He is 11 months old and he loves hummus, lentils, and now channa masala.  The other 2…uh, not so much.  Sean said this was a meal he would like to see on the meal plan every week.  It is pretty scrumptious and not too hot, but if you like heat, maybe add a bit of red pepper powder…either way, I hope you like.

Channa Masala with Basmati Rice

(adapted from Oh She Glows)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chick peas, cooked
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 14 oz diced organic tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp  Curry Powder Madras to taste (I used 3 tbsp)
  • 2 tsp. sugar, to taste (I used 2.5 tsp)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. sea salt, or salt to taste
  • 4 tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped ( I used more)
  • 1.5 tsp. Garam Masala
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp cumin seed
  • grapeseed oil 

How To Play:
Rinse chickpeas and drain. Set aside. In a medium-sized pan, heat oil on medium-high heat and add in chopped onions. Add diced tomatoes and cook for one minute. Add curry powder madras spice to make a paste. Fry paste for a couple of minutes. Stir in cooked chickpeas and add water to make a consistent sauce. Add salt and sugar to taste. You can use the cilantro and garam masala as a garnish, I however added them with the salt and sugar. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with basmati rice. Serves 4

Basmati Rice:
I make Basmati rice the same way I make oatmeal, that is without measuring. I would imagine 1 cup rice to 1.5 cups of water? Anyhow, I have it so the water is covering the rice by an inch. Once the water and rice boil, I turn the temperature down and cover it, letting it simmer for about 15 minutes or so. I fluff it up with a fork and test it to see if indeed it is cooked. When it is, I drizzle it with grapeseed oil and stir in about a tablespoon of cumin seeds, then cover until it’s ready to be served.

Enjoy.

Monday Meal Plan

Like planning?  I do.  I plan lots of different things.  I think it really all began to take form when I was a landscaper in my early twenties.  We would have dead lines.  We would have to have a variety of tasks to get done by a certain hour, or if not, we would have to work over time in order to have the projects done.  I know many careers are like that, but something happened to me then.  I began to compartmentalize not only  lawn care and garden care, but everything outside of work.  I find I do it a lot at home, too, with the three kids, and cooking and cleaning.  I almost get a rush doing it.  Is it crazy?  Maybe.  I have been meal planning for nearly 3 years now.  I was influenced greatly by a good friend of mine, Lizzie.  She would do this all the time when she and her husband were first married.  So, this week…
Monday– Pot Roast Meatloaf, inspired by the one and only, Jamie Oliver
Tuesday– Roast beef dinner
Wednesday– Turkey Tacos
Thursday– Mustard Chicken with Jewel Rice and Broccolini
Friday– Date night with Sean, my good friend Michelle, and sister Jojo
Saturday-Chicken Teriyaki
Sunday– Leftovers

Pot Roast Meatloaf

(Inspired by Jamie Oliver)

Ingredients:
2 medium onions
olive oil
1 level teaspoon ground cumin
1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
12 cream crackers
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 heaped teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 pound good quality ground beef
1 large organic egg
2 cloves of garlic
1/2- 1 fresh red chile (I used dried chile flakes. I just sprinkled it in).
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 can of chickpeas
2 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes (I didn’t have tomatoes, so used a jar of marinara sauce)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
12 slices of smoked bacon (I used 5-6)
1 lemon (optional)

How To Play:
Preheat on the oven to 475 degrees. Peel and finely chop one of the onions. Place in a large skillet on medium high with 2 lugs of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the ground cumin and coriander. Fry and stir every 30 seconds for about 7 minutes until soft and golden brown. Put in a large bowl to cool. In a food processor, blend crackers, until fine, add to cooled onions, along with the oregano, mustard, and ground beef. Add egg and salt and pepper. Mix well and shape meat mixture into a large football shape. Rub with a little oil. Place the meatloaf in a Dutch over type pan or baking dish and put in the preheated oven, and turn down the temperature immediately to 400 degrees. Bake for half an hour.
To make the meatloaf sauce: Peel the other onion and chop into 1/4 inch pieces. Peel and slice the garlic. Finely slice the red chile, or sprinkle dried chile. Place the onion, garlic, chile in a large skillet on a medium high temperature with 2 lugs of olive oil, the paprika, and a pinch of slat and pepper. Cook for around 7 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until softened and lightly golden. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chickpeas, tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and let it slowly simmer for 10 minutes. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper if needed.
To Finish off and serve: Pick the rosemary leaves off the woody stalks and put them into a little bowl. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and pour all the fat from the pan over the rosemary leaves and mix up well. Spoon your sauce around the meatloaf. Lay the slices of bacon over the top of the meatloaf and sauce. Scatter over the rosemary leaves. Put the pan back into the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the bacon turns golden and the sauce is bubbling (I cooked it for 20-25 minutes). Serve with a mixed leaf salad and some wedges of lemon for squeezing over. Since I am so into spinach these days, I made another spinach salad and cooked peas and carrots for the kids.

Enjoy.