Saturday, July 30, 2011

Africa Kinda Changes Everything

Breakfast of Champions!  Overnight Oats in a Jar.

It has been a very busy week.  I have been working hard, catching up from all the time spent away from my Girls on the Run work.  Not only that, but we also had a lovely visitor this week and a mid-week heat escape to the mountains.  Now as I wind down from the adventures, I am looking ahead at August at what is to come for next month. 

Of particular note: my work hours go from 20 to 30 hours a week which will keep me super busy.  I will be seeking a new balance to acclimate to the longer work days.  Forbes and I are also cracking down on our budget this month.  Therefore I am scrutinizing my grocery shopping and re-establishing old habits such as meal planning. 

August will be a busy month, full of changes, but before we jump ahead with plans, let's reminisce over July.  I skipped all of my weekend recap posts in July, so lets just take a look back now shall we...
On July first, Forbes and I bid farewell to the children at the Orphans and Vulnerable Children's Center in Mwandi, Zambia.  This was our last full day in the village before we left for safari and then traveled back to the states.  It was a really sad day to say goodbye to all the beautiful children.  Check out this video to see more of their wonderful smiles!
I just realized I didn't share anything about safari on here.  Obviously I was away from the internet and could not post while out in the Chobe National Park.  I must remember to do a full post soon, until then you can enjoy this one photo.
Yep.  We got pretty darn close to those creatures!

Anyway, after a very long flight from Africa we landed in Indy for a very special event.
Our friends Eric and Haley wed on the yard at her parent's house, overlooking a beautiful lake and landscape.  The party was fun and before we knew it we were on our way home and back to North Carolina. 

And since then, we have still been non-stop.  Non-stop fun, that is.  Our friend Angie spent several days visiting and we enjoyed several work outs together including a hike.
My first run in 3 weeks was grueling but I did it!
It was also difficult to get back in the kitchen after 3 weeks away, but well worth it!
Also of particular interest this month, our dear friend's Jill and Tim welcomed their second child, beautiful Lia!
And my dear blog received some much needed updating!

Lastly, we enjoyed a wonderful two days in the mountains to escape this heat and enjoy the company of Forbes' sister.
It has been such a fun and amazing month.  I can't believe how much we have done, how much we have seen, and how wonderful it all has been.  The greatest part is that I have experienced every minute of this with Forbes and together we have learned and grown, loved and shared.  This could possibly be one of the best month's of my entire life.  And yet July still isn't over...and we still have a fun two days in front of us with the continuation of Karina's visit.

This month:

Number of runs: less than 6
Yoga/Pilates classes: 0
Bleacher runs: just 1

Africa kinda changes everything!

Number of dinners cooked: 5
Frozen dinners cooked: 3 (that would be 3 more than the entire year combined)
Loaves of bread baked: 2

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."  John 3:16

In just a short amount of time I have had the privilege of seeing so much of this world and through it all my faith has been strengthened.  I hope from the experiences this month that I will grown stronger in my belief and build a stronger relationship with Christ and with those around me.

Number of out of town guests: 2
Potluck dinners attended: 2

Friday, July 29, 2011

Eatin' Good in the Neighborhood

The key when on vacation is to make simple meals that everyone will love.  This is not the time for elaborate casseroles and long cooking times.  In fact, when you lose track of all time and forget about dinner until nearly 9pm, what you really need is a quick and easy fix.

Tuesday night was just that.  Tofurky "brats" with caramelized onions and spinach salad.  Mmm-mmm, good.
Breakfast was a trusty bowl of oatmeal with delicious toppings that included a bit of muffin, craisins and banana.
And dinner Wednesday was another light spinach salad accompanied by homemade bruschetta.  We picked up fresh tomatoes, peppers, basil and sourdough baguette at the farmer's market and whipped together this easy meal with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic. 

When we flock to the mountains to escape the summer heat we try diligently to cook as much at the cabin as possible, but inevitably we must eat out at one of our favorite restaurants.  For this week's trip we stopped by Our Daily Bread for lunch.
I had the veggie on whole wheat with a side of Gazpacho.  (I picked the cheese off the sandwich).  There was a time not long ago that I really enjoyed Gazpacho.  Now, however, I think it tastes just like salsa and at the least needs chips to accompany it.  I didn't enjoy this cup of soup very much at all.

Forbes and I split our sandwiches.  He ordered the Vegan Reuben and it was as delightful as my veggie.
And I recommend the pasta salad over the Gazpacho any day!

Of course, we were not alone in this culinary adventure in Boone.  Forbes' sister is here visiting for the week.  If I remember correctly she ordered the chicken salad and loved every bite!
Next time we visit we gotta give this place a shot:
I read on the sign they have veggie options too, along with all these other adventurous dishes:
Hmmm, donut burgers...I wonder if they can make that vegan!  Mama-Pea perhaps that can be your next Wanabe Recipea!

Boone is a great little town to visit and we enjoyed walking around and viewing the sites.
But what we enjoyed most of all was our time enjoying this site:
An afternoon with a view! Not to mention cool temperatures to maximize our enjoyment.  We sat on the deck and relaxed...each with our subsequent reading material and snacks of choice.
Karina enjoyed a fresh and juicy peach from South Carolina.
Mr. Kummerow had a beer and deep fried peanuts (best thing ever!)

And I had my iced coffee and my peas.
I read the Peas and Thank You cookbook cover to cover in one day.  It is full of hilarity, wit and ingenuity!  I love how Sarah Matheny tells her life story through food and recipes.  When we are not so busy running from food and turning it into the villain in our lives, it can really take a central role and help us to relive all the memories with friends, family and loved ones.  I am so excited to get back into my kitchen and relive each of these recipes in my own life!
Amongst all the delicious food and quality reading was also fellowship with Karina and enjoyment of one another's company.  We sat and talked so long into the evening each night, dinner was forgotten until the sun had gone down way after 8 or 9pm.  Spending time with family has been so important to me this summer which is why I am also so excited to announce my brother and one of my sister's are coming to visit in just another week or so! 
Our relationship's with our siblings is one of the most important things to Forbes and me.  We are so blessed to share in this time with one another!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A New Toy and A Big Spill

Look what homegirl has! A "new-to-me" blender!

(I tried a thousand times over in my head not to want to write "homegirl" but I just couldn't help it!)

My friend was upgrading hers and read on the blog that I was tired of kale chunks in my Green Monsters and offered me her other blender.  While the food processor is great for many monsters are not high on the list!

Now I have chunk-free smoothies!
To be honest, this smoothie actually has no kale in it, but I'm sure my new blender will do wonders with a kale smoothie.  What is in this dreamy drink if not kale?  Well let me explain...

Kiwi-Cucumber Smoothie
1 medium cucumber, peeled
1 kiwi, peeled
1 banana, peeled (duh!)

Combine all ingredients in food processor blender.  Add 4 ice cubes (the food processor can't do that!) and blend away. 

Trust me on this one! It is refreshing!

The Kiwi-Cucumber Smoothie isn't the only powerful green food I made yesterday.
I read somewhere about grilling romaine lettuce and hurried my booty right over to the store to grab a head and try it! It was so delicious I'm thinking of making it again for dinner tonight!

Grilled Romaine and Potato Salad with Creamy Dressing
serves 4

For the salad
1 head romaine lettuce
~10 new potatoes
1/2 yellow onion, sliced into half-moons
1 can mixed beans (or beans of choice), rinsed and drained
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tbsp Italian Seasoning

For the Dressing
1/2 block firm tofu
3 cloves garlic minced
2 tbsp tahini
1/4 Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Italian Seasonings
2 tsp hot sauce (optional)
milk or water to thin to desired consistency

Wash potatoes and dice into 1/2" chunks.  Slice onion.  Mix potatoes and onion with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp Italian seasonings.  You can wrap it all in foil and grill for approximately 25-30 minutes, or place in roasting pan in oven for 30 minutes at 400*.

Meanwhile rinse romaine and slice into quarters from the stem, keeping the stem intack.

Lightly brush 1 tbsp or less olive oil on edges of romaine.  When potatoes have 10 more minutes remaining, add romaine to grill and cook each side until slightly wilted and heated through, approximately 10 minutes.

Plate your meal by adding 1 slice of romaine to each of 4 plates. Divide potatoes and beans and serve warm with Creamy Dressing.

To assemble dressing:
In your "new-to-me" blender combine all ingredients and blend away.  Add a little water or non-dairy milk until dressing reaches desired consistency.  Salt and pepper to taste.
This meal made us extremely happy!  It was fresh and fun and something we have never tried before!
With the Brawley School Road expansion project, we are getting sidewalks!  Sidewalks are our friend because it allows us to use our legs to get from point A to point B.  Before, Brawley School Road would be a death trap for pedestrians.  Now it has so much potential.  Utilizing the new sidewalks, Forbes and I had our best work out ever!

We awoke early to squeeze in our work out before a very busy day started.  We decided to run the 3 miles to the gym, lift and run 3 miles back.  It was quite an undertaking and I wasn't sure how pleased I would be when I walked out of the gym knowing I had a 3 mile hike back to the house versus a quick drive, but it was my suggestion and I was ready to give it a shot. 

To be honest, after running 3 miles and putting my arms through their hardest work out ever with weights, I was not anxious to start running again.  In fact, the prospect was downright appalling.  We got our legs going and found a jog rhythm.  It was awkward at first, but I soon found my stride.  We made a deal that we would stop to walk up "cardiac hill" but when we approached it, we were ready for the challenge.  Forbes called out "We can do it, let's try it" and we pushed forward.  I made small goals...just to the lamp post, just to the wall.  And then I heard Forbes say "All the way to the top!" so I continued to push up the hill. 

Just when I thought I would make it, I turned to find Forbes tumbling to the ground in a "I know karate-and I'm going to roll right through this fall" sort of way.  I watched in slow motion as he picked himself back up from the ground and continued to run.  For a split second I thought we could act like it was no big deal and just continue running...and then as if my face couldn't hold it any longer a loud noise exploded from my nose and mouth.  It sounded quite like a snort, actually.  I tried to continue running but my stomach was heaving with a laughter begging to erupt.  I called it quits, gave Forbes a look, apologized, and proceeded to laugh as we walked to the stoplight. 

We enjoyed the laughter, picked our pace back up and made it all the way home with a dead sprint for the last hundred yards or so.  I felt strong, capable, energetic and excited.  I proceeded to shower and then plow my way through breakfast. (More Cocoa Puffmaranth!)
I always have so much fun working out with Forbes...even if he isn't always taking big spills to lighten the mood during an otherwise grueling run! 

Well, right now we are welcoming my sister-in-law into town (finally) and getting ready to head to the mountains.  There may be another blogging hiatus while we are relaxing and enjoying the company.  In the meantime, enjoy the new Recipes page and take a look at my Meet Tanya page if you haven't already!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Puffed Amaranth Cereal

What is in the dish, you ask? Well let me get right to it.  While I have been basically on blogging hiatus, my kitchen hasn't felt that same break. 

Sunday morning I awoke bright and early and since our church doesn't begin until 10am, I had plenty of time to get creative with breakfast.

So Sunday morning went something like this...
 Ok, maybe not exactly like that...I wasn't making popcorn at 7am!  Rather PopAmaranth!  Or as Ashley likes to call Puffmaranth!

Ashley is pretty much a genius in the kitchen.  Every recipe I have followed of hers always works out wonderfully.  Puffmaranth is no exception!  I have seen several variations of it on her blog and have been meaning to try it for so long.  When I found a bag of Amaranth on sale at the store I knew it was now or never!
Puffed Amaranth is a great homemade cereal and you can mix in any toppings you like.  On Sunday I went with frozen strawberries and almond slices but this morning I mixed it up and made Cocoa Puffmaranth!  I am definitely coo coo for cocoa puffs! As long as the puffs are amaranth that is!

Puffed Amaranth
serves 1

1/4c raw amaranth
toppings of choice

Heat a large pot over med-high heat.  Allow pot to fully heat up before popping.

When fully heated, add in 2T raw amaranth, cover with a lid and continuously slide the pot back and forth on the burner.  If your heat is set correctly it should pop within 15-20sec.  This burns very quickly so as soon as it looks all popped remove from burner and remove amaranth from pot.  My first batch became a little too brown.  After that I got the hang of it.

Empty popped amaranth to a bowl + repeat the process again.

Add in spices or fruit and nuts and pour in milk and eat just like cereal!
While you are popping, do yourself a favor and make a triple or quadruple batch so you have enough to last you all week!
I am already excited for breakfast tomorrow morning!


While it may have looked like I was off taking a break from blogging this weekend (sorry no posts), the reality is that I spent most of those precious Saturday and Sunday hours blogging away!  Have you noticed some of the changes around Vegan Faith this week?

For starters, we have a new layout and theme.
It looks pretty doesn't it?

I also spent some time researching "comments".  For a while now I have been frustrated that I can't reply to comments on this blog.  It is not a very user-friendly, advanced system that blogger has put into place.  Therefore, I found a third party commenting system that will allow me to reply right to you when you comment on the blog.  Thank you Disqus!

So far I have been quite pleased with the new comments system.  Of course I have only had a few since I transferred over so it will take some trial and error to find out if it is really right for Vegan Faith.  I hope you enjoy the new system and if you have any questions at all feel free to...well, comment!

Last but not least, I finally took the plunge and re-vamped by Recipes page.  I know how much you loved scrolling down that endless list of recipes that were arranged in no particular order.  Despite how excited you were to waste your precious time on my site scouring through all the pages to find that one you were looking for, I decided to improve the system and purchased RECIpage.  Check out my new page, and trust me you will love it and never look back, just as I have!
I spent the better part of Friday, Saturday and Sunday inputting recipes into this new I'm just sayin' YOU BETTER LOVE IT! And thanks to the Malone's for developing this system for my use and for my readers' use!

Despite the work behind the computer screen this weekend, I did make it out into the sun a bit.
For my "real life" job I hosted a booth at a 5k run in Salisbury.  Salisbury is quickly becoming my new favorite town.  I just adore all the people I meet and the community is active and fun!
This weekend I also discovered a new way to make vegan ice cream...
This recipe rivals Banana Soft Serve as being one of the coolest vegan finds ever!  I know you are interested, but please give me one more trial before I submit this one into the Vegan Faith files!
Even with all the hard work happening around here this weekend, I still managed to get out and have some fun with Forbes via a beer tasting at the Old Meck Brewery.  But it wasn't really until yesterday evening at approximately 6:23pm when I had finished inputting my last recipe into RECIpage that I was really ready in dire need for a cocktail.
Yes. Please.

I sure hope you like all the new updates...because I certainly sacrificed a lot to bring them to you.  Ok, ok, skipping all workouts this weekend probably would have happened either way!

Truthfully though, I love this blog so much, and I love that people actually want to read it, so all this hard work is totally worth it!  Thanks for reading, it makes me feel so special to know that others enjoy Vegan Faith as much as I do!