Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A healthier home-made Nutella: made with almond butter

Little Man doesn't eat very well.  He likes junk food, and I really struggle trying to balance my need to get calories into him, and making sure those calories are nutritious.  He loves Nutella, but I really don't like it's dubious nutritional claims.  I like the nutritional benefits of almond butter, but sadly my fussy little guy won't eat it.  So, I embarked on an attempt to make a chocolate almond butter.  I originally mixed 50% Nutella with 50% all natural almond butter  - which worked well, except for storage (almond butter should be refrigerated, Nutella should not be) - but it did taste good. The other day I thought I would try to make my own "Nutella" type product using almond butter as the base, and add cocoa and a bit of sugar into it.....Chocolate covered almonds are one of my favourite treats.  Chocolate and almonds seem like such a natural combination, why hasn't anyone made this..... it seems so obvious!  So, for lack of a commercial product to buy, I tried to make my own......I can't say that it worked out perfectly, but I am determined to keep trying!

Adding cocoa, icing sugar and coconut oil
to almond butter.
 I started by dumping a jar of almond butter (sugar and salt free) into my stand mixer bowl - then I started adding cocoa....and more, and more....... after adding over a cup of cocoa, the mixture was getting rather dry, and the lack of sugar was becoming even more obvious..... so out came the icing sugar and the coconut oil.  After adding about a quarter cup of each, I liked the consistency and the sweetness level, but it still didn't taste very "chocolatey".  The taste of toasted almonds is such a strong taste, that I can't seem to get the cocoa flavour to shine through.... maybe this is why this product isn't commercially available?  The Ghirardelli cocoa powder I used is rather expensive, and after using almost the entire tin, with no noticeable chocolate taste.....I am thinking this endeavor may be an expensive one - the strong taste of almonds overpowers the taste of the cocoa.....hmmmm.... I wonder if they sell a natural hazelnut butter...... 

So, the good news is that little man ate a bit of it - because I told him it was Nutella, but he did look dubious...... The true test will be if he eats it the next time I give it to him.
I am determined to make this work - but I will need help.   Has anyone out there tried making a chocolate almond spread?  Any suggestions for me to try on my next batch?  

Got a nice sheen with the addition of the coconut oil.  Got a total of 1L of finished product.

Watching David Letterman Live!

On our trip to NYC, hubby and I were just walking down the street minding our own business when a rep from CBS came up and offered us free tickets to a taping of the David Letterman show.  Of course we said yes!  It was quite an experience, and we really had a good time.  Thought I would share it with you......

You pick up your tickets between 2-3pm, and no, you don't just waltz up to the box office, the process takes close to an hour.  You are asked to be back in line (in numerical order based on the number on the back of your ticket) by 3:30, and the taping starts at 4:30.  So, from 3:30 to 4:15, you are all huddled in the lobby getting "warmed up".  You still don't know who the guest is going to be, they keep it a surprise.  The people ushering you through the process have lots of energy, and it's hard to believe that they do this every day! A few interesting things they said....
  • Dave checks out the audience before the show - if he has some really great content, but not a great audience, he will save it for another show.  He gets a lot of motivation from the audience, so it's important to be very enthusiastic.
  • Have a question prepared, he likes to interact with the audience and work it into the material for that show (and he did it, it was quite neat to watch).
  • Dave comes out and meets the audience about 5 minutes before the show starts to interact with them a bit.

When you finally do get to sit down in your seats, the music is playing really loud and you are encouraged to clap along - after a while, your hands start to hurt.  Then the band comes out and plays some great songs, then a comedian comes out and tells some funny jokes, then out comes the big man himself, to interact with the audience for a spell.  The show we went to see aired on January 19th, and the guest was Martin Short and the musical guest was Darius Rucker - both very enjoyable!  The taping ended up taking just over an hour because they had to "re-shoot" Martin Short's song.  Now what struck me as odd, is that although the show is taped, and not live - they act as if it is live.  They actually take commercial breaks.... we sit there while the band plays us a tune, and they countdown as we go "live" again..... odd.  Anyone have any idea why they do that?

It was a very neat experience although we just "lucked" into our tickets, I understand that you can go online and request tickets - I would recommend going if you ever get the chance!  It certainly was the highlight of our whirlwind trip.  Again, proof that there are still happy surprises awaiting us all! 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I LOVED New York!!!

As I posted earlier, hubby won a 1 night trip to NYC with tickets to watch the New York Rangers play the Toronto Maple Leafs.  We got there on Porter airlines - and had a terrific experience.  Once we landed and cleared customs, it was off to our exciting whirlwind adventure. 

We took an airport shuttle to the Port Authority bus terminal which was right across from our hotel, the Westin Times Square.  I really like Westin hotels, I sleep so much better in their Heavenly Beds than I do in any other hotel bed (I think it's because they use duvets like I do at home, not scratchy blankets).  We checked in (we were lucky and got early check-in), got settled and hit the town!  We were hungry, so first stop was lunch - we had it at some Irish pub near Rockefeller Centre - good, but nothing to gush about.  Then we started walking about - and I was getting a little stressed out because we didn't have a plan for what we would do until the hockey game started (and I like having a plan).  So we were walking and deciding what to do when a woman from CBS walks up to us and offers us free tickets to watch a taping of the David Letterman Show.  Are you kidding??!!??  That is soooooo NY, just walk around and stuff happens to you! It was around 1:20, and we had to pick up our tickets between 2-3pm at the theatre, so we decided to start walking that way. 

We stopped at Banana Republic and they were having a terrific 50% off the lowest ticketed price sale - WOOOHOOOO!!  I as usual, didn't find much, just a t-shirt and a sweater but hubby scored 2 shirts, 1 sweater and a pair of pants.  And for all of that, we paid $80.  Wow, the US sure does know how to have a sale, we suck at sales in Canada - and with the dollar at par, well..... it was quite a buzz!

We made our way over to the Ed Sullivan theatre - naive me, had it in my head that we would just waltz up to the counter and pick up the tickets...... WRONG!  There was a line up halfway around the block, it was 2:40 before we got our tickets - which left us 40 minutes to run the 10 blocks back to our hotel, get dressed and be back for 3:30.  The show starts taping at 4:30, but they ask you to be there an hour early.  So, a mad dash back to the hotel, threw on our clothes for the evening and some makeup and made the mad dash back to the theatre - I can't remember the last time I walked that much!

The show was great - I will do a quick post on that later on.  But after that it was another "walk" to Madison Square Garden.  What a great venue, sadly the Leafs were slaughtered 7-0.  But, if they had to lose, it was neat to be there for a game where the NY fans were so excited.  On the way home we stopped off for a quick bite - at a sushi restaurant.  Then we went back to the hotel and crashed in absolute exhaustion! 

Hubby worked from the hotel all the next day, so I ran out in the morning and got us a couple of coffees and breakfast paninis - I felt so NY, running out to buy breakfast - and not in my car.  I read my book in the hotel for about an hour, but then I decided to brave the winter weather and head out.  I wandered the streets, spoke to some interesting characters, and bought a couple of trinkets for the kids.  My wandering took me through the old garment district.  Many books I have read in the past took place in the early 1900's in the garment district, and the area looked just like I imagined it.  Lots of old little buildings squished together, specializing in something very specific, like beads, or silk flowers - I really enjoyed myself.  After a few hours out in the cold, I headed back to the hotel where hubby was still hard at work - but it was time to go.  Caught the shuttle back to the airport, and had another terrific Porter flight home. 

Thank you AM640 - we had a wonderful time! I have been to NY before, but always with a purpose - I really enjoyed just wandering the streets without any real agenda.  This trip motivated me to travel back to NY some time soon and perhaps stay a few days in another part of town, and wander those streets!  It was such an unexpected and appreciated little trip!  Proof that there are still "good" surprises out there awaiting us all!

Friday, January 21, 2011

It truly was flying, refined....

Hubby and I just got back from a brief but very fun trip to Manhattan.   Hubby won a trip for 2 to NYC for 1 night, with tickets to go and see the New York Rangers play the Toronto Maple Leafs - it was such a great surprise!  He registered online to be an AM 640 Insider, and I believe that means he gets his name put into all the contests they have - and low and behold, he got a call to say he had won this trip!  It was all very fast, we had to book 2 days off work (which hubby didn't really manage to do - he had to work a lot while we were away), get childcare lined up, and off we went!  A whirlwind 30 hour trip to NYC!
I will have a few posts about our trip, but first I wanted to talk about our flight - because it really is worth mentioning. 

We left very early in the morning to catch our flight on Porter  - which flies out of Toronto Island Airport.  I have never flown on Porter, nor have I ever flown out of that airport, so I was a bit apprehensive about all the logistics.   You see, we live in the west end, and getting to Pearson International airport is quite easy - we take a cab, or have my parents drive us, it takes 20 minutes.  But getting to the island airport during rush hour meant taking the transit system.  So we had to drive to the GO Train, take the GO Train, grab the free airport shuttle at union station, then get on a ferry to get to the island airport, so that we could catch our flight.  That's right, 5 modes of transportation...... I was a bit stressed about us making all of our connections and whatnot - there were 5 distinct opportunities for things to go wrong and delay us catching our flight....but it all went very smoothly!  We made every connection seamlessly without waiting, but there was a lot of running around.

Now, my friends make endless fun of me because I used to insist on travelling business class wherever I went.  I hate the way the passengers in economy are treated like cattle - in fact, I call economy class, "cattle class" - because that is how the big airlines treat you.  But since having children, and not having the elite status on the airline which allowed me to frequently upgrade, I have been relegated to "cattle class" - and since then, I hate flying.  Porter's motto is, "this is flying, refined." And they mean it - it was so civilized!  A real throwback to the day when taking a flight was an event, not the stress filled uncomfortable, evil necessity it is today. There was no business class, they treated everyone like they were in business class.

The little snack we got on our flight came in this cute little box.  Notice the real glass..... so civilized!

I can't say enough nice things about Porter - seriously, that is what air travel should be like.  They were so nice and helpful and the lines were short (since we got there early, they put us on an earlier flight - and we didn't even have to ask!).  While you wait for your plane, you have comfortable lounge with free hot and cold beverages and snacks (much like the frequent flyer elite lounges at other airports, minus the alcohol).  Once you are on the plane, they actually give you a small meal.  Not a bag of pretzels, but a nice little meal, with a drink (served in a real glass, you know, the breakable kind). On the way there we had organic fruit yogurt and a muffin, along with tea or coffee.  It was fabulous!   For us though, getting to the airport during rush hour was a bit too much effort, and our proximity to Pearson means we will likely fly out of there in the future (I'd better start learning how to moo).  But I would highly recommend Porter Airlines, especially if you live in the central core of Toronto, or in the east end. If I ever have a flight that doesn't coincide with rush hour, I will definitely fly Porter.
The only other downside is that they are prop planes, not jets - so the ride is rather loud.....but that's ok - you can enjoy your book or newspaper instead of talking to the person next to you!  Since I will likely be stuck flying on other airlines, I can only hope that Porter's excellent service raises the bar for the entire industry....... a girl can dream.....mooooooooooooo.

I look forward to telling you about the rest of our trip.

Monday, January 17, 2011

My Love/Hate Relationship with Garlic

I love using garlic in recipes, but I find garlic to be a pain in the rear.  I can't stand peeling it and mincing it, and the cleanup associated with it.  Especially when a recipe calls for only 1 clove of minced garlic, seriously?  Now if I needed more than that, I could get the energy up to peel it and lovingly mince it, but for just 1 clove - NO WAY!  This aversion of mine has lead to quite a bit of time being dedicated to figuring out ways to avoid this unpleasant task..... and the other side effects of dealing with garlic.  Thought I would share them with you, and if you have any ideas, please share them with me!

Frozen Minced Garlic
Several years ago, grocery stores came out with this neat product of frozen minced garlic (I don't like jarred minced garlic, so I was excited to see a frozen product).  They are rather expensive, but I bought them since they are sooooo convenient.  Whenever a recipe calls for a clove of minced garlic, I go into the freezer and pop out a little cube.  Easy Peasy.  My friend Edith (who was going through a particularly frugal time in her life) let me know that she had bought a few of them, and saved the containers.  Once she had a few saved up, she bought several heads of garlic, peeled them, and then minced them in a big batch in the food processor.  Then she took the minced garlic and spread them into the container, and put them back in the freezer!  I have done that a few times, I find the containers are good for the initial use, and then 2 refills before they start to break apart and need to be replaced.  One of our local grocery stores also sells packages of pre-peeled garlic in their produce section, so on a day when I know I will be refilling the trays, I go out and buy those to make it even easier!

Garlic Peeling Tube and Mini Slap-chop thingy.
One of the best inventions ever is the little rubber tube used to peel garlic.  You simply pop the unpeeled clove in, roll/rub the tube on a counter, and out pops a peeled clove.   Terrific!  I use it all the time - I even find it easier than smashing the garlic with your knife and slipping the peel off.  The other gadget is relatively new for me, and I haven't decided if I like it or not.  It's sort of like a mini slap-chop, and it nicely minces about 3 cloves of garlic (it's also a lot of fun to vent your frustrations by pounding on the little thing).  The reason I am not sure if I like it or not is that there is quite a bit of clean-up (taking the thing apart and cleaning the different components), so it's really not worth the cleanup for just 1 clove, but then it can't hold much more than 3.....
But I will share an organizing epiphany with you all..... I used to keep my garlic in the cupboard, my peeling tube in the drawer with my other little gadgets, and the mini-slap chop in another cupboard with my other chopping things (like the food processer) - SILLY!  I realized that these are single function items (I only use them for garlic), so I now keep them together in a little dish - the garlic, the peeler and the slap chop - so I don't have to go to 3 separate areas just to peel a clove of garlic.  Really, some things are just so obvious, I sometimes wonder how I manage to get myself dressed in the morning......

These handy rasps originated in the woodworking shop and over the last few years have migrated into the kitchen.  It is terrific for "mincing" garlic - well, I guess it makes more of a paste than a mince.  I do like to use these but I find that since a garlic clove is so small, I often end up grating my fingertips!  But, it's easy to clean and I especially like to use it when I need a clove of garlic for salad dressings, or any other dish where I may not want actual peices of garlic.

Garlic Press
To be honest, I had almost completely forgotten I own this thing.....and I wonder why I don't use it more.  It's pretty easy to clean, it makes a fine mince/paste, and I have heard that you don't even need to peel the clove.  It may be worth giving this old relic another shot.

Stainless Steel Soap
This has nothing to do with preparing the garlic, but once I have gotten over all the hassel of peeling and mincing, I really don't like the smell it leaves on my hands.  Rubbing your hands on stainless steel takes away the smell - it's incredible!  I usually just rub my hands on my faucet or sink as I am washing them, but when they are extra smelly I get out this stainless steel peice that's shaped like a bar of soap, so I can rub it all over my hands and get rid of the smell.  It was a neat little stocking stuffer my hubby got for me a few years ago, and it lives in the area underneath my sink, ready to handle those really stinky garlic jobs.  I am sure that hubby bought mine at my favourite overpriced kitchen shop, but my mom just told me that she got hers at the Dollar Store!

Bad Breath
Sorry folks, no tips here other than to make sure everyone around you eats garlic as well, so nobody notices that your breath smells like garlic!

So, anyone out there have any great tips for handling garlic? One thing I haven't found a quick solution for is the smell it leaves on my cutting board.  I find I have to clean it with a paste of lemon juice and salt - a bit of a pain..... any suggestions?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Adorable Chandelier for Kat's room!

Our house is over 40 years old, and the bedrooms all still had that plain builder's grade light fixtures in them.   I have been meaning to change them since we moved in 4 years ago, but it's just one of those things you find when you find them (you probably won't have much luck if you go out actually looking to buy one on the weekend).  I was at HomeSense picking up some last minute Christmas gifts and stumbled on what I think is an adorable chandelier for Kat's room. It was perfect, pink, crystals and butterflies.....what's not to love?

She had more than enough gifts for Christmas, so we decided to install it for her as a surprise for having done so well on improving her reading this year.  Although she says she likes it, I think I like it more....
The downside is that her little brother now wants a nice light for his room..... anyone have any great light fixture ideas for boys?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Happy 4th Birthday Little Man.

Today my little man turns 4.  On one hand, I can't believe how quickly 4 years have gone by, and on the other hand, I can't believe how long it has taken to get here.  So, while he is responsible for most of the grey hairs both hubby and I have, we love him, and all his quirks (and there are many!).
Steve Dow
He loves chocolate, trucks, ice cream and brownies.  He has an all-or-nothing passionate nature.  When he runs he makes road runner "meep-meep" sounds. I think he may grow up to be a hoarder (he can never throw anything out, and is always "collecting" things).  He has a strong sense of justice.  He loves to help me cook, but that love of cooking is oddly paired with an aversion to eating.  He just started eating broccoli, green beans and spinach - those along with cucumbers and carrots are the only vegetables he will eat.  He is so skinny, it makes us worry (4 years old and 25 pounds).  He's so skinny he has to hold his pants up when he runs, or they will fall down.  He always announces when he has to "poo"(and 95% of the time, it is just as we've sat down to eat dinner).  He loves everything Star Wars, even though he has never seen any of the movies.  He doesn't seem to understand that the hamster is NOT an action figure, and has no interest in going for a ride in his spaceship. He thinks farts are the funniest things in the world.  He has the best laugh.  He gets easily frustrated, and you'd better get out of his way, because he tends to throw things. He has the most incredible eye lashes (why are they always wasted on boys?). His eyes light up when his big sister agrees to play with him.  He thinks it's hilarious to pee on his sister when they are in the bathtub together. He has a slight lisp, which I may never correct, because it's just so darn cute.  He is a charmer.  He kicks us out of "his" house when he is angry with us. He is quick to say "I hate you", but even quicker to repent with many "I love you"s.  He likes to come shopping with me.  If the doorbell rings, he has to be the one to open the door, and God help you if you get there first.  He loves colouring and doing crafts. He loves to do "homework".  He doesn't like following instructions.  He is wicked-good at doing the I-Spy books.  He finds Lego frustrating.  He has incredible eyes that are hard to say no to. He rarely does as he is told.  He loves presents.  The sound his little feet make as he runs around the house is the best sound in the world. He has been looking forward to his birthday since the day after his last one.

Happy Birthday little man, I sure do like you.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Organizing: 10 minutes of work....a weekend of Bliss!

I subscribe to quite a few organizing blogs, and many of them encourage you to spend 10 minutes tackling a small thing that bugs you.  They claim that 10 minutes is all it takes, and although I was skeptical, I thought I would give it a try, and you know what? They were right!

This past Saturday, I decided to clean out the drawer that keeps all of my Tupperware (i mean food storage containers, why is it that I still insist on calling it Tupperware, even though I don't actually own any of that brand, and haven't in about 2 decades!).  I had bought a few new containers, and I was worried they wouldn't fit in my jumbled mess of a drawer.  When we designed our kitchen a few years ago, I deliberately made a very large drawer for all these "Tupperware" type items to try and keep them in control. 
This drawer, as large as it is, is always a mess - a jumble of containers and lids - and even though sometimes it is neater than at others, it never really looks that great.  It bugs me.

Jugs in their new home.
So, I emptied everything out - put the matching lid on the right container, threw out all the leftover bits and pieces (there wasn't as much to throw out as I thought), and had a good long think about how it is that I can't fit everything into this huge drawer...... then it dawned on me that my plastic juice jugs are the problem - they are too large to stand upright, so they are on their sides, rolling about and making the drawer messy - taking up a lot of space.  So I found an alternate home for those few items and low and behold, it worked! 

TA DA!!!
All of my containers fit into my drawer perfectly! All of the plastic ones even have their lids on - INCREDIBLE!  It looks so great that all weekend, every time I went into the kitchen, I opened that drawer and let out a very contented sigh.  Hubby was a little concerned that I was so "turned on by Tupperware"  - but hey, whatever floats your boat!  It literally took 10 minutes, and it made my day!  So my friends, I encourage you to take the challenge and just spent 10 minutes organizing a small part of your home that bothers you (a counter top, a drawer, whatever!) - it's incredibly satisfying!

Friday, January 7, 2011

This is so funny, I nearly peed my pants - I want an IPhone 4.

A few months ago Toby (Leigh's husband), showed me this video, and whenever I need a good laugh, I search for it and play it.  It never fails to crack me up.... so, if you need a good laugh, watch it - just stick with it beyond the first minute (warning, there is swearing, so if you are at work or around small've been warned).

Just in case the embedded clip doesn't work, here's the link.....

On the road to Laughter - a valuable reminder from Lesley.

One of my new year's resolutions is to laugh more.  And as I sat thinking about just how I would go about doing that, I remembered a valuable reminder I got from my friend Lesley last year. 

In November, hubby and I spent a weekend down in the US visiting one of my best friends. Lesley and her husband live in a terrific town where they are raising their beautiful 18 month old twins.  We went down to see our friends, and to get in some retail therapy (I don't like shopping, so I only go about twice a year and do some major damage).  We had a terrific weekend where we got to spend some time with Lesley and her family, and we spent some time out shopping on our own.  My friend is a dynamo.  She used to be an executive, but now stays home with her beautiful babes and does an incredible job managing them and the rest of her household.  It's incredible, she has everything down to a science, and her kids are happy - and they all really enjoy being a family.  It made me realize that I don't enjoy my kids as much as I should, that sometimes I tend to see parenting as a job and not as the blessing and privilege that it is.

Watching her with her babies made me realize that I don't actually play with my kids anymore.  With the exception of a few minutes in the kitchen prepping their meals and snacks, my friend was 100% present and active with her kids while they were awake.  She read to them, played with their toys with them, chased after them..... it was inspiring.   Please don't get me wrong, I too read to my kids, and play with them, and go on outings, but my philosophy on toys is that they are there to entertain the kids, not me.  But watching Lesley taught me that I have to take the time to get down on my kids' levels and play with them, with their toys - something I haven't been doing as much since they have gotten older.  So instead of setting out their crayons and paper, I will sit and colour with them.  Instead of setting up their play dough and letting them play, I will sit and create with them.  Okay, who am I kidding, maybe not all the time - but I will certainly do it more often!

Now, I have to admit that some of my friends warned me not to post this - because in their mind all parents play actively with their children from the time they get up to the time they go to bed........and that by posting this I am admitting to some huge parenting flaw.  Well, I don't think I'm alone on this, I think that moms like Lesley are the exception rather than the rule.  So, thank you my good friend, for the valuable reminder.  I think it will go a long way in helping me laugh more.

Now that I have put this out there, I am afraid the next thing I will "learn" is that when I schedule play dates for my kids, that I am actually supposed to play with them?  Nah, I am certain that the point of play dates is so the kids can entertain themselves for a few hours (while I provide the odd snack and referee any arguments), right?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Go-to Lunches: Hearty Nine Bean Soup

Lunch stresses me out.  Breakfast is easy, dinner is a planned event - but lunches..... they just get on my nerves.  So, to combat this flaw in my domestic skills, I have come up with some go-to lunches, that either live happily in my pantry, or that I can make once and eat several times during the week.  Today I am going to share one of my favourites, which I make once a week (especially during the winter), and enjoy for several lunches throughout the week, my Hearty 9 Bean Soup.

Ready to eat with a handful of spinach thrown in, and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.  YUM!

Hearty Nine Bean Soup
  • 2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 onion coarsely chopped
  • 0.5 cup of chopped celery
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of bean blend *
  • 4 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you want to make this purely vegetarian)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 28oz tin of diced tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Soak your 1 cup of bean blend for several hours (I just throw them in a bowl, cover with water and leave in the fridge overnight). 
Heat 2 tbsp of oil on med-high heat and add onion, celery and garlic, and cook for approx 5 minutes until celery and onion are translucent.  Add your beans, tomatoes, chicken broth and water, and turn heat up to high and bring to a boil.  Once at a boil reduce heat to low and simmer soup for 1.5 to 2 hours, until beans are cooked.  Add salt and pepper to taste (I do this at the end because adding salt to raw beans makes their skins tough). When ready to serve, ladle into a bowl and for an extra little treat, sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese.  YUM!  The best part about this recipe is that it keeps quite happily in the fridge for a week, and whenever I want some, I just heat up a bowl and lunch is done!  If you really want to pack in some extra nutrition, try adding a handful of spinach leaves when you are re-heating. 

**BEAN BLEND - I go out about once a year and buy a bag of each of the 9 beans, mix them all up in a very large storage jar/container, and I have them on hand, already mixed and ready to go whenever I want.  You could probably even buy a bag of bean mix that they sell in the store - use whatever beans you want!  Here are the 9 beans that I use in my mix:
- whole green peas
- red split lentils
-whole green lentils
-small red beans
-pinto beans
-black eyed beans
-light red kidney beans
-black beans (don't over-use these, they tend to make the soup too dark)
-small white beans (I think I used navy beans in this batch)

But like I said, use whatever beans you have/like.  It's a simple, satisfying and healthy recipe!

This is the bean blend after it has soaked overnight.  It triples in volume!

Ok, my food photography skills could use some work, but trust me, it's easy and delicious. Here is my most recent batch ready to go into the fridge, where it will be waiting for lunch anytime I want!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Not the kind of purging I had in mind....

My mother had graciously offered to take the kids early in the afternoon on New Year's Day, so that hubby and I could enjoy some peace and quiet while we put Christmas away, and found homes for all the new toys that came into the house over the holidays.  Nothing gets hubby more randy than the prospect of a good purge (he loves getting rid of stuff) - but New Year's day had another type of purge in mind.....My stomach was rather unsettled (and it wasn't from drinking the night before), and by evening it was official, I had a stomach bug that had me in bed (or hugging the toilet) for the rest of the night.  Not quite the type of purging I had in mind....
Luckily before I felt sick, we did manage to put all of the holiday decorations away, pack up some toys to donate, tidy my daughter's room and go through some boxes we wanted to get rid of  in the office.  Still pretty productive - but not everything I wanted to get done with the burst of New Year's resolve that I have to get rid of all the crap that clutters my house. 

Now, I figured the bright side here was that with the stomach flu I could get a start on my passive aggressive weight loss strategy (see my new year's resolutions).  Hey, if I am not eating for over 24 hours, I am bound to lose some weight, right?  WRONG!!!   Seriously??!!!  Are you kidding me???? I gained 5 pounds. 

Excuse me while I go inhale a cheesecake, looks like my body needs some reverse psychology.