my 3 fave ways to use chia seeds

chia seeds

In the past year, thanks to some of my favorite bloggers {I’m looking at you, Julie and Lindsay!} I’ve been introduced to a nutritional powerhouse: chia seeds! In just one tablespoon of chia seeds, you get six grams of fiber, three grams of protein, and 2.9 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Here are three of my favorite, no-fuss ways to use chia seeds in my daily life:

1. Smoothies. Just sprinkle some chia seeds on top of your fruit and ice and blend away! A smoothie combo I’ve been loving lately is strawberry + banana + mango.

smoothie

2. Salads. I love adding a tablespoon of chia seeds on top of my favorite healthy chicken salad.

chicken salad lunch

3. Baked goods. Stir a spoonful of chia seeds into your muffin or bread batter — or hey, why not even try some in brownies, cookies or cakes? I just made a batch of chocolate-chip banana muffins with some chia seeds added in!

banana muffins

When the weather cools down a little, I know I’ll be switching out my breakfast smoothies for a warm bowl of oatmeal — another great dish to sprinkle chia seeds on! I’ve yet to try overnight oats but I’ve heard chia seeds are a crucial ingredient in helping the oat mixture thicken overnight. This and this are both on my “to try” list of recipes!

Have you ever tried chia seeds? If so, what are your favorite ways to use them?

creamy blended cauliflower & potato soup

Look what I got!

stick blender

Yaaaaay, a stick blender! I’ve been wanting one of these ever since I started cooking more at home and using my regular stand blender to make dishes like homemade hummus. I love my stand blender, but cleaning it out can be a pain — the stick blender appealed to me when making smaller blended dishes like personalized morning smoothies, or …

… creamy blended soups like this one!

cauliflower potato soup

As soon as I came across this recipe on Two Peas & Their Pod, I knew I had to try it out with my new immersion blender! It turned out great, and was much easier than I expected. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you could use a regular stand blender to blend this soup in batches. I tweaked it slightly, omitting the cheese and adding potato and kale. Here’s my recipe:

creamy cauliflower & potato soup

– 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
– 1 russet potato, diced
– 3 tsp minced garlic
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 medium onion, diced
– 2 celery stalks, diced
– 1 cup chopped kale
– 4 cups vegetable broth
– 2 teaspoons thyme
– 1 tablespoon rosemary

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Toss cauliflower and potatoes with olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, until cauliflower is golden brown.

roasted cauliflower

3. While cauliflower and potato mixture is roasting, saute onion, garlic and celery in olive oil over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Add vegetable broth, kale, thyme and rosemary and bring to a boil.

4. Add roasted cauliflower and potato. Simmer 20-25 minutes, until vegetables are tender.

soup

5. Using an immersion blender {or in batches in a blender/food processor}, blend the soup until it is smooth.

blending soup

6. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste, and serve warm. {Ours tasted perfect paired with these low-fat garlic cheese biscuits!}

cauliflower soup

This soup was delicious, perfect for a snowy winter night. And I love how healthy it is! Such a creamy soup, without any cream!

Anyone else loving immersion blenders and blended soups?

—-

if you liked this recipe, you might also enjoy:
chicken & veggie stew in the crock-pot
savory pumpkin & kale stew
my favorite mashed potatoes
easy sausage, veggie & potato bake

goals for the week of 1/13

Here’s how I did with my goals from last week:

  • finish planning out entire semester of lessons for both courses I’m teaching {felt SO good to get this done!}
  • submit fellowship application at least one week before the deadline
  • debut first Act of Kindness on blog {tomorrow!} and complete it myself this week
  • write out responses and pack for Key West
  • finish Christmas thank-you notes
  • begin new knitting project
  • finish the new one-act play I’ve been working on
  • finish reading Who’s Irish? by Gish Jen {a wonderful short story collection I began reading last semester and then never finished}

Here are my goals for the week:

  • finish the new one-act play I’ve been working on
  • write 10 pages of my YA novel
  • blog about Week 2 Act of Kindness Challenge & complete it myself this week
  • read Best American Short Stories 2012 that Mike got me for Christmas
  • grade first assignment for both classes {Professional Email assignment}
  • knit 25 rows of the scarf I’m working on
  • go through stack of old magazines and purge!
magazines

yikes! it’s an avalanche waiting to happen!

What are your goals for this week?

chocolate-chip banana muffins

One of the first baking recipes I ever learned to make was my mom’s banana bread. To me, banana bread just tastes like home. And it’s a great recipe for someone like me who hates to waste food. I prefer to eat bananas when they are just ripening, still a little green at the tips. When they begin to get brown spots, I really don’t care for them. But thanks to Mom, I don’t have to worry about them going to waste — I just whip up a batch of banana bread…

…or banana muffins! In the past few years I’ve gotten really into making muffins instead of bread because I just find muffins so much more portable — easy to slip into a lunchbox or grab for breakfast on the way out the door. {That said, you could easily adapt this recipe for a loaf of bread if you’d prefer!}

I added chocolate chips to Mom’s recipe for a little extra treat to start the school year off right. 🙂 Hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

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chocolate-chip banana muffins

  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 & 3/4 cup flour {I used whole-wheat flour}
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup ripe mashed bananas {I used two bananas}
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with paper cups and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well.

3. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients.

4. Add a portion of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing well. Then add a portion of the mashed bananas. Continue alternating dry ingredients and mashed bananas until the entire mixture is combined. {Batter will be slightly lumpy due to the bananas.}

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5. Add chocolate chips.

6. Spoon batter into paper muffin cups, about 3/4 of the way full.

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7. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Enjoy! These are great for breakfast, a mid-afternoon snack, and also make a great healthy dessert!

Hope your week is going great,
-Dallas

saturday upsides: a cozy night in

saturdayupsidesbutton

Monday is the beginning of a new semester at Purdue, and I’m gearing up to teach my two courses: First-Year Composition and Business Writing. Being back in Indiana means returning to below-freezing temps and snow on the ground, in addition to transitioning from festive vacation mode back to the everyday stresses and obligations of my normal life. Yesterday was filled with meetings and course prep, and {as often happens when I travel} I feel my body fighting off a little bug that I probably picked up on the airplane coming back from California. I’ve been downing green tea, Airborne, and plenty of water, which is seeming to help! Fingers crossed I fight it off and am feeling rested and energized come Monday.

My Saturday Upside is that I am reminded again and again that so much of happiness is based on not what happens to you, but what you make of it. {Or, as Coach Wooden so eloquently phrased it: “Things turn out for the best for those who make the best of the way things turn out.”}

Instead of feeling stressed or nervous for the start of the new semester, I’m choosing to feel excited and hopeful that it will be a great one!

Instead of dreading a long day of meetings, I chose to focus my mental energy on how great it would be to see my friends and colleagues again after a few weeks away. And it was!

Instead of feeling bummed about fighting off a cold, it’s been a great reminder at the start of this new year to slow down and spend time taking care of my body.

I had the perfect cozy night in last night: an easy homemade chicken-and-quinoa recipe I’m eager to share with you soon, M&M brownies for dessert, and snuggling up on the couch with a Redbox rental. I’m looking forward to a laid-back, restful weekend!

What are your plans for the weekend? I’d love to hear your Saturday Upsides!

🙂 Dallas

goals for 2013

Happy New Year! Wow, I can’t believe it’s 2013 already. I vividly remember driving around town with my parents and brother on New Year’s Eve 1999, when it seemed like all the radio stations were constantly playing Prince’s “I’m Gonna Party Like It’s 1999” and everyone was worried about Y2K… Crazy that was 13 years ago!!

Before I get into my goals for the year, here’s how I did on my goals for the week:

  • revise and update calendar and syllabus for the upcoming semester
  • read & respond to all the workshop stories for the Key West conference {almost done with this!}
  • finish getting email inbox and computer desktop cleaned out and organized
  • write goals for the upcoming year
  • work on short play to submit to festival
  • finish reading The Zero by Jess Walter
  • prepare for my new “Act of Kindness” blog initiative for the upcoming year!

Pretty good way to end the year and gear up for the new year!

Here are my goals for 2013. I organize them into multiple subtopics because it helps me feel like I have more of a handle on the different facets of my life.

Writing Goals
1. Write! 400 words. Every day. No excuses.
2. Revise thesis manuscript and send to agent.
3. Complete YA manuscript.
4. Resubmit story collection to prizes & small presses.
5. Write a new one-act play.
6. Write a full-length play.
7. Finish Verna novella & put out as an ebook.
8. Write three blog posts a week.
9. Read three short stories a week.
10. Read 40 books by end of year.

Write On! For Literacy Goals
1. Send out a newsletter every other month.
2. Teach a summer writing camp.
3. Teach a winter writing camp.
4. Teach a college essay writing camp.
5. Speak to 10 classes/orgs/radio shows.
6. Make Pimple an ebook.
7. Hold a Holiday Book Drive.
8. Compile writing camp ebook/online program.

Professional Goals
1. Apply to fellowships & Ph.D. programs.
2. Submit to a literary magazine every other week.
3. Submit a query for a freelance article every month.
4. Apply to at least 3 conferences/workshops.
5. Submit to Literary Awards.
6. Update & expand teaching website.
7. Put 10% of every paycheck into savings.
8. Put $1,000 into Roth IRA at end of year.

Healthy Life Goals
1. Exercise at least 3 days a week.
2. Do core work 6 days a week.
3. Stretch every day.
4. Continue with meal planning & healthy cooking schedule.
5. Clean apartment every weekend.
6. Chronicle weekly acts of kindness on blog.
7. Send a card/letter to Gramps every other week.
8. Call Grandma & Grandpap every other weekend.
9. Count my blessings every night.

What are your goals for 2013?

homemade chocolate-covered popcorn

I read in a magazine recently that popcorn contains more antioxidants than some fruits and vegetables! Adding to that, one cup of popcorn {the healthy, air-popped variety, that is} has less than 50 calories! Hello, my new favorite snack. I also love popcorn because it is so versatile – you can add seasonings to make it salty, cheesy, spicy, or sweet.

Or … kick it up a step further and add some chocolate to the mix! {I know, I know, this definitely crashes-and-burns the whole “under 50 calories” thing … but the way I see it, chocolate-covered popcorn is pretty healthy on the dessert scale!} I made mine with dark chocolate to take advantage of even more antioxidant power.

chocolate popcorn

Before making this dish, I had never even attempted to melt chocolate before. I do not have a double-broiler so I just used my microwave. I was worried it would be difficult or time-consuming, but it was incredibly easy. I am already looking forward to livening up my next movie night in with Mike by whipping up another batch of this addicting treat!

homemade chocolate-covered popcorn

– 1 package popcorn of choice {I like to use a healthy, whole-grain version with no added butter or salt}
– 1/2 cup chocolate chips
– 2 tsp butter
– salt, cinnamon, or other spices to taste

1. Pop popcorn according to package directions. Dump into a big bowl and pick out any unpopped kernels. Sprinkle with salt and cinnamon.

2. Melt chocolate and butter over a double-burner or in a microwave-safe bowl. {Melting times vary based on the power of your microwave, but I’d recommend using a series of shorter time increments and stirring more often so as not to burn the chocolate by cooking too long!}

3. Pour melted chocolate onto the popcorn.

popcorn

4. Using a spoon {or your hands!} mix popcorn and chocolate together, breaking apart any large clumps of chocolate, until the popcorn is evenly coated.

chocolate covered popcorn

5. Allow to cool, then store in an airtight container.

I gifted a batch of this popcorn to a coworker using a homemade “upcycled” gift container. I’ll share more about making homemade gift containers in my post tomorrow, so stay tuned! 🙂

upcycled gift containers

Have a wonderful day!

Till soon,
Dallas

marvelous monday: apple-banana oatmeal muffins

You know how much I love muffins, especially healthy, hearty and delicious muffins that will get your day off to a marvelous start! Here’s another recipe that I found and tweaked slightly to make it more nutritious. I will be enjoying for breakfast all week and I hope you like it, too!

apple-banana oatmeal muffins
{recipe adapted from this one at Rock Recipes}

– 1 & 1/2 cups oatmeal
– 1 cup  whole wheat flour
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 2 tsp cinnamon
– 1 tsp nutmeg
– 2 eggs
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 2/3 cup milk {I used soy milk, but any kind will do!}
– 1/4 cup applesauce {I used no-sugar-added}
– 1/4 cup brown sugar
– 1 ripe banana, mashed

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper wrappers.

2. Peel the banana and mash it until the biggest lumps are out.

3. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, applesauce, milk and vanilla. Set aside.

4. In a different bowl, mix together oatmeal, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

5. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mixing well.

6. Add in the banana. If batter is too thick, add more applesauce.

7. Spoon batter into muffin tins until they are about 3/4 of the way full.

8. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until a fork inserted in the center comes out clean.

These muffins are SO good served warm! Inspired by Julie at the blog Peanut Butter Fingers, I topped mine with some dark chocolate peanut butter for a healthy breakfast that tasted decadent. It’s the perfect way to get an ordinary day off to a special start!

You can download a printable version of this recipe here: apple banana oatmeal muffins.

Have a marvelous day! 🙂
-Dallas

ecomom’s “green” friday sale

Just a quick post to let you know about a really great sale one of my favorite “green” living sites is having this week …

Ecomom.com is a site designed for moms who want to buy healthy, organic, nontoxic products for their home and family. They have everything from organic baby food to non-BPA reuseable water bottles to natural products for your home. I especially like their organic hair products and natural home cleaning supplies. You don’t have to be a mom to find great products on their site that can make your daily routine healthier for your body, and for our planet!

Until November 25, they’re offering:

  • $20 off orders of $50-$99
  • $40 off orders of $100-$199
  • $80 off orders of $200+

This might also be a great way to stock up on some early Christmas gifts!

Here’s the website again: www.ecomom.com. Happy shopping!