Happy Wednesday  everyone! Hope summer has been treating you well. It’s been hot and dry, and our poor lawn would love a good shower. On the upside: no bug bites for five whole days!

I’m combining my usual Flavor of the Week I normally post on Mondays with Wednesday’s WIAW sponsored by the wonderful Jenn at Peas and Crayons, so the Flavor of the Week is…PINEAPPLE!

There’s lots of ways to enjoy this bromelian beauty, and not just in fruit salads or pina coladas. Today I’ll be sharing a delicious and refreshing drink that not only helps beat the summer heat, but aids in digestion and supplies your body with lots of nutrients including calcium, protein, and Vitamin C.

Today I had a rather healthy appetite, so after my morning exercise I started the day with a pretty good breakfast:

Coffee, fried egg, toast, and fruit salad with a little chopped tomato sprinkled with a tiny pinch of salt (try it, it’s good!)

Here’s a close-up of the fruit salad, see the tomatoes? And tiny grains of salt on the grapes? Tasty!

Just a few pieces of fruit chopped up makes a great fruit salad. Add some chopped tomato and a teeny pinch of salt and you made it even better!

I was hungry sooner than I thought (2 1/2 hours later.) Lunch was leftover fish with orange-shoyu sauce with green beans and rice:

Fish with orange-shoyu sauce, green beans, rice & apple slices with Celestial Seasonings Blueberry Breeze tea.

Later on I was STILL hungry so snacked on some blue corn chips and a nice, big medjool date (no photo.)

Work has been a bit hectic the past few days, and I didn’t feel like cooking but wanted some good comfort food. My husband and I checked out The Hitchin’ Post Restaurant, just a few miles from where we are. Everything on the menu sounded great, but I decided on their Hitchin’ Post favorite, Seafood Dijon (sp?). It was served hot n’ fresh from the oven with the smell of buttery, garlicky goodness wafting up from the dish:

Seafood in a butter-garlic-wine sauce topped with a Parmesan crust and baked ’till bubbly!

If you can imagine two plump scallops the size of marshmallows, two pieces of succulent shrimp, tender flaky pieces of halibut and chunks of sweet crab meat simmered in a butter-garlic-wine sauce…that is what melted my socks off at dinner! :) It was such a treat, and I savored every bite. But after such a heavy meal, I needed something to help ease my stomach and satisfy my sweet tooth. We didn’t order dessert, but I came home and made something that would be the perfect finish: pineapple lassi.

Pineapple is one of my favorite fruits, and my Uncle Kenneth (the one who grows coffee) grows white pineapple that is so incredibly sweet, you’d think it was infused with sugar. But no matter what variety you have on hand, all pineapples contain an enzyme, bromelian, that helps with digestion by breaking down proteins in your gut. Pairing that with the beneficial bacteria found in dairy yogurt and you’ve got a delicious digestive aid.

Quick, easy and refreshing Pineapple Lassi.

Pineapple Lassi

Ingredients:

6 oz plain nonfat yogurt with active cultures
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh pineapple, core removed
1/4 cup fresh chopped orange, about 3-4 segments (optional)
1 teaspoon orange-agave syrup or regular agave syrup or honey
1/4 cup water (optional)

Directions:

Put everything except water in a blender and blend on medium to medium-high until smooth. Add water to thin, if needed. Add more syrup to taste. Garnish with fruit and mint (that one in the middle is pineapple mint!) Makes about 18 ounces.

Tasty and refreshing, this pineapple lassi is chock-full of vitamins and minerals.

What’s your favorite drink to beat the summer heat?

I have an interesting story today, and maybe some of you can relate. The other morning I woke up to what I thought was a starling flying into our bedroom, hitting the window, then flying out. A couple seconds later the same thing happens: little creature flies in, hit the window, flies back out. Our cats weren’t around, probably waiting in the kitchen to be fed, otherwise they’d be waiting for that right moment to snatch it out of the air.

I walked out of the bedroom and saw a little creature on the floor at the end of the hall: a BAT! I looked up at the gaping hole in our ceiling so knew it had to come from somewhere. I had to keep this creature from flying away, so I took my shirt and threw it over the little bat. Though it didn’t fly away, it was able to crawl away, so I went looking for a container of some kind and found a plastic bin, emptied it, turned it over on the bat and trapped it that way. Then I went to put on another shirt.

Bats are so tiny, and this one (I read it was a “little brown bat”) is common across the US. Its wingspan would be the length of my forearm and it weighs only as much as a couple of chocolate chip cookies! Despite its small stature as well as its unusual cuteness, these brown bats have a LOT of tiny sharp teeth, perfect for catching and holding onto insects on the fly (pun intended.)

 

NOTE: Below are pictures of bats and I shrunk them down a bit, just in case you don’t like them. But if you do, you can click on them to see a bigger photo:

 

This bat would easily fit in the palm of your hand.

Such shiny, silky hair…what a contrast against it’s wrinkly hairless wings.

This being my first bat encounter, I called my sister up and asked her what I should do with it. She came over (her girls wanted to see it) and we took it to the upper slope of our property where the blueberries are struggling to grow. Wolfie, now having been fed breakfast, followed us in the hopes of chasing whatever it was that made all that scratching noises. My sister suggested to put it somewhere that it would be safe. With Wolfie being securely held back, I put it on a log with some big nooks and crannies for it to crawl into and sleep the day away. The only predators around here would be woodchucks and cats, so the bat had no worries about being attacked again.

And that’s the end of my bat story!

So, now that my story is done, I need to think of a way to segue into my Flavor of the Week recipe, but there’s nothing that comes to mind which can connect bats to oranges. Unless I was talking about a fruit bat, then maybe I would have an opening there.

Anyway, here is a super easy recipe that is extremely versatile, and you have the option of using orange or ginger, as well as agave or honey. I used it in my orange-shoyu sauce to make a nice glaze for chicken, use it as a topping for cake, in your tea, on peanut butter, or even on ribs like my friend Jan did with some ginger agave syrup (olive oil, lemon, syrup…yum!) Any way you have it, you will enjoy it.

The zest will taste like candied orange peel.

Orange Agave Syrup / Ginger Agave Syrup (inspired by veggienook.com)

4 oz light agave syrup or honey (for ginger syrup use dark amber agave)
zest from 1 orange (or 1/2″ piece fresh ginger, sliced thinly)

In a small saucepan combine agave or honey and zest or ginger. Bring to low simmer over medium-low heat, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Store in airtight glass jar.

Orange agave syrup. Compare this to the orange honey syrup below. See the difference?

Orange honey syrup is more cloudy than the orange agave syrup with tiny air bubbles stuck at the surface. The smell reminds me of flavored wheat beers.

Ginger agave syrup: great as a topping for carrot cake or your favorite barbecue ribs.

Has any of you had any “wild animal” encounters in your home? How did you handle it? (only happy endings, please!)

 

Happy WIAW, everyone! Jenn at Peas and Crayons has brought us another opportunity to share some tasty bites and great recipes with everyone, so please check out her site to see what everyone’s been snacking on lately…it just might be something you’re craving!

The week went by so fast, and I somehow feel a bit more disorganized than usual. I didn’t have a game plan for today’s WIAW, particularly for this month’s theme, so instead of a new recipe I will reintroduce some of my favorite healthy snacks  inspired by other bloggers and favorite recipes.

I woke up with a crazy sweet tooth and actually considered making a batch of chocolate chip cookies for breakfast! But instead of cookies, I ended up having a piece of toast with Nutella, a blob of vanilla coconut cream, strawberries and crunchy peanut butter:

This filled me up quite a bit, but I think I would have been better off with a green shake.

Lunch was leftovers from yesterday’s dinner. It’s just a throw-together veggie soup, nothing extravagant, but it was perfect for today’s cloudy, rainy weather:

Instead of rice, I added some broken pieces of sprouted grain spaghetti.

My snack was a bit of cheesecake (it was messy so I didn’t take a photo,) coffee, and Golden Oreos. My sweet tooth was satisfied, but this snack was a big mistake because shortly after I started to feel incredibly sleepy. This always happens when I eat dairy and wheat products, which is why I can fall asleep right after eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast! My cravings overrode my common sense–never a good thing! :(

As tasty as they are, tiny snacks like these can really knock me out (zzzz….)

I had some chicken in the fridge that needed some attention so made Moroccan Chicken Tagine, a deliciously spicy and savory North African stew posted by REM Cooks. I love spices and have 20 bottles of different spices next to the stove, including two versions of Ras el Hanout that he provided the recipes for…thanks, Richard! I made my version with a mix of black eyed peas, black beans and pinto beans instead of chickpeas:

Tagine is the traditional stoneware used, but a Dutch oven works great, too!

Delicious and savory, sweet and spicy, you gotta try this recipe!

Here are some of my favorite healthy snack recipes. They’re easy to make, stores nicely in the fridge or freezer, and can be enjoyed by those on gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free diets! They taste great, and even if you’re not on a special diet, you will enjoy them just as much as a regular snack, maybe even more. :)

Fudgy Cocoa Bites made with dates, raisins, nuts, and cocoa:

Deliciously fudgy cocoa bites

Lemon Coconut Hemp Seed Bites from Gabby at  The Veggie Nook:

Lemon Coconut Hemp Seed Bites

And lastly, this Carrot Apple Ginger Cake, which is great for breakfast or with afternoon coffee or tea. It’s packed with real apples and carrots, fresh ginger, and has a lot less sugar and oil than regular cakes…and, it’s wheat-free!

Carrot apple ginger cake topped with goat cheese & a drizzle of ginger-infused agave syrup…yum!

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you have a happy and healthy Wednesday!

Happy Wednesday, everyone! This being my first What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW) post sponsored by Peas and Crayons, I wanted to kick it off to a good start, especially because I’ve been going off my healthy eating path and WIAW is a good incentive to get back on track. I’ve been eating  less healthy greens and eating more snacky stuff this past week and I noticed a HUGE dip in my energy level in the afternoons. Normally I’d see my husband yawning in the afternoon, but this time it was ME who felt tired, lazy and just wanted to drink coffee to help get me through. Although I still made healthy dinners and lunches, I ate less of the good and more of the bad.

I notice how much better I feel when I eat primarily veggies, even better with raw veggies (the Blood Type Diet says a diet focusing on vegetables are beneficial for A-types like me.) I try to do at least 80 percent veggies/legumes/fruits when I prepare my meals, which isn’t that difficult, but I’d like to increase the raw veggie consumption, as well.

To start off, I had a Chocolate Avocado Smoothie  for breakfast. The fruits and veggies are raw, the “seasonings” are not, but it’s a heck of a lot better than a toaster pastry!

Don't let the chocolatey goodness fool you, this shake contains vegetables!

For lunch I ate a ground-up nut mixture that contained carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and seasoning. I’m avoiding wheat products this week, so I wrapped it in lettuce leaves and had it with Gouda cheese:

My afternoon snack were these incredibly indulgent and almost raw Fudgy Espresso Bites (see delicious recipe below):

Instant espresso enhances the dark chocolate flavor of these fudgy cocoa bites.

For dinner I made veggie chicken soup, which is great when you’re trying to clear the fridge to make room for more fresh veggies! I seasoned this batch with Spike:

Veggies, pearl barley and chunks of chicken make this a hearty and flavorful soup.

Dessert was an almost raw Key Lime Avocado Pie:

Tart, light and refreshing!

And now here’s the Fudgy Cocoa Bites recipe, inspired by The Rawtarian’s incredibly delicious Raw Chocolate Cake recipe:

Fudgy Cocoa Bites

Ingredients:

1 cup almonds, soaked 2 hours or overnight in fridge
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked 2 hours or overnight in fridge
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, soaked 2 hours or overnight in fridge
1/2 cup dates, chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (not sure if this qualifies as raw since the alcohol is distilled?)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup agave sweetener (for Ginger Cocoa Bites, please see instructions below and make syrup first.)

Instructions:

After soaking all the seeds and nuts, drain thoroughly. Add to food processor and process until finely ground. Add dates,  cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt. Process until mixed thoroughly and date pieces are chopped fine. Slowly drizzle in agave (or open the top and pour agave in, this way there’s less syrup stuck to the bottom) and process until mixture forms a ball.

Form dough into teaspoon-sized truffle bites, press into mini muffin tins or candy molds. Dust with extra cocoa powder if desired. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up then remove carefully. (I’m not sure what the longest is you should store them for, but I’ve had mine in the fridge for a couple weeks and have been nibbling on them daily.)

Ginger Cocoa Bites: (I got the ginger syrup recipe from The Veggie Nook’s Lime Cornmeal Pancake recipe, but instead of maple syrup I used agave…and added a LOT of ginger! This is so delicious I keep a stash of this handy. Thank you, Gabby!) Ginger syrup –  In a small pan on the stovetop, heat the 1/4 cup agave with 1 tablespoon thinly sliced and chopped ginger. Simmer on LOW HEAT for 3 minutes to reduce the spiciness of the fresh ginger. Turn off heat and cool the syrup while you combine the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle agave syrup and ginger pieces into mixture, process until mixture forms a ball and form into truffles or press into molds.

Espresso Cocoa Bites (my favorite!): add in 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso granules or 1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules and 1/4 teaspoon stevia with cocoa powder. Form into desired shapes, sprinkle with just a pinch of espresso or finely ground coffee granules.

Peanut Butter Cocoa Bites: add 2 tablespoons smooth or creamy “no-sugar” peanut butter before adding agave.

Gluten free, dairy free bite-sized pieces of rich chocolate flavor with an incredible fudgy texture.

Enjoy your Wednesday, and eat well!

Perfect for parties, just layer it, serve it, enjoy it!

Hi, everyone! I’ve been invited to a Linky Party by justafrugalfoodie and I’m bringing the best thing I ate this week, this delightfully delicious avocado key lime parfait! It’s light and creamy, refreshing, and filled with wholesome, nutritous ingredients. One taste of this lip-puckering parfait and you’ll be pleasantly pleased!

Having not grown up with the four seasons, spring is a new experience for me. I always thought winter would be a snow-covered scene until the first day of spring, when the snow would melt on cue, birds would start singing and blossoms would start popping up. I guess it  doesn’t happen exactly like that, but there’s that unmistakable transition to earlier mornings that make me feel better about waking up with the sun.

I saw a cooking show that featured a delicious key lime pie, something that made me yearn for a fresh tasting “hello, spring!” kind of dessert, yet still be comfy and homey-feeling. I love the immediate pick-me-up that the scent of lime and lemons can give you, there’s no other fruit that leaves you feeling more optimistic. Key lime pies are so delicious and refreshing, but can also be overly sweet, cloying, and leave you feeling like, “Blech, I just ate some key lime pie,” instead of “Yay, I just ate some key lime pie!”

I needed a healthier version, and a search for ‘raw key lime pie’ on the internet led me to The Bees Knees Kitchen where her incredibly delicious recipe uses the nutrient-dense avocado as the base. Avocados are a wonderful source of fiber, vitamin E,  potassium, and folate, and also helps your body assimilate fat-soluble nutrients like lutein and alpha- and beta-carotene*. Such a simple recipe with healthy ingredients, no baking, and the fresh, lively citrus certainly satisfies your sour tooth, while the smooth, velvety texture just says ‘comfort food’.

I made a few modifications to the ingredients and served it up parfait-style. I took one parfait to my husband (two spoonfuls lighter, I had to be sure it was up to snuff!) and he enjoyed the tart flavor from the avocado filling as well as the addition of the yogurt-lime topping. What a great dessert to bring into spring!

*source, http://www.avocado.org/avocado-nutrients/

Avocado Key Lime Parfait
This would also make a great breakfast, where the crust can be sprinkled on like granola.

Filling:

2 avocados
1/3 cup key lime juice or lime juice
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon stevia
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
zest of 1 lime

Blend all the ingredients  in a blender until smooth, adding more honey or stevia to taste. Set aside.

Crust:

2/3 cup pecans, walnuts or almonds
2 teaspoons coconut flour or flaked unsweetened coconut
1/3 cup agave syrup
stevia
1 teaspoon lemon zest
pinch of salt

Directions:

For crust texture – Put pecans, coconut flour or flaked unsweetened coconut, stevia, lime zest and salt into a food processor, pulse into crumbs. Process and slowly drizzle in 1/3 cup agave syrup in the chute. To test if done, pinch a small amount between your fingers, crumb mixture should hold. For crumbly topping, don’t pulse as long, but keep larger chunks of nuts for that “granola look.”

Yogurt topping:

1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1/4 teaspoon stevia
2 tablespoons lime juice

With a spoon, mix all ingredients until well combined, adding more agave to taste.

To assemble:

In a glass cup, layer 1 teaspoon crumb mixture, 1 tablespoon of key lime filling, and 1 teaspoon of yogurt, repeat. Garnish with mint sprigs, lime slice, and coconut flakes. Makes 4 servings.

For Key Lime Avocado Pie: Use 1 cup sunflower seeds and 1/2 cup almonds, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained. In a food processor add nuts, 1 teaspoon stevia, 1 tablespoon agave and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Process until it forms a dough. Press into springform pan lined with wax paper. Press dough 1″ up the sides. Add avocado filling and top with yogurt. Freeze for at least 30 minutes or until firm enough to slice.

 

 

My cat Wolfie loves yogurt, but this snack is for me!