Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Two Views In a Not-So-Yellow Wood

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken"

Monday, March 29, 2010

Holy Productivity, Batbloggers!

It's only 10:00 on a Monday morning and I've already accomplished so much! Check out my done list:
  • uploaded, edited, and posted my latest photos as well as a hooping video
  • published a new HubPages article, A Review of Dreamfall: The Longest Journey game
  • researched, wrote, and submitted a new query letter (woohoo! these have been getting me down because of a) their inherent delayed gratification, and b) how challenging they are to write well. take that, queries!)
  • jotted notes/researched for upcoming writings
  • futzed around drinking tea (a requirement for any Monday morning)
  • fed the dogs and let them out
  • fed myself (see right: egg white with yogurt, salsa, spinach, nutritional yeast, and turkey bacon on a toasted wheat sandwich thin -- yum -- with hummus-stuffed mushrooms and a few stalks of celery on the side)
Maybe it doesn't sound like a lot, but I feel very accomplished. And now I'm blogging! I'm a productivity superhero! Well, maybe not, but I feel great about what I've done so far today. Now if I could only decide -- yoga with Dave Farmar or a cardio/strength circuit DVD? Hmm...while I decide why don't you peruse my latest published HubPages pieces as well as photos from one of last week's wanders with Jackson:

Recently written:
Recently seen in my viewfinder:

Speaking of photography, I'm shutting down my attempt at Project 365. What with all the other creative goals I'm trying to pursue, this is just a bit much. I'll still be taking photos, of course, just not posting a photo a day.

Happy Monday!

How Not to Eat Pomegranates

Friday, March 26, 2010

Feeling Friday-ish

I cannot believe that it's already Friday! Do you have any weekend plans? I don't, outside of writing and perhaps some more mountain wanderings with the Best Husband Ever and our canine clan. Also in the works are the weekly Costco run, a trip to visit the Best Inlaws Ever, and church.

How was your week? Mine was up and down at best. I had some wonderful shining moments of peace, of good writing, and of enjoying my body, my husband, and life in general. I even did a sweet 90 minute Baptiste power yoga podcast class from Dave Farmar, which is the first time I've done yoga in a long, long while.

There's been a bunch of hard stuff, too. Three out of the five past days I experienced some pretty rotten feedback from my gut, with Tuesday being the worst. However, I'm glad that I was able to be gentle with myself during these times. Instead of forcing my body through a grueling high-impact workout, I enjoyed some chilled out walks with the pups and, as I already mentioned, some yoga. I even did my first extended rebounding session, which was an interesting experience. My sleep has been weird, swinging between a couple of hours a night to full-out snooze sessions peppered with really vivid and not-so-nice dreams.

But now it's Friday. A time for refreshing, for letting the intensity drop a bit, for renewal. I hope my body will behave.

In honor of the Twitter Follow Friday tradition, I also wanted to share some sites and blogs that I read with regular enjoyment. What's on your blog reading list? Do tell, so I can check scope them out!
  • Eat the Damn Cake - Fellow bloggers Kate and Maggie just started this new blog/dialogue site to promote honest discussions among women about themselves, their food, and their bodies. Amazing.
  • The Guild - I just finished watching this free web-series about online gamers. It is hilarious! Just watch one episode (each is 6-ish minutes long) and you will be hooked, too.
  • The Belly Project - Another body image blog, this one cataloging the variety and beauty in bellies of all shapes, sizes, and ages through photography and personal stories.
  • Petit Plat - This is a new find, but this blogger makes mini food art, including jewelry, that any foodie will geek out over.
  • Donald Miller's Blog - I really like Miller's published books about nonreligious Christianity, the most well-known probably being Blue Like Jazz. This is his blog (obviously).
  • Yoga Diary: Sadie Nardini - Nardini created core vinyasa yoga, an intense flowing practice focused on strengthening the core through all movements. I really like her style, her sass, and, of course, her yoga. This is her Yoga Journal blog.
  • Whedonesque - This is the community blog of Joss Whedon, creator of shows I really, really like: Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Firefly; Angel; Dollhouse; and Dr. Horrible. I don't know why more people aren't fans, because Whedon's work is fabulous. Even the Best Husband Ever agrees, and he's quite the media connoisseur. Go. Watch some Buffy. You won't regret it. (And yes, I am quite serious.)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Letting Go of Squash -- Er, Stuff

Did you know that today is National Letting Go of Stuff Day? I'm being serious -- I mean, they have a website, so they must be legitimate. It's not like just anybody can create a website . . . or a blog . . . about anything . . . like food or fitness or God or whatever . . .

Ahem. Legit or not (and, in spite of my own patchy legitimacy, the National Letting Go of Stuff site does seem like it's for real), I'm celebrating this little holiday. I planned it all out and everything. You see, I've had this butternut squash sitting around for quite some time, lonely and forgotten. So, in honor or National Letting Go of Stuff Day, I ate it. Just for the holiday. Because I needed to quit hording my squash and just let it go.

Okay, maybe it's because I wanted squash. I specifically wanted kabocha, but it seems that this elusive squash has never been heard of in the wilds of Montana. I made do with butternut squash and roasted it up CCH-style, and ate half of it straight up for lunch on Monday. Then for breakfast on Tuesday I steamed the leftovers in the microwave with a little French vanilla coffee creamer, also inspired by Katie.

What was I thinking? How have I been missing out on the wonders of the freshly roasted squash? I have been quite candid with my love of all things pumpkin -- but that tends to mean canned pumpkin for reasons of convenience/laziness. But whole squash roasted up in my very own oven? Heavenly, I tell you.

Can you guess what I had for breakfast this morning? More roasted butternut, this time with whipped cream cheese. Next time I get roast happy (which will probably be quite soon) I plan to drizzle on some of another new food favorite, Maggie's miso tahini dressing.

While we're (sort of) on the topic of random mini holidays, March is Adopt a Rescued Guinea Pig Month. At least, it was in 2006. Anyway, I just wanted to mention that my former workplace and favorite animal sanctuary, Rolling Dog Ranch, is in the running to win $3,000 in the Animal Rescue Site's Shelter Challenge. Supporters of various rescues can vote for their favorite shelter, and right now Rolling Dog is in 4th place. If they get enough votes to take 3rd, they will win the prize which will fund their rescue of blind and disabled dogs, horses, and cats. That's where I adopted my vision-disabled pup, Cody, from, and I've been voting everyday. Will you join me? Visit Rolling Dog's blog for details.

* * *
Other fresh food posts:
Also, remember how one of my articles was up for a HubNugget, which is a reader's choice award? I won! Thank you for your votes!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Weekend Bliss

I seem to have abandoned the blog this weekend. Sorry -- well, sort of. Instead of blogging, I was doing a whole lot of what you see in this photo (that is, hiking with the Best Husband Ever and our dogs). So I'm really not all that sorry, because I had a blissful, beautiful blast with him. And I didn't take a single photo of food all weekend! That must be a first.

I did however, do some of this . . .

. . . and a bunch of writing:
Also, I hit a writing milestone -- I got published! For money! I trade words for cash! This is not the first time my work has been published outside of the internet, but it's the first time that I will be paid for it. Wow! I still can't believe it. I don't want to share more for fear of violating my agreement with the editor, but you can bet that I'll be posting a link when it's released! I think I need to bake some cookies for this occasion . . . like the tahini cookies that Traci mentioned on my Ask [Almost] Anything page. Traci, I must have the recipe!

Speaking of my Formspring, you may have noticed some reshuffling of Kitchen Courage's layout. Don't worry, nothing is lost. I've simply rearranged widgets in order of importance to allow easier access to subscription, my Twitter, and so forth. I created a new side bar section called "I Write . . ." where you can find widgets that link to my latest HubPages hubs, Healthy Food Examiner articles, and older AC articles. Also updated is my Amazon recommendations, including some of my favorite books, films, workouts, and other products. Ask [Almost] Anything has not disappeared, but it has moved down to the bottom of the side bar.

How does the new blog organization work? Is it easier to find elements? More difficult? I'd love your feedback.

While you're blog crawling, be sure to stop by Kashi's website to nab your free cereal sample for their Healthier Year trial event. (Thanks to Nicolette for the tip!) Love Street Living Foods is also holding a 10%-off-everything sale that ends today, plus three free samples, with the coupon code 21MAR.

I'd say that gives you plenty to do online this evening (since you were totally looking for ways to kill some hard-earned free time, I'm sure). Enjoy your Kashi freebies, your discounts, and checking in with your thoughts on Kitchen Courage's updates as well as my newly published articles. Happy Monday!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Vote For Hummus: A Shameless Plug

Two posts in one day?! I know, it's a first for me! However, I just received some fun news that I a) wanted to share with you, and b) wanted to ask for your support regarding. As you might know, I'm trying to make something of myself in the world of freelance writing. As part of that venture I've started writing for content sites like HubPages. One of my articles (called "hubs" on the site) was just selected as one of the top food hubs of the week! Now it's up to readers to decide which of the editor-selected top choices is the favorite. The article with the most hubs gets featured in the weekly newsletter, which generates a ton of fantastic exposure.

Here's where you come in, wonderful readers. My hub, Let Them Eat Hummus: 5 Healthy Recipes, is one of the editors' top food-related picks. If you think my hummus article really is the best of the best, I would love to have your vote. While you're visiting HubPages, be sure to check out my other hubs as well as the vast selection of quality writing by other authors.

What are you waiting for? Go! Read! Vote!

Almost Bald

Just over a year ago, I just my hair short. As in, less-than-one-inch short. The shortest that it's ever been . . . until now, that is. When I first got my hair cropped, the Best Husband Ever said that he liked it -- and that he thought it would fabulous even shorter. Hmm. As weird as it sounds, the idea got stuck in my head and would not leave.

So, at long last, I acted on the idea. This week I asked the Best Husband Ever to shave my head. Excited, we set up shop in the bathroom and the shearing began. Just in time for Friday Firsts, this is the first time I've ever had this little hair.


At first I really did not like it. Not only does my scalp now attach a la velcro to any fibrous object which comes within a square foot of my scalp, I look kind of man-ish. (No, not manly -- man-ish, thank you very much.) Every time I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror I jumped with the renewed shock of my near-baldness. Thankfully, the Best Husband Ever likes it. A lot, it seems.

The hair sacrifice went down on Wednesday. Now that I've had time to adjust to the fact that I have more hair in my two eyebrows than on my entire scalp, I like the new 'do (or lack thereof) better. I still think I look like a bad G.I. Jane wanna-be, and it feels like there's a constant draft blowing at my nearly naked head, but I'm making my peace. It's actually kind of cool. I might do it again when the weather turns warm enough that I'll appreciate an all natural personal air conditioner more.

The moral of the story? Well, there isn't one, really. Sorry. If you're looking for something more insightful, check out my Miracle post, because you all left me such thoughtfully crafted comments. Regarding my sandpaper head, however, it was all in good fun. But I'm glad I tried it. Now I know that baldness, as neat-o as it might seem, is probably not for me. I'll stick with my one-inch follicles, thanks. But I'm glad I did it. And I think the hubby is, too. How's that for couple's night?

Thankfully (for all you foodies who find my hair adventures a bit strange, at best), I also have a first-y recipe. This week I found some yummy sounding all natural apple spice mustard on sale in the grocery store. Mustard? With apple? And spices (which were simply listed as "spices" on the ingredients list, which I found a tad unsettling)? I was in. On the back of the jar I found a recipe for Rainbow Slaw.

A long-standing source of [rather unappreciated] amusement in my family is my penchant for cabbage salad. Specifically, for my grandma's cabbage salad. For as long I can remember, I have gobbled down this amazing cabbage salad that she would serve when we visited her for a meal. I have since attempted to recreate that ambrosia of the salad world, but as you might expect, nothing beats Grandma's. To my knowledge, she would mix up super-minced green cabbage with vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar, and a few tomatoes, then let the whole thing marinate in the fridge. By the time I arrived, it had achieved perfection. Everyone at the table knew to leave plenty of cabbage salad for me.

Let me be clear -- the following recipe, based off of the one I found on the jar of apple spice mustard, is not my grandma's salad. But it's pretty darn good, and healthy to boot. I expected it to bother my stomach, but strangely (and wonderfully) it does not. I added slices of turkey bacon to my second attempt at this but didn't think they added much. Try it and see what you think, then check in here with tasty alterations. I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Colorful Cabbage Slaw

3 T cider vinegar
2 T apple spice mustard (or your favorite mustard -- Dijon would work)
1 packet of stevia OR 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
dash of onion powder
sprinkle of sliced garlic

1.5 cups shredded green cabbage
3/4 cup shredded red cabbage
1 large carrot, shredded or thinly sliced
1/2 red apple, cut into thin matchsticks

In a large bowl, mix the first 6 ingredients together. Adjust the sugar, salt, onion, and garlic according to taste and preference. Add the vegetables and toss until coated. Serve immediately, or cover and chill for up to 2 hours.

Makes 1 big personal salad, or 4-6 side salads.

Friday Firsts /

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Treasure Seeker Sequel

Remember The Treasure, a video that I posted a while back? That was part 1. Here's part 2.

Visit Dan, the amazing talent behind both videos in this series as well as many others, at 4:14 Productions.

While you're web hopping, check out some of my latest scribblings:

Hula Hooping: A Holistic Fitness and Weight Loss Practice

Fit Kids: 5 Ways to Get Children Hula Hooping for Health

Coming Back For More: Choosing the Perfect Workout

At-Home Weight Workouts: A Few Favorites

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Self . . . Help?

Titles spied in the Barnes and Noble self-help section:
  • Happiness for Dummies
  • Ten Days to Self Esteem
  • I Can Read You Like a Book
  • How To Save Your Own Life
  • Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man
  • The Idiot's Guide to Organizing Your Life
Very helpful.

(Don't believe me? See for yourself.)

Happy [mostly wordless] Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


At the beginning of this past winter my wonderful mother-in-law bequeathed two herb plants to me. One was rosemary and the other oregano. I'm not sure why she gave them to me since I have a chronically black thumb, but give them she did. I waited for the two plants to wither and die, as is inevitable for any plant in my care that's less hardy than a cactus.

But they did not die, surprisingly. Both plants made it through the winter, and although the oregano did begin to droop significantly I was able to revive it. The rosemary and oregano plants lived happily on -- until I killed one.

When the rare Montana sun makes an appearance during the winter, I like to set my plants out on the deck to soak in the rays. That's what I did with my mother-in-law's plants, then promptly forgot about them. They stayed out overnight, and although the temperatures at the time were unseasonably warm, the oregano had turned black by the time morning came. Oops.

Now that spring has officially arrived and the weather is staying warm consistently, I decided to do some yard work today. Part of that venture included ripping up the withered skeletons of all the potted green things I've slain since last summer. The oregano was on my list of exhumations as I wanted to make its pot available for my next victim -- er, gardening attempt. But as I inspected the forlorn oregano, I glimpsed something tucked away beneath the brittle tangle of black twigs -- something green!

It was a leaf. Or really, several leaves, sprouting up in spite of all my mistreatment, in spite of the death surrounding it. Against all the odds, the oregano grew and continues to grow. I feel incredibly humbled and blessed by this tiny and yet not-so-tiny miracle.

There's some sort of God-message tucked away in all this, but I can't quite put my finger on it yet. Can you?

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Writing Life, Week Two

Last week I shared with you some drastic life changes, and that now I am trying out the freelance writing life. Now we're heading into week number two of my writing venture, and I wanted to take a moment to assess how it's going.

I am enjoying finding what methods work for me and hitting my writing stride. However, there have been some challenges as well. I've submitted to query letters to magazines and am growing extremely frustrated with the process as well as the up-front sense of non-accomplishment after spending an entire morning crafting just such a letter. Equally frustrating is the fact that when I think I've hit upon a great topic to query on, a Google search reveals that articles on that exact topic have recently hit newsstands. I'm trying to look at this positively since, as my father-in-law pointed out, my ideas are apparently publishable and in demand, I'm just a little late. I can't argue with that wisdom and logic!

I'm proud of my progress. In addition to querying magazines I started submitting to various reputable content sites (since not all content sites are created equal) to practice my freelance style and technique, beef up my clips, and get exposure while making a little (stress on the "little") cash. Here are my latest and greatest articles, which I'd love your feedback on:
I'm just getting started! I have a number of new ideas I want to write queries on, so that's my goal for today and tomorrow. Wish me luck and tastefully productive verbosity!

Before you go about achieving your own daily goals, stop by my Ask [Almost] Anything page. I just posted answers to these excellent and thought-provoking questions:
  • You seem recovered from ED...yet the things you eat are not too different from a dieter. Eating healthy is good...but do you think you might be overdoing it?
  • I like that you're so expressive about your faith, without tiptoeing around it. Do you ever feel a taboo in talking about your faith?
Happy Monday! What are your goals for the day? How do you help yourself accomplish them?

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Happy spring (and, randomly, Pi Day)! We took two of the pups, Jackson (the distant black speck in the above photo) and Lio out for a hike in the glorious sunshine. It was wonderful, although having it light so late in the evening was a bit weird . . . but I'm sure we'll adjust!

What did you do?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Books, Bacon, and a Brand New Hummus

This afternoon the Best Husband Ever and I did something that we have not done in a long, long time -- we went on a reading date. Before we got married (when we were, obviously, dating) we used to do this frequently. We would head to our favorite couch-equipped bookstore, usually the local Barnes and Noble, set up shop on a pair of squashy sofa-chairs, and read. Sometimes there would be coffee involved, courtesy of the built-in Starbucks, and sometimes I would write.

That's what we did today. And it was fun! The hubby read while I worked on this article, a review of the latest and greatest from Stretch Island Fruit Company:

Stretch Island Fruit Company in [Local Stores]: Two Product Reviews

It was my first time eating fruit leathers and similar products. Since it was also the first reading date for the Best Husband Ever and I in ages, I'd say my Friday was pretty first-y, just in time for Christina's latest round of Friday Firsts.

I also had a couple of other firsts this week. In order to get more lean protein in my diet without the stomach-irritating properties of fattier red meats, I bought (and ate!) some turkey bacon. It was fairly good cooked up in a stove-top pan, but best when I added maple syrup to the bacon mid-sizzle.

Since I'm a hummus fanatic and am in the process of making peace with coconut butter, I bet you can guess what new concoction emerged from my blender this week. That's right -- coconut hummus! Or, as I dubbed it, coconummus. Genius, right? Probably not. Regardless, this spread was light and had a gentle coconut flavor to it. Next time I might add some more coconut butter or oil to increase the flavor. Try it and tell me what you think!


1 15-oz. can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
1 not-heaping T garlic, minced (not heaping? I know, it's another first for me!)
1/2 T coconut butter
1/2 T coconut oil
1-2 T lime juice to taste
water as needed

Add all of the ingredients to a blender/food processor and process until smooth. Play around with the lime-to-coconut-products ratio to find the taste that best suites you. Thin with water to aid in processing as needed.

I managed to not take any decent photos of my coconummus except for the above shot. For lunch I mixed the coconummus up with some Dijon and plopped it on top of some scrambled eggs with spinach and mushrooms. It tasted good, but not as good as Thursday's dinner, which was coconummus mixed into a plate of stir-fried veggies.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


If you're the observant type you may have noticed a curious phenomenon occurring here on the blog, and especially on my Flickr photostream. My eats have been growing more diverse, time- and/or thought-consuming, and more plentiful. Take yesterday's banana breakfast cake (above), for instance, inspired by Danielle. On an ordinary weekday I would be scrambling half-damp from the shower into an outfit, tossing a green smoothie into my belly, and rushing out the door to work. I would not have had time to experiment with this breakfast cake, topped by PB2 and chocolate Amazing Grass. This is not a normal weekday meal for me.

Except . . . now it is. I don't want to share too much for several reasons including privacy, professionalism, and my dignity. Suffice it to say that I've left my wonderful and amazing elementary school job for the remainder of the school year due to health stuff. No, it's not my eating disorder making a comeback. It's something new and not-fun, and I need some time to work on managing it before I venture back out into the professional world, much less a child-centered career. Maybe I'll feel more comfortable in the future and share further . . . but for now, that's all. I do, however, want give a shout-out to my school's principal for helping me find another option besides outright quitting. Let me tell you, I am blessed by that learning community.

But I haven't given up on life or work! While I'm in this semi-self-imposed convalescence, I'll be working on my writing. Freelance, creative, blogging -- I've got time and the interest, so I'm going for it. I've always wanted to write for a living, anyway. Now I have the chance to see what it's actually like and if I can hack it, or if I even like it.. Despite feeling bummed at leaving my education career, I will not let this opportunity pass me by.

It's been about a week since I started my professional leave. During that time in addition to being a stay-at-home dog mama, I've added a few more articles and product reviews to my Examiner page on local healthy food options:
I also started a HubPages account. I enjoy this writing community because it allows participants to freely write and submit on topics that they find most compelling. Here are my submissions so far:
In addition, I'm keeping up with my 2010 photo-a-day blog, Camera Cowgirl.

Reactions? Thoughts? Tips on freelance writing? Suggestions on topics you'd like to see me cover both here on Kitchen Courage as well as on my new writing hot spots? I welcome it all! And don't forget you can still ask anything anonymously. My new office, complete with anti-house-soiling chihuahua measures, is just a click away.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Love is Spelled T-A-H-I-N-I

Look at what I woke up to this morning:

No, our back neighbor's house is not on fire. Look again:

That's right. Snow. And a lot of it, too. Heavy, wet snow that was no fun to shovel (although I got to chat with an across-the-street neighbor for the first time, so it wasn't so bad). But to have this soggy snow hit us barely two days after I wore flip flops outside for the first time in 2010 was a little disheartening.

As you might imagine, Lio didn't exactly feel thrilled upon discovering that his stomping ground was covered in white stuff again. At least he looked funny -- er, cute in the new too-large coat that I bought for a sweet fifty cents at Wal-Mart.

Still, I won't complain about the weather too much. Snow now means fewer fires this summer. Instead of an unseasonably early thaw, I'd rather have a long, luscious spring followed by a temperate summer in which the sun is not obscured by smoke. (Yes, that does happen. A few years ago, Best Fiance Ever and I were photographing our friends' outdoor wedding, and the smoke did not a picturesque landscape make. Good thing the bride and groom are already more beautiful than any view might make them!)

To brighten my spirits, I made hummus. Usually I opt out of adding tahini, but due to the generous sample love of Love Street Living Foods I've acquired some raw tahini. At first I didn't really like it any more than the tahini I bought at the store (which, I should add, I hated). But today at lunch, something changed. I began to like the raw tahini. Quite a bit, in fact.

My conversion to tahini fangirl status started slowly. I dipped a few veggies and crackers in the raw tahini, but couldn't say that the taste appealed to me. Still, I'm a stubborn food blogger, so I made a lightly sweetened, tahini-drizzled, nooch-sprinkled pizza inspired by Heather's tahini+bacon+honey quesadilla, with a cucumber and a mushroom slathered in fat free cream cheese on the side. With each bite of pizza, my taste buds danced more and more wildly. "Tahini! Tahini!" they screamed. "Where have you been all our lives?"

Well . . . maybe it didn't happen quite like that. Sentient taste buds aside, however, by the time I finished lunch this afternoon, I liked tahini. Since I was already planning to whip up some hummus today, I decided to throw some tahini into the mix.

That's when it happened. In the midst of hummus creation, tahini like blossomed into tahini love. Seriously, raw tahini -- where have you been all my life? The tahini-ed batch of hummus was more fluffy and creamy than any hummus I've ever made before. It was so amazing, in fact, that I must share with you my very unscientific hummus-making process.

Life-Changing Love Hummus

1 15 oz. can garbonzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 plop raw tahini (adjust to taste)
1 heaping spoonful garlic, minced
a few big squirts of lemon juice
2 tiny squirts of sriracha hot sauce
water as needed

Toss everything into a blender/food processer. Blend until desired consistency is reached, adding water to thin as needed. Taste. Fall in love. Remove hummus to a jar and try not to fondle it too much.

Mmm. I am so excited for dinner tonight. Can you guess what will be on my plate?

Do you like tahini? What's your favorite tahini recipe? Please share, because I want to eat more tahini!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Don't Be Shy

Remember when I found treasure a couple of weeks ago? Not buried treasure or pirate coins, but coconut butter from Love Street Living Foods tucked inside my mailbox! An exciting day, to be sure. I bet you think I've gobbling down the stuff at every opportunity. And, if I weren't so silly, you'd be right.

The fact is, the fat content in coconut butter scares the small but still present eating disorder side of me. I mean, a single Tablespoon of coconut butter accounts for a whopping 41% of your daily value of saturated fat. That's a lot! At least, it is in my mind. Besides, a Tablespoon of coconut butter is next to nothing . . . right? Well, maybe not.

You see, I read the fine print -- but not all of it. Of course I noticed the fat content, but failed to measure up exactly how much coconut butter I'd have to eat in one go to get a full serving. I've been using sparing amounts on homemade bread, and it's been delicious, especially on this homemade loaf of whole wheat from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day (part of a breakfast that also included microwave-baked apples and cranberries with pumpkin and berry Amazing Grass):

But I don't have to be so shy with my servings. I realized that I would have to eat the entire jar of coconut butter to get a full Tablespoon serving. Sure, it's a miniature jar, but still -- that's a lot of coconut butter! I've used my coconut butter sample twice since Love Street sent it, and I've barely made a dent. So I need to chill out. Because even if I did down the whole jar in one sitting, that's still only a regular serving, complete with a nice dose of healthy, good-for-me (and you!) fats.

Are you like me? Do you have silly moments like this? In celebration of my "huzzah for healthy fats" moment, I added some full fat whipped cream cheese to my lunch today (on top of steamed broccoli with ponzu sauce -- yummm). What did you do to challenge yourself to be truly healthy (i.e., feeding your body with good, natural products) instead of culturally healthy (i.e., low/no fat = healthy)? Do tell!

Before I go, I just wanted to give a shout-out to my new followers and subscribers (yes, I've noticed because my blog is tiny . . . but I think I'd notice if it was hugely popular, too, because, well, I like all of you!). Welcome! I encourage you to browse through the archives, or to ask any questions you may have either on the blog or on my Ask Anything page. Even if you don't have a question it's worth checking out as I've answered the back logged questions. Can I get a "huzzah" for overcoming procrastination, too, or is it saved for healthy fats only?

Speaking of healthy fats, don't forget that Love Street Living Foods is offering a free sample and 25% off your order with the coupon code "UltraHealth." You could challenge yourself in raw coconut butter style, too! Who's with me?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

At [Nooch] Peace

A couple of weeks I got my first taste of nutritional yeast (otherwise known as "nooch"). As you may recall, I was less than impressed. I did not, however, give up on this protein-y, vitamin B12-alicious product. I tried nooch nachos, included some in my homemade hummus, and tried several more varieties of pizza topped with nooch-based "cheese." None of the ways I used nutritional yeast tasted bad, but they were also not exactly mind-blow.

Until this week. This week I mixed up some salsa and yogurt for a quick lunch dip, and I decided to sprinkle some nutritional yeast on top. I took my meal outside to eat in the unseasonably warm and sunny weather. As I scooped up the dip with tortilla chips, I kept thinking I smelled something really delicious being cooked in a neighboring house. When I cleared my mouth and took a few good whiffs, however, I could not detect this wonderful aroma. After a couple of rounds of this, I realized -- it was the nooch! The nooch was that delicious scent, and it made the dip taste amazing.

So what did I do? Put nutritional yeast on nearly everything I've eaten since then, of course! Check out yesterday's breakfast (scrambled egg whites+spinach+garlic topped with nutritional yeast, plus a few other goodies):

Nooch also played a part at lunchtime when I dusted the interior of my wrap with a hefty pinch of the stuff (whole wheat tortilla + apple slices + homemade spinach cream cheese hummus + fresh spinach = wrap).

I've made my peace with nutritional yeast (and waxed poetic while I was at it, apparently).

Now, to solve another ingredient conundrum. Perhaps you can help me. I have some maca powder. I've read great things about maca on the blogosphere, but I'm at a bit of a loss with how to actually include it in recipes. What's your favorite thing to make with maca?

Thanks for your Formspring questions -- keep 'em coming! Remember, you can type them right into the green dialogue box in my sidebar. I'm have a lot of fun answering your questions. The latest answered query is from Lance: "How would you equip your dream kitchen?" That certainly got me thinking . . . and drooling.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

It's a Blogosphere Mind Meld!

There's something weird in the blogosphere.

Let me explain. For lunch on Tuesday, I prepared some spaghetti squash using my favorite fixings (salsa and avocado -- simple but incredible!).

Upon checking my feed reader later that day, I saw that Katie had just posted about her own spaghetti squash lunch. Hmm. Interesting, but not cause for alarm . . . yet.

Yesterday was the day of salsa. Mango-peach salsa from Costco, to be exact, which also happens to be my favorite kind of salsa. For breakfast I had scrambled salsa eggs with delicious homemade whole wheat bread topped with whipped cream cheese . . .

. . . a quick one-minute prep dip of salsa, yogurt, and nutritional yeast (by the way, this was the first time that my taste buds danced in delight due to the nutritional yeast -- I've find my nooch niche!) . . . with veggies and baked blue corn tortilla chips . . .

. . . and finished up the day with a burrito laden with black beans and (you guessed it) salsa.

Guess who else had a salsa day (with, I must say, some very delicious-looking salsas)? Heather. This is starting to get a little creepy, don't you think? It's a blogosphere mind meld!

It didn't end there. Just a few minutes ago, having discovered an intriguing recipe for oat yogurt, otherwise known as fermented oats, earlier in the week, I contemplated making a batch of my own. I'm going through some pretty horrid digestive stuff, and I'm trying to get as many foods with probiotics, prebiotics, and other helpful stuff (i.e., not steroids or antibiotics, if it can be helped) into my body as possible. Oat yogurt sounded like a good thing to try, and a fun food to experiment with. Apparently, it sounded like a good Thursday dish to another blogger, too -- Heather again!

Man. Are there hidden cameras in my house? Or worse, in my nose?!? (Fun fact -- when I was a kid my parents told me that when they looked up my nose they could watch T.V. I believed them.)

The synchronicity was a little too much for this skeptic of a blogger, so today I decided there would be no sharing of foods from me. (Do you like how I broke my rule at the same time as declaring it? I've got skills.) Instead, I focused my energies into writing up an review of Love Street Living Foods, a gem of a organic/raw/delicious food company.

Here's another fun fact -- Love Street is offering a 25% off discount AND one free sample with every order. Just use the coupon code "UltraHealth" and indicate which free sample you'd like in the notes section of the order form. I recommend the raw Artisana coconut butter. You will not be disappointed. Or creeped out, like me.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Hooping it up in the sun this weekend. I thrive in sunlight. Do you?

Happy [mostly wordless] Wednesday! I'm enjoying your questions on my Formspring -- keep 'em coming, friends!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Compassionate, Conscientious Consumerism

Have you seen Food, Inc.? Up until today, I had not watched the documentary in which producer-director Robert Kenner and his cohorts investigate the inner workings of the American food industry. I must admit -- I came away from my viewing feeling very shocked.

Was I shocked at the appalling images of animals living in squalor being killed in gross and inhumane manners? Yes, of course. Was I surprised at learning of how, in 2001, two year old Kevin Kowalyck ate a hamburger and died of E. coli 12 days later, and that thousands of Americans continue to die every year from preventable foodborne illnesses contracted through contaminated supermarket products? Yes, of course. Did I cringe upon learning that 70% of processed foods have some genetically modified ingredient? Yes, of course. But mostly I was shocked that I felt shocked at all.

I am not ignorant of America's slaughterhouse practices, nor of the fact that our supermarkets stock every product all the time (more or less) instead of rotating seasonally. I know that our food is produced in a way that is considered most economically efficient, and that as a result it contains chemicals, hormones, filler ingredients, and other unsavory modifications that I would rather not put into my body (at least, not without knowing about it). I see how junk foods are the cheapest products on the shelves, predisposing low-income families to obesity and diabetes. I know all these things, I am not naive about the United States food industry -- and yet Food, Inc. affected me quite a bit.

What I found most interesting is that not only is our assembly line-based food production system cruel to the animals whose meat finds its way into our grocery stores, and that the additives introduced to our foods to increase their longevity and perceived marketability unhealthful -- but also that our country's current food industry exploits people. Farmers are required by the handful of companies that dominate food production to make expensive (and often inhumane) upgrades to their facilities, but are not compensated adequately for their work-related expenses. Illegal immigration is simultaneously encouraged and abused by the large food corporations. Poor consumers are forced to choose between nutritious products and cheap products. The CDC estimates that about 5,000 Americans die each year from foodborne illness.

Nobody knows about a lot of that aspect of our food industry. I know that I sure didn't. Ethical food production isn't just about animal rights or environmental protection (which I'm all for, by the way). It's about consumers needing to inform themselves in order to protect themselves and their families, because the unsavory effects of our food industry are far closer to home than I ever realized.

So what's a consumer to do? You know, I'm really not sure. Suffice it to say that Food, Inc. has given me a great deal to think about. I highly recommend watching this film, especially if a lot of what I mentioned is completely new to you. Judging from my personal knowledge base, Food, Inc. is both accurate and eye-opening. I'm not a vegetarian or vegan, but I must admit that I'm seriously considering changing that now.

Barring becoming fruitarians (which I am not necessarily endorsing), can we change our habits and cultivate more conscientious consumerism? I think so. Some of the least daunting, home-front-based changes recommended on the Food, Inc. website are not unfamiliar to healthy food bloggers and their readers, but are worth repeating:
  • Eat at home/pack a lunch instead of depending on restaurants/take-out for the majority of your meals.
  • If you can, buy organic or sustainable food with little or no pesticides.
  • Buy whatever you can from local farmer's markets.
  • Inform yourself about what's going into your mouth (and your family's mouths) by taking a few moments to read labels.
  • Try a Meatless Monday or Vegan Thursday. If those aren't enough of a challenge, you could always trying a Raw Wednesday. (Actually, I'm pretty intrigued by all the raw food tidbits I'm seeing around the blogosphere -- anyone interested in having a little raw-some fun with me?)
Those aren't too scary, right? The more adventurous can get involved in advocacy on the political level, lobbying for job protection for farmers and food processors, as well as improved measures for preventing foodborne illness outbreaks. The official Food, Inc. site has a great deal of information as well as more ideas for making changes locally and nationally.

So what are we going to do here in the Kitchen Courage household? As I already mentioned, I'm not really sure at this point. I definitely want to be a more compassionate and mindful consumer. We, the buyers, wield in what we do and do not purchase. I was encouraged to hear these words coming from Tony Airosa, Wal-Mart's chief dairy purchaser:
Actually, it’s a pretty easy decision to try to support things like organics or whatever it might be based on what the consumer wants. We see that and we react to it. If it’s clear that the customer wants it, it’s really easy to get behind it and to push forward and try to make that happen.
Cool, right? Change is possible, starting at the check-out line. And for me, change started today in my kitchen. Watching Food, Inc. left me feeling understandably icky (that's a technical term), so I decided to make some 100% whole wheat bread from my favorite cookbook, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. And when I say 100% whole wheat, that's exactly what I mean -- this beautifully crusty loaf contained only wheat flour, vital wheat gluten, yeast, a bit of salt, and water. How's that for conscientious consumerism? Conscientious consumerism smells and tastes yummy. Mmm.

Have you seen Food, Inc.? What did you think? Did it change your buying and eating habits? I am eager to hear your stories and opinions!

Speaking of stories, I am enjoying answering your questions. There have been some good ones! If you're wondering about . . . well, just about anything (within reason), I'd love to hear about it and take a stab at satisfying your curiosity. Ask me [almost] anything here.