Meatless Monday with Quinoa Cakes

If you caught my recent 32 in 32 post, the first item on the list was to be Vegetarian. Truth be told, I transitioned to a Vegetarian lifestyle a few weeks ago, but it’s been a struggle. I don’t miss meat, at all. In fact my diet previously was primarily vegetarian, but I apparently psyched myself out. Since saying the words, “I’m Vegetarian”, I’ve gone blank on meal ideas. I’ve been eating lots of homemade Pita chips and hummus…but a girl can’t live on hummus alone (no matter how delicious it is).

Enter Plated…and no, this is not a sponsored post or a referral link. I signed up with Plated months ago and have made a few meals from them, all delicious. So when I needed meal ideas, I ordered a few vegetarian meals from Plated to try out. They send you nearly every items you need to make the meal and the recipe card. The only thing I had to supply was some water, an egg, and some olive oil. I will admit this can be an expensive option which is why I don’t use it regularly, but it was incredibly helpful to have some help when I needed it this week.

Quinoa Cakes_Plated1

This particular meal was Quinoa Cakes with Pan Roasted Mushrooms. Simple. You can probably find hundreds of similar recipes on Pinterest…in fact, check here, I did a quick search for you.

Plated provided the mushrooms, quinoa, onion, breadcrumbs, pecorino cheese, chives, thyme, and a pad of butter.

While the Quinoa was cooking with the onions, I used the butter to pan roast the mushrooms. Then added some fresh thyme near the end of cooking.

 Quinoa Cakes_Plated2

Once the quinoa was cooked, it was mixed with an egg, garlic, pecorino cheese, chives, and breadcrumbs; then formed into 4 patties (this recipe was service for 2).

 Quinoa Cakes_Plated3

Sautéed in a little oil for about 4 minutes per side. I was worried they would fall apart when flipping, but they stayed together surprisingly well.

 Quinoa Cakes_Plated4

Finished cakes topped with mushrooms, chives and a little sour cream (I added the cream, it was not in the recipe).

 Quinoa Cakes_Plated5

It was delicious and filling. Exactly what I needed to break out of my hummus rut. I can’t wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow for lunch. I plan on making some more cakes, with my own twist on the recipes which I hope to share on here in the near future.


What are some of your favorite vegetarian/vegan meals? Feel free to link your own blog below in the comments if you have Vegetarian/Vegan friendly posts that I can check out! Or share your favorite Vegetarian/Vegan blogs, those would be helpful too.

[Soaked] Cinnamon Almonds

I have the most delicious (and nutritious) treat to share with you today, and it’s ridiculously simple to make. I’m constantly on the look out for ways to make everyday foods/meals healthier, and I’m always excited to find quick & healthy snacks

Many already know that Almonds (in moderation) are an nutrient dense food that can greatly benefit a healthy diet. The contain protein, fiber, and omega fatty acids just to name a few of their many nutrition stats. However, something I learned from researching raw food diets, is that you really aren’t getting the most out of your almonds if you eat them dry. Soaking the almonds first (generally overnight) will make them easier to digest, thus allowing the body to better absorb all the nutrients.

The information below is from the Food Matters Website, and was included in an excellent article about The Benefits of Soaking Nuts and Seeds. Be sure to check it out if you want more information, it touches on more than just almonds.


Why soak nuts, grains and seeds?

  • 1. To remove or reduce phytic acid.
  • 2. To remove or reduce tannins.
  • 3. To neutralize the enzyme inhibitors.
  • 4. To encourage the production of beneficial enzymes.
  • 5. To increase the amounts of vitamins, especially B vitamins.
  • 6. To break down gluten and make digestion easier.
  • 7. To make the proteins more readily available for absorption.
  • 8. To prevent mineral deficiencies and bone loss.
  • 9. To help neutralize toxins in the colon and keep the colon clean.
  • 10. To prevent many health diseases and conditions.


In my opinion, Almonds are much, MUCH tastier this way as well. As an extra health bonus, I dusted them with ground cinnamon which has its own host of health benefits. Notice I said just ground cinnamon, not cinnamon sugar. You could also use raw cacao, a little chipotle, or another spice that you prefer.

Get Creative!


 Soaked Cinnamon Almonds_4


The visual difference between dry almonds (left) and soaked almonds (right). The soaked almonds will have a softer texture, but will still have a crunch to it. If you avoided almonds in the past because you disliked the ‘jaw breaking crunch’, give them another chance after soaking.

Soaked Cinnamon Almonds_1

The recipe is simple, and there are NO specific measurements needed. Just put a serving of raw (not roasted or seasoned) almonds in a sealable container. A plastic bag will work just fine, but I prefer to use something with a lid. Cover the almonds with water and place in fridge overnight (or for about 12 hours). In the morning, drain and rise the almonds. At this point they are ready to eat, or season them.

 Soaked Cinnamon Almonds_2

Add your spices. I added about 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to 1/2 Cup of almonds.

 Soaked Cinnamon Almonds_3

You can keep uneaten, soaked almonds in the fridge for about 24-48 hours before they will begin to mold. Since they don’t have a long shelf life, you should avoid making large batches unless you know they will be eaten right away. Unfortunately this isn’t something you can make on Sunday, and eat throughout the week.

For those that would like the health benefits of a soaked almond, but prefer the dry texture, you can dry them in a dehydrator for longer term storage.


 Soaked Cinnamon Almonds_4

I’d love to know if any of you have tried this method, or if you try this recipe. What other seasonings have you used?



*I have purposely tried to not use the phrase, ‘soak your nuts’ in this post, because…well…I’d like to avoid the pervy Google Spam Bots. But let’s face it, that’s exactly what I want you to do from now on…soak your nuts people!



**I also apologize for the inconsistent lighting in the photographs. It’s driving me crazy too.

Take a [Yoga] Break

Today is the perfect example of a very long day. Working from home definitely has it’s advantages, but a downside is that I often find myself sitting in the same spot ALL DAY LONG. I am at this desk all day for my day job, then I often sit here to do personal stuff, blog, etc.  It’s not uncommon for me to be at my desk for 12+ hours each day.


To break up my day & force myself to get up and move, I’ve been trying a few new things. First is set a a few alarms on my phone. I have 3-4 timers set up on my phone to go off throughout the day to remind me to get up. Yes, that seems really ‘type A’, but when I get sucked into work I lose track of time. I’ll mean to get up to grab lunch or walk around, and sometimes it just doesn’t happen. Hopefully by continuing with the alarm method, it will be a gentle reminder to GET UP! 

I like to do this particular stretch during my shorter breaks, it releases every knot in my back and legs. I’ve also done this while listening in on conference calls, but only when I know I won’t have to jump into the conversation. You don’t want to rise quickly out of this stretch, be gentle.  


Uttanasana: standing forward bend.  2013 is the year I plan to really focus on my yoga practice. I plan to commence teacher training so I can deeper my knowledge and guide others through this special philosophy. #EndeavourCollegeofNaturalHealth #My2013HealthVision



The next thing I am doing, is a quick yoga sequence to stretch and clear my mind. I like both of the below sequences depending on how I’m feeling at that moment. Not only does it force me out of my chair, but I get the added benefit of reduced stress and increased strength & flexibility.





Just 5 minutes will make a difference! Yoga in the morning.


If you want to try something similar and don’t like yoga, try walking around the block or building. When I used to work at an office, I liked to walk outside and around the building a few times to get some fresh air and stretch my legs. I also used to take some of my less formal work calls while wandering around outside. Unfortunately I don’t have the best cell service at my house so that doesn’t work so well for me now.


…and in case you need a little more inspiration to bring some healthy back into you life. This is Daphne Selfe, the ‘oldest’ an amazing supermodel at 83 years old. She credits Yoga and Pilates to keeping her body in the best shape. I hope I look this hot and healthy at 83!

flexibility - 83-year-old daphne selfe



All you office workers out there…what tips do you have?

Green Spring Smoothie

I’m enjoying a rare Monday off and I thought it was a great time to try out a new smoothie recipe. With the warm weather, this cold fruity smoothie is a delicious start to the day. I added whey protein powder since this was my breakfast, but you could leave it out if protein powder isn’t your thing. I actually like the texture with the protein powder since it thickens the drink, I haven’t found it grainy at all. I use Tera’s Whey Organic brand, Bourbon Vanilla for this recipe.

Green Spring Smoothie


Green Spring Smoothie

Adapted from the Vitamix Recipe Booklet

Serves: 1-2


1/2 Cup Vanilla Coconut Milk

1 Cup Frozen Grapes

1/2 Cup Fresh Pineapple

2 Scoops Tera’s Whey Vanilla Protein Powder

1 Medium Frozen Banana

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

3 Cups Baby Spinach


Green Spring Smoothie

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Green Spring Smoothie

Enjoy straight up or with a little granola on top.

Costco had the Vitamix blender in stock about 2 weeks ago. The last time I saw them there was nearly 3 years ago and I didn’t have the cash to pick one up back then which was a bummer. I’ve been duct taping my magic bullet together lately, waiting for it to die, so I couldn’t pass up the chance to score the super blender at a great price.

Green Spring Smoothie


This recipe make one very large smoothie which I use as a meal replacement or 2 smaller smoothies which can compliment a regular meal. I built the recipe in the MyFitnessPal tool and the large smoothie has about 334 calories, 5g fat, 25g protein, 7g fiber, 53g carbs, and 40g sugar.

Rustic Wheat Protein Bread [Healthy & Homemade]

Back in November I made my first batch of Rustic Homemade Bread. I’m still quite impressed with myself. Since then, I’ve made two other loaves. One loaf was white cheddar and Jalapeño, and gifted to my parents. I don’t like Jalapeños but I’m told it was delicious. For myself, I recently made a loaf of wheat protein bread as a healthy morning alternative to store bought bread.  I wanted a version that was hearty, and had several grams of protein per slice. I used a mix of All Purpose Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, and Hemp Protein.

I topped it with some old fashioned oats.

2013-02-03 13.01.33

Don’t be turned off by the fact that it’s slightly green, the color is from the hemp protein. The basic recipe is from Simply So Good, I just replaced some of the all purpose flour for some whole wheat flour and hemp protein powder. For the protein powder, I used Nutiva – Organic Hemp Protein which I originally found in a single serve packet at Sprouts. You only need 3 Tablespoons per loaf of bread, so the packet has more than enough. Be sure to check out Janet’s blog post for great step by step pictures.


The finished loaf is dense and chewy, excellent with almond butter or jam. To preserve the loaf, I froze 2/3 of the loaf after slicing and only kept 1/3 in the pantry at a time. Overall, I love this recipe and plan to make is regularly in the future.



Healthy Rustic Wheat Protein Bread

Servings: About 14 slices

Adapted from Simply So Good


2.5 Cups While Unbleached Flour (remove 3 Tablespoons of flour)

1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour

3 Tablespoons Nutiva – Organic Hemp Protein

1 3/4 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon Instant Yeast

1 1/2 Cups Water

1/4 cup old fashioned oatmeal


  • In a large bowl combine the first 5 ingredients (both flours, hemp powder, salt, and yeast). Whisk until well mixed. 


  • Add the water and stir gently to combine with a rubber spatula. I sometimes need to add a little more water if the dough appears too dry. The dough should be slightly sticky and will look like a messy blob.


  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set to rest on the counter for 12-18 hours (I always leave it overnight). The dough will rise, mine usually doubles in size.


  • In the morning (or after the dough has rested for at least 12 hours), preheat the oven to 450 degrees. You’ll need a oven safe pot with lid, big enough to accommodate the the bread. I use a standard stainless steel roasting pan (grill removed), with lid. A large oven safe casserole dish will also work as long as it has a lid.  Once the oven is pre-heated, place the pot, with lid, in the oven for 30 minutes to pre-heat.


  • Once you put the pot in the oven, place the dough on a heavily floured surface. At this point add the oatmeal to the top and press lightly to help it stick. Cover with the plastic wrap and let it rest for the 30 minutes (until the pot is pre-heated).


  • After 30 minutes, remove the pot from the oven…CAREFULLY. That sucker will be almost 500 degrees so please be VERY careful.


  • Place the the dough into the pot and cover with lid. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid, and bake an additional 15 minutes. [Tip: with floured hands, shape the dough slightly before placing in the pot. You can fold the edges under slightly, creating a rounded ball and the finished bread will stay in more of a dome shape. I ‘plopped’ the first batch into the pot and it baked into a very flat loaf.]


I was able to slice it into 14 pieces. Nutritional stats are pretty decent at about 103 calories slice, 0 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein, and 1 gram of fiber.  Of course that will vary depending on how many slices you get from your loaf.



My Favorite Moment of the Week & Grocery Challenge

I can’t believe it’s Wednesday already! I hope everyone’s week is going well.

I need to catch up a bit. So my favorite moment of last week was on Sunday. We had beautiful weather and my little pup and I took a long walk down a local trail.

Long Walk Home

For both my sanity and his mini waistline, we’ve started taking longer walks during my lunch hour (as often as possible). I usually have to work through my lunch so I’m trying to sneak away when I can, and zone out during a walk. It also gives me a chance to listen to a podcast or audio book. I’m really loving Jillian Michaels free podcast on iTunes right now, lots of great health/nutrition info. This past Sunday, Bubba went for his longest walk in a long time. Since I’m writing this on Wednesday morning, I can say he actually went even further on Monday. He was like a little energizer bunny.

Long walk home

We saw some beautiful scenery. I had no idea there was a large horse ranch behind the trail near my house, it was gorgeous.

Long Walk Home

On to the food. Last week I totally forgot about the Super Bowl [I don’t have cable, so I obviously wasn’t going to watch it], and went grocery shopping on Saturday with the rest of the world. BIG MISTAKE. The lines were crazy.  

The Budget: $40

I Spent: $38.82 (Henry’s, Trader Joe’s)

Leftover for the Piggy Bank: $1.18

Groceries 2_4_2013


The Goods:

  • Rotisserie Sliced Chicken
  • Broccoli Florets
  • Shredded Mozzarella
  • Frozen Turkey Meatballs
  • Fat Free Sour Cream
  • Cage Free Eggs [1 Dozen]
  • Chobani Plain Yogurt
  • Flank Steak [1lb]
  • Mushrooms
  • Organic Fuji Apples
  • Carrots [5lb] – dog treats
  • Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

I still had spinach, kale, and romaine leftover from last week so I skipped those in this trip, and instead focused on meat/dairy which cost more overall. I won’t need most of the above next week, so I’ll replenish the veggie stash on the next trip.


Tentative Meal Plan:

Monday: Quick Beef Stroganoff 

Tuesday: Ricotta Broccoli Stuffed Shells & Kale Salad

Wednesday: Honey Mustard Chicken & Veggie

Thursday: Leftover Ricotta Broccoli Stuffed Shells

Friday: Feta Chicken Burger & Veggie

Saturday: Sausage Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash [?]

Sunday: Tomato Soup Leftovers


Reader Question:

A couple of people pointed out that I seem to cook most meals, and asked if I’m making full size recipes or adjusting for just one person. Truth is, I cook 99.9% of my meals. I don’t eat out often, maybe 2-3 times a month. I love cooking, so it’s enjoyable for me to make food at home. To answer the size question, most of the time I make the whole recipe so that I can freeze the additional servings for future ‘freezer meals’. For example, The ‘Quick Beef Stroganoff’ recipe made 4 servings. I ate one on Monday night, I have one in the fridge for lunch this week, and froze the other 2 servings for future meals. I do the same for most recipes and love having premade ‘freezer meals’ ready to go throughout the week. Right now I have Chili, Tomato Soup, and Beef Stroganoff all ready to be heated in the freezer. The Feta chicken burger recipe will make 4 patties, so I’ll eat one on Friday and freeze the rest. You get the point.

I also do this with cookie dough. I like baking cookies…I do not like having 3+ dozen cookies in the house. So I will make a half/full batch, bake a few (like 5), then freeze the rest. For basic dough, like chocolate chip, you can scoop the batter into cookie size scoops onto a plate or cookie sheet and put in the freezer to set. Once frozen, you can put the frozen cookie dough balls in a bag and bake as needed in the future.

I mean, really…can you ever have enough cookie dough in your freezer?

Grocery Challenge – Week of January 21

This week…

The Budget: $40

I Spent: $35.81 (Henry’s, Trader Joe’s, Walgreens)

Cash for the Piggy Bank: $4.19

Groceries 1_21_2013

I learned something this week…don’t go shopping at Trader Joe’s on Saturday night. Not because it’s a somewhat pathetic thing for a single girl on Saturday night…but because they were sold out of EVERYTHING! So many things I wasn’t able to get this week and had to swap out for something else. They were completely out of Broccoli and Kale so I swapped them for Snow peas and Spinach, a few other things I had to skip altogether. I was also a little disappointed in some of the produce at Henry’s. They had a bag of sweet potatoes on sale, but the potatoes in the bags were mushy and molding. So sad.

  • Carrots (5lb) – Dog Treats
  • Banana (4)
  • Organic Apples (3lb)
  • Grape Nuts (2 boxes)
  • Organic Spinach
  • Organic Romaine
  • Snow Peas
  • 1/2 dozen Cage Free organic eggs
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Organic Blueberries
  • Sweet Potatoes (3)
  • Sliced Chicken Deli Meat
  • Frozen Mac & Cheese


Menu Plan (not necessarily made from the items purchased this week):

Monday: Homemade Chili & Veggie

Tuesday: Mustard Salmon & Veggie

Wednesday: Spaghetti Squash Meatball Bake

Thursday: Basil Tilapia & Veggie

Friday: Homemade Tomato Soup

Saturday: Homemade Chicken Pesto Pizza

Sunday: Spaghetti Squash Meatball Bake

Grocery Challenge – Week of January 14th

It’s the first grocery challenge post of the new year!


With the holidays and travelling, I’ve been doing a lot of random grocery shopping lately. Random shopping means I spend way more than I mean need to on things I don’t need. So in the new year I’ll be keeping up with the grocery challenge to get myself back on track. I’m making only one change…the budget is back to $40 each week, instead of $50. Any money not spent each week will continue to go into the ‘piggy bank’.

This week…

The Budget: $40

I Spent: $31.45 (Henry’s, Trader Joe’s)

Cash for the Piggy Bank: $8.55

Groceries 1_13_2013

  • Carrots (5lb) – Dog Treats
  • Chobani 0% Plain Greek Yogurt – for homemade Dog Treats
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Avocado
  • Feta Cheese
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Spinach
  • Sliced Chicken Deli Meat
  • Pita Bite Crackers
  • Frozen Mac & Cheese
  • Bouquet of Flowers


I suppose you’re wondering how I’m going to live on one box of frozen Mac & Cheese, spinach, and lunch meat for the week. The truth is, I’m not. In an effort to better organize my life, I recently cleaned out my fridge, freezer, and pantry. Everything was straightened, shelves were wiped down, and anything with a past expiration date was dumped. Apparently I am a food hoarder, because this exercise showed me just how much food I have in my house, and I still go out every week and buy more. So for the next few weeks, groceries will probably be lighter than usual and I eat through my stash. 




I also recently started using the Out of Milk app on my phone, and their coordinating website. This is where my inner organizational Type A nerd comes in. I used the app’s barcode scanner while I was cleaning the kitchen to scan every item I have in the pantry, freezer, and fridge. It didn’t take as long as it’s sounds, and was fun because I like scanning things. I can now tell you exactly how much flour I have in the house from a quick glance at my phone, and that I have enough chicken in my freezer to serve my entire extended family at a moments notice. Turns out that every time I went shopping over the past few months, I was buying duplicate items simply because I didn’t know that I already had more than enough at home. That’s why I have so much chicken in my freezer, and several weeks worth of soup in my pantry. The app makes it easy to create my weekly shopping list since I can drag the empty items from my pantry list over to the shopping list. With the paid upgrade to the app, I can even track coupons for my lists. My nerdy, coupon loving, shopping desires are now completely fulfilled.


Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some chicken and soup to eat…


*This post was not in any way sponsored by Out of Milk. They have no idea who I am and did not ask me to mention them. I simply like the product and wanted to share.

I’m Feeling Inspired – Down A Size

So first off, I have to say…WOW. Last month was one of the biggest on the blog and I posted a whopping 5 times. Which makes me wonder if you’re trying to tell me something. That, or June was just a huge month for Golf Cakes and Apple Butter. I never thought those would be the most popular posts on CMD.

I’m also doing something a little different with this week’s inspiration post (just pretend there wasn’t a month long gap since the last one). I realized I haven’t given you a proper update on the weight loss journey lately.

[I could not get the smears off the mirror, sorry]

 Down a Size_2

My ‘fat’ jeans are in the donation box!

[Holy crap, did I just post a picture of my ass on the internet?]




Thing have been going great on the weight loss journey, I’m down 28 lbs and a full jean size. I’m also starting week 7 of the C25K and have gone from struggling through a 90 second jog to finishing 20 minutes straight. Now instead of reaching for food when I get stressed at work, I find myself looking forward to my workout. Who thought that would happen? I still have a long way to go, but I’m smiling again.

In all honesty, I hate these types of posts, because I don’t like tooting my own horn. But I’m trying to learn that sometimes it perfectly healthy and justified to pat yourself on the back and share the good news. Especially justified since this blog is supposed to be all about my journey to changing my destiny, right? Well, I see progress.

So here’s to sharing the great news all over the internet!

…especially since my dog just doesn’t get it when I dance around the bedroom in my now smaller jeans.

CSA Box #7 & Weekend Wrap Up

Where is this month going? I can’t believe June is almost over and I’ve barely had a chance to get any blog posts up. When not working, this month has really been dedicated to getting all those ‘homeowner’/adult chores out of the way, and I wouldn’t want to bore you with them anyway. I’ll spare you the numerous screens I repaired this weekend or the outlet covers I’ve swapped out. Oh, and not to mention all those little springy things behind the doors (my technical jargon for a door stop), yeah…I’ve been busy changing those out too. Turns out the previous owners were a little tough on their doors and busted most of the bumpers, and the ones that aren’t broken are missing altogether. For some reason they never ranked high enough on the ‘To Do’ list until now.


Not to worry, I’ve been making progress on a few other very important things too. I finally organized all my nail polish. ::sigh:: That’s actually not a joke, I built boxes to organize my nail polish which I’ll show you in another post. I also did some gardening and the Spare Bedroom moulding has finally been primed and painted. I hope to have the headboard up this week. Then I can move to the very fun task of ceiling fan shopping (why are they all SO ugly?).

So at the moment, I’m covered in paint (and hives, although that is unrelated to the paint) and I’m getting ready to put my shoes on for a run, so I’ll leave you with a few pictures from the weekend.


My local Farmer’s Market

Temecula Farmer's Market

The cute little Old Town that I visit every 2 weeks to pick up my CSA box.

Old Town Temecula


Speaking of CSA…lots of green this week.

CSA Box_5

CSA Box_4

I think it’s time to turn some zucchini into Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bread…Yum!

CSA Box_3

…and some delicious berries

CSA Box_2

CSA Box_1

Baxter and I both dig into the CSA box like it’s Christmas morning. I go straight for the strawberries and he likes to split his time between sniffing the box itself and begging for carrots.

He’s just too cute.

 Dark Chocolate Lab

I don’t want to give too much away right now, but the Spare Bedroom is making some serious progress. The brown wall color is going to change and new bedding/window coverings are in the works, but I LOVE it so far. That’s huge, since I’ve painted this room 4 times so far. Finally a design success for this room.

Spare Bedroom Primer_1

I also thought I’d give you a little update on the garden since a few of the plants are doing really well.

I’ve been eating tomatoes out of my own backyard this week, they are amazing. Sweet & delicious, and that’s coming from someone that doesn’t like tomatoes. I have an Early Grey 50 plant in harvest right now, and a Brandywine Pink that’s flowering.




This plant stumps everyone that visits. They always want to know what I’m growing in the trash can.

It’s Potatoes!!

I never did a how to on the potatoes since I didn’t expect them to survive. However, they have done incredibly well in the trash can (although I haven’t harvested yet, so we’ll see what they produce). They still have a month or two until they’re ready.


That’s it for the edibles right now, although I do have some herbs growing and I’m planting onions and zucchini next weekend. I also have some thriving succulents outside right now. This is my favorite.



Hope everyone has had a great weekend!